Welcome to April! We're into week 14 of JazzSet's 20th Anniversary celebration. Each week Alexander Gelles Ariff, of the Jazz History & Research program at Rutgers University Newark, digs deep to bring you these special moments.
This week in JazzSet history, we’ll start in one of my favorite cities at one of my favorite festivals, the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans. I’ve attended the past two years and plan on keeping it up. We’ll also close out Women in Jazz Month with a Kennedy Center broadcast of the 2005 Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition. Daniela Schaechter’s quintet puts a powerful imprint on the American standard “Stella by Starlight.” And we’ll end up in the Netherlands with Gianluigi Trovesi’s Octet delivering an twisted take on Dixieland. JazzSet gets around!
Back in 1991, before he joined Jazz at Lincoln Center, Victor Goines brought his quintet to the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans. The band featured Goines on tenor and soprano; Glenn Patscha, piano; Rolan Guerin, bass; Brian Blade; drums; and a 19-year-old Nicholas Payton on trumpet. Payton holds his own, but I want to feature the virtuosity and development of Goines’s tenor solo on an original composition “Heterogeneity.” The tune calls to mind elements of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers band from the mid '60s; with Brian Blade on drums in this band, you better hold on tight!
In 2007, JazzSet concluded March, Women's History Month, with a broadcast featuring Sicilian pianist Daniela Schaechter and her quintet at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. It was special for Daniela because she was performing with her mentor Terri Lyne Carrington on drums. Other band members include Russian musicians Alex Sipiagin on trumpet and Oleg Osenkov on bass. Their arrangement of Victor Young’s “Stella by Starlight” caught my ear. I love the way Alex Sipiagin’s trumpet -- while introducing a fresh modern intensity -- harks back to the way Miles phrased the melody in ’58.
Groningen is the small, capital city on the northernmost province of the Netherlands. At the 1993 Groningen Jazz Festival, Italian reedman Gianluigi Trovesi and his octet delivered a truly multicultural performance, and we have the extended audio! Trovesi fuses traditional Italian music with Bulgarian rhythms and hints of Ornette Coleman. In this original piece entitled “Hercab,” Trovesi is on clarinet and bass clarinet; Pino Minafra, trumpet; Rudy Migliardi, tuba and trombone; Marco Remondini, cello; Roberto Bonati and Marco Micheli, bass; Vittorio Marioni, drums; and Fulvio Maras on percussion. (Host Branford Marsalis loved pronouncing the band names!) Trovesi’s spectrum of sound on the bass clarinet is astounding, and Pino Minafra’s megaphone rap adds an unfamiliar dark texture. It reminds me of a cross between Pink Floyd’s The Wall and the "Cantina Theme" from Star Wars.
About halfway through the tune, the cello quotes the French tune “Frère Jacques.” This is is most likely a nod to Gustav Mahler, who used the melody in Symphony No. 1, Movement 3. Uri Caine unveiled his own Mahler interpretation on a previous episode of This Week in JazzSet History. Special thanks to producers of these recordings, N.O.S. Radio and P.H. van de Pohl in the Netherlands and WGBH’s Bob Lyons in Boston.
Alexander Gelles Ariff has a B.A. in Jazz Studies from Florida State University and is now completing his Master's in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers-Newark. He is the recipient of the Morroe Berger - Benny Carter Jazz Research Fund Award from the Institute of Jazz Studies. Alex is writing his Master's thesis on the selected recorded collaboration between jazz figures and American poets -- Kenneth Patchen, Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth, and Langston Hughes.