|Proof that people STILL like jazz!|
|Cathedral Park Jazz Festival|
|Elaine Lorillard, showing Duke Ellington some hipper chords, no doubt|
|A mansion in Newport, which is much like the house I grew up in, only much smaller|
I've been lucky to perform at Newport five times(if you include my two performances yesterday). My first time was with Cassandra Wilson in 2000; I performed there in 2002 with Ravi Coltrane, and in 2009 with Christian McBride and Billy Hart. I'll never forget my first time because of the variety of bands, and also the fact that audience, even when it started raining, sat through all of it. The lineup, besides Cassandra Wilson, consisted of Celia Cruz, Maceo Parker, John Zorn and Dave Douglas, and finally ended with Boney James and Rick Braun. So we got to hear Latin Jazz, Funk Jazz, Free Jazz, Mainstream Vocal Jazz, and Smooth Jazz all is one "sitting".
Yesterday, as I mentioned, I got to play twice; first with Jack DeJohnette's working band (Dejohnette, yours truly on keys and pocket trumpet, Rudresh Mahathappa on alto, David Fiuczynski on guitars, Jerome Harris on basses). I have to admit, it was a blur; I took the Jet Blue Red Eye to Boston to make the gig, and I didn't sleep at all on the flight, so I was pretty gone. However, there is a recording on NPR, so I can go back and listen to it and see if I was playing the right chords! In all seriousness, it's always an honor to play with this unit, and since we have played together many times over the past three years, we have a musical rapport which trancends any physical or technical distractions.
Maybe in the future, I'll have to bring my family and make more of a weekend out of Newport, so I can take in more music and be more relaxed. I think when my son is a little older, it will easier to travel with him, and he'll be able to come and see a great jazz festival. (He came to the Saratoga Jazz Festival last year, but he was so little then. I think he enjoyed some of the music, but I doubt he remembers. Although I and my wife remember when he vomited in the car on the drive back to New York, because he was so cranky from missing his bedtime...)
The second set was another Jack DeJohnette performance, this time with a totally different cast: Christian McBride on acoustic bass, Lionel Loueke on guitar, Jason Palmer on trumpet, Tim Ries on tenor and soprano saxophones, and Luisito Quintero on percussion. I had never played with this particular configuration, and I had only played the repertoire once in January for DeJohnette's 70th birthday celebration at the Blue Note in New York. But what the heck; I took my chances and figured, as long as I have McBride's booming bass in my monitor, I'll be able to figure out what's going on harmonically. I was especially impressed with Loueke and Palmer, who I had never played with before. It seemed like DeJohnette was really warmed up now, and the presence of Quintero next to him on the stage really fired him up. Quintero and DeJohnette were constantly creating a percussive dialogue while everything else was going on. One great thing, among many great things, about playing with DeJohnette, is that he never let's you down; he's always aware of the energy, and he's always pushing you to play your best, without overpowering or distracting. And it's kind of mysterious how much intensity DeJohnette gets out of the drums and cymbals, yet he looks like he's barely holding the sticks!(Here's a link to the concert, which opens with the duo of Moran and DeJohnette, and then features the full group.)
Again, it was a true honor to be asked to play with two groups for the Newport Festival. I hope to return someday in the future. And hopefully next time I will be more awake!