[JPL] NEA Jazz Masters: A Dizzying Array of All-Stars

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Tue Sep 18 22:17:28 EDT 2007


*NEA Jazz Masters: A Dizzying Array of All-Stars*

By Mike Joyce
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, September 17, 2007; C05

Leave it to Paquito D'Rivera 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Paquito+D%27Rivera?tid=informline> 
to get the biggest laugh during the Duke Ellington 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Duke+Ellington?tid=informline> 
Jazz Festival at the Lincoln Theatre over the weekend.

Participating in the NEA Jazz Masters concert Saturday night, the 
Cuban-born reedman joked that he had written a bossa nova for Dizzy 
Gillespie 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Dizzy+Gillespie?tid=informline> 
because "I knew how much he loved the music of illegal aliens." The 
ridiculous soon gave way to the sublime, however, as D'Rivera unfurled a 
lovely clarinet-limned melody that he said was alternately known as "I 
Remember Dizzy" and "A Night in Mexico City 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Mexico+City?tid=informline>."

The Friday and Saturday night concerts delivered other big rewards, 
including plenty of large-ensemble delights. Both the Smithsonian Jazz 
Masterworks Orchestra and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band 
contributed resounding performances -- swinging, shouting and soulful by 
turns -- during Saturday's Jazz Masters celebration. David Baker, who 
conducted the SJMO, and Slide Hampton, who filled the same role in the 
Gillespie ensemble, devised some of the pieces, while others were 
composed or arranged by the likes of Benny Carter, George Russell and 
Dennis Mackrel. Carter's gorgeous "Blue Star," performed by the SJMO, 
was among the wonderfully evocative treats, its dreamy theme and noirish 
tints instantly erasing all memory of the rock era.

And as for big moments, none was bigger (or more moving) than when 
pianist Hank Jones and trumpeter Clark Terry were awarded the festival's 
Lifetime Achievement Awards. Afterward, the two jazz titans teamed up 
with bassist George Mraz and charmed the large crowd with a cozy, 
impromptu performance of "The Nearness of You."

Besides D'Rivera, Baker, Hampton and Jones 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Hank+Jones?tid=informline>, 
the lineup of National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Masters included the 
ever-youthful and engaging saxophonists Jimmy Heath and James Moody. 
Playing tenor sax, Heath was heard to particularly good advantage during 
the All-Star band's performance of his Gillespie-inspired composition, 
"Without You, No Me." Moody, meanwhile, revealed the heretofore unknown 
link between scatting and yodeling during a freewheeling arrangement of 
Gillespie's "Blue 'n' Boogie," a performance that also provided a 
spirited showcase for the gifted vocalist Roberta Gambarini. Cubop, 
salsa, samba and Latin funk sounds filled the air Friday night when the 
festival saluted Gillespie with an all-star tribute. The turnout was 
disappointing, but the audience was game, eager to clap out a clave beat 
when called upon and quick to reward the musicians with standing ovations.

Dubbed "In the Footsteps of Dizzy," the program prominently featured 
five of Gillespie's proteges: pianist Danilo Perez, trombonist Steve 
Turre, trumpeter Claudio Roditi, saxophonist David Sanchez and trumpeter 
Roy Hargrove.

All but Hargrove participated in an opening set laced with signature 
touches: The Panama 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Panama?tid=informline>-born 
Perez contrasted light-fingered melodic variations with crashing chords 
on Stevie Wonder 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Stevie+Wonder?tid=informline>'s 
"Overjoyed"; Turre punctuated a burnished rendition of "Con Alma" with a 
solo that made both melodic and rhythmic use of conch shells; Sanchez 
moved through the debut performance of his multi-faceted piece "Cultural 
Survival" with the juggernaut drive associated with fellow tenor 
saxophonist Sonny Rollins 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Sonny+Rollins?tid=informline>; 
and Roditi, on fluegelhorn, had no difficulty sustaining an air of 
glowing lyricism. Contributing rhythmic drive and nuance all the while 
were bassist Ben Street, drummer Adam Cruz and the remarkably 
resourceful percussionist Pernell Saturnino.

Hargrove capped Friday's show on an exhilarating note. In full command 
of his horn and often projecting a searing tone, the trumpeter played 
with such lung-depleting intensity at times that the effort nearly 
knocked him off his feet. The trumpeter found a worthy mate and foil in 
alto saxophonist Justin Robinson, especially when it came time for the 
quintet to forge a hard-bop frontline or for the two musicians to pass 
the baton back and forth during breathlessly paced choruses.

Hargrove and Robinson also performed with the Gillespie All-Star Band on 
Saturday night. Indeed, they helped the ensemble bring the Lincoln 
Theatre bashes to a close with an incendiary arrangement of the 
Gillespie-Gil Fuller anthem "Things to Come."

-- 
Dr. Jazz
Dr. Jazz Operations
24270 Eastwood
Oak Park, MI  48237
(248) 542-7888
http://www.drjazz.com
SKYPE:  drjazz99

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