Another August, Another Summit
After intermission, on an otherwise almost-bare stage, the incomparable Bud Shank sat casually on a stool in front of Thomas, Kilian and Hobbs and proceeded for the next hour to blow the audience away with his awesome virtuosity. I can't recall every number but they included Ray Noble's "The Touch Of Your Lips, Cole Porter's "Night And Day, and three more standards"I Can't Get Started, "Here's That Rainy Day and one of my special favorites, "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes. Even though on oxygen owing to a recent illness, Shank showed no signs of fatigue or shortness of breath as he ingeniously designed one remarkable solo after another, reaffirming his supremacy after more than half a century at the top of his game. The second half of the concert belonged to Shank, and it was indeed a marvelous way to end the evening.
On Sunday morning, Betty and I chose the earlier of two Jazz Brunches at the Inn (and passed over the afternoon's closing concert), as we had to catch an afternoon flight from Phoenix to Albuquerque (which, as it turns out, was delayed for almost two hours). Our brunch featured entertainment by the Hot Club of Prescott (Petersen, Winker, drummer Frankie Chavez and Steve Batt on mandolin) with special guests. Shank and Saunders performed together at the later brunch, something we'd love to have seen and heard. Maybe next year.
And speaking of next year, there will almost surely be an eighth annual Jazz Summit. Vax wants to make the event bigger and better, but needs help to do so. If you have late August free, and would like to attend and support a jazz festival that is worthy of the name, check it out.
Also in August...
We went to The Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque on August 2 for a rather disappointing evening whose headliner, trumpeter Bobby Shew, didn't appear until after intermission and then played only three numbers, one with rhythm only, two with guest saxophonist Rick Keller from L.A. If that was a letdown, it was no more so than the warmed-over scraps dished out earlier by bassist Rodney Bowe's funk-based group. Drummer Diego Arencon's trio, which followed, was a bit more palatable, but there simply wasn't enough Shew to assuage one's appetite for straight-on blowing. Bobby was to have knee surgery in August and again in September, and we certainly wish him well.
Two weeks later we were at the home of flutist Jennifer Cole, east of the Sandia Mountains, for an informal Sunday afternoon session, one of several she hosts each year, this one featuring pianist Mark Levine, bassist John Wiitala and drummer Akira Tana with guest flutist Ali Ryerson, who was in town for the National Flute Association's annual convention (and is Cole's teacher). We'd run into Cole quite by accident at an arts and crafts fair and were invited to join the sixty-or-so regulars who attend her soirees. The music performances, held in a living room with a breathtaking view of the mountains to the northeast, are followed by a buffet in which guests mingle with musicians amid lively conversation. We definitely plan to return.
One event we regretfully missed (as it started at 10 in the evening, well past our bedtime) took place near the end of the Flute Association's event at the Albuquerque Convention Center, when Ryerson led a "big band comprised of twenty-two flutes and rhythm. Holly Hofmann, another outstanding flutist from the West Coast, was a member of the ensemble. Now that would have been something to hear...
On the horizon
As this is written, we are less than a month away from the Los Angeles Jazz Institute's "Big Band Showcase, a four-day event (October 4-7) at the Sheraton Four Points LAX Hotel whose performing big bands number almost twenty. This follows last May's "Swing Into Spring in which twenty-four of the West Coast's premier ensembles appeared, and one of the amazing aspects of this event is that none of these bands was in the lineup six months ago. Among the many highlights: a day-long tribute to composer/arranger extraordinaire Bill Holman whose band will perform three times that day (Friday), the first a "Kenton Showcase featuring Holman's compositions and arrangements for the Stan Kenton Orchestra, the second a "Bill Holman Songbook with compositions and arrangements written for Woody Herman, Charlie Barnet, Maynard Ferguson and Buddy Rich plus gems from his own albums including In A Jazz Orbit, The Fabulous Bill Holman and Bill Holman's Great Big Band.