The Celebration Continues

Nick Catalano By

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Last month's whirling dervish of openings, new venues, novel CD releases, and concentrated jazz activity continues unabated. It is a truism to verbalize but the music activity in Gotham has never been so intense. The clubs are packed with locals, the concert halls abound with patrons from abroad and new talent keeps pouring in from all corners of the planet.

Although she's a native New Yorker, vocalist Stacey Kent operates out of London and has developed into a European household name routinely selling out concerts in England, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Slovakia, Poland, Russia and Turkey. Her European reputation has also opened new territory and she has had success in Israel, Hong Kong and Japan. Kent symbolizes that new crop of jazzers who take advantage of the music's increasingly world-wide popularity to forge important careers based mainly outside the United States. Arguably, some of the most important contributions to the music are being developed overseas—a trend that has developed over the last decade and continues to spiral.

Kent and husband/collaborator/saxophonist Jim Tomlinson appeared at Feinstein's for a 2 week stint performing music from their new CD The Lyric. Gentle swing was the order of the day and the duo was strongly supported by a superb rhythm section featuring pianist David Newton, bassist David Chamberlain and drummer Matt Skelton. Tin Pan Alley standards (Porter's "My Heart Belongs To Daddy, Loesser's "If I Were A Bell, Rodgers' "A Cockeyed Optimist') were admixed with Brazilian reliables (Jobim's "Corcovado ) to produce delightful results. Kent can swing with the best and Tomlinson's Stan Getz homage is more welcome than I might have imagined.

Trio Da Paz has steadily moved into the spotlight of Gotham's Brazilian tradition. Anchored by legendary percussionist Duduka Da Fonseca and featuring bassist Nilson Matta with guitarist Romero Lubambo, the group has been acclaimed for its authenticity and virtuosity. At Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Trio Da Paz expanded its horizons by adding vibraphonist Joe Locke and saxophonist Harry Allen for a series of performances celebrating the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Vocalist Maucha Adnet lent her considerable expertise to the party and the result wowed SRO audiences at Dizzy's. Repeatedly, Locke dueled with the rhythmists and startled patrons with his acclaimed improvisational technique. Allen, whose stylings were occasionally out of step with his bandmates, displayed his usual potpourri of ideas with aplomb. Trio Da Paz should be targeted by holiday visitors because their music glows.

As I write this piece (Oct. 30 2006), I'm listening to a live broadcast of Clifford Brown's 76th birthday celebration on WKCR FM radio here in New York. The station is available on the internet and jazz fans worldwide can log in to this 24 hour celebration. When I began to work on my biography of Brownie (Oxford University Press 2000) I was able to collect all of his music simply by tuning in to this invaluable. station. In addition to the 24 hour Brownie marathon, the station replicates this format for dozens of other jazz immortals on their birthdays. So wherever you may be on the planet you can collect this great art music for free. Happy listening.

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