Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


President's Weekend Jazz Party--Newport Beach, California

Larry Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
When Pizzarelli came out, he proceeded to put his own stamp on the Sinatra canon.
President's Weekend Jazz Party
Newport Beach, California, Marriott Hotel
February 15-18, 2007

Great jazz was performed on President's Weekend at the 7th annual Newport Beach Jazz Party before sell-out crowds, the music sounding better than ever this year.

From Thursday night through Sunday night, February 15-18, performances were staged throughout the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel virtually every hour of the day—breakfast jazz brunches, afternoon Pool Stage sessions and, of course, evening concerts in the Grand Pacific Ballroom. And if that were not enough for afficionados to get their fill, every evening was topped off by after-hours night-cap music in the lounge and bar. Late Saturday night was especially well-attended when revered tenor sax-man Houston Person presided over the yearly dance event, giving patrons a chance to "shake it on the ballroom floor.

Each evening's concert was highlighted by a feature presentation. On Friday John Pizzarelli appeared with his trio, singing and playing guitar. His mellow-hip style, influenced by Nat Cole, was greeted with enthusiasm. Cole's "The Frim Fram Sauce and the whimsical standard "Rhode Island were highlights.

Saturday's feature was a full-scale celebration, "The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, produced by esteemed flautist Holly Hoffman. The tribute included eleven violins, alternately led by pianists Mike Wofford and Bill Cunliffe. Veteran drummer Jeff Hamilton and Brazilian percussionist Luis Conte made up the rhythm section. Hoffman's playing of Jobim's lilting melodies seemed to float above the ethereal beauty of the strings. Later in the set, bossa nova singer/guitarist Paulinho Garcia brought the music back to its earthy origins with the breathy romantic urgency of his singing. Altogether, everything worked to a degree that surely would have made Jobim proud.

Sunday night's "Dear Mr. Sinatra program, once again featuring the versatile John Pizzarelli, was every bit as special. The program was tied to the recent CD release of Pizzarelli's collaboration with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, showcasing music associated with Sinatra. Without pretending to imitate "Ol' Blue Eyes, Pizzarelli put his own spin on the Sinatra songbook.

The Clayton-Hamilton band was outstanding, introducing the program with three numbers on its own. Recent poll-winners, this aggregation is surely among the best present-day big bands—tight, well synchronized, with each section bathing listeners in subtly shifting waves of sound. Leader John Clayton—tall, slender, his long arms waving like a sorcerer's as he conjured a magical arrangement of "Lullaby of the Leaves"—set the stage for the appearance of the featured attraction. When Pizzarelli came out, he proceeded to put his own stamp on the Sinatra canon. The swinging "Ring-A-Ding Ding, Arlen/Mercer's boozy, melancholic "One for My Baby, and Burton Lane's lively musical question "How About You? left no doubt that Pizzarelli can handle the songs Sinatra transformed into standards.

These shows were the featured attractions, to be sure, but at the heart of what makes these parties so good is the playing of the collection of world-class musicians (totaling over seventy) gathered for the occasion. Co- promoter John McClure puts them together in various configurations with exciting, often serendipitously inspired results.

Among the groupings was that of pianist Benny Green and tenor saxophonist Houston Person, the pair performing together Friday and Saturday nights. Almost thirty years Green's senior, Person, with his large warm sound, melded perfectly with virtuoso Green's often minimalist playing. On ballads, Green builds each solo into an exquisite jewel, and on up-tempo numbers he digs in hard, coming up with solid gold. The audience was rapt as he lovingly played with Cole Porter's "I Love Samantha," then made the piano shout as he got "down and dirty with Person's lusty turn on Curtis Maryfield's "Send Me Someone To Love.

One could go on at length about the superb interplay in the various settings. There were the marvelous trumpeter Terell Stafford and clarinetist Ken Peplowski going back and forth on Denzil Best's speed-breaker "Wee. The audience, agreeing the two couldn't have played any faster, was jubilant. Stafford, with Person this time, hit the stratosphere with his rocketing "Lester Leaps In, and then hushed the crowd with his tender "I Remember Clifford. Another memorable set came when John Clayton on bass with son Gerald on piano joined drummer Jeff Hamilton in a trio setting. The threesome excelled as a cohesive unit on the young Clayton's "Sunny Day Go, which seemed a small suite as much as a song.

Promoter Joe Rothman likes to describe the music he presents as "right down the middle and straight ahead. The description is apt. The body of what was heard at the party was certainly in the "middle," cutting straight to the heart of jazz.


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms Live Reviews Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms
by Martin Longley
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC Winter Jazzfest Live Reviews Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano Live Reviews Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano
by Keith Henry Brown
Published: January 13, 2018
Read Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café Live Reviews Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: January 2, 2018
Read Terence Blanchard at Christ Church Cranbrook Live Reviews Terence Blanchard at Christ Church Cranbrook
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 29, 2017
Read "Tallinn Music Week 2017" Live Reviews Tallinn Music Week 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Jazztopad Festival 2017" Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read "Los Lobos at The Barre Opera House" Live Reviews Los Lobos at The Barre Opera House
by Doug Collette
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Pat Martino Quintet at Chris' Jazz Cafe" Live Reviews Pat Martino Quintet at Chris' Jazz Cafe
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 26, 2017
Read "Kongsberg Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Kongsberg Jazz Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "CEO Experiment With Kurt Rosenwinkel at The Sugar Club" Live Reviews CEO Experiment With Kurt Rosenwinkel at The Sugar Club
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 11, 2017