Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Give Me Live, Lots of Live (Music, that is)!

'Tis the weekend for the annual Litchfield Jazz Festival, this year celebrating its 20th year. Taking place on the Goshen Fairgrounds in Goshen, CT over 3 days (August 7-9), the music covers a wide swath of musical territory, small to large groups, swing to fusion and many stops in-between.

Opening night includes 2 shows, the first at 7:45 p.m. featuring the Litchfield Jazz Orchestra, a 19-piece ensemble featuring the musicians who have have been working with the students at the Festival's Jazz Camp.  This year, trumpeter Dave Ballou, along with bassist Mario Pavone and trombonist Peter McEachern, are paying tribute to the late saxophonist/composer Thomas Chapin. Both Pavone and McEachern played with the Manchester, CT native and suggested this program for the Festival. The headlining act is the Anat Cohen Quartet who hit the stage at 9:15.  The Israeli-born clarinetist/saxophonist continues to impress audiences around the world with her emotionally rich playing and knowledge of blues, jazz and Brazilian choro.

photo by L Sumulong/JALC
Saturday is quite a full day.  Highlights include "Sharpe Meets Tharpe" (12 noon) with bassist Avery Sharpe's Gospel Choir saluting the music of guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Following that raucous opening will be harmonica virtuoso Gregoire Maret and his Quartet (1:45), Matt Wilson's Topsy-Turvy (3:30), Wycliffe Gordon & Friends (6 p.m.) and the evening's headline, guitarist Mike Stern's Band.

Drummer Wilson (pictured above) is a Festival favorite (this is his 20th appearance on stage!) and this ensemble is an expansion of his great Quartet.  Joining Jeff Lederer (saxophones, clarinet), Kirk Knuffke (cornet) and Chris Lightcap (bass) will be pianist Helen Sung, alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and the mighty trombonist Ray Anderson. This "little big band" plays music from the 1940s and 50s plus 1 or 2 surprises that the drummer always seems to have in his kit bag.

 Sunday's schedule begins with "A Salute to the Great Drummer Charli Persip."  The fine musician (pictured left), who turned 86 two weeks ago, has had quite the career, working with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, Cannonball Adderley and so many more plus leading the Supersound big band.  The 12noon set features drummers Wilson, George Schuller, Robin Batyas, and Cory Cox and a horn section led by trumpeter Ballou.  Following that set (1:45 p.m.) will be Les Paul's Trio featuring bassist/vocalist Nicki Parrott and legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli.  At 3:45 p.m., trumpeter Sean Jones makes his Festival debut leading a quartet that features the fine pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Luques Curtis, and drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr.

At 5:30, the trio pictured at the top of the post - bassist Christian McBride, pianist and New Haven native Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. - bring the Festival to a rousing finish. The bassist, who can and does play just about anything, loves this ensemble for its youthful vitality and willingness to stretch.

The Festival will also include the premiere showing (at least, the premiere of the short version) of "Night Bird Song - The Thomas Chapin Story", a documentary of the life and music of Chapin (1957-1998) that has been the project of documentarian Stephanie Castillo (Chapin's sister-in-law).  The screening takes place on Saturday but the Festival website does not give a time.  You can still donate to the project - scheduled to be released in early 2016 - by going to thomaschapin.com.

To find out more about the weekend's events and to be part of the fun, go to litchfieldjazzfest.com.

If you'd rather be inside a wonderful club setting, The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme has 2 fine shows this weekend.  On Friday, Jan and Ken present vocalist Laurin Talese with her quartet composed of drummer Jonathan Michele, bassist Marcus Myers, guitarist Tim Schilling, and pianist Luke Carlos O'Reilly. Ms. Talese, a native of Cleveland, OH, now lives and works in Philadelphia.  Judging from her post on SOUNDCLOUD, she's has a wonderfully facile voice and really understands how to deliver a lyric to make it sound "true."  She and the band take the stage at 8:30 p.m.

On Saturday night at 8:30, NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman performs at The Side Door with his Quartet.  Liebman, who plays both tenor and soprano saxophones, has been a contributor to the music scene since the early 1970s, playing and/or leading numerous groups as well as a being a leading educator.  He has worked alongside fellow saxophonists Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, and Ravi Coltrane and co-leads QUEST with pianist Richie Bierach (who's worked with him since the early days), bassist Ron McClure and drummer Billy Hart.

The group he's bringing to Old Lyme includes Billy Test (piano), Evan Gregor (bass) and Willy Rodriguez (drums). Should be a splendid evening for such modern music.

For more information, go to thesidedoorjazz.com or call 860-434-0886.

The Monday Night Jazz in Bushnell Park/Hartford comes to a close on August 10 with the Mimi Jones Quartet.  Bassist/composer/vocalist Jones (pictured left) is a very busy person, leading the HotTone Music label, working in groups led by drummer Rudy Royston, pianist (and husband) Luis Perdomo, and saxophonist Tia Fuller. Her Quartet features Mark Shim (saxophones), Miki Hayama (piano) and Hartford native Jonathan Barber (drums).

Opening the show at 6 p.m. will be drummer Jocelyn Pleasant & Medusa.  For more information, go to hartfordmondaynightjazz.com.

If you can't get to the Park, the concert will aired on WWUH-93.1 FM in Hartford (streaming live at www.wwuh.org.)

No comments:

Post a Comment