Jazz on a Summer's Day: Newport Jazz Festival

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Tuesday August 07, 2018

From Ottawa Citizen

Jazz on a summer’s day at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival
By: Peter Hum

[…] I left Chinen’s talk early to make sure that I got a good seat for alto saxophonist Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition, a trio completed by guitarist Rez Abbasi and drummer-tabla player Dan Weiss. In fact, I’d seen these three musicians play together before, but joined by Toronto electric bass powerhouse Rich Brown, at the 2014 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival. Without Brown, the trio nonetheless made singular, urgent music, evocatively coloured by Weiss’s tabla drums (which he doesn’t play in the quartet), Abbasi’s steely, frequently droning and sometime processed guitar, and Mahanthappa’s ripe alto saxophone and electronic samples. The trio drew from its most recent album Agrima, offering the hard-rocking tune Snap, the initially slow and sultry tune Showcase, and the album’s title track, a rousing, anthemic, multi-tempo song girded by a looping ostinati emanating from Mahanthappa’s laptop.

[…] The last set that I caught at Fort Adams was my favourite of the day, and when I tell you that the band consisted of tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman, cornet player Ron Miles, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade, you will probably respond, ‘Well, that would have been my favourite too!’ Essentially an all-star quartet led by Redman, the group was dubbed Still Dreaming to make clear its debt to the band Old and New Dreams, the Ornette Coleman alumni band of the late 1970s and 1980s that included Redman’s late father and firebrand saxophonist, Dewey Redman, in its ranks. At Newport, the younger Redman’s group drew upon its recent release Still Dreaming and played free-bop par excellence, even if Joshua Redman is a more theoretically rigorous, if no less thrilling, saxophonist than his father was.

Joshua Redman’s composition “The Rest” was a melancholy and unfettered opener. Colley’s romping piece “New Year” allowed for extravagant soloing over the harmonic grid of rhythm changes. A run through “Guinea,” by Old and New Dreams hornman Don Cherry, was springy and filled with surprise, and the intensity of the audience’s listening was audible and practically palpable. Next came a very conversational exploration of Dewey Redman’s “Walls-Bridges.” That title prompted its composer’s son to become political when he said that these days, ‘we have a choice to build one or the other. Personally, I’ll opt for bridges.’ The crowd applauded. After the beautifully transparent, waltzing ballad Haze and Aspirations, the quartet closed with the call-to-arms tune “Unanimity.”

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