Archive for December, 2004
Finally I am facing
the stage here at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I have visited the
Disney Concert Hall on many occasions and I always seem to be seated
behind the stage but tonight, I have a full frontal!
It is the Christmas
holiday season and the stage is garnished with big beautiful
poinsettias. The Los Angeles Philharmonic looks mighty dapper sporting
their finest in all black. The hall is packed in anticipation of the
wonderful sounds of the season sung by none other than the high and
mighty priestess of jazz music herself, Miss Dianne Reeves! She will
once again be joined by the conductor William Henry Curry for another
dynamic performance backed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The LA Phil starts
out with two pieces, “A Christmas Festival (Anderson) and Tchaikovsky’s
“The Nutcracker” Waltz and Finale from Act II as well as
Ellington/Strayhorn and Tyzinko’s “The Nutcracker Suite: Pianist Britte
Brigade”. The sound is big and dynamic. I can only imagine what will
happen when Dianne Reeves hits the stage!
Peter Martin, Ruben
Rogers and Greg Hutchinson waltz on the stage to play Ellington and
Strayhorn's version of the Nutcracker and the dynamics of the audience
change. Just add one drop of jazz and it controls the whole pot.
Swinging? Most definitely! The applause was a little louder and
certainly more heart felt. That, my friends, is the power of jazz music!
The LA Phil exits the
stage leaving only the trio joined by Romero Lubambo. The lights
dim and the gorgeous Dianne Reeves enters dawning a winter wonderland
of white that shines, shimmers and twinkles like the snowflakes of the
season. Her instrument is strong, clear and as lovely as ever! The
sweetness of the quartet joined with the soulful and perfectly soothing
voice of Dianne Reeves is one of the best gifts that Father Christmas
could ever bring.
“Christmas Time is
Here” is already one of my favorite holiday pieces and Peter just puts
the frosting all over it. Dianne impresses upon the audience that our
own individual stories are what weave the fabric of our lives and that
they need to be told. That is one of her favorite things to do, just
sit around with family and listen to the stories.
“Home for the
Holidays” literally has so much meaning for Dianne this year because
for the first time in a long time, this is exactly what she gets to do.
Instead of being on the road performing all over the world in other
countries, she will be at home with family this season and after
tonight’s performance, she is looking forward to some much needed R
& R. She says that she can sing but, she can really cook. I am
certainly a believer! She also expresses her love and concern for those
who can’t be home with their families this season.
The weather outside may be frightening where you are but, here in Los Angeles,
it is a warm 78 degrees. Dianne’s voice captivates and soars with ease
to the heights of the Disney Concert Hall as she and the cats cool off
the place with some of the most beautiful Christmas music from Dianne’s
brand new album, “Christmas Time is Here” as well as some holiday
classics like “A Christmas Festival”, “A Sleigh Ride” and more
performed with the LA Phil.
Ruben Rogers is
always a delight to watch and hear. His personality is all up in his
playing. Fun, warm, efficient, confident and right on the mark! Greg
Hutchinson is an equally outstanding performer to behold as well. Greg
has been the drummer for many a jazz diva and provides just the right
flavor to kick it up a notch or two. The two together with Peter Martin
and the lovely guitar serenades of Romero Lubambo make for the best in
holiday music. Improvising and developing new creations on stage and in
an instant, specially designing lyrics for tonight’s audience, each of
these major talents express themselves in solos that capture the spirit
and the energy of the holidays.
Always holding on to
tradition but, making sure to keep in touch with the songs and phrases
of today, Dianne incorporates many delicacies for all genres to
understand, love and appreciate. I would imagine that her youthful
counterparts may be partly responsible for this. There is such melodic
and rhythmic beauty when you hear her word vibrantly enchant the
microphone and fill the air. Dianne swims through octaves like a gold
medalist, the audience will take home with them this holiday, the
sounds of Christmas jazz expressed with love, peace and light!
Ron Carter is looking
and sounding marvelous! If there ever was a player whose bass spoke the
most lyrical phrases, it is Mr. Carter. A very nice crowd for the
second set here at Catalinas Bar and Grill.
Tonight is all about conversations. Stephen Scott is flowing on
piano and the band is playing the most soulful music. Ron, the
legend, the master, the innovator and the inspiration for many
a bass player, is in top form. He takes the audience
through a range of emotions from the funny to the lovely in
60 seconds. The music melds together so seamlessly that if
you are not paying close attention, you won’t know that
another tune has just begun.
As I sat back and watched Mr. Carter, I imagined the
relationship that he has with his instrument. He plays
her with such love and I also envisioned the ups, downs the
travels and the entire journey that they have taken together.
That road has lead them here tonight. If you take this
moment in time and look back, the path to now is
paved with genius, honor, dedication and mastery.
It is fun to witness some of the comradery that Ron has with
his fellow musicians musically and personally. The transitions
are amazing as well as the cognitive synchronicity.
Sometimes when legends have been playing for so long, each
performance can just be another gig. Not so for Ron. His
energy and soul are still immersed in the creativity of the
music. They even mixed in some Christmas licks in the mix!
The intonation is crystal clear and so is the choice to check
out, on your next occasion, The Ron Carter Quartet!