Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival 2015

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Beantown Jazz Festival 2015, also known as “Boston’s Biggest Block Party,” took place on Saturday September 26th. The theme this year was Jazz: The Voice of the People. The festival offered a wide variety of different kinds of music ranging from Beantown Festival musical director Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project to the legendary saxophonist George Garzone with the Teros String Quartet.  The young Berklee alumna Alissia Benveniste and the Funketeers and Felix Peikli and the Royal Flush Quintet also performed. Walking around the corner and entering Huntington Avenue on the day of the festival is a great feeling. Nothing is better than hearing jazz from a distance, turn a corner, and seeing thousands gathered to hear different music from three stages in a festival area.

When I got there the first group performing was saxophonist Javon Jackson’s Quartet. It was supposed to feature the legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb, who played on the two legendary recordings, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and Wes Montgomery with Wynton Kelly Trio Smokin’ at the Half Note, but on this day Cobb was replaced by another legend, Lenny White, who has played with Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Clarke, and many others. This concert was a tribute to John Coltrane where they played songs he was featured on such as “Someday My Prince Will Come”. Alongside Javon and White were George Cables on piano and John Webber on bass.

Next up when walking down the “Festival Avenue” was a group of Berklee faculty including John Pierce on trombone, Charles Lewis on trumpet, John Baboian on tuba, Harry Skoler on clarinet, Kenwood Dennard on bass drum, and Bob Tamagni on snare drum. The ensemble had assembled on the street in tribute the music of New Orleans.

Mid-afternoon in the big field, Terri Lyne Carrington played music from her first Mosaic Project record and her newest release, Mosaic Project: Love and Soul. With her on stage were several current Berklee students, Berklee faculty, and friends. During the Mosaic Project: Love and Soul segment of the show, she brought up two guest singers: Charenee Wade and Jaguar Wright. Wade was the runner-up in the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition; Jaguar has performed with several artists and groups such as The Roots and Jay-Z.

The last concert of the day I caught was George Garzone with The Fringe (John Lockwood on bass and Bob Gullotti on drums.) They were joined by pianist Leo Genovese and The Teros String Quartet. With the strings they did a tribute to one Garzone’s saxophone heroes, the late great Stan Getz. Classics such as “Girl from Ipanema” were played. For the last two songs the strings left the stage and The Fringe and Leo performed a couple of Coltrane tunes. The music was very different from what had been heard with the strings. This stage was right near Massachusetts Avenue, so when people were leaving they went that way; however, many people stopped up to watch one of the few living saxophone legends doing a tribute to his heroes. A great end to another great Beantown!

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          February 10, 2018