Sunday, September 13, 2009

Detroit International Jazz Festival- Day Two

After checking out a panel discussion on Elvin Jones, it was time to check out another Jones - Sean. I've seen him play numerous times in Pittsburgh and wrote about him for City Paper but this was the first time I've seen the trumpeter with his regular group, with Orrin Evans (piano), Brian Hogans (alto sax), Vincente Archer (bass) and Josh Davis (drums). They played a lot of tunes from his latest album The Search Within, but they also played a version of "Resolution" from Coltrane's A Love Supreme, that was astounding. Everyone was firing on all cylinders. Jones was wailing, Hogans went on such an extended tear that the rhythm section dropped out, just like McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison did for Trane.

Jones likes to go into the upper register during solos, sometimes bending those notes with his lips. But he never uses those high notes to show off. They're connected to a greater idea in his solos.

I had to cut out a few minutes before the end of their set because Dave Brubeck was playing at the Carhartt Amphitheatre. And these shows were all starting right on time, so I didn't want to be late. However I was still late because Brubeck started a few minutes early.

Dave and the band were sight to see: four older cats all with silver hair, all wearing shades. Alto saxophonist Bobby Militello had a bit of a Santa Claus look going (with the recent passing on Joe Maneri, the world needs another saxophonist who could pass for St. Nick), a jolly and plump fella blowin' a horn. Dave looked pretty good for a guy who had to cancel shows earlier this year because of illness. And his hands were flying over that piano, doing that patented Brubeck time changing thing (is it 3 over 4?) during solos, getting audience members to yell, "My man!" during a blues solo, and opening "Yesterdays" with a dramatic rubato that really seemed to come from the heart.

I've seen him play "Take Five" before but never "Blue Rondo a la Turk." So I got goosebumps when the band - which by then included Dave's sons Chris (trombone) and Danny (drums) and their bandmates - kick into that bouncy riff. During his solo in that tune, Dave quoted "Button Up Your Overcoat." That guy is still sharp.

Later that night I kept turning around and seeing Chris Brubeck at the bar and was tempted to talk to him. I didn't, because anything I said would come out sounding like, "Your dad is soooooooo cool." And I had only caught the last couple minutes of the Brubeck Brothers' set before Sean Jones came on, so I felt funny about that.

I think it was at the Brubeck show that I caught up with my friends Mike and Shaunna, he of the Tribune Review and she of WDUQ. They don't have cellphones so it could've been hard to find them, but like most of the weekend, everything came together.

Later that night we wound up going to see Bennie Maupin's Dolphyana. He played the omnipresent bass clarinet on Bitches Brew and worked as a sideman with Horace Silver and Lee Morgan, before joining Herbie Hancock for a number of albums that include Headhunters. His group tonight had him on bass clarinet and tenor, Nestor Torres (flute), Jay Hogarth (vibes, marimba) Billy Hart (drums) and Darek Oles (bass).

They played a couple Dolphy tunes including: "Out To Lunch," which sounded great and obtuse; "245" which wasn't as dirty as the original but just as good; the equally abstract "The Madrig Speaks the Panther Walks." The original Maupin works were also pretty fascinating, especially the closing "Prophet's Motifs" which was Dolphyesque but also morphed through different rhythms including a funk beat. That was the closing tune and the only one, unfortunately, where the sound seemed perfectly balanced. A guy who I met on the Motown tour told me he agreed that the mix was really unbalanced, with the flute sounding distorted and that it seemed like Maupin was doing most of the mixing himself.

Back at the hotel bar, bedlam ensued. People were cutting in front of people who had been waiting 10 minutes for a drink. And musicians who looked like they were 13 years old were playing at the jam session. It was loud there. After two drinks, I went back to my room, tried to go to sleep but not before watching a Law and Order:SVU rerun and almost staying up until 4 a.m. watching American Graffiti.

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