Jazz Buff News

THE JAZZ BUFF

November 2017

FROM THE CHAIR

DOWNLOAD PDF

It has been said that we live in a Great Age of Uncertainty. Perhaps it would be better to view our time as one where Ying/Yang dominates our lives, that is, where every positive seems to have a negative as well.

Consider the claim that jazz is dead or dying. Those of you who were at our recent fall concert featuring the amazing Anderson brothers can attest to the fact that a lot of positive things are happening from relative unknowns, artists who are just waiting to be seen and heard and be rewarded for their talents. The downside is that many folks are unwilling to invest time and money unless the players are established and well known to them.

This reminds me of when I was a student at Tufts College, back in Boston. A group of us went to the Boston Symphony, then conducted by the great Serge Koussevitzky. Much to our chagrin, he was taken ill and a young whippersnapper named Leonard Bernstein replaced him. We were quite upset. Of course ever since we have bragged about how terrific he was and that we experienced him before he was who he was. Did not Louis Armstrong too have a time when no one knew what he could do? To keep jazz alive, we must give new talent their moment.

Another reflection on this dilemma comes to me from the free member party just held on a lovely balmy afternoon at the Palo Alto Art Center. Noel Jewkes on the reeds is a local jewel who is well known, but his back-up team were relatively unknown, at least to me, and they were just perfect.

Added value came from the warm vocals provided by Kay Kostopoulos. Good music, along with wine and nibbles, offered a happy time for about 60 of our members. The downside is that our membership numbers are slipping, and that is troublesome.

It is easy to be pollyannaish and believe that all is well with jazz and PAJA, but there are challenges. We need more members, we need more volunteers to work on the Board, we need to reach out more and find ways to educate young and old to the beauty that jazz can deliver to one’s soul.

PAJA, as a cause, may not be as urgent as, say, the cancer fund or the Red Cross. We do not save lives or heal the sick. But our cause of keeping our music alive and aiding jazz education in the Bay Area and beyond is a worthwhile one. We think recognition of that mission is why you became a PAJA member, and we are grateful you have joined us in this journey. We are confident that as we work together we’ll resolve our challenges and reach our goals.

In continued appreciation of your support, 

  1. Stuart Brewster  Chair, Palo Alto Jazz Alliance

 

MEMBER PARTY—COOL AND CONGENIAL

PAJA’s annual free member party on Saturday, October 21, was a grand success. Wonderful weather, friendly folks, and a really good band made for a delightful afternoon of jazz and socializing.

Our thanks to Kay Kostopoulos, long-time PAJA member, for providing the vocals and fronting the musicians. Kay is reachable at www.blackolivejazz.com.

And as he has many times in the past, Noel Jewkes (jewkesjazz@sbcglobal.net) blew us away with his terrific tenor and other reeds. The man is a marvel and we’re lucky to have such a superior jazz artist here in the Bay Area.

The rhythm section was likewise stellar, and each sideman soloed to great effect. Bravo to Larry Chinn on piano, Dan Robbins on bass, and Jason Lewis on drums.

Fifty to sixty members were on hand for a lovely afternoon. The rest of you PAJA members should really try to make these gigs. The Palo Alto Art Center courtyard is a cozy, pleasant venue, and there’s always plenty of wine and other beverages, plus munchies. Pretty good deal, IMO./ D. Michael Griffin

THE ANDERSON TRIO—SUPERB STRAIGHT-AHEAD JAZZ

By Harvey      Mittler

 

The enthusiastic and appreciative audience at PAJA’s fall concert on Saturday, September 23, widely acclaimed the night’s activity as an artistic triumph. Those in attendance at Menlo-Atherton HS’s Center For The Performing Arts luxuriated in the joyful music presented by Peter Anderson on tenor sax and clarinet, Will Anderson on alto, clarinet and flute, and Felix Lemerle on guitar.

The program consisted of well-known songs from the Great American Songbook and the standard jazz repertoire, such as “Cherokee,” “My Favorite Things,” “Skylark,” and “Moonglow.” It also included lesser known pieces by popular composers, and works by lesser known artists, including the 30-year-old Anderson twins themselves.

The Peter and Will Anderson Trio rewarded us with a sublime performance, and the prolonged applause indicated we understood what Quincy Jones meant when he said to the Andersons, “You are the dudes of the future. You have made my soul smile.”

For a more complete recap of the evening, see the PAJA website home page: www.pajazzalliance.org.

WOODY ON RALPH BURNS

”I happened to have a young man suggested to me by the name of Ralph Burns, who joined me when he was 19 to play piano and also to write arrangements for the band. His first arrangement he ever did for my band. . . he took a Harold Arlen tune, I’ve Got The World On A String, and he did a chart for me and he included a vocal for me. So he was pretty wise for 19. In other words, the easiest way to butter up the old man is to write a vocal for him, you know? And I felt he was very mature for his years.” Woody Herman, interviewed in Fred Hall’s 1989 book, Dialogues In Swing. [Ralph Burns went on, of course, to compose many Woody Herman classics like Bijou, Northwest Passage, Apple Honey and Early Autumn. He had a subsequent busy and successful career arranging for stage and screen.]

