All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

121

New Orleans Jazz Orchestra/Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Band at New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark, Nov. 25

By

Sign in to view read count
The gauntlet was thrown, and the Gillespie tribute band was up to the challenge.
Back in the day, this battle of the bands at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark would have been declared a TKO before the first note sounded.

In this corner, the heavyweight champions, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, boasting legendary names—Moody, Heath, D'Rivera, Slide Hampton—playing beloved classics by Dizzy, Monk, Golson et al. And the challengers, a seemingly overmatched assortment of younger cats from New Orleans, playing brand new music.

But the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra had some secret weapons for this Nov. 25 concert—members raised or schooled, moreover, in America's most musical city. And their leader, Irvin Mayfield Jr., proved a triple threat—a dynamic trumpet soloist, captivating figure on stage, and most of all, an extraordinarily gifted composer and arranger. Mayfield unveiled his latest work, Rising Tide, a suite that grew out of Katrina and that was commissioned by NJPAC and Prudential Insurance.

Though the subject is somber, and the chanting that introduced each of the three movements—"Hold That Water,'' "Better Get to Higher Ground'' and "High Water''—was full of foreboding, the music rushed ahead, carrying the audience along on a surging stream of sound. Brass sections shouted and saxophones moaned in familiar call-and-response patterns, while fire-breathing soloists soared above.

"It's a Creole Thing—You Just Don't Understand'' was another brilliant piece, featuring the passionate clarinet work of Evan Christopher. The work is a synopsis of New Orleans music, evolving from a darkly-liquid noirish blues to a tango to a Dixieland ensemble sound to some rollicking r&b piano licks—then back to Christopher's unaccompanied coda. Mayfield closed the first set playing the gospel- inspired "May His Soul Rest In Peace,'' dedicated to his father, who drowned in Katrina's aftermath.

The gauntlet was thrown, and the Gillespie tribute band was up to the challenge, opening with a quintessential bebop tune, Tadd Dameron's "Hot House,'' and reeling off Bop 40 hits for the next two hours. Everyone shone in the solo spotlight, especially trumpeter Roy Hargrove (on the nostalgic "I Remember Clifford''), altoist Antonio Hart, tenor man James Moody and the band's singer, Roberta Gambarini. She and Moody hooked up for a scat duet on "Moody's Moods,'' a bluesy ballad, and all five trumpeters came out front and traded licks on the grand finale, ''Blue and Boogie.''

What great sound NJPAC offers! Every note came across crystal clear. Mayfield called it "the best concert hall in America.'' He gets no argument here.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Adam Rudolph's Galaxies at The Stone Live Reviews
Adam Rudolph's Galaxies at The Stone
by Tyran Grillo
Published: May 14, 2018
Read Nik Bartsch's Ronin at Constellation in Chicago Live Reviews
Nik Bartsch's Ronin at Constellation in Chicago
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 14, 2018
Read Denny Zeitlin, Buster Williams & Matt Wilson at Mezzrow Jazz Club Live Reviews
Denny Zeitlin, Buster Williams & Matt Wilson at Mezzrow...
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: May 13, 2018
Read Duski at the Bronx Bar Live Reviews
Duski at the Bronx Bar
by Barry Witherden
Published: May 12, 2018
Read Radio Underground at The Last Stop Sports Bar Live Reviews
Radio Underground at The Last Stop Sports Bar
by Doug Collette
Published: May 12, 2018
Read Nik Bärtsch's Ronin at (Le) Poisson Rouge Live Reviews
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin at (Le) Poisson Rouge
by Tyran Grillo
Published: May 11, 2018
Read "Bob Niederriter Trio At The Bop Stop" Live Reviews Bob Niederriter Trio At The Bop Stop
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 9, 2017
Read "Rossano Sportiello Trio at The Jazz Corner" Live Reviews Rossano Sportiello Trio at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Moers Festival 2017" Live Reviews Moers Festival 2017
by Phillip Woolever
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "Mike Westbrook at Bury St. Edmunds Festival" Live Reviews Mike Westbrook at Bury St. Edmunds Festival
by Duncan Heining
Published: June 14, 2017
Read "Tierney Sutton Band at the Newman Center" Live Reviews Tierney Sutton Band at the Newman Center
by Geoff Anderson
Published: January 21, 2018