Litchfield Jazz Festival 2009
The Latin beat went further south next when Trio Da Paz came on stage. The trio is composed of Romero Lubamboon acoustic guitar, Nilson Matta on bass and Duduka da Fonseca on drumsall originally from Brazil and now New York-based. These are three individual virtuosos on their instruments who have joined together to make the music of their native country. The first two numbers were original compositionsone by bassist Matta and the other by guitarist Lubambo. Lubambo's classic guitar fingering is impeccable, Matta's bass work is exceedingly melodic and da Fonseca's drumming is like an engine behind everything and inventive on his solos. The legendary Leny Andrade then joined the trio to demonstrate why she is a legend. The lady sings and scats with such ease that the music seems to flow from her like the surf in her native Rio. Starting off with "So Danco Samba," she continued on to a version of "Wave" with tempo changes from slow to fast and back to slow againthe Trio following her all the way as a tightly knit unit. Lubambo and Matta then played a Bach-inspired composition with intricate counter-melodies, ending with the guitar and drummer da Fonseca trading fours. The set ended with Andrade singing Jobim's "One Note Samba" and the audience trying hard not to get up and dance to the contagious joy of this Brazilian treat.
The Wycliffe Gordonand Jay Leonhart Quartet provided some good music and tongue-in-cheek fun during the next set. Both Gordon (trombone) and Leonhart (bass) shared vocal duties as well as played their respective instruments and were joined by Ted Rosenthal on piano and Alvin Atkinson on drums. "Surrey With The Fringe On The Top" featured Leonhart on the vocal and also singing with the bass, followed by Gordon singing with the bass. Leonhart had the audience chuckling during the singing of his original song about sitting next to Leonard Bernstein on a flight to California, accompanied only by his bass. Gordon stepped up to do vocals on his original "This Rhythm On My Mind." Both Gordon and Leonhart worked back and forth and together during the set, ably showing off their respective techniques and their shared sense of humor with Rosenthal lending some fine solos and Atkinson supplying his conversational style of drumming. "Lester Leaps In," the Count Basie-Lester Young vehicle, provided a perfect finale with both Gordon and Leonhart scatting and swinging away.
As a change of pace and configuration, a duo turned up in the persons of Benny Greenon piano and the living legend, Bucky Pizzarelli, on guitar. Green is a California-based pianist who has a very respectable resume, including having worked with Betty Carter, Diana Krall, Freddie Hubbard, Russell Malone and Etta Jones. Pizzarelli continues to display his guitar mastery and magic. The music from this duo was a selection of recognizable standards played together and two solo renditions. Green performed a lovely version of "Tenderly," on which he reharmonized the chords. And Pizzarelli delivered Django Reinhardt's "Nuages" from the heart. This pairing is an interesting one and seems to work. The two men make great music together; concluding their set with their own jumping verson of "Lester Leaps In"!
Bill Hendersonstepped out on stage and totally captured the audience, while being ably backed up by Dena DeRose on piano, Avery Sharpe on bass and Winard Harper on drums. Henderson knows his instrument and can use his voice to express warmth and intimacy as well as belting with the best of them. He chooses his material to fit his voice and person, and he knows how to tell the story in each lyric with impeccable phrasing. Whether it was his gospel approach to "You Are My Sunshine" or his rousing hand-clapper, "Smack Dab In The Middle," Henderson had the rink in the palm of his hands. The most notable number, however, was his version of Arlen's "That Old Black Magic," which started off slow, changed for an up-tempo chorus and then came back to a slow ballad form. By the time it was done, you could hear a pin drop.
This octogenarian (83 years old this year) defies his age when he sings a love song and transmits all the emotions that some people think are only for the young. As he sat on a stool on that stage and just sang, he was any age, totally believable and delicious.
Sunday, August 2nd, 2009