Monterey Jazz / A Report from the Grounds

Text by Andy and Dorothy Nozaka            Photos by Andy Nozaka

The Monterey Jazz Festival celebrated its 60th anniversary this September 2017. There’s always a certain feel-good vibe here at festival time and this year was no exception. The grounds venues had a major upgrading of the Coffee House, now renamed the Pacific Jazz Café, with the stage repositioned to what was formerly the rear of the venue. This is a fine improvement and it compares more favorably now to Dizzy’s Den and the Night Club as a third indoor venue.

Herewith are thumbnail impressions and samplings of just a few of the artists and ensembles witnessed.

Ray     Obiedo Latin Jazz Project 

Guitarist Obiedo is a veteran of the Bay Area Latin Jazz scene, appearing frequently with the Pete Escovedo band as well as fronting his own groups. Here in Obiedo’s septet, the great saxophonist and flutist, Melecio Magdaluyo, ably assisted Obiedo in solo duties. The rhythm section was particularly fine and was a bracing intro to this year’s festival.  It was very instructive to hear and compare another talented latin jazz group immediately thereafter; the telling difference to these ears was in the superior rhythmic precision and driving force of Obiedo’s group.

Roberta Gambarini

Always a welcome voice at MJF, Ms. Gambarini’s varied repertoire included the Great American Songbook as well as straight-ahead jazz standards. Pianist Tamir Hendelman proved once again that he is as fine an arranger-accompanist as a jazz singer could desire. PAJA members will remember him as the pianist for his trio and Jackie Ryan earlier this year.

Joel Frahm Quartet 

Prodigiously talented saxophonist Joel Frahm was backed by a super-group of Billy Childs (keyboards), Scott Colley (bass), and Peter Erskine (drums). The set was spent reimagining Stan Getz’ 1972 record “Captain Marvel,” which likewise featured a great supporting cast of Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Tony Williams and Airto. Mr. Frahm has the chops and, if pressed, could probably improvise on the NYC phonebook; altogether exhilarating, but one would have wished he had thrown in a slow ballad or two.

Con Brio

Straight from the club scene of San Francisco to the outdoor Garden Stage, the exciting jazz-inflected funk/R & B group, Con Brio, made its MJF debut. Con Brio is led with swagger by singer/dancer Ziek McCarter — young, black, and charismatic; and, yes, he can sing, dance and strut — not in the class of James Brown or Michael Jackson, but very good, indeed. It was like an electric jolt to see and hear Con Brio perform; this group may be on the cusp of making it big-time.

Pedrito     Martinez Quartet

Conga player Pedrito Martinez first played and amazed attendees at MJF in 2012 and since that time has become the talk of the town in the Latin Jazz world. Pedrito, seated on a cajon with congas and timbales in front, has expanded his “kit” to include elements of the conventional drum set such as high-hat, and cymbals. This group with recent changes in personnel sounds, if possible, even better than before. Longtime sidekick, Jhair Sala, a very fine bongo player, and an even better cowbell player, adds immeasurably to the rhythmic excitement generated. A killer group! Five stars!

Joanne     Brackeen Trio

Pianist Joanne Brackeen, recently designated a 2018 NEA Jazz Master, and now almost 80, gained prominence in the late 1960’s as the first, and only, female member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and followed in the 1970’s with stints with Joe Henderson and Stan Getz. These days she leads her own groups and teaches. Her avant-garde harmonic risk-taking, rhythmic drive and composing gifts merit her far greater recognition. Her excellent cohorts were Ugonna Okegwo, bass, and Rudy Royston, drums.

Joe Lovano Classic Quartet

Tenor saxophonist Lovano led a superb rhythm section composed of Lawrence Fields, piano; Peter Slavov, bass; and Lamy Istrefi, drums. As ever, Lovano continues to amaze as a musician for the risks he takes when playing; he continually initiates, explores and resolves the innumerable musical techniques he applies, all seamlessly and within the context and flow of the music being played. A wonderful performer.

More   Notes From Monterey

The     Jazz Curmudgeon goes to the Monterey Jazz Fest… again!

By D. Michael   Griffin

Monterey? It has been said that MJF is one of the few remaining festivals to still predominantly feature jazz. But for me it is on a slow slide to becoming a mixed bag of popular genres, as MJF organizers move to music that appeals to a younger audience than my generation.

While R&B gets an enthusiastic response from most all age groups, including me, Dee Dee Bridgewater singing/screaming pop only [Purple Rain, OMG] and no jazz at all, made me largely disappointed. But the Arena crowd was enthusiastic, so…? Same with the hip-hop artist Common. While I said “no freaking way,” the audience clapped loudly, and I said to myself, “Why?”

As for the jazz kind of jazz, I enjoyed it and will go back for more of same next year. Sitting out the pop and hip-hop of course. Thank God the bars are always open and picnic tables available for the grumpy old men among us.

