[JPL] [New post] Russ Davis reports on day three from the 31st Detroit International Jazz Festival…OF CHRISTIAN, KENNY & THE BLONDE BOMBSHELLS!

Russell Davis davispro at nyc.rr.com
Wed Sep 8 23:27:59 EDT 2010


I'll have one more "wrap-up" blog in the next day or so, but I'm still living off of the fumes from this great jazz event!!!!

> Russ Davis
> MOJA Radio/VOA 
> 105 East 16th Street
> # 7 South
> New York, NY 10003
> russ at mojaradio.com
> 		jazz-america at voa.gov

> 
> 	
> Russ Davis reports on day three from the 31st Detroit International Jazz Festival…OF CHRISTIAN, KENNY & THE BLONDE BOMBSHELLS!
> russdavis | September 9, 2010 at 3:20 am | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/pQ1OF-2B
> Russ Davis reports on day three from the 31st Detroit International Jazz Festival…OF CHRISTIAN, KENNY & THE BLONDE BOMBSHELLS!
> 
> It's always a great pleasure to visit with Christian McBride. That's how I started my third day here at the 31st Detroit Jazz Fest. The theme this year is "Flame Keepers" inspired by the idea of remembering greats of the past by celebrating those who are active today that worked with them. That certainly applies with Chris as he's played with some of the very greatest including bass legend Ray Brown which whom he worked in the Superbass band with Ray Brown and John Clayton. Now that Mr. Brown is gone Mr. McBride is the guy that first comes to mind when someone asks who you think is the most important, popular bassist in jazz today, Ron Carter not withstanding. So to attend the panel discussion led by radio guy and jazz expert Bob Porter and including Christian and former Ray Brown bandmate Benny Green was a great way to start the day. Benny is also one of my favorite characters in jazz today, as well as one of my face pianists too. Of all the guys who play straight ahead jazz piano Benny can't be beat for style and chops, and his recordings and concerts with Christian and guitarist Russell Malone are among my favorites of the past 15 years or so. I always know I'm going to get a great history lesson when I come to Detroit and this session was even more than that. Bob Porter started things with a brief bio of Ray's career and handed things over to the boys to talk amongst themselves about how they worked with Ray Brown, what he meant to them and to jazz, what his personality and style were all about and numerous stories that brought this giant of jazz to life again. They also spent quite a bit of time talking about what it was like playing together over the years. Benny was the first guy Christian played with when he first became a professional and they've stayed close ever since. You could feel that emotional bond and it would emerge even stronger when they took the stage together at the Carhartt Amphitheatre with young master drummer Karriem Riggins to celebrate Ray Brown with their performance. I talked a bit to Chris after the panel and asked him about how open Ray was to new music, as opposed to anything new or different from straight ahead jazz and discovered that it was Ray himself that asked Chris to bring funk and pop into the mix in the music they made together and that when Karriem Riggins had worked with him Ray wanted him to inject some hip hop. Now that's what I call musical tolerance and acceptance!
> 
> It was time to hear some music so I crossed Woodward Avenue to Hart Plaza to catch a few tunes from Detroit piano legend Johnny O'Neal followed by the last half of the set by the great arranger, bandleader and composer Maria Schneider and her orchestra which includes some outstanding solo artists and famous sidemen like Donny McCaslin, Steve Wilson and Frank Kimbrough. Maria has certainly taken modern big band to new heights and won many awards for her work, including multiple Jazz Journalist Association awards in 2010. She was the first "Blonde Bombshell" I'd see on this day and she led her musicians by gliding across the stage in a slinky black dress and a confident air. I've really enjoyed the recent trend of taking songs originally written for and performed by small groups that are adapted for large ensemble, but to hear Maria's work, as well as Detroiter Gerald Wilson, written exclusively for the big group is always thrilling. Hearing music that is this overwhelming without the need for too much amplification is always great too and there's lots of it to enjoy coming from the stage of the Carhartt Amphitheatre from artists like Maria Schneider, Gerald Wilson and The Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra. I caught up with Mr. Wilson and had a quick chat that I will share with the audience on Voice of America.
> 
