Jazz Festival At A Distance
The second annual New Mexico Jazz Festival has come and gone, and I blush to admit that I was totally uninvolved. This year's headliner was saxophonist Sonny Rollins, and as I've never been a big fan, I decided not to attend either of his performances, at the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe and the Kiva Auditorium here in Albuquerque. Others appearing at the Lensic were singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli and his quartet, clarinetist Eddie Daniels' quintet with vibraphonist Joe Locke, Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra, the gospel group Mighty Clouds Of Joy, pianist Michel Camilo's trio, bassist Richard Bona and vocalist Dianne Reeves.
I was tempted to drive to Santa Fe to see Eddie Daniels but we had tickets to a play that evening, which ruled it out. Here in Albuquerque, the Festival kicked off August 19 with the great trumpeter Bobby Shew's quintet and special guest saxophonist Gary Foster from Los Angeles in concert at The Outpost Performance Space. We'd have gone to that one but it didn't occur to me until two days before the event that we'd need tickets (Betty and I had always simply showed up and walked in at The Space, whose seating capacity is quite limitedless than 150, I believeand quite naturally was sold out for Shew's performance). The good news is that we have a second chance to catch Shew's act, on August 2, again at The Outpost with guest saxophonist Rick Keller, and we won't pass that up.
The Festival accommodated free concerts at Albuquerque's Civic Plaza and in Old Town as well, but we were unable to attend any of them, for various reasons. Also tied in were the Jazz, Blues and Salsa Under the Stars events at the Albuquerque Museum of Art. Performers there included Son Como Son, the Albuquerque Blues Connection, and the annual Women's Voices event. I wish the Festival well, and hope next year to be able to attend at least some of the events.
We did manage to get to the Albuquerque Museum on July 7 to see and hear director Jack Manno's Southwest Jazz Orchestra from Santa Fe. As noted before, this is not a full-fledged big band but a tentet, and a pretty good one at that. The first of three sets opened with "Dear Old Stockholm and included Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love (a feature for multi-instrumentalist Arlen Asher, this time on soprano saxophone), Juan Tizol's "Perdido, Charles Mingus' "Peggy's Blue Skylight and "Boogie Stop Shuffle, guitarist Michael Anthony's "Silent Fury and a poem about Mingus read by Lauren Kamp accompanied by bassist Rodney Bowe. The second set got under way with splendid readings of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five and the standard "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To, after which Betty and I had to take our leave (we do need our beauty sleep). But we look forward to seeing the SJO again.
Clarinetist Tony Scott, who played with and led a number of big bands during his long career, died March 28 in Rome, Italy. He was 85 years old. Scott began as a swing clarinetist in the image of Benny Goodman but changed his style to bebop after hearing saxophonist Charlie Parker in the early 1940s. In 1959, Scott left the U.S. to travel in Europe and Asia, became a star in Japan, and in the 1970s settled in Italy, where he lived for the rest of his life, touring and playing with groups large and small. On his seventy-fifth birthday, in 1996, he recorded The Old Lion Roars in Milan, and four years ago returned to the U.S. for a series of concerts with fellow clarinet legend Buddy De Franco in what would be the lion's last roar. RIP, Tony.
Looking Ahead . . .
More than seventy jazz artists and three big bands are scheduled to take part August 30-31 and September 1-2 in the thirteenth annual West Coast Jazz Party at the Irvine (CA) Marriott Hotel near the John Wayne/Orange County Airport. The Jazz America Big Band is set to perform on Friday, trumpeter Carl Saunders' Bebop Big Band on Saturday, and the West Coast Jazz Party All-Star Big Band on Sunday. Others enlivening the party include the Tony Monaco/Bruce Forman Trio, the Jeremy Pelt Quartet, the Terry Gibbs Sextet featuring Ken Peplowski, a West Coast Tribute to Gerry Mulligan with saxophonists Jennifer Hall and Roger Neumann, the Kristin Korb Trio with special guest Andy Martin, the Steve Turre Quintet with Harry Allen, the Mike Melvoin Trio, "Heavy Juice with Harry Allen, Scott Hamilton and pianist Tamir Hendelman, and the Scott Hamilton/Lanny Morgan Quintet with Jon Mayer, Lynn Seaton and Clayton Cameron. James Moody will also be there, as will Byron Stripling, Butch Miles, Jay Leonhart, Chuck Redd, Nancy Kelly, John Proulx, Tom Ranier, Chuck Berghofer, Frank Capp, Ron Eschete, Dewey Erney and many others. For more information, phone 949-759-5003 or go to www.westcoastjazzparty.com