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Memorable Tributes From 'Jazz 100' At Newport Jazz Festival

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Monday August 21, 2017

From Downbeat

Memorable Tributes Enliven Newport Sets
By: Bill Milkowski

Although there were afternoon rain showers on Saturday, patrons took cover under the Quad Stage tent for a scintillating set from Jazz 100, an all-star aggregation led by pianist and musical director Danilo Pérez and featuring an imposing frontline of saxophonist Chris Potter, trumpeter Avishai Cohen and trombonist Josh Roseman, with Ben Street on bass, Roman Diaz on percussion and vocals and Adam Cruz on drums.

The ensemble’s tribute to four major figures being feted with centennials this year—Mongo Santamaría, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald—was marked by some inventive twists on familiar material and several invigorating solos along the way.

The group opened with a medium-tempo rendition of Quincy Jones’ “Jessica’s Day” (found on Dizzy In South America: Official U.S. State Department Tour, 1956, Vol. 1) that featured potent, pulse-quickening solos from Cohen and Potter and a soulful, relaxed piano solo from Pérez. Master percussionist Diaz opened a rendition of the iconic “Cubano Be, Cubano Bop” with some galvanizing chanting and drumming. Cohen engaged in some fiery call-and-response with Potter on soprano sax on this infectious Afro-Cuban jam.

Pérez opened the group’s Monk tribute with an extended piano solo that segued seamlessly from the engaging “Light Blue” to the gorgeous “Pannonica,” both full of nuanced reharmonization and playful discovery balanced by a genuine sense of reverence for Monk.

Drummer Cruz and conguero Diaz then launched into a simpatico clave-fueled hookup that led to an animated full-band interpretation of Monk’s “Off Minor.” Potter’s tenor breakdown with Cruz here showcased his ferocious chops and nonchalant double-timing, which drew enthusiastic applause. The group concluded with Perez’s ambitious re-imagining of Santamaría’s classic “Afro Blue” that had Roseman carrying the melody and soloing freely over a highly-charged montuno section.

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