Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

10

2017 Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
2017 Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland
Playhouse Square
Cleveland, Ohio
June 22-22, 2017

Although the Newport and Reno festivals have had a longer track record, there are many intriguing connections between the Detroit and Tri-C jazz festivals, both of which are celebrating their 38th birthdays this season. Fostering a strong educational component, both concerns sponsor associated events throughout the year. Furthermore, Tri- C's current director Terri Pontremoli served many years as the artistic director for the Detroit festival. This might have some bearing on the current direction she has taken the Cleveland festival. In 2014, festivities moved from the main college campus to the Playhouse Square theater district, as well as moving from an April event to one in June. By doing so, a free outdoor component could be part of an otherwise ticketed festival.

This year the giant outdoor stage featured seventeen regional acts over the course of two days. Nonetheless, with a packed schedule of paid indoor concerts concurrently running all day Saturday, it might have proven a bit too much competition for the event's own good. It is almost as if there were two distinct crowds on hand, one casually taking in whatever was happening on the free stage and the other with tickets in hand for Saturday's cavalcade in the theaters. Another idea popular with Detroit's fans is the talk tent featuring interviews and discussions with the artists. In its debut this year in Cleveland, it didn't appear to quite hit the momentum it deserves as a viable activity.

Although this reviewer has spoken these words about this festival before, they bear repeating. Be it a caveat of the college or the big-name sponsors, there seems to be a tendency in recent years to put much more emphasis on big shows with artists of limited jazz appeal. As such, the following commentary does not include coverage of performances by Boney James, Norman Brown, Chris Botti, or Boz Scaggs. In addition, it should be noted that most of the indoor performances were set up in two-hour blocks, pairing like artists for their own separate, hour-long sets. While packing in a lot of music, it also meant for a particularly long day on Saturday without much down time for breaks or sustenance.

Friday evening's main event was billed as Terence Blanchard's Blue Note Sessions. With a title that was a bit misleading, Blanchard elucidated how director Taylor Hackford gained the services of the trumpeter for his film The Comedian. A fan of the classic Blue Note sound, Hackford explained that he wanted something in a similar vein for the soundtrack. Much of what the sextet played consisted of untitled scores from the film, although Blanchard set up most of them by describing the associated scenes in the movie. Added to the front line, alto saxophonist Khari Allen Lee and tenor great Ravi Coltrane made the most of their time in the spotlight. Wisely, Blanchard offered Kenny Barron a featured spot, with the pianist joining forces with bassist David Pulphus and drummer Carl Allen on a gorgeous reading of "Isfahan." A titillating idea that just so happened to jell surprisingly well, the brief set went off without a hitch, with Coltrane stealing the show on several occasions.

Giving a nod to female jazz musicians, the first pairing on Saturday's schedule were separate sets by vocalist Alicia Olatujah and Jane Bunnett with her group Maqueque. Up first was Olatujah, a singer relatively new on the scene and who seemed to touch on many styles throughout her performance. Not so much jazz-based but shaped by soul stylings, Olatujah's best moments came with her update of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" and a jubilant take on Djavan's "Serrado" complete with Portuguese lyrics.

Although her work at times can be mercurial while being emotionally detached, Jane Bunnett has never found a better showcase for her talents than in the group of Cuban women that make up her sextet Maqueque. Everything from the writing to the musicianship was nothing short of exhilarating during this, one of the best sets of the festival. Pianist Danae Olano was a marvel, throwing down montuno riffs with the same fluency as she rendered her classically-imbued solos. On bata, congas, and cajon, percussionist Magdelys Savigne added just the right textures to the ensemble, while offering inspired vocals on "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone." Violinist and vocalist Elizabeth Rodriquez formed a simpatico front line with Bunnett, who split her time between soprano saxophone and flute.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Mantra

Mantra

Terence Blanchard
A Tale of God's Will: Requiem...

Beauty, Love and Justice: Living A Coltranian Life
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
  • Live by Mike Jurkovic
Live Reviews
In Pictures
Live Reviews
Building a Jazz Library
CD/LP/Track Review
One LP
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Music and the Creative Spirit
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Live

Live

Blue Note
2018

buy
Breathless

Breathless

Blue Note Records
2015

buy
Magnetic

Magnetic

Blue Note Records
2013

buy
Watts

Watts

Self Produced
2010

buy
Choices

Choices

Concord Music Group
2009

buy
Miracle At St. Anna - Original Soundtrack

Miracle At St. Anna -...

Sony Classical
2008

buy
Date Detail Price
Jan10Thu
8:00 PM
Terence Blanchard & the E-Collective
Blues Alley
Washington, DC
Jan10Thu
10:00 PM
Terence Blanchard & the E-Collective
Blues Alley
Washington, DC
Jan11Fri
8:00 PM
Terence Blanchard & the E-Collective
Blues Alley
Washington, DC
Jan11Fri
10:00 PM
Terence Blanchard & the E-Collective
Blues Alley
Washington, DC
Jan12Sat
8:00 PM
Terence Blanchard & the E-Collective
Blues Alley
Washington, DC
Jan12Sat
10:00 PM
Terence Blanchard & the E-Collective
Blues Alley
Washington, DC
Jan13Sun
8:00 PM
Terence Blanchard & the E-Collective
Blues Alley
Washington, DC

Related Articles

Read Jazz Migration 2018 Live Reviews
Jazz Migration 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot Live Reviews
Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot
by Doug Hall
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290 Live Reviews
Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290
by Martin McFie
Published: December 9, 2018
Read U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin Live Reviews
U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 9, 2018
Read David Johansen at The Space at Westbury Live Reviews
David Johansen at The Space at Westbury
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 9, 2018
Read Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: December 8, 2018
Read "Cool nights, hot music at Jazz al Parque, Bogotá" Live Reviews Cool nights, hot music at Jazz al Parque, Bogotá
by Mark Holston
Published: October 28, 2018
Read "Never Alone: Reflections on the 2018 Winter Jazzfest" Live Reviews Never Alone: Reflections on the 2018 Winter Jazzfest
by Tyran Grillo
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Kraak Festival 2018" Live Reviews Kraak Festival 2018
by Martin Longley
Published: March 24, 2018
Read "Friehofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Friehofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2018
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: July 8, 2018