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Houston Person & Bobby Floyd

Derek DeCinzo

Jay Rodriguez

David Gonzalez

Jon Faddis

Jon Faddis & students

Mark Shim

Delfeayo Marsalis

photos by Albert Brooks
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Shepard Park, Lake George, NY
September 16, 2005

by J Hunter

Notes from “Jazz at the Lake '06”:

MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING: This year, Lake George Jazz program coordinator Paul Pines got to spread his wings, not just filling both days with national acts and finishing off the first-ever Saturday evening performance with a fireworks display. There was also enough money to bring Stanley Jordan and the Kenny Garrett Quintet to the Charles Wood Theater in Glens Falls later this year.

All this was made possible by a generous grant from the New York State Music Fund, a creation of the state Attorney General's office. After Lake George Arts Project executive director John Strong paid tribute to the Music Fund and its ripple-like effect on the festival, Pines took the microphone, tongue firmly in cheek, and said, “I'd like to thank Governor Spitzer, too…”

YOU JUST GOTTA HAVE FUN: Put a Hammond B3 organ into any musical mix, and you've got yourself a party. The same can be said of the C3, which looks like a cross between a spinet piano and an antique secretary's desk, but has all the attitude of its big brother. Everything sounds funkier on a Hammond, as Ohio native Bobby Floyd demonstrated with his organ-trio take on “They Can't Take That Away From Me”, one of a terrific set of bluesy standards.

Think you can't mix Monk and Dixieland? Floyd did it brilliantly, pairing “Bemsha Swing” with “When The Saints Go Marchin' In”. Floyd's head would have split in two if he'd smiled any wider. Between Derek DeCinzo's hard-body guitar and Reggie Jackson's freewheeling drums, Floyd's trio gave everyone something to smile about. Floyd gets extra points for giving Jackson more freedom than Dianne Schuur did the previous week at Albany Riverfront. Jackson's response was explosive, and things only got better when LG Jazz stalwart Houston Person joined the trio in mid-set, adding his expressive tenor sax to an already satisfying performance.

WORD POWER: An upside of public funding is Pines gets to think outside the box. That freedom gave us David Gonzalez & Poetic Justice, a truly unique concert experience. A former music therapist and a proud “New Yor-rican”, the Cuban-born PhD does passionate spoken-word jazz in the tradition of Gil-Scott Herron (who Gonzalez readily calls “the ground beneath my feet”), boosted by a monstrous band featuring Ascension leader Bobby Sanabria and John Menegon Quintet keyboardist John DiMartino.

We heard what it meant to grow up in the Bronx; we went inside the jangled head of a crystal meth addict; we got a guided tour of “the 146 dialects of the city”; and we heard loving tributes to bebop co-creators Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. “Be your brother's keeper… Be your sister's keeper…” Gonzalez repeatedly implored us as he left the stage to a standing ovation. This set wasn't just a surprise; it was a revelation. That can happen when you think outside the box.

MORE POWERFUL THAN A LOCOMOTIVE: There is no way to mute Jon Faddis. It simply can't be done. He can use a mute, as he did frequently, but the wall-shattering power of Faddis' trumpet will not be denied. If the soundman hadn't set Faddis' mic at the lowest possible level, the speakers might have imploded when he let loose on “The Baron”, one of several cuts Faddis took from his new CD, Teranga (Koch). The endless comparisons to Dizzy are apt: Faddis has the power Dizzy never got credit for because people were too busy writing about his antics.

But Faddis is also an educator - a longtime professor at SUNY Purchase. He brought two of his students - Max Darché and Dylan Canterbury - onstage for a traditional reading of “West End Blues”. The stage became a workshop as Faddis stood back, chin in hand, and observed his talented young lions. Both students came back at the end of the set - Darché for “Teranga”, Canterbury for the encore “Into The Faddisphere” - and got some serious one-on-one tutoring in concert technique.

HIS OWN MAN: From all indications, Delfeayo Marsalis' self-esteem is alive and kicking. In fact, the trombone virtuoso takes chances in concert his more famous brothers wouldn't: Branford keeps the solo spotlight to himself nowadays (at least as far as reeds and horns go), and Wynton would never contaminate his repertory efforts with chaotic soloists like tenor player Mark Shim or pianist Anthony Wonsey, or with free-spirited percussionist Dirty Red.

A fine choice to inaugurate the Saturday evening slot, Delfeayo showcased his talents as a composer and leader, giving his band plenty of room to run through a mix of originals and standards. The best moment was Delfeayo's, as Wonsey provided sweet solo piano backing for Marsalis' heartbreaking rendition of “What A Wonderful World”. Unlike Faddis' version earlier in the day - taken from the perspective of a man in love - the pain in Delfeayo's performance came from deep inside the bruised heart of his hometown, and crawled right into your soul. I remembered a t-shirt I saw at Freihofer's Jazz: “ReNEW ORLEANS”. Somebody's gotta do it.

J HUNTER is a former announcer/producer for radio stations in the Capital Region and the Bay Area, including KSJS/San Jose (where he was Assistant Music Director/Jazz programming), Q104 WQBK/Albany, and WSSV/Saratoga. He has also written music and theatre reviews for the Glens Falls Chronicle. He currently resides in Clifton Park.