May 25, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
The Fest climaxed on Saturday night with a full performance of Mary Lou's Mass featuring Carmen Lundy, the 20-piece Howard University vocal ensemble Afro Blue directed by Connaitre Miller, and the Geri Allen Trio with Kenny Davis and Andrew Cyrille (who worked with MLW). Lundy and Allen quietly cast a breath-holding spell with Lazarus, the story of the rich man and the beggar that begins unforgettably with "There was a selfish rich man who clothed himself in purple and fine linens, there also was a beggar-man named Lazarus. . ." (at least I think those are the words). It is one of the 15 brief movements of the Mass, which also unfolds like a history of the music, and this performance was powerful and effective.
Earlier, Geri Allen received the Lifetime Achievement Award. And she's so young! Her daughter was there to enjoy this honor with Geri.
Virginia Mayhew led a piano-free quartet in MLW compositions including Medi I and Medi II. Virginia had taken the music off recordings at the Institute of Jazz Studies. Her saxophone has a wonderful dry tone. To open the concert, Ann Patterson's Maiden Voyage came from Los Angeles with MLW charts from the 1940s and 60s (written for Ellington). This big band played well. Carol Chaikin on tenor took some strong solos. Saxophonist Patterson is the musical heart, and has worked intensely since 1980 to organize and lead Maiden Voyage. There's no institution behind it. There's Ann. Claire Daly, bari from New York, soloed on Chief Natoma. Other tunes were Lonely Moments (which the late Hank Jones used to play), Scratchin in the Gravel, O.W., Scorpio from the Zodiac Suite, New Musical Express. The full swing to modern MLW arc was traversed.
In the 2010-11 season, JazzSet will feature this music from the 15th annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center. Stay with us!
© 2010 WBGO
May 4, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
Allan Harris sang and hosts from the Umbria Festival -- July 9-18 in Perugia, Italy -- announced the schedule at a press party in NY on Monday evening. Harris, Sonny Rollins, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Manhattan Transfer, Melody Gardot, Enrico Rava, Stefano Bollani and many other artists are on the Umbria line-up. To savor dates and details, click here and check out the the JazzSet Festival Calendar.
© 2010 WBGO
April 9, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
It's Randy Weston's 84th birthday, and the celebration is at the Jazz Standard. Last night, I enjoyed the first set. For the opening minutes (at least five minutes), Weston's hands didn't venture above the middle of the keyboard. That powerful low piano goes straight to your center. The vibration is strong enough to make you a resonator! As Randy Weston says, "In the African tradition, we are all musicians. Your heart is your drum and your voice is your sound."
As the set unfolded from the processional "Blues to Africa" through "Saucer Eyes," "African Sunrise" for Dizzy Gillespie and Machito, "Hi Fly" and "Berkshire Blues," I felt as if I'd died and gone to heaven (or Sunside, a Paris club which for some reason came to mind). Love yourself. Go see Randy Weston.
Here's a clip of "African Sunrise" from the same quintet, as heard on JazzSet in 2004.
© 2010 WBGO