Thursday, July 20, 2017

When less is more

Simplicity can be a breath of fresh air in jazz. One such example occurred on Thursday, July 20 when drummer-singer Patricia Dean performed at the Venice FL: Performing Art's Center's Local Spotlight Festival, an intimate summer lobby series.

Patricia Dean
Dean appeared with bassist Don Mopsick and guitarist Dave Trefethen as "Patricia + 2." Their performance was inspired by singer Sarah Vaughan's classic 1962 recording Sarah + 2 with guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Joe Comfort.

The slimmed-down format brought simplicity and sensitivity to the material they dug into because none of the musicians got in each other's way. The result often was simultaneously cool and sultry, with Dean offering beautiful vocals and preferring brushes to drumsticks most of the night.
Dean, Mopsick, Trefethen

The material favored the Great American Songbook - with a few pleasant exceptions. There were two Jobim bossa novas ("Once I Loved" and "Corcovado"), Bobby Troup's "Baby, Baby, All The Time," the Etta Jones staple "Don't Go to Strangers" and Dean's cool version of the Kingston Trio hit "Scotch and Soda." Dean also stepped away from her drum kit to update Nancy Wilson's classic take on "Guess Who I Saw Today."

Trefethen had terrific solo spotlights on the Bill Evans ballad "Sometime Ago" and "I'm Old Fashioned." Mopsick was featured on "I'm Confessin' That I Love You" and "Love Was Made for Me and You."

It was quite fitting that Dean included one tune from Sarah Vaughan's classic Sarah + 2 recording. It was "Key Largo," which jazz great Benny Carter wrote for the Humphrey Bogart movie of the same name. This version was wistful and understated, ideal qualities in this context.

The jazz portion of this Venice Institute for the Performing Arts summer series concludes on Friday, August 4 with vibes player Dave Morgan's trio (originally scheduled for August 10).
Patricia Dean, Don Mopsick, Dave Trefethen

Friday, July 14, 2017

Pianist will be remembered at Newport

Suffice it to say, Geri Allen will be there in spirit.

The pianist had been scheduled to perform at this year's Newport Jazz Festival on Saturday, August 5 in the all-star, all-woman trio that has featured her with bassist Esparanza Spalding and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.
Geri Allen at Newport, August 2004

That changed late last month when Allen succumbed to cancer.

Under the new plan, Allen will be honored with a one-set performance being called Flying Towards the Sound: For Geri, With Love. Carrington and Spalding will share the stage at Fort Adams State Park with three pianists who were proteges, collaborators and/or friends of Allen: Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran and Christian Sands. 

"Geri was a beautiful person whose impact on the music she loved will last forever. She was a unique artist, dedicated to the rights of men and women. She cannot be replaced. I'm glad to have known her for so many years," said George Wein, Newport Jazz Festival founder in a news release from Newport Festivals Foundation.

Festival producer Danny Melnick said the musicians "will honor and celebrate Geri's life and music in a poignant and personal way." 

It should be quite emotional for the performers and the audience.  

Natixis Global Asset Management is the Presenting Sponsor of this year's festival, scheduled August 4-6 at Fort Adans and the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino. 

Other artists in the extensive lineup include The Roots, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones, Snarky Puppy,  the One For All collective, Joey DeFrancesco, saxophonists Benny Golson, Branford Marsalis and Maceo Parker, the Christian McBride Big Band with special guests, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, and the supergroup Hudson with Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski & John Scofield. Also, Trombone Shorty, clarinetist Evan Christopher, trumpeters Dominic Farinacci, Sean Jones and Wadada Leo Smith, and singers Cyrille Aimee, Andra Day, Rhiannon Giddens, Leslie Odom Jr. and Cécile McLorin Salvant.

For the complete lineup and more information, visit