645

Monterey Notebook 2007, Part 3: Sunday

Forrest Dylan Bryant By

Sign in to view read count
Sliding into an amorphous, greasy version of a 12-bar groove, Coleman and associates draw a straight, glowing line directly from the most fundamental roots of jazz to its impenetrable outskirts.
DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3

Banana Slug String Band: Getting Dirty
Sunday, 1:20 p.m.—Garden Stage


"Okay, put down your beers and hold up your munchers!" says the man calling himself Doug Dirt. Several dozen members of the audience comply, raising their arms and working their fingers like snapping jaws. "Great," the man yells encouragingly. "And you guys over here? You're sunbeams!" Huh? What the heck is going on here?



The colorful Mr. Dirt (nee Greenfield) is part of the Banana Slug String Band, and he's getting his audience primed to help out in a song about decomposition—that's right, rot. Or more to the point, the process by which dirt is made. Soon the entire audience is hidden by a waving, snapping mess of arms—their movements a rhythmic simulation of organic decay—as the funky Slugs clomp through lyrics about bugs, bacteria and chemical breakdown.



This is what the Slugs do, promoting environmental education through jazz, blues and rock-based ditties aimed primarily at kids. Plenty of tykes are on hand, but more than a few adults have joined the party too. Elsewhere, the first of many high school student ensembles are beginning their sets and a sober panel discussion of festival co-founder Ralph Gleason's many contributions is getting underway. But with the sun shining brightly on a gorgeous Northern California day and rain just a bad memory, it's hard to leave the silly Banana Slugs, even if they are singing about rot.



Smith Dobson V: In the Neighborhood

2:15 p.m.—Coffee House Gallery



Out of the glaring sunshine, vibraphonist Smith Dobson V is filling the shadowy Coffee House Gallery with ringing, spiraling streams of notes.



A native of nearby Santa Cruz and a member of that city's first family of jazz, Dobson guides an orderly quintet through gently rolling grooves, tossing off casual, liquid solos. The band comes together beautifully in the closing ensemble passage of a nameless bossa nova, spinning lazily around Dobson's clear, bell-like patterns.



Switching gears now, bassist Devin Hoff and pianist Dahveed Behroozi go electric for "Wolverine," a catchy but oddly shaded lounge-pop melody over a steady surf-rock beat from drummer Vijay Anderson. "G. G. Drift" follows in the same vein, blending 1960s spy-music atmosphere with hints of carnival music. The tune never quite takes off, coming across as stiff despite Dobson's gliding breaks and some crunchy guitar accents from John Finkbeiner. But like much of the music presented in this intimate venue, it is unique.



Ornette Coleman: Vortex

2:45 p.m.—The Arena



The sound of Ornette Coleman's saxophone flares from the Arena stage, spilling from a roiling mass of bass tones in short, disconnected bursts. Followers of this avant-garde icon are by now accustomed to the idea of hearing Ornette with two bassists, as on his Pulitzer-winning album Sound Grammar, but now he has three. Tony Falanga and Charnett Moffett flank the leader, creating thick, elastic sheets of bowed and plucked acoustic tones, while Al McDowell sits off to the side with an electric bass, reacting directly to Coleman's abstract blues and plaintive cries. Denardo Coleman, Ornette's son and longtime drummer, is concealed directly behind his father. But his invincible, volcanic rhythms—at once tribal, hammering and otherworldly—wrap the band in a whirling vortex of energy.



From time to time the dapper Coleman reaches for a nearby trumpet, adding mournful, gently arcing footnotes to his melodic explorations. Or grabbing his violin, Coleman deftly merges with his three bassists in a fast, tense scribbling.



Coleman's deep-rooted connection to the blues is hardly a secret, but it's still a jolt when this influence leaps into the foreground. Sliding into an amorphous, greasy version of a 12-bar groove, Coleman and associates draw a straight, glowing line directly from the most fundamental roots of jazz to its impenetrable outskirts. Minutes later, the group will find another continuity, improvising on Bach's Solo Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major and taking it to outer space.



Hot Club of San Francisco: Jumping like Django

4:00 p.m.—Garden Stage



Sparkling, exuberant and infectious, the Hot Club of San Francisco is reeling off toe-tapping Gypsy swing that harkens back to another land and another era. Acolytes of the school founded by legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt in the cafés of Paris before World War II, the Hot Club shares its passion with an audience that at first seems a bit mystified, but soon has Django fever.



Lead guitarist Paul Mehling is a native of the Monterey peninsula, and his glee at appearing on the Garden Stage is apparent as he keeps up a humorous patter between tunes and spars with the planes flying overhead ("there goes the live album," he quips).


Shop

More Articles

Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read Kronos Festival 2017 Live Reviews Kronos Festival 2017
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: February 12, 2017
Read The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground Live Reviews The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Flow Tribe at the Gramercy Theatre" Live Reviews Flow Tribe at the Gramercy Theatre
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "Ecuador Jazz 2016" Live Reviews Ecuador Jazz 2016
by Mark Holston
Published: March 11, 2016
Read "Euopean Jazz Conference 2016: Polish Jazz Showcases" Live Reviews Euopean Jazz Conference 2016: Polish Jazz Showcases
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 17, 2016
Read "John Daversa Big Band at The Baked Potato" Live Reviews John Daversa Big Band at The Baked Potato
by Paul Naser
Published: June 3, 2016
Read "Anderson Ponty Band at the Boulder Theater" Live Reviews Anderson Ponty Band at the Boulder Theater
by Geoff Anderson
Published: May 13, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!