Jazz on the Lake
Day 2 belonged to Bunnett and her hot Cuban band, featuring several songs from her newest CD “Ritmo + Soul.”
Each song was typically laced with intricate percussion over which Bunnett soared either on flute or soprano sax. Bunnett displays a dazzling technique on flute and also creates a sweet sound that can create fire or be as sensuous as Deanna on a summer’s evening. Trumpeter Larry Cramer was a good foil, especially on muted horn where he would toss in playful Milesian riffs. Pianist Hilario Duran was the keyboard hero of the weekend, smooth, fast and rhythmic. His solos were ornate, yet somehow down-home.
”Joyful Noise,” was just that, dedicated to Tito Puente. “Osian,” was a simple but catchy tune Bunnett said was a Cuban lullaby. Bunnett’s soprano and Duran’s piano gave it a beautiful feel. The band is outstanding.
Pianist/vocalist Rick DellaRatta is beginning to make a name for himself, crooning in a style reminiscent of John Pizzarelli. Vocalists in that mode are in style of late and may be a way for a musician to break out. But DellaRatta’s singing sounded weak and uninventive. His original songs were lacking and the standards certainly didn’t blow anyone away.
When the trio performed, however, highlighted by the super Billy Hart on drums, the music was outstanding. DellaRatta has a nice touch on the piano and pushed by the outstanding drummer, the music was captivating.
Ending the weekend was a local orchestra, the Joey Thomas Big Band, which more than held its own in a lengthy set. They performed largely a tribute to Stan Kenton, doing several arrangements by the various people who worked for Kenton over the years. The band was tight and its soloists were good. They didn’t stick to all Kenton, however, and were looser and more fun on Basie and Ellington charts.
The Lake George weekend was again extraordinary. With its gorgeous setting and consistently stimulating lineups, it may just be the best little festival this side of... well... this side of wherever you might be standing at the time.