Harland managed to bring together conventional swing and a taste of urban rhythms, making the entire group feel timeless yet completely contemporary. Despite a clear rhythmic focus, he was a melodically inventive soloist, with a polyrhythmic strength that had to be seen to be believed.
Rogers played with a visceral energy, his body an extension of his instrument. He was also clearly enjoying himself, grinning from ear to ear for most of the performance. His tone was equally physical, but it didn't take away from his ability to play with gentle elegance when the need arose.
Hearing the quartet play "Sweet Georgia Bright," after Allen played it with her trio the previous day, highlighted what a difference a rhythm section can make. It's not a matter of better or worse, just different. Lloyd's take on the tune was bristling with an almost unbridled energy.
When he wasn't playing, Lloyd stood towards the back of the stage, clearly captivated by the performance of his group. He may be approaching seventy, but in many ways he's playing the most vital music of his career. He may be walking a little slower, but if anything his playing has intensified relative to the more atmospheric spirituality of some of his earlier (but equally fine) ECM recordings with bassist Anders Jormin and pianist Bobo Stenson.
While there are seven more days left to the 2007 Portland Jazz Festival, this day was the end of the ECM signature. Kudos go out to Artistic Director Bill Royston, Managing Director Sarah Bailen Smith and the entire PDX Jazz crew for putting on a festival that is world-class in stature, but open and inviting in tone. This may only be PDX Jazz's fourth year, but the festival has a great future ahead of it.
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