Take Five: Get ready for the TD James Moody Jazz Fest, with Dianne Reeves and more
The 10th annual TD James Moody Jazz Festival runs Nov. 5 through 21 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Here's a field guide to some upcoming highlights.
Dianne Reeves (with Wayne Shorter), "Someplace Called 'Where'"
Dianne Reeves has released almost two dozen albums, won five Grammy awards, and been recognized as an NEA Jazz Master. Since you're here, it's a safe bet you know her work. But it's possible you haven't heard her sing this art song by a son of Newark: "Someplace Called 'Where,'" the closing track on Wayne Shorter's 1988 album Joy Ryder. Listen to the supreme self-assurance with which she handles those distinctly Shorteresque intervals, shadowed by the composer's soprano saxophone. (Also heard here: Herbie Hancock on synths, Geri Allen on piano and synths, Patrice Rushen on keyboards, Nathan East on bass and Terri Lyne Carrington on drums.)
Dianne Reeves shares a bill with Artemis on Nov. 13; buy tickets here.
Arturo O'Farrill Feat. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble, "Dreaming in Lions"
The Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble, led by pianist and composer Arturo O'Farrill, has a long track record of dynamic output, with a few Grammys to show for it. Their latest album, ...dreaming in Lions..., originated as a collaboration with the Malpaso Dance Company, from Cuba. (Its title alludes to a line from Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.) Bravura takes a backseat to reflection on the title track, with key contributions from Travis Reuter on guitar, Alejandro Aviles on flute, and O'Farrill's son Adam on trumpet. This animated video, directed by Nicole Clarizio, captures the spirit of imaginative wonder that inspired the tune.
Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra perform on Nov. 19; buy tickets here.
Buster Williams, "Audacity"
Bassist and composer Buster Williams is 79, and in his prime. This year saw the release of a much-anticipated doc film, Buster Williams: Bass to Infinity, which captures the man in his element. The same can be said of a recent album, Audacity, featuring Williams' long-running quartet Something More, with saxophonist Steve Wilson, pianist George Colligan and drummer Lenny White. On the title track, a medium-up swinger, listen for the way Williams' walking bass line sits just on the forward edge of the beat, while White holds the center; listen, too, for some fine solo works from Colligan and Wilson. Audacious is just the start of it.
Buster Williams plays the Bethany Baptist Church Jazz Vespers on Nov. 6; seats are limited, but admission is free with RSVP.
Don Braden / Joris Teepe Quartet, "Watermelon Man"
Tenor saxophonist Don Braden has a longstanding partnership with the Dutch bassist Joris Teepe. (Perhaps you recall their in-studio performance on Morning Jazz in 2017.) Braden and Teepe recently released an album titled In the Spirit of Herbie Hancock, but were prevented from touring behind it by pandemic restrictions. Earlier this year, they convened in virtual form to play a version of "Watermelon Man" in lively waltz time (with a quick dose of "Coltrane changes" on the back end of the form). For the Moody Fest, Braden will play a WBGO Kids Jazz concert with his septet; register here.
George Wein and the Newport All-Stars, "Johnny Come Lately"
When the TD James Moody Jazz Festival set aside a space for a concert called "Celebrating George Wein," it was intended as a salute to a living legend. Because Wein died in September, a few weeks shy of 96, the evening will naturally take on a different air — but not so different, given the exuberance he always encouraged in his handpicked Newport All-Stars bands. This one features some of the musicians he always kept close, including Anat Cohen, the clarinetist and saxophonist who appears elsewhere on the festival with Artemis. Also in the mix are trumpeter Randy Brecker, tenor saxophonist and flutist Lew Tabackin and bassist Peter Washington — all of whom appear in the video above, from Wein's 85th birthday celebration at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Also on this concert are the vocal group Duchess, NJPAC jazz advisor and Newport Jazz Festival artistic director Christian McBride, and NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron, who will surely do a magnificent job taking over Wein's piano chair.
Celebrating George Wein takes place on Nov. 20; buy tickets here.