2010 Jarasum Jazz Festival, Gapeyong, South Korea
A lack of talent was no barrier to participation, and Stage 15 was a popular venue which proved to be a lot of fun.
At the Festival Lounge stage, local eight-piece band Los Amigos gave a convincing performance of Brazilian, Afro-Caribbean and salsa rhythms with a barrage of percussion and vocal harmonies winning over a sizeable crowd which was in picnic mode on the grass. Although it was a very pleasant way to kick-start the afternoon, this band would have gone down a storm at the Part Stage in the wee hours of the morning. Next up was the Jaume Vilaseca Quartet from Barcelona, featuring Ravi Chary on sitar. From the opening number, which featured Victor de Diego on a lovely, lilting flute solo, it was clear that the pianist and leader has a decidedly Latin vein in his playing, which alongside Ramon Diaz's Latin accents on drums combined to color the music of the band. Over the course of more than forty years since guitarist Paco De Lucia and saxophonist Pedro Iturralde married flamenco and jazz, Spanish jazz has slowly courted flamencoas well as Latin music to create a jazz which is fairly unique in the world. It was no surprise to see de Diaz switching from mallets to take to the cajon on the atmospheric "Mombai," with the addition of Ravi Chary on sitar adding a touch of the exotic.
From left: Ravi Chary, Ramon Diaz
Chary traded with the saxophone of Diego on a particularly Iberian sounding piece, and sitar and cajon united again to great effect on "Circles." With Chary dropping out, an exciting call and response between Vilaseca and de Diego raised the temperature over Dia's galloping cajon. The quartet sounded equally convincing on the slower numbers, and Vilaseca's extended piano intro on "Canizas" was lyrical and seductive. The quartet became a quintet once more on the final number with the return to the stage of Chary. The sitarist took a short but dazzling solo before leaving the reins to Diego, who blew hard over Diaz's crashing cymbals and the propulsive bass of Dick Them, closing out a pulsating, engaging performance of some enchantment.
Is it really a quarter of a century since Stanley Jordan burst into the spotlight with Magic Touch, (Blue Note, 1985) dazzling everybody with his two-handed tapping technique, and helping relaunch Blue Note records at the same time? Jordan was hardly the first to employ the methodtapping has existed in various musical genres for centuriesand in jazz, guitarist Barney Kessel employed this technique half a century ago. However, it is unlikely that any of the progenitors of tapping could play three guitar necks simultaneously as Jordan used to do in the 1990sor, as he demonstrated here at Jarasum to the amazement of the crowd, play guitar with one hand while executing piano runs with the other.
Since his debut release, Touch Sensitive (Independent Production, 1982) Jordan has played an eclectic songbook which ranges from the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, to classical music. Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence" Was given a radical work over and Jordan demonstrated some of his most outrageous chops of the hour-long set with the notes tumbling from his guitar like torrential rain. Switching genres and centuries, Jordan's pretty interpretation of the andante from W.A. Mozart's Piano Concerto #21 from State of Nature (Mack Avenue Revue, 2008) was as relaxed and relatively straightforward as his playing got.
Moving to the piano, Jordan impressed not only with his simultaneous left-hand guitar, right-hand piano duet but with the fluidity and nuance of his piano playing. Revisiting Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence," the melody flickered in and out of broader, free improvisations which crossed back and forth between jazz and classical leanings. A lovely piano/guitar version of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Insensatez" was opportunity for Jordan to reveal the subtlety of which he is capable, investing emotional weight at the expense of technique.
Returning to the guitar, Jordan treated the audience to some blues, and a classical intro to Led Zeppelin's classic "Stairway to Heaven," a crowd pleaser which Jordan has rarely abandoned in his live shows since he first recorded it twenty five years ago. At times it was a task to know which hand was leading and which was comping; Jordan can probably play guitar while riding a bicycle too. When the closing notes arrived, delicately offered up to the crowd, Jordan exited to a rapturous reception.