9

2016 Lakeland Jazz Festival

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
2016 Lakeland Jazz Festival
Lakeland Community College
Kirtland, Ohio
March 18-20, 2016

The Cleveland area has a long history of jazz pedagogy in relation to two well-established community colleges. Cuyahoga Community College's annual jazz featival, the better known program, dates back to 1980 and for many years was a spring tradition before shifiting to its current summer schedule. Preceded by eight years, Lakeland Community College has the distinction of being the longest running jazz festival in the state of Ohio, celebrating its 44th season during a recent March weekend.

Along with performances from local high school ensembles and a civic orchestra that are sprinkled throughout the weekend, the spotlight of the festival has always been the Friday and Saturday evening concerts featuring national acts. In recent years, the roster for these shows has included a wide range of talent including Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Bobby Sanabria, and T.S. Monk. This year's offering would include a return of the very talented organist Tony Monaco, who first appeared at the festival back in 2009 with guitar legened Pat Martino. Completing the bill would be Kenny Garrett and his quintet, making their Lakeland debut.

Although he has been a legend on the Columbus, Ohio scene for years, Tony Monaco has just recently been breaking new ground in an attempt to bring his talent to a wider audience. Back in November of last year, this writer had the pleasure of seeing Monaco join forces for the first time with guitarist Dan Wilson and drummer David Throckmorton at BLU Jazz in Akron. Their innate chemistry was palpable that night and as the trio has continued to work their bond has become even stronger. The fruition of this work was to be heard at Lakeland as the trio seamlessly glided from one tune to the next putting on the type of show that has to be seen to be completely appreciated.

Monaco can blow the blues with the best of them, but it's the variety of styles that he manages to cover that truly display his versatility. Relaying a story about time spent in Jakarta, Tony penned "Happy Sergio" for one of the guests of honor at the jazz festival there, Sergio Mendes. A buoyant samba with a sprightly melody, the trio clearly had a ball exploring this original. Dedicated to the recent passing of Maurice White, the group performed "Can't Hide Love" from the Earth, Wind, and Fire songbook and managed to make it their own.

For sheer pyrotechnics, it was hard to beat the quicksilver romp through the old chestnut "Indiana." By contrast, Monaco can pull out the prettier stops literally, recalling mentor Jimmy Smith on "Candy" and the lush ballad "The Nearness of You." A regular number in Monaco's book for some time now, "Root Down" can usually be counted on to stir things up to a frenzy. Every time Monaco seems to find new paths to take on this funky ride. This particular evening the organist turned snake charmer, conjuring up all kinds of Far Eastern sounds before laying out the funk.

Clearly Monaco is inspired by his cohorts and they in turn rose to the occasion. Wilson knows how to build a solo, alternating between single note runs and more complex chordal passages, all delivered with a clean tone that is minimally processed. Throckmorton regularly works with an organ combo in his hometown of Pittsburgh and his expertise is obvious. He knows how to build drama and quickly responded to Monaco's every move, while contributing his own share of impressive solos.

Performing many of his unique compositions from his most recent album, Pushing the World Away, Kenny Garrett held forth the next evening with a mesmerizing set that lasted over two hours. A Coltrane disciple at heart, Garrett surrounds himself with like-minded musicians that are capable of the type of high octane improvisations that made up most of the first half of the performance. On the blistering "Alpha Man," Garrett's own mercurial solo was followed by pianist Vernell Brown's crowd-pleasing display, which was certainly imbued with a touch of McCoy Tyner.

There was also plenty of open blowing for Garrett in tandem with Marcus Baylor, the mighty powerhouse drummer whipping up a frenzy as Kenny swayed back and forth almost as if in a trance. Adding further layers of rhythmic complexity, percussionist Rudy Bird was a special asset to the Latin-flavored numbers like "Chucho's Mambo" and "J'ouvert (Homage to Sonny Rollins)." Also figuring prominently was bassist Corcoran Holt, who contibuted highly to the mighty burn that was "A Side Order of Hijiki."

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Oct10Thu
Kenny Garrett
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00
Oct10Thu
Kenny Garrett
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00
Oct11Fri
Kenny Garrett
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00
Oct11Fri
Kenny Garrett
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00
Oct12Sat
Kenny Garrett
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00
Oct12Sat
Kenny Garrett
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00
Oct13Sun
Kenny Garrett
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00

Related Articles

Read Marcin Wasilewski Trio at Triskel Christchurch Live Reviews
Marcin Wasilewski Trio at Triskel Christchurch
By Ian Patterson
June 24, 2019
Read The Nice Jazz Orchestra At The Opera House Live Reviews
The Nice Jazz Orchestra At The Opera House
By Martin McFie
June 23, 2019
Read Jochen Rückert Quartet at Hong Kong Arts Centre Live Reviews
Jochen Rückert Quartet at Hong Kong Arts Centre
By Rob Garratt
June 21, 2019
Read John Richmond at The Turning Point Cafe Live Reviews
John Richmond at The Turning Point Cafe
By David A. Orthmann
June 19, 2019
Read Ojai Music Festival 2019 Live Reviews
Ojai Music Festival 2019
By Josef Woodard
June 19, 2019
Read Frédéric Gomes at les Deux Moulins Live Reviews
Frédéric Gomes at les Deux Moulins
By Martin McFie
June 17, 2019
Read Jazzdor Berlin 2019 Live Reviews
Jazzdor Berlin 2019
By Henning Bolte
June 15, 2019