All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

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...


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


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.


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton At Yoshi's Live Reviews
Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton At Yoshi's
by Walter Atkins
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Kraak Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Kraak Festival 2018
by Martin Longley
Published: March 24, 2018
Read 2018 Hope College Jazz Organ Summit Live Reviews
2018 Hope College Jazz Organ Summit
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Vlatko Stefanovski's performance at the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra's Concert Hall 2018 Live Reviews
Vlatko Stefanovski's performance at the Macedonian...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Noa Fort at Cornelia Street Café Live Reviews
Noa Fort at Cornelia Street Café
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Cologne Open 2018 Live Reviews
Cologne Open 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 21, 2018
Read "Berlin Jazzfest 2017" Live Reviews Berlin Jazzfest 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: November 13, 2017
Read "Garana Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Garana Jazz Festival 2017
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 20, 2017