Inntoene Festival: Diersbach, Austria, June 10-12, 2011
From left: Kirk Lightsey, Melba Joyce, Aaron James, Larry Smith, Ronnie Burrage
The programming of early music ensemble Ars Antiqua Austria next was an interesting contrast, and gave the strong sense of how programming with jazz at its heart can extend in fascinating directions. The most skilled improviser in the group is Jan Krigovsky, originally from the Tatras mountains of Northern Slovakia. He is listed on various websites as a jazz bassist, but last night was called upon to sing, and to play just about everything apart from the bass. He played a subsidiary violin part with the kind of attack and bite that comes from an accordion. He was also featured, playing in ensemble with the others, on two types of Slovakian overtone flutes, interesting curiosities but not much more, the koncovka and the fujara.
Saxophonist Carlos Garnett had apparently told Zauner that his quartet, with pianist Carlton Holmes, bassist Brad Jones and drummer Taru Alexander, would "blow the barn down." But this group was at its most effective in its two ballads: Garnett's own "Shakina"after a daughter born to him at the age of 67, an African-American name meaning possessing god-like beautyand Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes." Garnett, with gorgeous and focused tone, stated his melodies clearly, whereas the quicker numbers, typified by "Catch me if you can," zipped through changes, and at times the band had a tendency to play vertically over the chords, rather than to narrate. A delightful closer, the theme from The Flintstones, brought out the genuine entertainer in Garnett, whose "Jump -Did-Le-Ba," Dizzy Gillespie-style vocalizing did fulfill the promise, bringing the house down and an enthusiastic full house to its feet.
Davell Crawford delivered a truly remarkable set. The scheduling had drifted a bit, and the evening's closing act took the stage at 1:10am. But it was well worth the wait for the singer-pianist, the "Prince of New Orleans." Crawford is the godson of Roberta Flack, but has a vocal quality recalling Donny Hathaway. Something definitely happened during this performance; its tentative beginnings grew into a set which will be remembered for a lifetime. Crawford came on wearing a white Stetson hat and dark sunglasses. The opening numbers were, as billed, celebrating New Orleans, including a heartfelt rendition of "Basin Street Blues." The Stetson, wisely, got jettisoned. The word Bosendorfer, the realization that he had such a great piano to commune with, seemed to trigger relaxation in Crawford, and the vibe, the communication level just moved to a different place. A highlight was "Blueberry Hill," in homage to Fats Domino, and Abbey Lincoln's "Throw it away.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Melba Joyce, originally from Texas, has been a feature on the scene in Harlem for many years. The mother of singer Carmen Bradford and sang, until recently, with the Count Basie band. She conveyed pure emotion, but also proved to be a fine and subtle musician. It was a lively and popular set which came to a close with the blues "Doodlin,'" pianist Kirk Lightsey, bassist Aaron A James and drummer Ronnie Burrage providing sympathetic support. Burrage gave Joyce a strongly kicking physical backbeat in "World on a String." She released gorgeous contralto tone in "Round Midnight."
In the hands of Austrian trumpeter Herbert Joos, the instrument completely ceases to be an extroverted declamatory voice, and becomes, instead, shadowy presencesubtle and understated. The quartet which he leads, with vibraphonist Woody Schiabata, is the perfect context for his quiet, Jimmy Giuffre-ish compositions.
Baldo Martinez Projecto Mino