2013 Tri-C JazzFest: Cleveland, OH, April 19 - 27, 2013
The festival always places a strong emphasis on local talent and on bringing back native Clevelanders who have made a strong national and international impact. Lovano, one of the greatest jazzers ever to come out of Cleveland, regularly fills a festival slot, as does Farinacci, a graduate of the Tri-C jazz program. Both used their stage time this year to highlight others. In a show billed as a celebration of his 60th birthday (which actually rolled around last December), Lovano appropriately made the event a family and friends affair, much as he did in an appearance on the eve of his 58th birthday at Nighttown.
Opening with his Us Five group (with Cleveland drummer Jamey Haddad sitting in for Francisco Mela), the saxophonist ran through a couple tunes from Cross Culture (Blue Note, 2013) and Folk Art (Blue Note, 2009) before inviting his wife, singer Judi Silvano, onstage to lend piercing, nonverbal vocals to Lovano originals, "Sanctuary Park" and "Golden Horn."
From here on out the cast of characters was in constant flux. Lovano conducted a few tenor battles with Ernie Krivda; ran throughthe "Northeast Ohio Suite" with his brother, drummer Anthony Lovano and bassist Jeff Anastesia; teamed up with old classmates, drummer Carmen Castaldi and bassist Ron Smith, for a tribute to late Cleveland saxophonist Albert Ayler; and went full bore on Oscar Pettiford's "Blues in the Closet," with a host of long-time Cleveland players: organist Eddie Baccus Sr. Quartet, drummer Greg Bandy, trumpeters Kenny Davis and Carl Lovano (Joe's uncle), vibraphonist Ron Busch and Krivda. Multiplayer reviews like this rarely maintain cohesiveness or sustain a mood, and this one was no exception. But it was good fun, and Lovano showed off his enviable range on tenor, G mezzo soprano and double-soprano autochrome to the delight of the hometown crowd.
Farinacci likewise charmed the natives. Mixing strong, well-articulated trumpet and flugelhorn lines with a well-oiled hometown standup routine (his 80-something "Nana" never escapes a callout and good-natured ribbing), the latter-day Rat Packer with a horn displayed not only supreme ease and confidence onstage, but took complete ownership of the situationa leader in the fullest sense. And while there was plenty of space for his own soloing, that featured maturely drawn musical arcs, he gave a lot of time over to others, as wellmost notably pianist Aaron Diehl, who just released his Mack Avenue debut The Bespoke Man's Narrative (2013), and singer Cecile McLorin Salvant, whose own debut on the Detroit label, Woman Child (2013), is due out later this month.