Carmen Lundy & University of Miami Concert Jazz Band
Saturday, January 25, 2003
8:00 p.m. Maurice Gusman Concert Hall
Coral Gables Campus
Program presented with the support of WDNA 88.9 FM
Carmen Lundy established herself outside her hometown. There isn’t enough ground swelling in South Florida to sustain anyone’s musical career at a significant level. Hence, she had not performed in Miami since the latter part of the 80s. Her presentation at the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall, however, was almost chock-a-block and the local jazzpectation forecast called for a clearheaded, swingingly classy, emotive, challenging, jazzier-than-usual-Southfloridian vocal gig. Sprinkling cool rain welcomed expectant jazz listeners upon reaching the venue’s parking lot; Lundy eventually dried’em up with swinging warmness, melodic caresses, elegantly phrased vocal class and even a bit of melodrama too.
Two instrumental cuts set in motion the musical event of the evening. While Dante Luciani initiated the Big Band, featuring solo work from a tall, lanky, good sounding and looking Phil Doyle, as well as the eager efforts of trombonist Dave Lambert, quite a good number of Lundy relatives sat at the audience eagerly awaiting her kin to come on stage. They, however, as well as the remaining public, appreciated the solid performances of John Fedchock’s “The Big Bruiser” and Pastorius’ “Three Views of a Secret.” The instrumentation of the Big Band changed during Jaco’s cleverly arranged tune with four flugelhorns, flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet –doubling on baritone sax– bass trombone, as well as the use of double clarinets towards the end. A heavy-ballad like treatment with some distortions mustered Luciani’s horde upon this tune with earnest and interest as the sonic versatility of the ensemble was truly appreciated throughout the night.
Then Lundy came in... During the first set, the singer was featured with a full Big Band and the sound mix certainly didn’t favor her or the guitarist. “Acoustically correct” halls hardly need amplification and all elements of the sound output must be handled with finesse. Throughout the night, for example, the traps were too high in the mix and –since the vocal prowess of Lundy isn’t due to an overwhelmingly powerful volume– the band’s sound overpowered Lundy several times. The melodic and rhythmic impetuses of the guitarist –as well as his interplay with Lundy– suffered too. She, however, matched the healthy lungs of the wind section and the strengths of the drummer as best she could with her mastery. One, however, had to concentrate somewhat strenuously to listen and understand her over a youthful and strong 17-piece band. The initial set, however, proved felicitous as it did during the performance of Lundy’s composition, “Old Friend,” arranged by Hakan Brostrom. Lambert gave a muted trombone solo quite appropriate for the muted trumpets and trombones, with four flutes that accompanied her rendition of this self-penned work. Curtis Lundy driven coolness enhanced everyone’s level on this one too.
In the second set, the instrumentation was reduced and mostly kept to a quartet format including Phil Doyle in the saxophones and as main soloist. He was off a few times but managed to elicit well-deserved praise from the audience. Curtis Lundy also joined her sibling several times during the second set rising the levels of collective performance every time. Lundy’s attractiveness was featured alongside one of her mentors, pianist and faculty member, Vince Maggio. Their performance was delectable. Lundy shined particularly well during the Latinized numbers. The occasion also served to highlight the debut of Lundy’s composition “Miami.”
At the end of the concert, Lundy’s Alma Matter was swimmingly delighted in acknowledging her achievements with a plaque celebrating her as distinguished alumnus of the year. The city of Miami issued a proclamation declaring Saturday, January 25, 2003 “Carmen Lundy Day” and the Music Director from WDNA uttered a few comments.
Having seen Carmen Lundy for the first time, I can only surmise that the next encounter is eagerly anticipated...