Tony Bennett The International Tennis Hall of Fame August 9, 2002 It was a perfect night in the land of perfect people. And right out of the overture-less gates, Tony Bennet swung for the far fences of Newport’s famed grass courts with a spare and open "WatchWhat Happens." Though the mix was a bit dampened on the sides, a scatty "The Best is Yet to Come" was as prescient as ever (especially as Tony had an entire second set scheduled the next day). After tipping his hat to new piano man Lee Musiker with "I Love a Piano," Bennett got back into the swing with "All of Me," featuing the colorful pluckings of Grey Sergent. Picking up the pace with a Clayton Cameron-ized "I Got Rhythm," Bennett brought things down again with a provocative tribute to 9/11 (and Judy Garland) by way of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." An equally timely and encouragingly up-tempo "Who Cares" featured the warm and snappy bass work of Paul Langosch. And though Barbara’s "People" was a bit of a strain (and when are they not?), Charlie Chaplin’s "Smile" brought a touch of melancholy optimism to the set. Johnny Mercer’s "I Wanna Be Around" acted as a tribute to Bennett’s endurance and longevity, but despite his 50-plus years of performance, it still took the audience until the chorus to pick up on his theme song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." Hit after git. Favorite after favorite, climaxing with Cameron’s astounding skinwork on Duke Ellington’s "It Don’t Mean A Thing" made this set another overwhelming crowd pleaser. And though it was almost identical to other performances, when it’s Tony Bennett at the mike, what’s wrong with that? Balling the Jack Fort Adams State Park August 10, 2002 From the Factory to the Fort, this collection of Village vanguards brought a needed kick to the lazy hazy first day of Newport Jazz 2002. Combining melodiously mixed cacophonies with familiar phrases, BTJ touched ona wide varietyof Jazz textures in a relatively few numberof numbers. While Leadbelly’s "Dick’s Holler: crawled out of the muddy waters into a mini Calloway swing, trombonist Curtis Hasselbring’s cartoonish composition "Betaville" led playfully into a more regimented Ellington fugue. With the help of the Klezmatic duo of trumpeter Frank London and sax man Matt Darriau, BTJ was able to bring their underground music into the light and shine with the best of the legendary festival.
Isaac Hayes Fort Adams State Park August 11, 2002
Backed by a seven keyboards, a five-string bass, three back up singers, two drummers and two guitarists, the African Prince known to millions as "Chef" ruled over the stage from the moment he strode uponit. Piling on the Stax right away with a deeply grooved version of "Don’t Let Go," the gentle giant and his large band mellowed into a silky island trip through "Don’t You Ever Take Your Love Away." "WalkOn" was anover-baritoned tear-jerker with an out of place percussion battle and screechy vocal supports. Fortunately, afdter losing the audience with the extended instrumental "Ellie’s Love Theme," Hayes got things cooking again with a punchy "Do Your Thing." Taking a long, soulful trip to "Phoenix" (most of which was introductory sermon and commentary), Hayes suddenly found himself facing the end of his set. Who does a manlike Isaac Hayes call to get him out of a set in style? You damn right! With the first scratches of that famous intro, "Shaft’ set the crowd into a flashback frenzy which stayed up until Hayes had finally given his band a second to rest and take some well-deserved bows.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe Fort Adams State Park August 11, 2002
Led into the urban jungle rhythms by a high and tight bass line, Karl Denson bounced into the beat with a handful of African percussion pieces before taking up his mighty sax to let loose with the fiery blasts that foretold the coming of "Elephants." None to proud for a muscular tambourine solo, Denson also flexed his formidable flute skills and led the band with energetic vocals that turned ubilant jams to more radio-friendly songs, such as the squeaky new number "Satisfied." Hammond swirls and crisp percussion made melodic beds for Denson to slide into with his hot, buttered so- (wait- that would come later). A dedication to Femi Kuti mixed Mother Africa with Papa’s brand new bag. Unfortunately, in his urge to groove, Denson occassionally fell away from the mike, losing his brassy punch amidst a flurry of notes.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band Fort Adams State Park August 11, 2002
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.