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Many Shades of Jazz Come Out at Newport 2010

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CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival
Fort Adams State Park
Newport, RI
August 6-8, 2010

The variety of music at the 2010 CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival August 6-9 was one of its notable traits. Mainstream, Latin, electric stuff, ornate orchestral offerings, swing and all kinds of things in between.

The originality of the music in so many of the bands—David Binney
David Binney
David Binney
b.1961
saxophone
, Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
b.1963
trumpet
, Fly (Mark Turner, Jeff Ballard, Larry Grenadier), Rez Abbasi
Rez Abbasi
Rez Abbasi

guitar
, JD Allen
JD Allen

sax, tenor
, Ben Allison
Ben Allison
Ben Allison
b.1966
bass, acoustic
, Jason Moran
Jason Moran
Jason Moran
b.1975
piano
, Ken Vandermark
Ken Vandermark
Ken Vandermark
b.1964
saxophone
, and Sun Ra Arkestra alumnus Marshall Allen
Marshall Allen
Marshall Allen
b.1924
sax, alto
(with Matthew Shipp
Matthew Shipp
Matthew Shipp
b.1960
piano
and Joe Morris
Joe Morris
Joe Morris
b.1955
guitar
) was impressive. It was also a fine example of the health of the music and the many facets of its creators that are out there ion the scene now. That's not taking into account jazz stalwarts like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal, Jon Faddis, Wynton Marsalis and various flavors of big band/orchestral jazz.



There weren't many vocalists on the docket, but Gretchen Parlato
Gretchen Parlato
Gretchen Parlato

vocalist
was a delight, playing on one of the three stages with a superb trio consisting of Gerald Clayton on piano, Kendrick Scott
Kendrick Scott
Kendrick Scott
b.1980
drums
on drums and Alan Hampton on bass, she exhibited her unique approach to the art form. She doesn't have the big voice, octave-spanning instrument of some jazz singers. What she has she uses to great advantage, her artistic statement as valid as any. Her breathy, intimate style is subdued, but expressive. She finds the right place to drop a phrase, elongating a note, cooing with sensuality. Parlato captures you by pulling gently on your sleeve and purring in your ear, not grabbing your attention with grand gesture.

Sometimes there were wordless vocal improvisations, like on "Within Me." Not scat, but soaring like a guitar through the gently rhythm of the song. Sweetly done. "Doralice" was an exquisite duet with Scott, who provided varied rhythms, tasteful and exotic. He's one of the most musical of drummers. And Parlato's dressing of the Jobim lyric over that cushion of sound was special. So was her duet with Clayton on Monk's "Ugly Beauty." Delicate but delicious. The closer of the Michal Jackson hit "I Can't help It" was slightly funky and alluring. This is a special singer.

Ben Allison
Ben Allison
Ben Allison
b.1966
bass, acoustic
's music was excellent, melodies that allowed soloists like Jenny Scheinman, Shane Endsley
Shane Endsley
Shane Endsley

trumpet
and Steve Cardenas to shine. Rudy Royston
Rudy Royston
Rudy Royston

drums
was excellent on drums, providing the driving force—with Allison's bass—to each varied composition, whether aggressive, as it sometimes got, or more serene. Allison is a fine writer as well as player.



Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen

sax, tenor
's quartet was more mainstream, but her clarinet is anything but staid. This woman wails, and her imagination and fleet fingers always provide thrills and surprises along the way. A first-rate performer and musician. David Binney's Third Occasion Quartet was a pleasant surprise. With the great drummer Brian Blade
Brian Blade
Brian Blade
b.1970
drums
drawing from his varied, unanticipated, colorful rhythmic bag, and pianist Craig Taborn
Craig Taborn
Craig Taborn
b.1970
keyboard
's creative improvisational mind, Binney laid out emotionally charged and cerebral saxophone. The band was tight and the original music intriguing and arresting.

The same with the Fly trio. turner's tenor sax sounded fine over Ballard's shifting rhythms and Grenadier's steady, flowing bass. The improvisations were loose at times, though connected. Their improvisational paths were fun to follow. Top musicians developing a cohesive mind and good sound.

Ken Vandermark
Ken Vandermark
Ken Vandermark
b.1964
saxophone
's Powerhouse Sound band came on as advertised. They sounded bigger than a quartet at times, and the music delved into many areas. Including funk and rock. One number started funky as hell, with Vandermark's sax getting into that genre, slick and slurpy. As the tune got more intense and the sax laid out, guitarist Jeff Parker
Jeff Parker
Jeff Parker

guitar
took off, wailing over a driving rhythm that was reminiscent of Hendrix with Buddy Miles. The saxophonist's music stretched boundaries, but improvisation was inside of everything.

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