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...

25

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 2018: Part 1

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
The brief set was not without its flaws. Cooder is not a particularly strong lyricist, and so the blues that he introduced as being played by his father to him, on banjo, when he was very young, was the best of the set from that perspective. His voice, too, was only average. Still, the music Cooder and Gendel created between their instruments and effects transcended any such weaknesses. An album of Cooder playing his large mbira would be most welcome.

After a brief break, father Cooder came onstage with Gendel for an unusual but effective opener from Prodigal Son, Blind Willie Johnson's plaintive blues, "Nobody's Fault But Mine." Looped electronics, ambient saxophone chordal backdrops and Cooder's inimitable acoustic slide playing and heartfelt vocals drew the capacity crowd (much like bluegrass singer Alison Krauss' whisper-quiet opener at the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival a few days prior) away from their world and straight into Cooder's universe for nearly a hundred minutes.

Beyond the innate (and deceptive) challenge of some of Cooder's music, it's a simple truth that anyone looking for a sleek, polished performance would have had to look elsewhere. Instead, Cooder's set was loose, sloppy, sometimes not quite in tune...but heavy on an emotional resonance that rendered all other considerations immaterial. It was all about feel, about getting deep inside the music, about taking risks and about looking for—and, at times, finding—those wonderfully elusive moments of pure magic.

There were many to be found during Cooder's show. The set was also high on spirituality, whether it was a particularly moving version of the gentle, Cooder-penned opener to Prodigal Son, "Straight Street," going to church with Blind Willie Johnson's "Everybody Ought to Treat a Stranger Right," or straight to heaven with Cooder's own "Jesus and Woody," which finds Jesus opining with Woody Guthrie, the social justice singer/songwriter whose music Cooder has covered in the past.

Played in duet with Hamiltones pianist Glenn Patscha, "Jesus and Woody" took on special significance after Cooder's solo acoustic version of Guthrie's "Vigilante Man," originally the album closer on Into the Purple Valley, where the guitarist added his own topical verse, which included:

"Well Trévon Martin was only seventeen years old when he took a trip to the grocery store. He might have grown up to be president, but that's something we'll never know because he ran into a vigilante man."

These words made the sentiment of "Jesus and Woody" all the more poignant and relevant to today's circumstances:

"So sing me a song 'bout 'This Land is Your Land' And fascists bound to lose You were a dreamer, Mr. Guthrie And I was a dreamer too.

Once I spoke of a love for those who hate It requires effort and strain Vengeance casts a false shadow of justice Which leads to destruction and pain.

Some say I was a friend to sinners But by now you know it's true Guess I like sinners better than fascists And I guess that makes me a dreamer too."


The beauty of Cooder's set, including his engaging song introductions, was that, if it preached anything (and it absolutely did not proselytize), it was for love, compassion, tolerance and, even, hope.

Cooder's set wasn't all about such serious and currently topical matters, however. Songs like Bop Till You Drop's soulful Arthur Alexander ballad, "Go Home, Girl" and Sidney Bailey's dark-hued but ultimately more propulsive "The Very Thing That Makes You Rich (Makes Me Poor)" were all about relationships, while Johnny Cash's title track to Cooder's Get Rhythm was about finding joy, even when life seems an insurmountable challenge:

"A little shoeshine boy he never gets lowdown But he's got the dirtiest job in town Bendin' low at the people's feet On a windy corner of a dirty street Well I asked him while he shined my shoes How'd he keep from gettin' the blues He grinned as he raised his little head He popped his shoeshine rag and then he said

Get rhythm when you get the blues C'mon get rhythm when you get the blues Yes a jumpy rhythm makes you feel so fine It'll shake all your troubles from your worried mind Get rhythm when you get the blues."

Tags

Listen

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jun23Sun
Bela Fleck & the Flecktones
Stiefel Theatre
Salina, KS
$39 - 77
Jan1Sat
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones
Alabama Theatre
Myrtle Beach, SC

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Live Reviews
Brussels Jazz Festival 2019
By Martin Longley
February 15, 2019
Live Reviews
Gourmet At April Jazz Club
By Anthony Shaw
February 13, 2019
Live Reviews
Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science at Cologne Philharmonic
By Phillip Woolever
February 12, 2019
Live Reviews
Quentin Baxter Quintet At The Jazz Corner
By Martin McFie
February 12, 2019
Live Reviews
Kraków Jazz Juniors Competition 2018
By Martin Longley
February 12, 2019
Live Reviews
Vijay Iyer Balances The Cerebral And The Fervent
By Akinfe Fatou
February 8, 2019
Live Reviews
Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival
By Mark Holston
February 8, 2019