All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

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...


Caramoor Jazz Festival 2005: Day 1

R.J. DeLuke By

Sign in to view read count
The venue started 60 years ago with classical music concerts and about a decade ago began presenting its jazz festival.
The scene at the gorgeous Caramoor music facility in Katonah, NY, is laid back — perfect for an afternoon/evening jazz festival — and the quality of music on the first day of the 2005 edition (July 30) was consistently stellar, which is something attendees here have come to expect.
It's a laid back atmosphere, but the music on Saturday was just about anything but. Producer Jim Luce and musical director and saxman extraordinaire Joe Lovano put together an adventurous program that featured the Mingus Dynasty, effortlessly performing the works of one of 20th century music's great composers with a careful mixture of reverence and irreverence; the Saxophone Summit, in which three saxophones took wild liberties with colorful improvisation; Ben Riley's Monk Legacy, with delightful renditions of Monk music; bebop reminiscent of Dizzy and Bird ("played by Tom Harrell and Charles McPherson, respectively); and a group of outstanding drummers tapping out tributes to the legendary Max Roach without using any other instrumentation.
The venue started 60 years ago with classical music concerts and about a decade ago began presenting its jazz festival. It is a fine one. Uncluttered and classy. It nods to tradition, but is not trapped in it.
The Saxophone Summit, with Lovano and Chris Potter on tenor saxophones and Dave Liebman on soprano, played music that was the farthest "out. Liebman started the group a few years ago as an extension of music played by John Coltrane in the latter part of his career. Potter is new, however, filling in for regular member Michael Brecker, who is ill. The group and the set is not intended as a "battle of saxophones and does not come off that way. The saxophones move often in abstract fashion, pushing the outer limits, in a very probing and experimental fashion.

Backed by Phil Markowitz on piano, Cecil McBee on bass and drummer Billy Hart, the group seemed to push the envelope whether the tempo was fast or moderate. Lovano's "Alexander the Great was a wild opener in which each player screamed frantically. Amid the frenzy, one could detect "Bye, Bye Blackbird, on which the song is based, but only fleetingly. Behind each sax exploration, Hart was bombastic; pushing and prodding, while Markowitz provided a bit more contrast, more controlled.

The music covered songs from Gathering of Spirits, including Liebman's "Tricycle and the pianist's "12th Man, the former ethereal, and the latter with an almost "Maiden Voyage feel. Nonetheless, the form was bent and stretched by Potter's robust attack, Lovano's exuberance and explosiveness, and Liebman's serpent- like, lightning fast expressions.

The Mingus Dynasty was a rollicking pleasure ride, highlighted by the alto sax of Craig Handy that is both modern and mature, and the wild, devil-may-care spirit and trombone playing from Ku-Umba Frank Lacy. The music was intense and joyful and unpredictable, like Mingus himself, and this cast of seven was superb in bringing it off.

"Haitian Fight Song featured Lacy's extroverted bone, cajoling the melody and the music's intent. The band cooked! Lacy also showed emotive vocals on "Invisible Lady that had a lyric penned by Elvis Costello. Throughout the night, Lacy was a gas, filled with humor and élan and top-notch blowing.

"Sue's Changes was terrific, shifting gears from soft to hot, and from wild to straight-laced. Fun stuff, but intricate in its composition and played expertly. "Free Cell Block F, Tis. Nazi USA was a tight and dynamic arrangement, and typical of Mingus' desire to call them as he saw them, and protest when he felt it was needed. Wayne Escoffery played "Goodbye Porkpie Hat in trio format. His tenor sax and fat sound was both soulful reverential to the tune, as well as experimental, veering off as his prodigious technique went on display.

Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Septet served the music of the One and Onliest in fine fashion. The group carries no pianist, but the arrangements by Don Sickler serve the music well. The horns (Sickler's trumpet; Bruce Williams, alto sax; Escoffrey, tenor sax; and Jay Branford, baritone sax) punch out the odd meters one is used to hearing from Monk's piano behind a soloist or at the right moments during a melody. At other times, it was distinctive Monk voicings from Freddie Bryant's guitar. The effect was to almost hear Monk, or at least the musings of Monk, in each tune — which included the likes of "Bright Mississippi, "Rhythm-A-Ning, Bemshua Swing and "Shuffle Boil.

While each soloist was strong, the heroes of the set were Sickler's arrangements and the sweet swing of Riley. Perhaps Monk's finest drummer during his tenure with the legend, Riley shows great taste, making things look easy, but providing just the right accents and colors. His solos were crisp and imaginative, even melodic at times, but not overdone. Great to see him still doing it.


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre Live Reviews
Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Tallinn Music Week 2018 Live Reviews
Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum Live Reviews
James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum
by Phillip Woolever
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano Live Reviews
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018
Read Marbin at The Firmament Live Reviews
Marbin at The Firmament
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 15, 2018
Read Big Ears Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Big Ears Festival 2018
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Newport Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Newport Jazz Festival 2017
by Timothy J. O'Keefe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Vossajazz 2017" Live Reviews Vossajazz 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Rene Marie at Dazzle" Live Reviews Rene Marie at Dazzle
by Geoff Anderson
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "7 Mile House Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews 7 Mile House Jazz Festival 2018
by Walter Atkins
Published: March 25, 2018
Read "AJAZZGO Festival in Cali, Colombia" Live Reviews AJAZZGO Festival in Cali, Colombia
by Mark Holston
Published: October 13, 2017