2013 Tri-C JazzFest: Cleveland, OH, April 19 - 27, 2013

2013 Tri-C JazzFest: Cleveland, OH, April 19 - 27, 2013
By Published: | 8,584 views
34th Annual Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland
Cleveland, OH
April 19-April 27, 2013
There was a determined effort by Tri-C JazzFest Managing Director Terri Pontremoli to give this year's event more of a festival atmosphere than it has perhaps enjoyed in years past. For starters, many of the outlying venues, such as the East Cleveland library, a regular festival haunt, were scrapped in order to concentrate events downtown, with most concerts staged either in the grand theaters of Playhouse Square or on the Tri-C campus. Additionally, the first and second Saturday schedules (a third, one-show Saturday on May 4 was oddly set off from the rest of the festival by a week) were programmed to allow festival goers the opportunity to attend three shows in succession without leaving the confines of the Playhouse Square theater complex. Filler events—Q&As with artists, concerts by local bands —were also set up in a theater lobby to keep attendees engaged in between shows. These changes did add something of a new atmosphere, and certainly added convenience for those attending multiple shows, but it still seemed like people were coming out for individual shows and leaving. But maybe ticket sales will refute that observation.

Something that didn't change was the diversity of acts; the eclectic mix, as always, tried to cater to every niche of the jazz and jazz-like listening community of Greater Cleveland. Kicking off with a broadly appealing Friday night show by New Orleanians (and, apparently then, de facto jazzmen) singer Aaron Neville
Aaron Neville
Aaron Neville

vocalist
and pianist Dr. John
Dr. John
Dr. John
b.1940
piano
, the festival went on to seek youth (pianist Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper
b.1978
piano
), adult contemporaries (singers Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole
b.1950
vocalist
and Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein
b.1956
vocalist
), traditionalists (saxophonists Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett
b.1960
sax, alto
and Javon Jackson
Javon Jackson
Javon Jackson
b.1965
saxophone
), smoothers (keyboardist Brian Simpson's Smooth Jazz All-Stars) and many others who represented varying degrees of musical experimentation (pianist Orrin Evans
Orrin Evans
Orrin Evans
b.1975
piano
, clarinetist Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen

sax, tenor
and guitarists Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
b.1951
guitar
and Lionel Loueke
Lionel Loueke
Lionel Loueke
b.1973
guitar
). And, of course, there was no skimping on homegrown flavors, with big shows by saxophonist Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
b.1952
saxophone
, whose set featured a cavalcade of local artists, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci
Dominick Farinacci
Dominick Farinacci
b.1983
trumpet
, who introduced young phenom singer Cecile McLorin Salvant to the Cleveland market, and the festival's house band TCJF SoundWorks, which teamed with Jackson to pay tribute to the late saxophonist Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
.

That first stacked Saturday kicked off with the Robert Glasper Experiment. Taking the stage after a short technical delay (the amiable Glasper seems always to face some kind of interference when performing in this town, be it from the sound system, the building, a clueless, noisy audience ...) with an altered lineup that retained only saxophonist/vocoderist Casey Benjamin from the Grammy Award-winning Black Radio (Blue Note, 2012), Glasper's group chugged out sounds at once futuristic and nostalgic. Without the aid of the R&B vocal talent that graces the record, singing duties fell to Benjamin, whose vocoder rendered quickly passing lyrics unintelligible, but gave a nice, outer-spaceway warble to refrains.



With the altered words reverberating over the steady, funky beat laid down by drummer Mark Colenburg and bassist Burniss Travis, and Glasper's rising and falling electric sprinkles, an undulating pulse was broadcast to the room, lifting some from their seats to flex in commiserate boogie. But after a few numbers, and despite some interesting interludes from Glasper and Benjamin's occasional shift to saxophone, a sameness took over the music: there was little difference between the vocodered beats carrying "The Consequences of Jealousy" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Still, the early Saturday afternoon crowd seemed to dig it and confirmed its affirmation by gamely, if falteringly, singing along during the encore—a cover of Floetry's "Say Yes."

There was a more partisan reaction to Orrin Evans' set a few nights later, unless the front exits of the Tri-C Auditorium simply revealed departures more readily than the Ohio Theatre that hosted Glasper. The audience sent vocal affirmations reporting through the air, with the spent powder settling on the heads of those filing out after each number. Strange. Not, surely, a straight-ahead player, Evans also is no wild experimenter. So the love-it/hate-it response he garnered on this night was odd—and unfortunate, since this trio's performance was the most engrossing of the festival.

comments powered by Disqus
Sponsor: Summit Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.

or search site with Google