Saturday, February 16, 2019

Musical love takes many forms

Music has been called the universal language, capable of bringing together people of many different countries, cultures and genres. West African percussionist Aiyb Dieng also considers it an expression of love uniting performers with each other - and with their listeners.
Aiyb Dieng
Dieng, a native of Senegal, has worked with a wide range of musicians, including  Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, Bill Laswell, Bob Marley and Herbie Hancock. The list also includes Karl Berger, who founded Woodstock NY's eclectic, avant garde-tinged Creative Music Studio in 1972 with his wife, singer Ingrid Sertso, and encouragement from Ornette Coleman.

Dieng shared his music in three different formats on Friday, February 15, at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in downtown Fort Myers FL. His huge arsenal of drums and other hand percussion instruments, surrounding him on racks and tables. were at the heart of it all, even when he had some help from to different groups of musical friends.

Clint Robinson
The program began with four or five solo percussion numbers, as Dieng improvised moods and exotic melodies on his drums, shakers, other musical noisemakers, and a musical bow.

The evening took the first of two sharp turns when he brought three other players to the stage for a healthy dose of Jamaican music, a tip of the hat perhaps to his association with Marley. It started, quite appropriately, with Marley's "One Love," included a reggae version of "If I Were a Carpenter" and closed with Marley's "Rasta Man Chant" - its poignant "Fly Away Home to Zion" lyrics delivered by singer Clint Robinson and keyboardist-singer Dave Walker.

Amina Claudine Myers
Rachella Parks-Washington
The second set was nothing like the first, as Dieng went into "free jazz" mode with some creative music notables: Hammond B-3 organist Amina Claudine Myers, tenor saxophonist Rachella Parks-Washington, violinist Charles Burnham, electric bassist Ted Myerson and drummer Pheeroan akLaff. 

Charles Burnham
Pheeroan akLaff
Together, they roared through a half-dozen extended pieces, each taking solos but also blending their individual sounds into the thick musical conversation. Dieng shifted from one drum, gong or shaker to another before returning to his congas and bata drum. No vocals, no song introductions. Just sharing their instrumental harmony.

That feeling floated out into the audience, which seemed spellbound by the moment and answered that message of love with an enthusiastic ovation. 

Parks-Washington, Burnham, Myerson, akLaff, Dieng, Myers

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mastery and stylistic breadth carry the night

No matter which gems brothers Peter and Will Anderson choose to explore from the very wide and deep jazz canon, the pair always delight with their technique, clever arrangements and swinging musicality.

Such was the case on Monday, February 11, when the 31-year-old identical twins performed in the Charlotte County Jazz Society’s Artist Series in Port Charlotte FL. Paris-born guitarist Felix Lemerle, a Fullbright Scholar who has worked regularly with the Andersons for two years, completed the trio.

Will and Peter Anderson

Stylistically the music was all over the map, but the Andersons embraced it and transformed the varied selections into something all their own. We’re talking vintage New Orleans, Claude Debussy’s classical masterpiece “Clair de Lune,” some movie soundtrack gems, and something from the pen of hard-bop composer Horace Silver, as well as early Duke Ellington and Fats Waller.

Felix Lemerle
Peter Anderson (the elder brother, by one hour) played tenor and soprano saxophones, and clarinet. Will Anderson (the taller brother, by one inch) played alto sax, clarinet and flute. Lemerle soloed and played rhythm guitar as the situation demanded, also tapping his fret board to provide a drum-like rhythm on occasion.

The twins are Bethesda, MD natives who studied at Juilliard and are based in New York City. They shifted with ease between instruments, sometimes doubling on the melody or handing the melody off to each other in seamless fashion.

They also supported each other’s solos with a more rhythmic role. Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine,” which became Artie Shaw’s biggest hit, was a prime example. As Will dug into the familiar melody on clarinet, Peter used his tenor sax to drop in accent notes that kept time much like a drummer or bassist.

Their version of “Clair de Lune” was unusual. The combined sound they created on tenor sax and clarinet melded into something that at times seemed like it was coming from an accordion.

Other material presented in this program included “These are a Few of My Favorite Things,” “After You’ve Gone,” “Basin Street Blues,” a teasing arrangement of “Rhapsody in Blue,” Horace Silver’s funky “The Preacher,” “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Mood Indigo,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Moon River,” “Darn That Dream” and a burning take on Ray Noble’s “Cherokee” before closing with Louis Armstrong’s “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” 

Will Anderson
This was the brothers’ second Port Charlotte visit. They first performed for CCJS four years ago. At that February 9, 2015 concert, they performed “Reed Reflections,” which a good friend, New York-based composer and multi-instrumentalist Kyle Athayde, wrote for them as a symphonic piece.

Peter Anderson
This night, they shared Athayde’s "Appalachian Mountain Song." Featuring the brothers on clarinets, the complex and vivid song’s textures and rhythms sounded like it was inspired by the Appalachian Round song form. It was composed for clarinets and a 31-piece string orchestra. Lamerle took on all of the string responsibilities with his artful guitar work.

The concert at the Cultural Center of Charlotte County’s William H. Wakeman III Theater drew a crowd of more than 300.
Will Anderson, Felix Lemerle, Peter Anderson

Friday, February 8, 2019

An afternoon of pleasant surprises

When clarinetist Bud Leeds pulls together a band for a concert, you can never be sure what you'll get, numbers-wise, but it is a guaranteed good time. Such was the case with his Friday, February 8 matinee concert for the South County Jazz Club in Venice FL.

The band this day included Bob MacInnis on cornet, clarinet and trombone, Bobby van Deusen on piano, Bob Leary on rhythm banjo and guitar, Don Mopsick on bass and Dick Maley on drums. Judy Alexander joined for several vocal numbers.

The big treat - unexpected by many in the crowd - was the guest appearances by Isaac Mingus. The 21-year-old jazz and classical bassist and cellist attends the University of Florida in Gainesville, and performs in the Charlotte and Venice Symphonies, as well as several area jazz bands, including the Pleiades Ensemble.
Mopsick, Mingus

Mingus and Mopsick were front and center for a dueling-basses take on Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To." This arrangement was drawn from bassist Paul Chambers' Bass on Top recording. 

Then Mingus and van Deusen collaborated on Italian Romantic composer Giovanni Bottesini's "Reverie in D minor for double bass and piano." It likely was the only classical piece that has been performed at a SCJC event since the club was founded in July 2010. Later in the concert. Mingus performed two jazz pieces on cello: Antonio Carlos Jobim's bossa nova "Wave" and the Great American Songbook classic "As Long as There's You." No matter the genre, he's a gifted player to keep an eye on.
Leeds, MacInnis

Other special moments:
  • Van Deusen's tour de force version of "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" Was a tip of the hat to composer Michel Legrand, who died in late January.
  • Leeds and MacInnis teamed up for a twin clarinets take on a "mothers" medley: "My Mother's Eyes" (first recorded by George Jessel in 1929) and Sidney Bechet's poignant "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere" (If You See my Mother).
    Van Deusen, Trumble
  • South County Jazz Club's artistic director (and founding president) Morrie Trumble played tenor saxophone with the band on "Back Home in Indiana." In past concerts, he has only been on stage to make announcements.
Other classic jazz material included "Wolverine Blues," "Royal Garden Blues," "Lady Be Good" and It's a Wonderful World."

The concert was held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice.

Van Deusen, Trumble, Leary, Mopsick, Leeds, Maley, MacInnis