Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

539

Benny Golson and Curtis Fuller at the Kennedy Center

By

Sign in to view read count
Golson continued for only a few minutes and stopped as if in mid-thought, perhaps seeking to draw a parallel to Clifford Brown
Benny Golson and Curtis Fuller
Jazz in Our Time Series
The Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage
Washington D. C.
March 7, 2007

The Washington, DC metropolitan area is a curious town for the avid jazz listener. Only one club attracts nationally known musicians on a nightly basis, and it has seemingly altered its booking policy to focus on more commercially viable acts that do not attract the "purist." As a result, some of the most attractive venues are outside of the traditional listening context. For example, the Smithsonian's IMAX Jazz Café offers music each Friday evening for a nominal cover charge. However, the audience is an odd collection of office workers seeking to unwind with a few drinks, groups of children, tourists who mistakenly wander in, and young couples on an awkward early date. The jazz listeners gather in front of the stage, hoping to hear glimpses of brilliance over the incessant chatter. Nevertheless, the intrepid booking staff attract many wonderful artists, and for $10 and no minimum one can enjoy Mundell Lowe, Bucky Pizzarelli, Jimmy Bruno, Houston Person or Scott Hamilton in a four hour stretch.

The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage is another odd venue, offering free performances each night at 6:00 p.m. in the Grand Foyer, where local performers and national acts perform classical, bluegrass, rock or jazz. Those on their way to other performances, tourists, and the merely curious usually comprise the audience, though the space is also utilized in conjunction with ongoing festivals attracting a more homogeneous crowd. The Kennedy Center's Jazz in Our Time, for example, was an 8-day event earlier this month, honoring and showcasing mainstream jazz artists.

As part of that series honoring jazz greats of the past, last Wednesday evening the Millennium Stage featured an event billed as Benny Golson and Curtis Fuller. Rarely does one have an opportunity to hear these legends together in Washington, if at all, so I left work early, making the arduous journey from one clogged highway to another halted interstate and arriving at the show with less than two minutes to spare. One should always expect Golson to act as the amiable raconteur, and he fulfilled such expectations wonderfully; his effervescence and exuberance were palpable, inviting each listener to share—if only for an hour—his exceptional joy of living.

Golson started with "Whisper Not," his 1956 composition which, like many other examples of his work, has entered the jazz pantheon. His tenor tone was round and very "present," slowing my pulse immediately with the recognition of a much loved instrumental voice. His low blasts served as a prelude to subsequently skipping arpeggios, leading to a floating melodic line. Trombonist Curtis Fuller contributed his characteristic incisive articulations which, if I had been closer to the stage, would surely have changed the part in my hair. Pianist Mike LeDonne, making a very rare Washington appearance, displayed his best McCoy Tyner sound, with right handed runs and left-handed block chords propelling the group. Drummer Carl Allen, though in the background, literally beamed, making it apparent he was enjoying himself.

Golson introduced the second composition with a story, explaining that in 1950 he "wanted to leave Philadelphia so bad that he joined "Bull Moose Jackson and his Buffalo Bearcats. His band mates included "Philly Joe Jones, Tad Dameron, Johnny Coles, and Jymie Merritt. When playing the clubs, he noticed that there was inevitably a well-manicured man, in an El Dorado, with a woman on each arm and sitting at the bar. He was often referred to as "Killer by his colleagues. "This man was a pimp," Golson explained, "and I wrote this tune about him. Of course, Golson immediately began with his classic composition "Killer Joe." The formula was familiar: Golson's brief solo was followed by Fuller's deft command of the language and Mike LeDonne's tasteful contribution. The listener shouldn't be seeking the exploration of new terrain in this context and by musicians who have proven themselves many times over; it was an instance of the familiar exerting a soothing effect, and the ease of the performers enveloped the audience.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Ostrava Days 2017 Live Reviews Ostrava Days 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Diane Schuur at Birdland Live Reviews Diane Schuur at Birdland
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront Live Reviews Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor Live Reviews Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Houston Person at Kiawah Island, South Carolina" Live Reviews Houston Person at Kiawah Island, South Carolina
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 10, 2017
Read "John Beasley’s Monk’estra At SFJAZZ" Live Reviews John Beasley’s Monk’estra At SFJAZZ
by Walter Atkins
Published: November 12, 2017
Read "Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017
by Francesco Martinelli
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "London Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews London Jazz Festival 2016
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Penang Island Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Penang Island Jazz Festival 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 23, 2016

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor