Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola: Women In Jazz

Nick Catalano By

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The autumn jazz season has begun in New York and the energy at Lincoln Center continues to accelerate. This week I visited Dizzy's to catch the 3rd annual Diet Coke Women In Jazz Festival and found the club bulging with SRO crowds. Renee Rosnes (the new Mrs. Bill Charlap) debuted a new quartet and the group mirrored the excitement of what has surely become Gotham's hottest jazz venue.

This year's Women in Jazz celebration drew such veterans as Valerie Capers, Cindy Blackman, Sherrie Maricle, Claire Martin, Carol Sloane, and Rondi Charleston. Newcomers Sharel Cassity, Denise King, Charenee Wade, and Miki Hayama were featured during the "After Hours shows of the festival.

The Rosnes aggregation commenced matters with an expected opening burner—"Summer Night. Tenor notable Chris Potter instantly launched himself into the rapid fire multi-noted cosmos which has been his familiar haunt since he joined up with Red Rodney as a teenager many years ago. The facile saxophonist dutifully executed some impressive improvisational designs which drew upon the entire range of his horn. The myriad scales and classical exercises of his young practice days provided a solid framework for some finely wrought creativity. Rosnes followed with a multi-noted flourish of her own punctuated by cascades of arpeggio-like figures to which she returned time and again during the performance. Bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash finished the soloing with titillating understatement and delicious economy. The Ballad "Midnight Mood followed with Potter switching to soprano. Most significant here was the deep rich tonality he achieved on the instrument which most players choose to blow with shrill cacophony for reasons which have long eluded me. "Dizzy's Spells," a tune based on the changes from Gillespie's classic "Con Alma," showcased the group's precision and carefully integrated melodic articulation. With "Three Little Words the players returned to the hot tempos of the opener but this time the showers of notes from Potter and Rosnes wore a bit thin. I wondered if we would get to some strategic spacing during the whirling dervish but, alas, the notes kept flying. Relief came from Nash who constructed a whispered brush solo that lit up the room.

Renee Rosnes has selected musicians for her quartet who have brilliant conversational aptitudes and the dialogue during the set was animated, articulate and artful. As the group moves to other venues, audiences who come to see them will certainly not be disappointed.

Dizzy's producer Todd Barkan has an impressive array of jazzers lined up for appearances during October. George Wein and his Newport All Stars will start matters off to be followed by the Karrin Allyson quartet and the Nicholas Payton quintet. Steve Turre with his group Keep Searchin' featuring Stefon Harris will appear later. The final entry for Halloween month is particularly interesting—Pat Martino will team up with Eric Alexander, Harold Mabern, John Webber and Joe Farnsworth. If you're planning an upcoming trip to the Apple, be sure include a visit to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.

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