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North Sea Jazz Festival 2013

R.J. DeLuke By

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Carter's set was arrangements by his friend Bob Freedman, featured on Ron Carter's Great Big Band (High Hat, 2013). And the WDR unit tore it up, swinging to the rafters, with good soloists on each tune. Carter himself was wonderful, his fingers fast, his ideas always moving and, as he says, always bringing the right notes. Not to mention that big sound that says "Ron Carter," which has graced countless bands and albums over decades. He also played an unaccompanied piece, "You Are My Sunshine," which turned the trite novelty song into an improvisational opus. Creativity of the highest order.

Meanwhile Ahoy was also getting its share of the blues, with Bonnie Raitt performing as well as ever. Her voice is still powerful and deeply soulful, and when she segues from the blues, she can still rock the house. Her band was tight and displayed her talents in a great light. Ben Harper (guitar) and Charlie Musselwhite (harmonica) played old-fashioned blues that took that music back to earlier days. Harper is a fine blues singer and his guitar style keeps things simple, but scorching and extremely effective at the same time. Musselwhite has the feel and the groove for the music he's been playing for decades with a myriad of blues greats.

The Swallow Quintet—Steve Swallow on bass, Carla Bley on organ, Chris Speed on sax, Steve Cardenas on guitar and Jorge Rossy on drums, was exquisite. Interesting compositions, superb interplay and fine solos by all. They were having fun and it showed, which added to the grand set of music.

Marcus Miller's music isn't in the jazz pocket (he doesn't intend it to be), but there are intricacies to the soul, funk, and fusion he brings, and his thundering bass is always nice to hear. He had the crowd dancing. In a very intimate, nightclub-like room inside Ahoy, alto saxophonist Will Vinson played good music with two mates, guitarist Lage Lund and bassist Orlando la Flemming. Vinson, a British-born musician who's been part of the fine Brooklyn jazz scene for a few years, has a great sound and worked well with Lund, with whom he collaborates frequently. The music fit the room, intricate and thoughtful as opposed to bombastic. Nice stuff.

A pleasurable find was Jazz Juvenocracy, a group of very young musicians who were extremely tight, playing mainstream jazz including a very cool twist on "Caravan" that was hip and popping. Bit Risner played good trumpet solos and she knew how to moan and bray with a plunger. Mario Santana played some hot violin licks and saxophonist Thomas Shepard had a nice sound and groove. The New Collective, a Dutch group fronted by trumpet and sax, played a combination of Dave Grusin and Spro Gyra style that sounded much better than the latter and had a nice, but not cloying groove with decent solos.

Photo Credit
All photos: R.J. DeLuke


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