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June 04, 2007

A Good Start


Well, the first 2007 Discover Jazz weekend offered us solid jazz, not the soft something-or-other of some past openers.  (That comes later in the week this time.)  I too mightily enjoyed the All State Jazz Ensemble.  L.J. has already cited the considerable contributions of Michael Hardin and Grace Gaylord, while the entire well-rehearsed group earned its applause.  Let's hope they continue a full musical career; we don't need any more pastry chefs in Vermont.

As expected, Eddie Palmieri's concert was marked by precision and the by-now-familiar magic.  No one bridges salsa and mainstream jazz quite as gracefully as Palmieri, and Monk's "In Walked Bud" demonstated this early in the set.  And what a cohesive unit this is!  I don't mind Conrad Herwig's showboating any more than I do Ray Anderson's, since the underlying musicianship of both is so solid.  I will say, however, that the last time I saw Palmieri, about eight years ago at the Regattabar in Cambridge, MA, Craig Handy's saxophone replaced Herwig's trombone and the textural diifference that resulted was striking.  Sometimes such a change can be invigorating, though this time the rock-solid long-standing band was utterly reliable.

Quick disconnect:  Watching Sr. Rivero's mesmerizing performance on congas, I flashed back to Ray Barreto, another player who can never be replaced and who is up there with Eddie Palmieri in the Latin Bandleader Hall of Fame.

Maybe it was my imagination?  Pharoah Sanders appeared to me to be more subdued than  the last time I saw him seven years ago, while Kenny Garrett seemed to overcompensate a bit. Whatever, Sanders still has chops, heart, and soul intact and Garrett only gets better.  The concert seemed basically to be in three movements.  The first was the extended free blow that gripped everyone. Maybe John Coltrane was listening too. The second began with a lamentation of sorts, and I wish I knew the title.  It was perfect preparation for the subsequent surprisingly low-key and moving version of "Naima", as noted in postings below. The last one was the crowd pleaser.  DJF audiences always yearn for overt participation, and Kenny gave them a great opportunity.

It would be hard to find a more fitting rhythm section that Garrett's longtime associate Nat Reeves and Jamire Williams.  High energy and hard drive on the supporting level all the way.

No encore?  Go figure.


June 4, 2007 at 04:26 PM in Lou Kannenstine | Permalink


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Pastry chefs? I love it.

Posted by: L.J. | Jun 4, 2007 4:58:58 PM

For a few stalwart fans, the BDJF is merely an opportunity to see the Flynnspace shows each year. This 150+ seat "modular black box theatre" in the basement of The Flynn offers an intimate setting for sets, often with minimal amplification, by smaller ensembles. Last night's - by The Miguel Miguel Zenon Quartet - was a perfect example of why these Flynnspace BDJF shows often sell right to the walls. The music was glorious, the sound was absolutely magnificent, (Thanks in part to Brian Johnson, I suspect) and the players gave the audience exactly what they came for, and will probably never see again: full immersion in the workings of these particular 4 world class improvisers.

Zenon stood several feet from the microphone set up for his alto saxophone, and played so that most listeners heard largely the saxophone rather than just the PA system. The grand piano was also lightly mic'd and played by the very talented young Aaron Parks, subbing for the quartet's regular pianist. Watch for Parks - who's starting to appear with some pretty serious company these days. Bassist Hans Glawishnig, having played with this ensemble regularly, showed why he's so busy these days, and also used very little amplification - including a mic on a stand - to capture the sound coming through the F-holes on the front of his double bass.

Drummer Henry Cole played with his finger tips, as well as the usual tools available to drummers. I'm guessing he knows Zenon's music as well as the players in the ensemble, and was so attentive to dynamics and timbre that it could have been his own music being played. But with a couple of exceptions it was Zenon's.

Short of having these players in your living room, a better chance to hear these 4 is unimaginable. Kudos to Discover Jazz for making it possible.

Posted by: David Beckett | Jun 5, 2007 12:52:54 PM

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