Jazz Fest, Final Night: Ron reviews Newport Jazz Festival All Stars

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Sunday June 29, 2014

From City Newspaper
By: Ron Netsky

Jazz Fest, Final Night: Ron reviews Newport Jazz Festival All Stars, Stephanie Trick, and Scott Feiner & Pandeiro Jazz

Imagine Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man all working together. That’s what it was like when the Newport Jazz Festival All Stars took the stage to celebrate the great festival’s 60th anniversary at Kilbourn Hall Saturday night.

There was trumpeter Randy Brecker, clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen, singer Karrin Allyson, pianist Peter Martin, guitarist Mark Whitfield, bassist Larry Grenadier, and drummer Clarence Penn. Most of them had led groups at the XRIJF before; now they were a supergroup.

The configuration varied from full band to a beautiful guitar solo by Whitfield. Allyson performed a haunting rendition of ‘‘Round Midnight’ accompanied only by Grenadier. Every solo was excellent; Cohen’s and Brecker’s were outstanding.

The highpoint of the show came midway through when Penn introduced a tune with a riddle: What song was covered by Donna Summer, Grace Jones, Louis Armstrong, and Pavarotti? If you haven’t guessed, it’s ‘La Vie En Rose.’

The song, written in 1945, was the perfect vehicle for a tribute to the longevity of the Newport Festival. Cohen, who had been playing saxophone, picked up her clarinet and blew everyone away, only to be matched in a solo by Brecker. The result: the crowd went wild and gave the group a rare mid-set standing ovation.

At the end of the show, the group returned to the stage after the second standing ovation in a loose, anything-goes frame of mind. Allyson took over at the piano; Cohen and Martin danced. But that didn’t stop them from making more great music.

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