Tanglewood Jazz Festival 2003
Today, Duke was swingin' along with a soulful saxophone and hummin' Hammond B-3. The band consists of: Duke on guitar, Doug James (baritone and tenor sax), "Sax" Gordon (tenor), Matt McCabe (piano), Jesse Williams (bass) and Mark Teixeira (drums). In big letters, "Duke", stretched across his guitar strap as he strummed his semi-acoustic fat-sounding guitar.
After several swingin' tunes, out comes legendary pianist/bandleader Jay McShann. Jay was Charlie Parker's bandleader and the audience responded with reverant applause. I looked down to notice that I was sitting in a seat donated by Dorothy and Stephen Weber. Thanks. Jay "Hootie" McShann may be old as the hills, but he can still swing as he proved here today.
The Robillard/McShann set included: "Don't Leave Me Baby", "Glamour Girl", "Say Forward I'll March", "Confessin' The Blues", "Jumpin' The Blues"...you get the idea. It was a Kansas City Swing/Blues celebration.
Waiting in the wings was a big, powerful band called "Kendrick Oliver & The New Life Jazz Orchestra." These 20 young musicians play big band gospel rockin' music! Their set rumbled in with the Les McCann/Eddie Harris "Swiss Movement" soul jazz tune "Cold Duck Time."
Earlier in the day, across the beautiful Tanglewood grounds at the Tanglewood Theatre, a concert called "Remembering The Modern Jazz Quartet: Donal Fox, Inventions In Blue" echoed through the trees. Players included: leader and incredibly talented pianist, Donal Fox, as well as Stefon Harris (vibraphone), Yoron Israel (drums) and John Lockwood (double bass).
Later in the night, 23-year-old Hiromi made beautiful music on her piano, joined by Mitch Cohen on bass and Dave Dicenso on drums. The Telarc recording artist has a free-wheeling style that is easy to enjoy.
Then it was one of the most influencial jazz players of modern-day, Wynton Marsalis. His septet is nothing less than spectacular. Here's the lineup: Wynton on ol' school trumpet, Herlin Riley (drums), Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson (alto/soprano), Richard Johnson (piano), Victor Goines (clarinet), Ron Westray (trombone) and Reginald Veal (bass).
Wynton is the Artistic Director for Jazz At Lincoln Center. Be sure to check out their website at: www.jazzatlincolncenter.org.
Closing out this year's event was the sparkling vocalist Natalie Cole. She has a new recording out on Verve Records entitled "Ask A Woman Who Knows." It's her first CD venture in three years. Natalie's set included standards like "Straighten Up And Fly Right" and "Paper Moon" to the title cut from her new release "Ask A Woman" to the classic "Unforgetable."
Hats off to Tanglewood Jazz Festival Director Tony Beadle and Public Relations Superwoman, Sue Auclair. If you're anywhere near the Berkshire Mountains in late August, make it a point to take the scenic drive over to the Tanglewood Jazz Festival. It happens every year and packs a wallop. Guaranteed.
Scott H. Thompson is a member of the Jazz Journalists Association and has contributed to Down Beat, Jazziz, JazzTimes, The Jazz Report and "The All Music Guide To Jazz." He wrote the CD liner notes for Herbie Hancock "Headhunters", Weather Report "8:30" and George Duke "Brazilian Love Affair", to name a few. Thompson co-produced the New Haven Jazz Festival from 1994 to 2000.