Jon Hendricks Smokes, Dizzy's jam
Ron Scott | 9/28/2011, 7:02 p.m.
The creative Bobby McFerrin and Hendricks teamed up for "Scatting on the Corner." They alternated vocals on bass and tenor saxophone. Watching them was an amazing voyage in vocalese.
Hendricks is currently working on a new CD, entitled "Sing Another Song of Basie," as well as a tour.
The finale, "Jumping at Woodside," included Hendricks and his guests. Wow, they were swinging at a feverish pitch; the JALC roof was smoking, reminding us of why it's called "the House of Swing." Stand up and shout, stand up and cheer-the audience did it all.
Jimmy Heath and his Big Band followed, celebrating Heath's wonderful compositions with the exception of three tunes. Some of his band members included Antonio Hart (Heath's protege), tenor saxophone Charles Davis, baritone saxophone Gary Smulyan, trumpeter Terrell Stafford, pianist Jab Patton and drummer Lewis Nash.
He opened with "Big P," a song he dedicated to his older brother Percy Heath, who passed away in 2005. "Una Mas," a Kenny Durham tune, was kicking with high-pitched trumpets and hip trombones. "Gingerbread Boy," a favorite among jazz fans, was a real crowd pleaser (recorded by Miles Davis and Dexter Gordon).
"Gemini," recorded by Cannonball Adderley and others, has Heath on soprano saxophone, with three other saxophonists on flute and the rest of the band romping in waltz mode.
This great evening gave Heath a rare opportunity to show off his skills as a big band leader while introducing the audience to his memorable compositions. Heath brought back that big thrill, and there is nothing like the sound of a great big band, which is why they were given two thunderous standing ovations.
Also last week, the Coca-Cola Generations in Jazz Festival at Dizzy's was another barn burner. That evening featured two young pianists on the jazz fast track: Jonathan Batiste and Aaron Diehl, with his special guests bassist David Wong, vibraphonist Warren Wolf and drummer Rodney Green.
This is the future of piano in jazz: Diehl, a fine, young pianist who follows Eric Reed, Marcus Roberts and other talented players Wynton Marsalis has been credited with discovering. Baptiste, like Marsalis, comes from a famous New Orleans jazz family.
Diehl, like Duke Ellington and Count Basie, never over-plays and has great spacing. His solo interpretation of "Autumn in New York" was superb. His up-tempo original "Generation Y," which he named the day of this performance, gave his band members a chance to get loose, starting with Wolf, who plays vigorously but maintains a soft touch.
Batiste came out playing a melodica followed by his band coming through the entrance doors in grand New Orleans fashion playing "A Closer Walk with Thee." Batiste's band, a hardcore traditional New Orleans group, gave the audience a high-octane performance with the original "Township," inspired by Batiste's South Africa visit. The band hit the emotional music meter, igniting the soul.
Violinist Charles Young, bassist Michael T. and Batiste played a classical, jazzed-up version of "Charters." Many of the young musicians performing met while attending Juilliard School of Music.
Together, Batiste and Diehl played on two pianos that sounded like one creative force. They were dynamic on "Green Chimney" and they stepped it up a notch on "The Slow Blues." Their combined musical conversations were intense but never overstated. They interacted like two cool cats just kicking the music of their minds.