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...

509

Trudy Pitts and Nancy Wilson Open 2006-07 Mellon Jazz Fridays at the Kimmel Center

Victor L. Schermer By

Sign in to view read count
The concert convinced this writer that Nancy Wilson... has grown and developed over the years to where she merits consideration as one of the great jazz singers of all time.
Trudy Pitts and Nancy Wilson
Mellon Jazz Fridays
The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia
September 15, 2006


The atrium lobby of the Kimmel Center was crowded and abuzz with excitement because it was the first "Mellon Jazz Friday of the season, and furthermore, it was the occasion of Trudy Pitts' daring initiation of the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ as a jazz instrument, and, in addition, Nancy Wilson, one of the all-time great vocalists, with many connections to Philadelphia, was featured on the bill. The atmosphere became even warmer when a young lady in the loge section behind the stage shouted hostile remarks at the gentleman from Mellon Bank who was doing introductory remarks at the podium. (The fellow handled the situation with extraordinary grace and humor, which was about as good a commercial for the bank as you can get.) Then Trudy Pitts came on stage and faced the gartantuan organ console, which she referred to as the "monster. David and Goliath all over again.

Ms. Pitts, however, proved herself a formidable musician willing and able to take on the daunting task of making jazz from a massive pipe organ designed for the classical repertoire. Accompanied by her trio of Tim Warfield on tenor sax, Bob Devos on guitar, and her husband and long-time soul mate, Mr. C (Bill Carney) on drums, Trudy Pitts performed a phenomenal set of music, so well interconnected that it virtually formed a suite, displaying a sensitivity, soulfulness, power and virtuosity that was both startlingly beautiful and left no doubt that she is a predominant master of her craft. If the late great jazz organist Jimmy Smith had heard her, I'm sure he would have been overwhelmed with emotion at her accomplishment. She brought his innovations and mastery to a stunning pinnacle of achievement.

The program she selected for the performance was exquisite. She interwove in a continuous flow the countrapuntal theme from Bach's great cantata, Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring (a brilliant idea for a motif, since Bach was a master of the organ), with several of her own compositions, a Fat's Waller standard (with perhaps a reference to Pitts' own piano work) and ending up with the universal spiritual "Amazing Grace. The Bach theme was used to connect the jazz compositions and remind us of the rich tradition of the instrument on which she was performing.

After the first "Jesus..., Ms. Pitts did a lovely version of her own ballad, "Anysha, named for her daughter, who was in the audience along with Trudy's son "TC3, a fine jazz vocalist in his own right. Another run of "Jesus... was followed by a second Pitts original, "Steppin' in Minor, and then in the same sequence, there was her own "Trudy's Lament, with a light bossa nova rhythm sustained by Mr. Devos on guitar and Mr. C's steady and precise percussion. Then, Waller's famed "Jitterbug Waltz, featuring Tim Warfield on sax, followed by a final original, "Trudy's Dream, and segueing into (literally) an "all stops out rendition of "Amazing Grace . The latter would have rocked the rafters were it not for the exceptionally clean sound of organ builder Lynn Dobson's remarkable pipes. Every note of that massive instrument is "clean as a whistle (indeed, each pipe of an organ is simply an upscale version of a pennywhistle!). Trudy Pitts proved beyond a doubt that she could slay Goliath (and the audience) if not with a stone and slingshot, then with a little help from her nimble fingering and her dancing feet working overtime all around those foot pedals!

It's hard to sum up an extraordinary achievement such as this. I can only express wonder at Ms. Pitts' phenomenal capabilities and resilience, and also at the craftsmanship of Mr. Dobson and his crew in constructing this remarkable pipe organ with its beautiful craftsmanship and woodwork and excellent tonal quality. It perfectly complements the acoustics of Verizon Hall to produce a pellucid, memorable sound.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre Live Reviews
Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Tallinn Music Week 2018 Live Reviews
Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum Live Reviews
James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum
by Phillip Woolever
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano Live Reviews
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018
Read Marbin at The Firmament Live Reviews
Marbin at The Firmament
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 15, 2018
Read Big Ears Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Big Ears Festival 2018
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2017" Live Reviews Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2017
by John Kelman
Published: July 7, 2017
Read "Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 1, 2017
Read "French Connections - The Jazzdor Experience" Live Reviews French Connections - The Jazzdor Experience
by Henning Bolte
Published: January 25, 2018