Umbria Jazz Winter #18 Days 3-5: December 31, 2010-January 2, 2011
Brass Bang!, from left: Paolo Fresu, Steven Bernstein, Gianluca Petrella
Paying respect to these workers, Brass Bang's intro to the late Lester Bowie's "Zero" displayed the brass instruments in a marvelous slow tempo, followed by Gianluca Petrella's masterfully elegiac trombone solo. In his version of the traditional "No Potmo Reposare," Fresu opted for an electronically reverbed sound on his tenor horn, while trumpeter Steven Bernstein's arrangement of Rolling Stones' "As Tears Go By" followed, with syncopated, Mick Jagger-inspired, ironic imagery.
Bernstein's colorful suggestions were backed by Fresu, adding water to his trumpet; by Petrella, replying with a funnily childlike one-note raspberry; and by tubaist Oren Marshall, opening his own "Orange Ear" with a unique moment of breathlessly fast tuba phrasing, accompanied by a humorous dance. "Filippo Tommaso Marinetti lives," one would have liked to shout, together with Fred Buscaglione, whose romantic "Guarda che luna" was chosen as the band's encore, because, as Bernstein says, "rearranging one iconic piece of the country where you are playing is a question of style!" And people loved it.
Gospel at Its Best: The Selvy Singers
The Selvy Singers well know that gospel is not only made of vocals, but also of theatricality and of gestures which, in the church choir tradition, have to be shared with the audience. Theirs is not a performance; it is a ritual, and one aimed at praying in a happy way.
Which is why The Selvy's January performancesat both Palazzo del Popolo and in the monumental beauty of Orvieto's Domewelcomed the new year with the group singing together during Sunday mass. They danced with brooms on "Sweeping Through the City," and mimicked shining rays with their hands on "This Little Light of Mine," inviting the enthusiastic audience to follow their gestures. Powerful voicesunafraid of loud, long-lasting notesand joyful charisma were the keywords of their presence at Umbria Jazz Winter 2010.
Roberto Gatto Quintet: "Remembering Shelly"
Roberto Gatto, an extremely elegant drummer who recently performed at New York City's Smalls and Kitano, presented a tribute to Shelly Manne, with a quintet featuring keyboardist Luca Mannuzza, saxophonist Max Lonata, trumpeter Marco Tamburini and bassist Giuseppe Bassi. Gatto movingly shared, with the audience, his admiration and gratitude for Manne and his inspiring style, which clearly textured the Italian drummer's background.
Gatto's rhythmic skeleton is made of resistant, yet willingly small bones. He is a man of tiny details: he can be loud when he wants to, but mostly prefers to indulge in unexpected staccatos and sudden, poignant stresses to the whole arrangement. He is always present and recognizable, yet never imposing. This quintet is but one of his many projects as a leader: the latest, The Music Next Door (EmArcy, 2009), being one of those all-star formations within Italian jazz that can't help but produce some unexpected and savory surprises.
Gatto colored his tribute with some juicy anecdotes about Manne. As a resultand like Quintorigo's tribute to Mingusthe concert turned into a quick and humorous lesson on the history of jazz: for example, when Manne was asked to record "Fever," with Jimmy Bowen, the composer's score said, "play it like Shelly Manne." The producer got angry becausenot knowing who he was talking toManne had not played, "like Manne"; the drummer had to tell him who he was, leaving Bowen speechless.
With a concept inspired by Woody Herman's Four Brothers, Four Others followed the same recipe: three tenor saxophones (Harry Allen, Eric Alexander and Grant Stewart), and a baritone (Gary Smulyan), together with piano (Rossano Sportiello), double-bass (Joel Forbes), and drums (Chuck Riggs).
Four Others, from left: Grant Stewart, Eric Alexander, Harry Allen, Gary Smulyan