The Jazzcat

Carmen Lundy at the Ford Amphitheater celebrating "Jazz and the New Songbook"

by on Sep.11, 2006, under News


Additional Photos

I have visited the Ford Amphitheater on many occasions and

have always commented on the stars twinkling in the beautiful night sky in the

cozy and intimate surroundings of the Amphitheater. Tonight is the same however;

the brightest stars were not in the sky but, radiating their brilliance

directly from the stage.


Local jazz icon James Janisse is on hand once again as host

to welcome lovers of the music to the John Anson Ford Theater. Carmen Lundy has

once again pulled off an amazing feat for her celebration of “Jazz and the New

Songbook”. She has amassed not only an audience that is caring and supportive,

but has also managed to travel and play with a cast of all-star leaders in

their own right. These cats have made and continue to be on the forefront of

the music. Robert Hurst, Bobby Watson, Steve Turre, Terri Lyne Carrington, Marvin

“Smitty” Smith, Robert Glasper, Anthony Wonsey, Sekou Bunch, Curtis Lundy,

Mayra Casales, Phil Upchurch,  Regina

Carter, Krystal Davis, harp player Lori Andrews and new kid on the block Greg

Diaz on trumpet.


She opened up the performance with a beautiful solo piano

rendition of “America”

that was sung with such compassion for humanity I wish all Americans could have

heard it. Perhaps it would bring more peace and love into their hearts. That

followed by “Everything is going to be Alright” seem to signify a call to the

spiritual allegiance of a greater power for hope and to protect us in such

troubling times.


I don’t think I have ever seen a performance with three bass

players, two drummers, two pianists, violin, harp, alto, trumpet, trombone and

conch shells, percussion, and a back up singer. Carmen could have booked her

own jazz festival with these performers, but instead, they have all combined

their efforts to support “Jazz and the New Songbook”, the new CD and DVD

project produced by Elizabeth Oei of Afrasia Productions with all original

music written by Carmen Lundy.


These creations were so fresh that most of the music played

this evening has never been performed in public. The ink on one of the pieces is

still wet and had just been written; instant gratification at its finest from

thought to pen to stage within twenty four hours. How satisfying it must be to

have a thought one moment and be on stage with some of the finest musicians in

the world the next making your dreams reality.


The musicians all played together and in different

configurations depending on the composition of the piece. With so many

instruments and all of them backing up a vocalist, there is only so much

harmonic room within the framework of a piece for each of them to collectively

play. The solos in the performances really allowed the signatures players to



Carmen sings of love and tonight, she is surrounded by it.

If “Is it Love” is perhaps the song and question, the answer is a definite yes

indeed! The band is big but, I would not go as far as to call it a big band. From

the Latin percussive flavor of Mayra Casales, the smooth full sound of Steve

Turre’s trombone, the warmth of Bobby Watson’s alto, the rich deep breadth of

Robert Hurst’s bass, the electrifying sound of Robert Glasper’s  Fender Rhodes comps to the soaring crisp

precise notes of Regina Carter’s violin, the night of music is in for surprises

at any turn. Steve Turre and Regina Carter were featured on a piece that had no

choice but to swing with both Robert Glasper and Robert Hurst adding their

color to the composition. Phil Upchurch pulled out one of his tunes, made

famous by the George Benson back in the day on the album “Breezin”, and the audience cheered with smiles

of memorable moments as the musicians were able to stretch.


Carmen’s voice is calm, cool and collected and with every

breath she encompasses that posture, poise and style of a true Diva! Her good

friend Geri Allen has been commissioned to write a piece about the historic

incidents and tragedies surrounding “911”. She asked Carmen to sing on that recording

with her. Carmen, inspired herself by the music, decided to perform the piece

tonight only this time, she was going to make use of Lori Andrews, even thought the

original piece did not call for a harp. When she called Geri to ask her if

it was okay perform the composition with a harpist, Geri replied that she was

performing the piece in New York,

at the same time as Carmen’s performance, with a harpist! Serendipitous!


She is an artist in the true sense of the word in that her

talents don’t just stop at singing and composing. She paints wonderful

portraits and even some self portraits which are here at the Ford on display

and yes, “the love is for sale”!


So pick up a copy of the CD/DVD “Jazz and the New Songbook”.

It was recorded live at the Madrid Theater in Canoga Park, California

and features many of the same players on tonight’s performance.



LeRoy Downs














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