31st Annual Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland
Haden's bass opened "Child's Play," singing with its strongly molded tone over Hart's brushes, and the pair's duet carried most of the number. Later in the set, Haden's bass deepened, adapting the tragic grandeur of a baritone singer, and Lovano began to utilize audible, sax-filtered breaths in crafting wonderfully abrasive solo statements. "Lonely Woman" was a well-received treat, with Lovano blowing snake-charmer lines and Broadbent rumbling off into surging fields of abstraction, his hands snowballing at the center of the keyboard, layering quick notes and lengthy ideas in a dense scrambling. The quartet tackled "What About You" to close the set, then returned for an encore (Haden said his wife Ruth warned him, "You gotta get out thereit's Cleveland!"), performing Haden's lyrical yet weighty ode to his former wife, "Ellen David."
Willard Jenkins introduced Patti Austin (right) by proclaiming that JazzFest "had to present at least one of the great American singers." Austin responded, albeit in a preprogrammed way, by paying tribute to one of the greatest American singers of them all, Ella Fitzgerald. Part of a packaged double-bill with pianist Ramsey Lewisa show that landed in St. Thomas and Tucson, Ariz. before this stop in ClevelandAustin impressed as much with her storytelling and humor (good-natured shots at "that bitch," Diana Krall; a call for a political Martini Party to counter the teabaggers: "Tax me, I don't careI'm drunk!") as with her singing. But the singing was forceful, growling with a sexual heat on Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose," scatting mightily on "Mr. Paganini" and "How High the Moon," and rising from a husky yet stately manner on Cole Porter's "Miss Otis Regrets" to loudly testify about the scorned woman's predicament.
After an intermission, Lewis came out charging with his trio, bassist Larry Gray and drummer Leon Joyce. They charged swingingly through "Wade in the Water," before settling down to Lewis' "To Know Her Is To Love Her"Joyce displaying nice rhythmic variety, Gray quickly bowing his bass in a violin-like solothen retreating further, with Lewis alone, rendering the pretty yet propulsive ode to his wife, "Softly She Sings." From there the trio torched the thermometer, unleashing the funky "The Way She Smiles" (Lewis' piano laughing its singular chuckle), then relented once more for the lovely, layered-piano take on The Beatles' "Here, There and Everywhere." They closed with a boogieing, R&B number in the Ray Charles mode that had a large portion of the crowd clapping along and demanding an encore. Lewis didn't disappoint, returning to the stage for a requisiteyet heartily appreciatedrun through his signature number, "The In Crowd," which he followed with two equally jumping numbers.
April 24: TCJF SoundWorks Plays Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra
The festival closed, as usual, at the Reese Center, with TCJF SoundWorks, the fest's "house band," now in its second year. Led by Howie Smith and bassist Glenn Homes, and composed of a host of local musicians (many also members of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra), the group this year attacked the anthems of Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, under the direction of the maestro himself.
Haden conducted the group from the aisle that cuts across the midpoint of the small theater, focusing mostly on the Orchestra's most recent release, Not In Our Name (Verve, 2005). Smith and Sean Jones impressed with back-bending wails into the upper register throughout the initial six numbers, which included "Not In Our Name," "Blue Anthem" and "Amazing Grace." Haden (left) stepped to the stage and took up his bass on "Silence" from The Battle of the Fallen (ECM, 1982). The orchestra then closed with "We Shall Overcome," dissecting the well-worn anthem in a myriad of solo refractions before once more returning to the collective theme. It was the kind of rabble-rousing, inspirational music that leaves an audience hungry for next year's festivities.