March 11, 2008. Posted by Simon Rentner.
I drifted in to Dennis Irwin's benefit concert at the Allen Room late. Joe Lovano's octet just finished a joyous, foot-stomping song, and then came the shock: trumpeter Wynton Marsalis announced bassist Dennis Irwin was dead. He passed away four hours earlier, at 3:30 in New York City.
Suddenly, this joyous benefit turned into a memorial. To learn of Irwin's condition late last week was disturbing enough - he was diagnosed with spinal cancer in its fourth stage. To hear the news of his death while sitting in the audience was too much - it resonated through me like thunder. How could he be gone so quickly? The musicians learned of Dennis's death moments before Wynton announced it. That must have been a disconcerting moment. Does the repertory change when a concert turns from a charitable affair to a concert of remembrance?
I suppose there are no right or wrong ways to grieve or celebrate a life, and the musicians who performed for Dennis last night drove home that point.
After Wynton called for a moment of prayer and pause, pianist Bill Charlap offered a moment of consolation with Leonard Bernstein's "Some Other Time." Tony Bennett joined Charlap's trio for a somber reading of "But Beautiful." Then the mood shifted abruptly: Bennett concluded with Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm," Mose Allison romped through his tongue-and-cheek originals, and pianist Dom Salvador and saxophonist Dick Oatts offered two spirited Brazilian pieces.
Then, the music highlight of the evening: two unexpected trios took the stage, each guided by a forward-thinking guitarist. John Scofield joined John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette for an upbeat groove; then Bill Frisell linked-up with Ron Carter and Paul Motian for a lament -- the audience, especially the folks from the jazz industry, were equally weeping and salivating.
Wynton Marsalis performed with David Berger's Sultans of Swing, but never stepped onstage. He performed his remarkable solo on "Stardust" while he walked down the aisle of the Allen Room, sharing his grief not only with all the musicians, but also with everyone in the audience. - Simon Rentner
© 2008 WBGO
March 10, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Free music at J&R was the lone spot of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy Saturday. Catherine Russell performed live on Saturday Afternoon Jazz, hosted by Monifa Brown. Listen to the show now. You can also catch Catherine Russell singing at our next Kids Jazz Series program, this Saturday, March 15th 12:30pm at NJPAC. Don't forget to bring a kid. Preferably one you know.
© 2008 WBGO
March 7, 2008. Posted by Simon Rentner.
Bassist Dennis Irwin is in need of immediate financial and medical help. He was recently diagnosed with a tumor on his spinal chord. Jazz at Lincoln Center in partnership with the Jazz Foundation of America presents an extraordinary benefit concert in the Allen Room this Monday at 7:30. Joe Lovano, John Scofield invited some top names in jazz to participate. Here is a short list: The Bill Charlap Trio with Tony Bennett, Wynton Marsalis, Mose Allison, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, David Berger and Sultans of Swing, John Pattitucci, Jon Hendricks, Jim Hall, Paul Motian, Ron Carter. There will probably be others too. A quick observation: It is remarkable that Dennis Irwin touched and performed with such a diverse list of artists. This should definitely be one of the jazz musical events of the year in New York, and the world. Plus the $150.00 cover is certainly going to a just cause.Tickets: Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office on Broadway at 60th Street in New York; by calling CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500; or through Jazz at Lincoln Center.
To help Dennis with a contribution, please visit his website.
This tribute to Dennis, created by Bret Primack, includes a performance clip from the Joe Lovano Nonet, "New Morning: The Paris Concert," as well as video Bret shot at Joe's "Streams of Expression" recording session in December of 2005.
© 2008 WBGO