Thursday, June 28, 2018

Jazz Fest 2018, Day 7: Ron reviews the Vincent Herring Quartet, the Georgia Mancio/Alan Broadbent Quartet, and Megumi Yonezawa

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 11:48 PM

click to enlarge Vincent Herring performed with his quartet at Kilbourn Hall on Thursday. - PHOTO BY JOSH SAUNDERS
  • Vincent Herring performed with his quartet at Kilbourn Hall on Thursday.
The Vincent Herring Quartet put on quite a crowd-pleasing show at Kilbourn Hall Thursday night. Part of the charm was Herring’s personality; he had a great rapport with the audience. But the other reason was his song selection. There were no brooding ballads, just lively tunes with great heads and perfect chords to improvise over. The songs, by greats like Hank Mobley, Mulgrew Miller, Ray Charles and Freddie Hubbard, soared through Herring’s alto saxophone and were ripe for his band’s improvisation.

And what a great band he had. Dave Kikoski was the second star of the show on the piano. At one point Herring said, “We’ve got a great pianist here and a great piano. Let’s bring them together.” For the next 10 minutes Kikoski played spectacularly at the Steinway. Yasushi Nakamura was excellent on bass, playing especially melodic solos. And I’m not sure if Herring was exaggerating when he said drummer Carl Allen was the only one who could get the right vibe on Mobley’s “Soft Impressions,” but the timing did seem tricky and Allen definitely had it down.

At Christ Church the Georgia Mancio/Alan Broadbent Quartet played something like an intimate cabaret show, showcasing songs from an album Mancio and Broadbent wrote and recorded together. Broadbent, who has won two Grammy Awards, has played with everyone from Charlie Haden and Diana Krall to Natalie Cole and Paul McCartney. He was at the piano playing his music while Mancio sang her lyrics after telling the stories behind each song.

The whole quartet — with Don Falzone on bass and Dave Ohm on drums — got to stretch out on “One For Bud,” a tune about a man obsessed with Bud Powell. But for much of the set, the accompaniment was in the service of the songs, with Falzone and Ohm playing as subtly as possible, a good move given the church’s acoustics. My favorite of the tunes was “Where The Soft Wind Blows,” a song Broadbent wrote the music for when he was 17. Mancio’s lyrics nicely describe the life of a man who lived his entire life in the same London home, and was, at the end, a face in the window.

Megumi Yonezawa was a bit shy at Hatch Hall. She was certainly confident at the piano, but she seemed reluctant to talk about what she was playing. So, for a long time I felt like I was lost in a sea of notes — not a bad place to be, but kind of a musical dream state where things sounded familiar with pieces of this and parts of that but nothing quite gelling into a coherent composition.

Yonezawa did finally speak and it turned out she was playing some of her own pieces, greatly influenced by dissonant 20th century classical music (vindicating some of what I felt). She went on to play one standard, “Body And Soul,” gorgeously. And for her last tune, the classically trained jazz pianist said, “This is a great piano, can I play a classical piece?” The audience gave her permission and she played a gorgeous rendition of Bach’s Sarabande from the French Suite in G Major.

Friday I’ll catch Jean Michel Pilc at Hatch Hall, Maciej Obara at the Lutheran Church, and the Geoffrey Keezer Trio at Xerox Auditorium.

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