Jun 24, 2009
For me, the official start of summer comes the last weekend in June, when the cozy confines of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) open up for the annual Freihofer's Jazz Festival. I'll be headed there this weekend, and as always, have put together a preview of the many acts that will grace the two stages on the grounds. This way, even if you can't attend, you can get a decent feel for how varied and exciting the music can be.
Podcast 149 has just some of the performers I'll get to see, both up and coming acts and certified legends like:
Kendra Shank Quartet - "Life's Mosaic" from Mosaic. I've had her CD for several months now, and for no good reason haven't given you a taste of it. Kendra tackles standards with finesse and confidence, finding new and exciting ways to make the listener take notice of old chestnuts. She subtly links tunes for medleys, with her "Reflections in Blue" perfectly connecting to Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies". This track is a Cedar Walton tune, and Kendra is backed by Frank Kimbrough on piano, Dean Johnson on bass, and Tony Moreno on drums. Guest appearances are made by Bill Drewes on saxophone and clarinet, and Ben Monder on guitar.
Gary Burton Quartet Revisited with Pat Metheny - "Walter L" from Quartet Live. You've heard a lot about this one here already, so let's jsut say that this is a Gary Burton original written for the first guitar player he ever worked with, Walter L. "Hank" Garland. The band? Burton on vibes, Pat Metheny on guitar, Steve Swallow on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums.
SMV - Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten - "Tutu" from Thunder. If the Jeopardy! answer is "Thunder", then the question must be, "What do you get if you put three three bass giants on stage together?" This should be a real crowd pleaser. The song was written by Miller for Miles Davis, and features him on bass clarinet, saxophone and synthesizers along with bass.
Aaron Parks - "Karma" from Invisible Cinema. A track from a welcome new piano player's debut album. He's been a key playerin Terence Blanchard's quintet, now setting out with his own band - Matt Penman on bass, Mike Moreno on guitar, and Eric Harland on drums.
Bonerama - "Hard Times" (single). A New Orleans export that
takes calls itself "brass funk rock"; I call it a good time.
No fewer than four trombone players make up the band, including
Craig Klein, Steve Suter, and Greg Hicks. Matt Perrine on tuba, Bert Cotton on guitar, and Eric Bolivar on drums round out the band.
Bettye LaVette - "You Don't Know Me At All" from The Scene of the Crime. One of the best stories of the past few years was the resurrection of the career of blues/soul singer Bettye LaVette. A veteran of 1960's "Northern Soul" movement, she came back with a vengeance in 2005. This track comes from her most recent album, which finds her backed up by southern rockers the Drive-By Truckers.
George Benson - "Nature Boy" from In Flight. Benson will perform a tribute to Nat "King" Cole to end the festival Sunday night. Therefore, it seemed appropriate to go back 30 years ago for this Cole classic. The band includes Benson on guitar and vocals, Stanley Banks on bass, Jorge Dalton on keyboards, and Harvey Mason and Ralph MacDonald on drums and percussion.