Notes from the Arena Stage

By Doris Harry

Regina Carter… An excellent musician who feels the jazz. Her program (Simply Ella) had great variety and she was “simply Regina.” Which is to say she plays her violin with an intensity that rivals Miles Davis and his trumpet. Wow.

Dee Dee Bridgewater… Her “Memphis” show displayed a lot of energy, but I think her forte is jazz, and I wish we could have had her stick with that, instead of singing pop. But most of the audience appeared to be happy with it.

Monsieur Periné!…This Colombian band woke up the fairgrounds with a celebratory set. What a delightful young group of performers, vocalizing in French and Spanish (and the gentlemen in attendance loved the short skirt).

Angelique Kidjo… Her tribute to Salsa was fun! She can sing, dance and her backup group was great. She turned an African presentation into a sing along.

 

Herbie Hancock… On his solo gig made lots of interesting sounds, and he obviously was enjoying himself. As I said, interesting sounds, but I kept hoping for a standard with improv. On the other hand, his duo gig with Chick Corea was much more satisfying. They were positioned facing each other from across the distance of two grand pianos, challenging and playing for each other. The two of them were a straight-ahead treat.

Leslie Odom Jr. … I loved him in the NY production of “Hamilton” and was looking forward to hearing him at MJF. He is a newcomer to the jazz scene but this gig was more of a cabaret show. He included some nice covers of Nat King Cole hits. Hey, THE MAN CAN SING…and his last number from “Hamiton” was a show stopper. Experience should help to hone his jazz chops.

Jimmy Heath, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman and Branford Marsalis… Ahhhhh, those saxophones. Real jazz at last! Goes to prove…you ain’t really old until you put away your horn. An exciting set of the real stuff.

Mr. Sipp… from Mississippi is a talented blues guitarist who had us all dancing in the aisles, literally! He gets the max from his audience, and I must say, R&B is FUN.

Common… This hip-hop gig was the outlier of the entire MJF. I am trying to grow with current music, but I could not relate his hip-hop performance with jazz. Common’s message was politically charged but not partisan, sexy but not vulgar. Nevertheless, I went to Monterey to hear jazz. And this wasn’t that.

THE JAZZ PERISCOPE

Selected gigs for November and December 2017

YOSHI’S OAKLAND  www.yoshi.com/oakland

11/8, 12/26      Tommy Igoe……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 8pm

11/12                  Mads Tolling, with Paula West………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6, 8pm

11/20                  Kevin Mahogany……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 8pm

11/28                  Jeremy Pelt Quintet………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8pm

11/30, 12/1      Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band……………………………………………………………………………………………. 8pm

12/10                  New York Voices………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7, 9pm

12/27                  Larry Vuckovich………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 8pm

SF JAZZ CENTER  www.sfjazz.org/center

11/11-12            Kurt Rosenwinkel

11/16-19            Hiromi

11/24-26            Joey Alexander

11/30-12/3       Dianne Reeves

12/3                    Anat Cohen Tentet…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 8pm

12/7                    Kurt Elling, w/The Swingles at Herbst Theatre……………………………………………………………………. 8pm

12/8-10              Gregory Porter

12/10                  Tammy Hall Trio…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6, 7:30pm

12/28-31            Maceo Parker

BACH’S DANCING & DYNAMITE SOCIETY, EL GRANADA  www.bachddsoc.org

11/12                  René Marie…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4:30pm

11/19                  Regina Carter “Simply Ella”……………………………………………………………………………………………… 4:30pm

12/3                    Jeremy Pelt Quintet……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4:30pm

KUUMBWA JAZZ CENTER, SANTA CRUZ   www.kuumbwajazz.org

11/6                    Benny Green Trio……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7pm

11/9                    Patricia Barber………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7pm

11/20                  Regina Carter “Simply Ella”………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7, 9pm

11/27                  Jeremy Pelt Quintet………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7pm

SAN JOSE JAZZ  www.sanjosejazz.org

11/14                  René Marie  at Café Stritch

11/28                  Primary Colors (Nate Pruitt & Rick Vandivier) 5 Pts. Cocktail Bar

ANGELICA’S  863 Main St., Redwood City  www.angelicasllc.com

11/9                    Christina Galisatus Quartet………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7:30pm

11/11                  Rebecca DuMaine & Dave Miller Trio………………………………………………………………………………. 8:30pm

11/19                  Mike Galisatus Big Band…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7pm

CAFÉ STRITCH  374 S. First St., San Jose  www.cafestritch.com

CAFÉ PINK HOUSE  14577 Big Basin Way, Saratoga  408/647-2273  www.cafepinkhouse.com

11/16-17            Dan Zinn Quartet, with Taylor Eigsti

SAVANNA JAZZ  1189 Laurel St., San Carlos 415/624-4549    www.savannajazz.com

11/5                    SF Bay Jazz Big Band, dir. by Jeff Sanford………………………………………………………………………….. 6-9pm

11/12 Octobop          6-9pm