2010 Jarasum Jazz Festival, Gapeyong, South Korea
There was no need for a drummer in this trio as all three musicians carried out percussive duties, and with some ingenuity it has to be said. One the second number, Salis moved a plastic bag back and forwards inside his piano, simulating most effectively the sound of brushes. Bassist di Castro also summoned brushes, simply by rubbing his hand in circular motion on the body of his upright. Various objet trouve, from metal rings on the piano strings, a cloth to dampen the sound of the bass strings and more plastic bag trickery were employed to create the illusion of a percussionist. It was entertaining for the audience and a help to the festival organizers who saved on a drummer's airfare.
Salis switched between pianowhich for the most part he hammered like a demonand his more usual bandoneon, which brought an unmistakable southern European air to the trio. Fresu for his part played sparingly and melodically, delighting the crowd with one sustained note which lasted a minute or so, as di Castro tapped the bass body like a cajon and Salis ripped wild cries from his bandoneon. On the sets slowest numbera highly melodic balladFresu adopted a mute, and on the funky set closer, he employed echo as he and Salis traded fast-back and forth, with the pivotal di Castro right at the heart of the action. The roar of the crowd made an encore inevitable, and the three amici obliged with a short tune in which melody as it had been throughout the setwas the chief protagonist.
The last concert on the main stage on day one was the Dizzy Gillespie All Stars featuring The Heath Brothers. Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath and drummer Albert 'Tootie' Heath are jazz royalty, even if the National Endowment for the Arts has only honored the elder of the brothers as Jazz Master. Miles Davis and John Coltrane were both admirers of Jimmy Heath, and Gillespie himself said of Heath:"If you know Jimmy Heath you know bop." 'Tootie' Heath too, has walked with giants, playing with John Coltrane, Johnny Griffin, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Nina Simone and Benny Golson.
What's in a name? The Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars has been going since the late '90s and has featured a veritable who's who of jazz over the last dozen years, including Gillespie alumni like James Moody and Paquito D'Rivera. Jimmy Heath and bassist John Lee, however, were the only Gillespie alumni in this sextetHeath having played in Gillespie's big band between 1949 -50, and Lee joining Gillespie in the 1980s which arguably makes the use of Gillespie's name little more than a marketing toolthe Heath Brothers Sextet would have done just fine.
Albert 'Tootie' Heath
Tight as it was, this sextet had the light-hearted air of, well, an all-star jam band, and apart from some corny goofingwhich Dizzy was never shy ofthere was little by way of resemblance to a Gillespie ensemble other than the Gillsepie/Charlie Parker repertory. The burning intensity of Gillespie's small ensembles was somehow lacking. There was some fine soling to be sure, particularly from alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, from trumpeter Greg Gisbet and pianist Benny Green whose version of "Misty" injected pleasing contrast to the brass. Jimmy Heathwho is now 84may not have the lung capacity of yesteryear but he can still tell a compelling story on his saxophone. Even if the volume he could muster paled slightly in comparison to that of Hart and Gisbet, his few solo spots were lessons in economy, phrasing and emotive power. 'Tootie' Heath75kept time immaculately and his playing was funky at times, and in the pocket. When the ensemble stripped down to a trio of drums, Lee on bass and Benny Green on piano, 'Tootie' Heath came more into his own, working his kit with the guile of half a century, and providing one of the set's highlights.
Jimmy and Tootie Heath received a huge, deserved ovation at the end of the set, recognition no doubt, from a knowledgeable jazz crowd, of their great contribution to jazz. Maybe the NEA people haven't seen 'Tootie' Heath' perform in a while.