Tim Cowling - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://jazzreview.com Wed, 24 May 2017 04:58:32 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Regina Carter let the Milwaukee crowd 'Know' http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/regina-carter-let-the-milwaukee-crowd-know.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/regina-carter-let-the-milwaukee-crowd-know.html Who knew? Who in the 900-plus audience for the Regina Carter Quintet at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee knew? A few found out when they joined many dozens of others after the fourth and final concert of the 10th annual Hal Leonard Jazz Series to buy Carter’s brand new CD. What audience members heard in concert were five musicians in consort, heard them mesh and throb, play off each other and push each other, highlight and yield to each other through nine beautifully developed pieces colored f
Who knew? Who in the 900-plus audience for the Regina Carter Quintet at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee knew? A few found out when they joined many dozens of others after the fourth and final concert of the 10th annual Hal Leonard Jazz Series to buy Carter’s brand new CD.

What audience members heard in concert were five musicians in consort, heard them mesh and throb, play off each other and push each other, highlight and yield to each other through nine beautifully developed pieces colored from a variety of sources, from classical to samba to world music to jazz.

What they heard was the skillful Carter, oft-cited as the premier jazz violinist today, taking vigorous or lyrical charge, or playing fully within the group, or stepping aside to give her playmates well-deserved chances in the spotlights.

What they heard was Detroit native Carter slide out the story of her coming together with perhaps the most revered violin in the world, Guarneri’s Il Cannone, and how that led to her new CD, "Paganini: After a Dream," copies of which, ahem folks, being available after the show. (After building it in 1743, Guarneri gave his big-sounding instrument, now a trusteed, treasured icon of Italy, to the great baroque jammer, Nicolo Paganini.)

While they heard two hours of marvelous, unusual dynamics, what didn’t they know?

"We were just totally exhausted," quintet pianist Werner (Vana) Gierig admitted. "We got in about 4 am (the morning of the concert) from the New Orleans Jazz Festival." (Even so, they did do an afternoon lecture-demonstration at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.)

Whether it was because they were playing more on instinct or fumes or that they’ve been playing together for a whole year since they last performed in Wisconsin (in the Union Theater at UW-Madison), they sounded stronger and looser. That is, they both expressed the moods of the numbers with more verve and fullness and they let the music come together more naturally, giving it air to breath in relaxed hand-offs, pauses and breaks.

With no typical jazz wind instruments, the quintet gave distinctive voicings to most of their pieces, at times literally breathing special life into them with vocalizing more derived from modern world music than jazz riffs.

Their "Mandingo Street" started with the tentative sounds of rain forest morning and played out the rhythms of a tropical day, spiced by the percussive and vocal mixings of Cuban native Mayra Casales. In "Black Orpheus" Carter moved from little, scratchy, and sad to shining right onto swinging, augmented by Gierig’s superb solos and moodified by Casales’ aural apothecaries.

Perhaps the least known piece but one of the best of show came in on cat’s feet and turned into a spiffy romp. Pianist Gierig’s spiffy Portuguese samba "Wise Little Cat" caught the ear like a very familiar tune, from his engaging new CD, ''A New Day''.

In nods to Carter’s new CD, and her classical upbringing, and her star role in the group, the quintet led off with Astor Piazzolla’s tango "Oblivion," and later also delivered Maurice Ravel’s "Pavonne" and Claude Debussy’s "Reverie," reverentially. Perhaps a little too reverentially, or as one young musician put it, a "little too much like her mother wanted her to play." This nice stuff, once called Third Stream Music, comes straight off the "Paganini" CD that features all of these musicians.

They also include deft drummer Alvester Garnett adding just the right grit and sparkle and boffo bassist Chris Lightfoot mixing in strong lines and chording, plucking and bowing.

Reaching into the bop bag, Carter pulled out "Prelude" by nearly forgotten Lucky Thompson and strung in samplings of 40’s tunes. They also did Milt Jackson’s Afro-Cuban "For Someone I Love" featuring Cuban-expat Casales’s conga concoctions and a truly-called-for encore of a Stephane Grappelli styled "Chattanooga Choo Choo."

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Tim Cowling) Concert Reviews Sat, 29 Jan 2011 09:36:30 -0600
Laurel Masse in Concert http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/laurel-masse-in-concert.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/laurel-masse-in-concert.html The granddaughter of Leonard Kranendonk, for 40 years the baritone voice of Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians, returned to her gramps’ home state and nearly his hometown of little old Oostburg, up near Sheboygan, der. So did the founder three decades ago in the Big Apple, at the age of 20, of one of the great jazz vocal combos of all time, the Manhattan Transfer, to sing in the ritzy but rustic Sharon Wilson Center for the Arts in this woodsy, wealthy far suburb of Milwaukee. But most of all,
The granddaughter of Leonard Kranendonk, for 40 years the baritone voice of Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians, returned to her gramps’ home state and nearly his hometown of little old Oostburg, up near Sheboygan, der.

So did the founder three decades ago in the Big Apple, at the age of 20, of one of the great jazz vocal combos of all time, the Manhattan Transfer, to sing in the ritzy but rustic Sharon Wilson Center for the Arts in this woodsy, wealthy far suburb of Milwaukee.

But most of all, so did a now middle-aged recovering vocal virtuoso who came from her upstate New York professional and personal kind-of-out-of-the-way home to demonstrate for a small crowd (some of whom seemed to remember ol’ Lenny) why she has been written about as a talent like no other.

"All songs I sing," Laurel Masse’ said early in her first of two concerts here in two days that followed master classes, this concert consisting almost entirely of middle or languidly paced jazzy renditions of pop standards, "are love songs."

A lushly mouthed "Saw Him Standing There," of her idol, Paul McCartney (and of Lennon). A bass profundo breathed "My Blue Heaven." A high, quivering "Body and Soul." A sultry, smoky "Got It Bad." And other tunes, more than a dozen in all, proved her point and much of her past acclaim, her performance pearled and filagreed and paced by the talents of pianist Vinnie Martucci.

But Masse’ most specially alloyed her theme, her talent, and her music when she slid simply into a sweet, soulful voicing of part of the lyrical but unlyricized "Ashokan Farewell." The theme by Jay Unger that aurally held together the massive Ken Burn’s PBS "Civil War" television series took on a truer character coming from Masse’s marvelous mouth and heart. It became lover’s arms swaying and holding together love over distance and through fear, of a mother’s arms rocking and holding her dearest one under the breath of a melody for all memory, a coming home for everyone, from where ever. And then she broke it off, undone.

She followed with a planned improvisational scat, she and Vinnie having fresh fun finding their way with each other, and then her own "Goodbye." In this stretch, the woman with a four-octave range, with a multi-generational musical pedigree, of one-time musical fame of nearly the highest order before a near fatal car crash several decades ago and the aftermath and her own grappling left her in near oblivion, with great knowledge of and love for music of all stripes (just look at the playlist of her CD, released about three years ago, "Feather and Bone"), best expressed who she is.

That is until after her two-set show, booked by the increasingly-active, astute, and venturesome Stepping Out Productions of Milwaukee. After Masse’ patiently and graciously greeted and chatted with many in what could and should have been a much larger crowd, one man told the tall singer he hadn’t wanted her to ever stop "Farewell."

She put her hand out on his arm and said, "Shhh. From the bridge..." In a private performance, she sang the rest of her way through it, even more beautifully, she and the music and the sharing perfectly all one.

It’s how a singer, where ever she is and where ever she’s been, brings it home.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Tim Cowling) Concert Reviews Sat, 29 Jan 2011 09:36:29 -0600