Freihofer's Jazz Festival: One Great Weekend
LaVette, 63who began singing R&B at 16, but had only moderate success until a few years ago showed a very strong and richly soulful way with a song. "You Don't Know Me," "A Change is Gonna Come," and "Little Sparrow" along with strength, emotion and style, and maybe a wisp of Tina Turner when she turned up the volume. Good stuff.
Latin music was represented by a few groups. Trumpeter Mark Morganelli has been playing out with a band that has a Brazilian flavor of late, and brought a Jobim tribute to SPAC. His playing is strong and though usually in the jazz mainstream showed a great affinity for Jobim, with consistently fine solos on selection like Jobim's "Desafinado," "Chega de Saudade," and "Felicidade." Singer Monika Oliveira added delightful and authentic touches to "Fotographia" and "One Note Samba" among others.
The Grammy Award-winning Spanish Harlem Jazz Orchestra (Across 110th St., 2004, Red Int./red Ink) was a high-energy, horn-and-percussion driven ensemble that had people dancing to salsa and other spirited Latin expressions. An all-star band from Berklee College of Music, La Timbistica, also added to the flavor, but with a small ensemble.
Trumpeter Alessi called his band This Against That, but there were no offerings from his CD of that name. Still, his pensive writing style, with its changing moods and different colors and textures, was a treat. He's a provocative storyteller on his instrument. And saxophonist Tony Malaby, a terrific player, with his own projects to attest to that, was an exquisite contributor to Alessi's collective.
Saxophonist John Ellis, known for a time for his work with guitarist Charlie Hunter, performed a very solid set of thoughtful and inspired sounds ably abetted by the excellent guitar of Mike Moreno. Both are strong players from which more will be heard as time marches on. Ellis's horn slithered through the selections with both dexterity and soul. Moreno has developed a personal sound with ample doses of passion and imagination.
Combined with the relaxed, picnic setting of the annual event, the high level of music made the 2009 edition an excellent one. Watch for the 2010 version.
Photos by R.J. DeLuke