Wednesday, June 28, 2006

JVC Jazz Fest Honors Lorraine Gordon; Car Troubles Come to an End

Well, the last time I blogged for you I had come back from NY and I was reeling from seeing some amazing music. Well...the fun continued on the following Monday (June 19) with a trip up to New York again to A) volunteer for the Jazz Journalists Association Awards (JJA Awards) & B) to see another free show at Carnegie Hall - this one a celebration of the continued work of Lorraine Gordon, the proprietor and manager of the legendary Village Vanguard which her late husband Max Gordon, a German Jewish immigrant started in the 1930s as a haven for artists of all kinds (it was originally conceived as a meeting ground for poets and other literary figures but the jazz is the thing that eventually stuck).

JJA Awards

The Jazz Awards were fun but rather tiring and made me pretty nervous about not having enough energy or stamina to see the show that night and also get back to Philly. However, by volunteering I got free admission. I also got to meet Jason Moran and his Bandwagon (referred to in my last entry), Gerald Wilson, Joe Lovano, a lot of label people from Blue Note and Mack Avenue Records, journalists I've grown up reading in Downbeat and JazzTimes, as well as legendary festival producer George Wein, and record producer George Avakian. I also saw a whole bunch of people I already knew from the radio world like Linda Yohn from WEMU, Tatsuya K from Dreyfus Records, Terry Coen from Palmetto, and Tom Mallison from South Carolina Public Radio.

The Concert: Sweet Lorraine

To a much more enthusiastic audience than Ornette had (I think a lot of people went to that show just to be able to say they had gone to see Ornette Coleman), Carnegie Hall and the JVC Jazz Festival transformed the Vanguard into a much larger Uptown space for one night (with horrible sound). How did the transform Carnegie Hall into a bigger Village Vanguard? The festival producers had the good sense to book five distinct acts that Lorraine & Max Gordon nurtured over the years with consistent bookings. Many of these bands developed their sound and some of their mystique from their gigs at the Vanguard. After all, as the evening's emcee rightly put it, the Vanguard is a connundrum. It is hallowed ground. Yet every 20-30 minutes the 7th Ave express rumbles loudly beneath the clubs flimsy wooden plank floor. The club has not been renovated or altered once throughout its history. The only thing that has changed over the years have been the number jazz icons hanging on the club's walls often with signatures.

On to the music: the lineup was stellar. Dr. Michael White and His Original Liberty Jazz Band playing "trad jazz" - i.e. the music of N'awlinz. Dr. White's band were one of two all-black acts that evening, the other being the Roy Hargrove Quintet feat. Bobby Hutcherson on vibes. Second came Paul Motian's Trio 2000 + One w/ guest vocalist Rebecca Martin (who knocked my socks off) and the bands regular: Larry Grenadier on bass, and Chris Potter on tenor sax. They played a mix of rarer standards and slithering, free Motian tunes. Potter played in a totally interesting free yet lyrical, even singable manner.

Then came Hargrove's band who breezed through a varies set of straight hard-bop a la Cannonball Adderley Quintet. His sidemen were his regular touring band of Justin Robinson on alto, Ronnie Matthews on piano, bassist James Genus, and drummer Willie Jones III. The special guest, whom no one in the hall could hear, was legendary vibist Bobby Hutcherson. There was one Latin flavored tune from their new record Nothing Serious that really got to my heart as well as a ballad whose melody modulated upwards by step four times each time they played the head, giving the listener a feeling of being on different planes.

A 15 minute intermission followed.

Then came The Bad Plus, who played a sublime set of new compositions and one cover. Refer to Ben Ratliff's review for the way they played. It pretty much captured anything I could say here.
Last, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra performed w/ guest soloist and band alumnus tenor saxist Joe Lovano. I left the hall before they started to secure a position to hand out flyers of the winners from the JJA awards from earlier in the evening, but I heard parts of their set from the lobby and they sounded in top shape as usual. Rich Perry killed on tenor as always and I heard a bit of a Terell Stafford trumpet solo which was swingin as hell. forward to today.....many poker games later (yes the cards bug has bitten me once again; helped by my new roommates passion for the game - but I'M UP folks!!!)

As many of my readers know, recently my car has been giving me some trouble. In May when helping a friend make I movie, I managed to basically disable the driver's side door. Long story short, I now drive an otherwise champagne-colored '96 Ford Crown Victoria with a BLUE door. Yeah, I know. No one is going to steal this car.... At least I can be sure of that much. So today, it went in for another $300 of work. But the point of this story is that I got a new reliable guy in Philly. His name is Larry and he works here at the Shell station. He is a real pro and a gentleman. If you're in the Philly area, I highly recommend him - not quite as highly as Tony's Garage which is here back in Pittsburgh on Mellon St.

Aight....more to come...

In the meantime, check out REGINA SPEKTOR, the singer.

No comments: