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!

321

Cape May Jazz Festival's 30th Edition

By

Sign in to view read count
Cape May Jazz Festival
Cape May, NJ
November 6-8, 2008


Fifteen years and thirty festivals since its inception, the Cape May Jazz Festival continues to present a diverse lineup of music over two weekends—in mid-April and early November—each year in this picturesque resort town at New Jersey's southern tip.

Fresh faces joined familiar favorites November 7-9 as the festival overcame some major hurdles—including the collapse of the economy, which cut attendance sharply, and the condemnation of the city's Convention Hall, which had always been home to the headline bands.

Despite these downers, enthusiastic audiences filled bars, ballrooms and a nearby high school auditorium for two nights and two afternoons chock full of music.

San Francisco-based singer Jackie Ryan was the happiest surprise. Blessed with a marvelously appealing voice, a 3 ½-octave range, a magnetic personality and an ear for material that shows off all these qualities, she wowed crowds at both her sets at the Grand Hotel ballroom.

Did she sound a bit like Diana Krall. Yes, but whereas Krall is the epitome of cool, Ryan exuded warmth, sharing with listeners her joy in uninhibited music making. Her repertoire ranged from the wide-eyed wonder of the Shirley Horn-inspired "I Just Found Out About Love" to the unbridled passion of "Besame Mucho" and the ethereal Italian ballad "Estate." She's fluent in five languages.

Ryan knew the stories behind many of her songs, and shared them so audiences could better appreciate the lyrics. Example: How Oscar Brown Jr.'s run-in with a South Side Chicago gang led to a collaboration on a rock musical that included the clever "Opportunity, Please Knock."

Ryan can belt the blues, too, as evidenced on her swinging closer, Lionel Hampton's "Red Top."

Kudos to the trio of Philadelphia-area music professors—Tom Lawton on piano, Madison Rast on bass and Dan Monahan—backing her flawlessly on their first gig together.

Friday night's other main attraction was Jon Faddis in a salute to the late Maynard Ferguson. The trumpeter sat in—literally sat, owing to a bad back—with a crackling good big band led by saxophonist Ed Vezinho and trumpeter Jim Ward.

Faddis hit the requisite high notes on flag wavers like "Where's Teddy?" but was at his most moving on timeless ballads—"Danny Boy" and "Smile" for two—and on a soul-satisfying take on Slide Hampton's classic "Frame for the Blues."

Poor timing on my part limited my enjoyment of the offerings at Saturday night's six venues - down from the nine or so locations in past years. I caught the tail-ends of sets by veteran post-boppers Bob Ferguson and Michael Pedicin, on trumpet and sax, respectively, at Congress Hall's Boiler Room, and by Denis DiBlasio at Carney's. I'd have loved hearing more from them, but both bars had shortages of seats and excesses of conviviality, not conducive to serious listening.

Instead, I headed back to the spacious Grand for a late set by Pamela Williams, a smooth jazz saxophonist, and her quintet, with bassist Doug Grisby layering on the funk. Williams has mastered all the predictable cliches of the genre, but she's so bubbly upbeat it's hard not to like her, even if the music is all style and little substance.

Earlier Saturday, I opted for a non-festival event, the Cape May Stage's production of "Lady's Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill." It's basically a one-woman show (with a pianist accompanying) dramatizing one of Billie Holiday's final performances in 1959. In 20 or so familiar tunes and between-number reminiscing, the Holiday character acquaints us with the many tragedies and less-frequent joys that marked her life.

Miche Braden, a church music director in New Brunswick, was admirable in capturing the quality and inflections of Holiday's voice and made us care.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory Live Reviews We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory
by Josef Woodard
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: December 16, 2017
Read We Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews We Jazz Festival 2017
by Anthony Shaw
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017 Live Reviews Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Jazztopad Festival 2017 Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Rigas Ritmi 2017" Live Reviews Rigas Ritmi 2017
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017" Live Reviews ECM Showcase at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2017
by Tyran Grillo
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Jazztopad Festival 2017" Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read "We Four at Dazzle" Live Reviews We Four at Dazzle
by Geoff Anderson
Published: October 31, 2017
Read "John Hart at The Turning Point Cafe" Live Reviews John Hart at The Turning Point Cafe
by David A. Orthmann
Published: May 2, 2017

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!