[JPL] JAZZ REVIEW Jazzy just isn't the same thing

Jazz Promo Services jazzpromo at earthlink.net
Fri Sep 1 12:02:55 EDT 2006

Jazzy just isn't the same thing
By Don Heckman
Special to The Times

September 1, 2006

There's jazz, and there's jazzy. And, despite their verbal similarity, they
don't often have a lot to do with each other. The performances by Al
Jarreau, George Benson and Raúl Midón at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday
night had the potential to intriguingly juxtapose both these disparate
notions. Jarreau and Benson have demonstrated the ability to deliver prime,
hard-swinging improvisational music, as well as catchy, hook-oriented
"jazzy" pop. And Midón, younger and less seasoned, has displayed a similar
musical eclecticism.

OK, that sounds good as preview, but it didn't exactly work out that way on
stage. Midón, on first, performed with only his solo guitar as
accompaniment. Singing originals written from a distinctly Stevie Wonder
perspective, he delivered an entertaining if somewhat repetitive-sounding
set of songs. Despite several efforts to cross into jazz, his efforts in
this arena seemed very much like a work in progress. Midón's most effective
passages, in fact, came in a scat-singing finale with Jarreau and Benson, in
which he more than held his own.

Jarreau's performance promised the most for the jazz-heads in the audience.
He has been one of the most unusual vocal artists in the genre for three
decades, winning multiple jazz vocal Grammys. This time, however, he seemed
more concerned with emphasizing his humorous persona ‹ stalking the stage,
interacting with the crowd, overemphasizing his vocal tendency to use bursts
of sound and eccentric pronunciation. His version of "Take Five" ‹ usually a
showcase of his extraordinary improvisational skills ‹ was largely a drum

Benson's performances in recent years have emphasized the jazzy aspects of
his music, and this night was no exception. Most of the set became a living
jukebox program of hits. Every now and then, for very brief passages,
Benson's remarkable guitar skills managed to surface through his ensemble's
monochromatic wall of sound. More often ‹ even in the duet numbers with
Jarreau from their new album, "Givin' It Up" ‹ the real jazz abilities of
these two gifted performers were lost in the rush to jazzy commercial

More information about the jazzproglist mailing list