As the 20th century was fast becoming history, a very special jazz event occurred on June 24, 2000. Minneapolis, Minnesota hosted the annual Hot Summer Jazz Festival, which highlighted some of jazz's finest musicians. During the festival, such noteworthy talents as Jack McDuff and Bernard Purdie matched their skills with some of Minneapolis' best. In addition, the Hot Summer Jazz Festival set the stage for the Global Harmonica Summit, which included Howard Levy, Jean "Toots" Thielemans, Brendan Power and Mike Turk to mention a few. Another interesting aspect was that this live performance was one of the last for Jack McDuff.
This CD offers some of the best music highlighted during the Hot Summer Jazz Festival and Global Harmonica Summit. Throughout the recording, there is some spectacular harp playing. One track in particular entitled "Half-Nelson" exemplifies the work of Mike Turk. He displays a deep-rooted passion which translates and conveys his ingenuity to the audience. In most jazz circles, the harmonica is seldom an upfront instrument, instead it often serves as a momentary lull in play for emphasis. This time out, the harmonica ebbs and flows with precision, grace, melodic pulse and dynamic resonance. The entire cast of characters bring to the table over 100 years of experience as a collective. Another closely guarded secret is Chris Michalek. He plays a tune made famous by Ira Gershwin entitled "Lady Be Good." He displays a passion for the harmonica that surpasses the boundaries of Gershwin's original composition.
This is a strong CD. Jack McDuff, Bernard Purdie, and Toots Thielemans add a touch to this effort that propels it into one of the best recordings of the year 2000. They and the other artists appearing during the Hot Summer Jazz Festival have created something special. Even the vocals are mind-boggling! Listen for Ginger Commodore singing the classic hit "Since I Fell For You." Hearing her breeze ever so lightly through this subtle soul-stirring tune is awesome. Given much to be said about jazz these days, this album offers a refreshing display of what jazz is supposed to be about, and that can only be magical.