• Freihofer's Jazz Festival: Spectacular Sunday

    June 28, 2011. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    Angelique Kidjo, DIANNE REEVES, Lizz Wright at Freihofer's 2011 .. photo by Mitchell Seidel
    Angelique Kidjo, DIANNE REEVES, Lizz Wright at Freihofer's 2011 .. photo by Mitchell Seidel

    The 34th annual  festival at the Saratoga Springs PAC closed on Sunday night, June 26, with Sing the Truth! -- Dianne Reeves, Angelique Kidjo and Lizz Wright -- a magnificent peformance honoring the music of women of Africa, gospel, jazz and soul.

    The first time they handed the solo mic around, Wright offered I've Got to Use My Imagination (the Gladys Knight hit) .. Reeves sang Abbey Lincoln's Throw It Away .. Kidjo introduced a piece that the great Miriam Makeba described as "from my ancestors." Kidjo pranced, break danced and foreshadowed her later sprint through the aisles.

    Sing the Truth! was the third in an amazing sequence of  performances, first from Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings & the Dappettes. Jones rolled out the message of empowerment that the women of Sing the Truth! later raised to the roof. From babies to boomers, there was  dancing to Jones & The Dap Kings. I want to hear them on WBGO, on The Blues Hour!)

    Saxophonist Donald Harrison's quintet added Cyril Neville on vocals and congas, and two genuine Mardi Gras Indians in pastel feathers -- one in green, one in blue. On a cool Sunday evening amid the tall pines in Saratoga, the set went deep into New Orleans, Donald riding on top, and inspired more dancing.

    Last year, Sing the Truth! closed the Montreal Jazz Festival, and the Freihofer's performance was the US premiere. More highlights:  Lizz Wright / How I Got Over (traditional) .. Dianne Reeves / Tracy Chapman's All That You Have Is Your Soul .. Angelique Kidjo / Chapman's Talkin' About a Revolution .. with one of the great lyrics of the night.

    It sounds like a whisper
    While they're standing in the welfare lines
    Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
    Wasting time in unemployment lines
    Sitting around waiting for a promotion

    Behind the singers was one great band. Terri Lyne Carrington musically directed from the drums with Geri Allen on keyboards, Romero Lubambo on guitar, James Genus on basses, Munyungo Jackson on percussion. The next US performance is at the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Friday of Labor Day weekend. I usually leave a concert with a song to get me home. The ride home from Saratoga is three hours, and I was still singing at my front door!

    Note: These comment boards are available to the general public. Statements expressed in the comment boards do not necessarily reflect WBGO's views. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorsement of the views expressed within them. For more information, please read our Terms of Service.