Newport 2005 review, Bill Frisell
January 1, 1970The usual Friday Jazz Notes column has been bumped to Sunday's paper, either for lack of space Friday or because it has a tie-in to the Rolling Stones, who are opening their tour of North American here in Boston that night.
In any case, that means that this week's newsletter is limited to my wrap up of last weekend's Newport Jazz Festival and the Caldendar Jazz Pick on Bill Frisell.
Next week will see two Jazz Notes, assuming the column doesn't get bumped again — both of them concerning artists who aren't especially well known.
Newport was great, incidentally. Expect a few photos to be posted soon of my wife, son, and me with a few of the musicians who passed by us backstage.
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Calendar Jazz Picks
Scullers, Doubletree Guest Suites Boston, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston. 617-562-4111. 8 and 10 p.m. $26, $66 with dinner. Repeats Friday.
Exquisite, eclectic guitar playing aside, you never knows what you'll get from the genre-jumping Bill Frisell. He won the 2005 Grammy award for best contemporary jazz album for "Unspeakable," a collaboration with producer Hal Willner built upon samples culled from Willner's library of TV production discs. "East/ West," released last week, is two discs of live jazz-folk trio music recorded on opposite coasts, with bassists Victor Krauss and Tony Scherr joining Frisell in California and New York, respectively, and drummer Kenny Wollesen on hand throughout. He also turns up on four tracks on saxophonist Tim Ries's "The Rolling Stones Project," also out this month, among them a delicately satisfying version of "Wild Horses" as sung by Norah Jones. Frisell's two night-stand at Scullers will see him backed by organist Sam Yahel, Scherr, and drummer Joey Baron - a bass-enhanced variation of the trios he had at Newport last weekend (with Yahel and Baron) and at the Somerville Theatre last year (with Yahel and Brian Blade). It's only a matter of time before Frisell gets around to putting out an organ disc with Yahel on it. In the meantime, hearing them together will require seeing them live.
Thurs 8-18 Honoring Rebecca Parris Leading lights of the local jazz scene are expected at tonight's near-sold-out benefit to help with Parris's recent run of medical expenses, with the honoree herself among those who'll be performing. Call for ticket availability. Regent Theatre, 7 Medford Street (off Massachusetts Ave.), Arlington. 781-646-4849. 7:30 p.m. $40, $25.
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Jazz stars align at Newport
By Bill Beuttler, Globe Correspondent | August 15, 2005
NEWPORT, R.I. — The JVC Jazz Festival wrapped up last night with a surprise. Pat Metheny showed up unannounced at the Roy Haynes 80th birthday celebration that concluded the festival, a secret late addition to a lineup of featured guests that included Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Joshua Redman, and Christian McBride.
Those big names were just a few of the dozens of stars flocking to Fort Adams State Park on Saturday and yesterday, where they were joined by audiences totaling more than 13,000 fans (7,200 Saturday, 6,100 yesterday) for a hot, mostly sunny weekend of seemingly nonstop jazz.
The festival began with a tribute to another bebop legend, Dizzy Gillespie. The Jon Faddis Quartet opened the main stage with "The Star Spangled Banner," then moved on to a five-part "Gillespiana Suite" honoring the late, great trumpeter. Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman went on next, minus an ailing Michael Brecker, and soared through their saxophone summit with pyrotechnic playing and panache.
Patricia Barber and Medeski Martin & Wood were the next two main stage acts, with Barber's set including pleasing covers of "Caravan" and the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood." Wynton Marsalis followed with his quintet, dazzling with his monstrous technique and sense of swing. Charles Lloyd, whose performance at a festival in Monterey nearly 40 years ago made him famous, played a tune from that era ("Dream Weaver") to close out the main stage Saturday.
But much of the best music throughout the weekend happened at the smaller Pavilion Stage. Carla Bley and the Lost Chords lost the sheet music to the first section of her tune "Lost Chords," so closed out their set with sections two and three. Young vocalist Rachael Price created a small buzz with her work sitting in with the T.S. Monk Sextet. McCoy Tyner created a big one with his trio and guest horn players Terell Stafford and Ravi Coltrane — many of the folks who saw it considered it the day's highlight.
Brad Mehldau followed Tyner with an exquisite solo set, and then the all-star group billing itself "Trio!" — Stanley Clarke, Bela Fleck, and Jean-Luc Ponty — finished things up on that stage with a crowd-pleasing set.
Among all those riches, it could get tricky finding time to check out the third stage, which was dedicated to guitars this year. Bill Frisell lured a sizable crowd to his set yesterday with organist Sam Yahel and drummer Joey Baron, though, and Russell Malone, Larry Coryell, Julian Lage, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Mark Whitfield were some of the other guitarists who played over the two days.
Yesterday kicked off with the Dave Holland Big Band roaring on the main stage, but once again the Pavilion acts shone as brightly as anything in the park. The Cannonball Legacy Band — four youngish stars led by drum legend Louis Hayes — got things rolling with a set of tunes associated with brothers Cannonball and Nat Adderley. Burton's Generations band and Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts followed with fine sets as well.
Then came a resplendent set by Joe Lovano and the Hank Jones Trio, with George Mraz on bass and Lewis Nash on drums, that was arguably the best of all yesterday. The Pavilion stage closer — Don Byron's Ivey-Divey Trio, with Jason Moran on piano and Billy Hart on drums — was another best-set contender, with Byron switching over to tenor sax from clarinet for some of it.
Yesterday's other main stage acts leading up to the Haynes tribute included a rocking set from the Joshua Redman Elastic Band, a fine set from the Dave Brubeck Quartet that concluded with Marsalis sitting in on "Embraceable You" and "Take the A Train," sophisticated fusion from the latest iteration of Steps Ahead (Mike Mainieri, Mike Stern, Steve Smith, Richard Bona, and Bill Evans filling in for Brecker), and Corea's trio with McBride on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums.
Haynes led off the tribute to him with his Fountain of Youth Band, then paused to bring out the first three of his guests — Corea, McBride, and Redman — after the crowd got through singing him an impromptu "Happy Birthday." Metheny came out two tunes later, his trademark mane stuffed inside a backward baseball cap, and played with Haynes and McBride as a trio. By the time the set ended, Burton, Steve Swallow, McBride, and Corea had joined or rejoined the lineup as well — and the 80-year-old honoree was still beating the hell out of his kit.
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company