Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Jazz Fest 2018, Day 5: Frank grooves on Dmitri Matheny, Junior Brown, and VickiKristinaBarcelona

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2018 at 1:43 AM

click to enlarge Dmitri Matheny played the Wilder Room on Tuesday at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. - PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • Dmitri Matheny played the Wilder Room on Tuesday at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.
The man with the loudest finger snaps and the creamiest horn, Dmitri Matheny, took the Wilder Room stage while there was still plenty of threatening rays of light streaming in through the windows. For the mood of  the music on the menu this early summer evening was dark. Matheny shines as a  flugelhornist and a composer overall. But this cat's sound is out of the shadows and outtasight.

Known for his interpretation of film noir themes, Matheny paints everything with a dark brush. But he wasn't the least bit sinister in his demeanor for the early set; he was downright cordial. He played his slightly accelerated take on The Duke's "Caravan," which still exhibited the same snake charmer shuffle and swing that the kids dig.

It remained dark, or at least dusky, for "Wichita Lineman," an odd but pretty choice. It was the most, though, when he pulled out his spoken word chops in all their Beatnik beauty — that I could have easily listened to all friggin' night. Matheny was and is utterly cool.

click to enlarge Junior Brown at the Anthology stage. - PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • Junior Brown at the Anthology stage.
Junior Brown's head was on fire and his ass was catching as he spun, slid, and finger-picked guit-steel gold. The packed Anthology got more packed and swelled to capacity the more Brown got down. It was the wildest I've ever seen him as he  backstroked like a maniac into the ether. He was looking for something, perhaps an illusive riff or troublesome hook. He whittled away to the slack-jawed crowd while looking for it. I think he found  it. I know we did.

But again with this place and the rude crowd: The audience in back was talking too loud for people stuck back there with them to hear. To many honkys drowned out Brown's tonky.

As I've said before, covering Tom Waits' material is like wrestling with an alligator: If you do it right, you've got a new pair of shoes; do it wrong and you're dead. VickiKristinaBarcelona are three NYC women who sing mighty and pretty covering Tom Waits.

It was to a packed Montage that these women tried their hand at Waits. Well, they got the words right and the sparse instrumentation was interesting to say the least. But there was no grit, no gunpowder, no humor. It was all so clean. There was no irony or filth. So did the ladies get their shoes? I wouldn't say the alligator killed them, but as far as I'm concerned, they left barefoot.

Tomorrow night I'll be heaping hellfire and brimstone on  Liz Vice,  Davina and the Vagabonds, and Rai Thistlethwayte.

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