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Live Reviews

2013 Tri-C JazzFest: Cleveland, OH, April 19 - 27, 2013

By Published: May 8, 2013
Farinacci, of course, is aware of the buzz McLorin Salvant has generated, and he featured her on half the tunes of his eight-song set. (She also figured in the final number, a jam session of sorts with local high-school students, guitarist Lucas Kadish and bassist Jamal Collins.) As it turns out, the buzz was perhaps too subdued. Salvant exercised a flamboyant actor's sensibility, her face morphing through a host of expressions as her voice effortlessly recalled the history of jazz singing. Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan
1924 - 1990
vocalist
, Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
1917 - 1996
vocalist
, Betty Carter
Betty Carter
Betty Carter
1930 - 1998
vocalist
, Abbey Lincoln
Abbey Lincoln
Abbey Lincoln
1930 - 2010
vocalist
often flipped by in the course of a single song—or even a single line. Which isn't to say Salvant was simply aping her predecessors, but that she displayed such broad familiarity with —and full command of—jazz singing that she was able to work a lyric anyway she saw fit and, just as importantly, was not only unafraid, but relished doing so, as with the insightfully comic yawn over the final word of the "Mean To Me" line "you love to see me crying." If anything, she may need to relax the throttle on her inventiveness—it can, at times, be too much to follow and digest. But wow; thrilling, nonetheless.

Natalie Cole, on the festival's final night, stuck more to the scripted melodies. Gamely battling a cold (or allergies, perhaps) the singer didn't scrimp on delivering fan favorites over the course of 90-plus minutes of music (on top of an hour set from the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
b.1995
band/orchestra
). While some of the numbers had the feel of obligation (two songs in duet with recordings of her father, Nat "King" Cole
Nat
Nat "King" Cole
1919 - 1965
piano
—"Unforgettable" and "Acércate más"—and her hit, "Miss You Like Crazy"), others, like renditions of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" and Etta James
Etta James
Etta James
1938 - 2012
vocalist
' trademark "At Last," were inspired. And with its high style, big band backing—and, yes, manufactured string section—the show provided a grand close to the JazzFest that is, perhaps, more festival than ever.

Photo Credit

All Photos: Matt Marshall


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