Many Shades of Jazz Come Out at Newport 2010
Pianist Jason Moran showed his personal and exiting improvisational mind that has been capturing acclaim. The trio, powered by the fluid, polyrhythmic drumming of Nasheet Waits (who also provided the panoramic rhythms for Dave Douglas' Brass Ecstasy earlier in the afternoon), wandered many paths. The angular interpretation of "Crepuscule With Nellie" was particularly enjoyable. Drummer Matt Wilson's avant-garde-leading quartet was augmented by a string quartet and occasional vocals. The music was free form sounding at times, ethnic sounding at times, also melodic and romantic, and a resembled a jumbled modern painting at timesin a good way. Wilson's influences are varied and he has no allegiance to sticking to standard styles. He follows his own muse, not matter how "different" it might be. Expect the unexpected. It's an interesting ride.
More in the pocket, but no less pleasing, was Trio da Paz, with Harry Allen on tenor sax. They played soft, sexy jazz samba tunes like "Wave" and "One Note Samba." The trio, led by Duduka Da fonseca and featuring the gorgeous acoustic guitar of Romero Lubambo, played some originals too. A classy group that performs this music expertly. Allen's tone and great melodic improvisation skills meld perfectly.
For fans of jazz orchestras, nothing could be finer than to be in front of the Maria Schneider orchestra, with her talented troupe bringing her lush, romantic, exciting compositions to life. "Last Season" was a fine examples of her first-rate performances that are always great from the first tune to the last. Ingrid Jensen provided a sweet, swirling melodic statement on flugelhorn that floated beautifully over the band as the in intensity, and Steve Wilson, always masterful, negotiated the composition with a piercing soprano sax solo. A great set.
Arturo Sandoval's Latin Jazz Orchestra is always high intensity. "El Sur" and "Rumba Urbana" were among the selection. His tribute to his famous father, "Song for Chico," which featured saxophonist Bobby Porcelli weaving, bobbing and gliding over the exciting, driving propulsion of Latin jazz, got the blood rushing around in one's body. The Jazz Mafia & Brass, Bows & Beats was a 42-member aggregation that added rap influences, Latin tinges and even poetry to the jazz mix. An exciting group.
And Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, showed why critics and fans alike are lining up. Like Schneider, Argue's compositional and arranging voice is singular. They are producing superior music with original stamps. The Society jumped right out of the chute with the swinging "Transit" that featured a fiery Ingrid Jensen trumpet solo over the hypnotic rhythm laid down by drummer Jon Wikan. He said "Phobos" was a song that should evoke "fear and destruction." It was an aggressive number than started out with Wikan playing a cajon (a kind of drum box played with the hands) that was electrified, allowing for some spacey effects. The band eerily crept in and then the theme grew in grandeur, with saxophonist Mark Small exploring the theme with a deft, sparkling solo. Enthralling music.
The weekend of 30 bands meant it was impossible to get a great listen to everything. No matter. At each turn the music was engaging and the man behind it all, George Wein, deserve kudos for a great program.
Sunny skies, the ocean air, and sailboats slithering past (even a behemoth cruise ship was anchored nearby) added to the atmospherea perfect mix with the fantastic sounds coming from Newport on what had to be its best days.
All Photos: R.J. DeLuke