[JPL] Len Dobbin/Montreal Jazz Fest

Tom Reney tr at wfcr.org
Mon Jul 13 09:47:54 EDT 2009

After a number of poignant encounters with friends of Len Dobbin around 
Montreal last week, we had a most touching departure yesterday.  As my 
wife and I drove south on Route 15, we heard a trio of hosts on CKUT 
talking about Len and reading notes from Len's daughters and others 
attesting to his 13 years of sobriety, a period that encompassed his 
years at CKUT.  In the last few minutes before the memorial broadcast of 
Dobbin's Den began at 11 a.m., they played Billie Holiday's recording of 
"I'll Be Seeing You." 

While at the festival, we heard outstanding sets by Ornette Coleman; 
George Wein's Newport All-Stars, featuring Lew Tabackin, Randy Sandke, 
Howard Alden, Peter Washington and Lewis Nash; Houston Person & Bill 
Charlap; and Greg Osby's 9 Levels, a sextet of younger players whose 
names were all new to me. They included guitarist Nir Felder and pianist 
Adam Birnbaum.  Osby's set included music by Joe Henderson, Thelonious 
Monk, and Duke Ellington's "East St. Louis Toodle-oo."  Wein's concert 
offered a wonderful array of Ellingtonia, including "Self Portrait of 
the Bean,"  "Johnny Come Lately," "Lotus Blossom," and "The Mooche/Black 
and Tan Fantasy."  George closed his set, "cleared the house," as he put 
it, singing "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," which he 
dedicated to Montreal's producers Andre Menard and Alain Simard.  It was 
a real treat to hear Lew Tabackin on this band.  We arrived late for 
Ornette but just in time to hear "Lonely Woman," "Turnaround," "Tears 
Inside" and more from his quartet with Tany Falanga, Al McDowell 
(playing electric bass primarily in a lead guitar manner), and Denardo 
Coleman.  Ornette is now 79, but the years have done nothing to diminish 
his skill at creating those joyous bursts of sound on both alto and 
trumpet.  He was presented with the Festival's Miles Davis Award.  As we 
filed out afterwards, I overheard a couple speaking of the irony of this 
honor, as Davis once said of Ornette, "Listen to what he writes and 
plays...psychologically, the man is all screwed up inside."  
Unfortunately, this sort of intemperance is also part of Miles' legacy.  
As anticipated, Person and Charlap were sublime in a series of duets 
played in the acoustically superb GESU.

We also caught a few tunes by my friend Kim Zombik, who managed  to make 
the huge stage at the Place des Arts feel intimate.  Kim hails from 
Northampton, Mass, where she landed the title role in the play "Lady Day 
at Emerson's Bar and Grill" several years ago and became more 
jazz-oriented as a result.  She's recorded for Village Records in Japan 
with Richard Wyands and Eric Alexander as sidemen. Kim relocated to 
Montreal a couple of years ago and appears often at the Upstairs where 
she came to know Len and win his appreciation.  

Now it's on to Caramoor, Newport and Tanglewood!


Tom Reney
"Jazz à la Mode"
Monday-Friday, 8 - 11 p.m.
NPR News and Music for Western New England
Hampshire House
131 County Circle
Amherst, MA 01003-9257
tr at wfcr.org
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413-545-2546 fax

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