39th Annual Lakeland Jazz Festival: February 24-27, 2011
Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel unleashed his full, reverberating tone on Saturday night. Backed by pianist Taylor Eigsti, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Ted Poor, Rosenwinkel ran through a set of mostly originals, starting with the title track from his 2010 release Our Secret World (Word of Mouth Music) and ending in the encore with "Under It All," the title track of an unreleased album from his days at Verve. Throughout, he crafted masterfully complex, speedy improvisations, packed with dramatic tension. Yet despite any pyrotechnicsand there were plenty, with the guitarist's blistering fingerwork garnering hearty bursts of applause and joyous calls from the audience on "Brooklyn Sometimes" and "A Shifting Design"Rosenwinkel housed his art within a slow burn, never rushing to spill bucket loads of technical prowess onto the listener, but taking his time (especially on the second number of the night, "Déjà Vu") to construct richly woven tapestries, intricately involved with themselves and the overall framework of the music. The guitar-hero peaks were always well-founded and they relaxed organically back into the whole. Eigsti was a bit more economical in his outlay, but still set loose his share of solos to tangle the body and soul. Revis and Poor kept up a powerful drive, and by the end of a harried run through "Turns"the final number before the encoreeach member of the quartet was happily panting. "That was fast!" Rosenwinkel gasped. And, indeed, the show did feel to be over too quickly.
February 27: The Lakeland Civic Jazz Orchestra / MOJO: The Generations Big Band
The matinee on Sunday brought out two local big bands, both comprised of musicians spanning the generations. The Lakeland group is comprised of Lakeland Community College students and other musicians from the local community, under the direction of Dave Sterner, who also serves as the festival's co-director. On this afternoon, the jovial bunch ran through eight Sammy Nestico compositions, distinguished by the sprightly rhythms of Troy Creagh's Fender Strat and allowing for ample soloing throughout the band.
MOJO's reach seems a bit more broad, as it finds chairs for everyone from the scully capped hipster to the white-haired granddad, the sweater-vested prof to the wunderkind student on his way to Berklee. Under the direction of the always energetic Matthew Bott, the band hit the usual suspectsEllington, Thad Jones, Benny Goodman, even Sammy Nesticobut also made room for Wayne Shorter's "Yes or No." Tenor saxophonists Johnny Cochran and Jevon Bogart, and altoist Keith McKelly were granted a lot of solo time, the tenors favoring bop runs, the alto man blowing mean soul. Trumpeter Mike Hazlett provided a nice arrangement of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," while trombonists Chris Anderson and Sam Blakeslee traded inventive solos on Nestico's "The Plunger." Both bands supplied all the oomph, blare and danceable melodies one could ask for on a chilly Sunday afternoon. Their playing was a fitting close to this little Northeast Ohio festival that can.