> After lunch it was back to Hart Plaza to take in more music and visit with more of the artists. The first order of business was to hear one of the real musical summit meetings of the festival, the duo piano set of artist in residence Mulgrew Miller and NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron. When you have two greats like this playing two quality grand pianos it wouldn't matter if they played chopsticks, you know it would be quality. Quality it was and though I usually prefer my music mostly electric I heard what sounded like a symphony with these two masters. After all, a piano is the complete package of a percussive and melodic instrument that takes care of every spectrum of frequency as well as rhythm, harmony and melody. This set of mostly standards played by Kenny Barron & Mulgrew Miller was a joy to hear. Kenny gave me a few minutes after the performance (again, listen for this on VOA and MOJA Radio) and he's in great spirits as usual.
> 
> My next stop took me to what is probably my favorite venue of the three in Hart Plaza, the intimate, concrete amphitheater that is the Mack Avenue Pyramid stage, where in 2009 I spent a lot of time hearing the likes of Larry Coryell, Brian Auger & Gretchen Parlato. This time I had been asked to emcee the event that would feature the second "Blonde Bomshell" of the day, the terrific vocalist, composer and arranger, Tierney Sutton. She's a midwestern girl from Wisconsin who made her way to the Berklee College of music in Boston, won the Thelonious Monk Vocal competition in 1998 and then relocated to Los Angeles where she made the acquaintance of a group of fellow musicians including pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Kevin Axt and drummer Ray Brinker who are now not only friends and collaborators but also a corporation that shares everything, including the choice of material and arranging duties, equally. Their tightness showed not only in the spirit and execution of the playing, but in the concentration needed to combat the very loud volume of the music coming from the Carhartt Amphitheatre across the plaza. Luckily the extremely loud trumpet in the distance was playing mostly in the same general key as to not destroy the more subtle moments of the Tierney Sutton Band's performance. The set was mostly standards but, as I joked to Christian Jacob afterwards, if I were a standard song walking casually down the street and saw this band coming my way I would either run in terror or surrender to them to be totally reconfigured! These guys take a song and put it through a blender, rendering something that is almost indistinguishable from the original and totally delightful! The whole band is fantastic but the duo of Tierney with her fantastic stage presence and voice coupled with one of the most talented and versatile pianist I've ever heard, Christian Jacob, make this band a powerhouse. If you ever have a chance to hear them live please don't miss the chance.
> 
> My next, and last, stop of the night was at the Carhartt Amphitheatre for the performance portion of the salute to bass-playing legend Ray Brown that had begun earlier under the Jazz Talk Tent earlier in the day. Christian McBride, Benny Green and Karriem Riggins may have put on the most impressive performance of the entire festival, exhibiting incredible musicianship during a set filled with dynamics that reflected the music of Mr. Brown, everything from smooth balladry to funky New Orleans beat with a fiery tempo that brought the huge audience roaring to their feet more than once. As Chris and Benny had mentioned during the talk session earlier, they've known and worked with one another for over two decades and have become almost like brothers. Their mutual love of playing with one another was totally evident with every note, every glance between the two, and every word of praise between the tunes, which were also filled with many stories and remembrances of having known and worked with Ray Brown. Detroit drummer Karriem Riggins certainly became an adopted brother in the musical family…he's played in Ray Brown bands too of course…and when the set was over I couldn't help but ask Benny Green how he'd feel about keeping this trio together beyond this one magical night. He answered that he sure wouldn't say no, and I could tell this wasn't lip service. Would that it could happen with these three, busy, in-demand musicians of renown. What a way to end my third day at the world's largest free jazz festival!
> 
> Add a comment to this post
>       
> 
> 	
> WordPress.com | Thanks for flying with WordPress!
> Manage Subscriptions | Unsubscribe | Express yourself. Start a blog.
> 
> Trouble clicking? Copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://subscribe.wordpress.com
> 



More information about the jazzproglist mailing list