Telluride Jazz Celebration: Day 2 & 3: SOUL’d on Jazz
Recap, photos and video by Holley Dey, Louise Uznanski and Richard Uznanski for OnTapblog
©2012 OnTapBlog All Rights Reserved
Days 2 and 3 of the Telluride Jazz Celebration brought sunny weather, salsa, seasoned pros, student all-stars and most of all, SOUL. Roy Hargrove, as smooth as silk on the horn with a cashmere blended band behind him, mesmerized the late Saturday afternoon audience. Victor Wooten Band thrilled with dual bassists, unheard of by many in the audience. He scatted, he jammed, he slid his hands and fingers on the fret until the crowd gave in to his will. It was an awe-inspiring performance by a clearly gifted and joyous musician. Providing a Latin beat, Nosotros brought their A-dance game to Telluride. The Student All-Stars dazzled once again proving the young musicians of America are up to the task and can play all that Jazz. Cajun was represented by the Mudbugs and Soul Rebels reminded us that we have to get UP! out of our chairs and dance to the music.
Day 2 highlights featured:
Telluride Student All-Star Jazz Ensemble
The onstage enthusiasm was youthful, but the sound was remarkably smooth and mature. The Telluride Student All-Stars were selected by audition to participate in a one week professional development program that preceded the Jazz festival. Teenagers throughout the United States and Canada vied for the opportunity to learn together, to play in Telluride jazz clubs each evening and then to perform on the main stage during festival weekend. The audition process was akin to the television competition “The Voice”. The selection committee was blinded to the applicants’ names, building the band from audio submissions. Only when the festival band had been selected were the identities of the students revealed. In 2012 that selection produced a winning blend of musicians who played with heart and then stayed, watching their idols from the stage wings.
UNC Lab Band 1
The University of Northern Colorado Lab Band 1 has won four Down Beat awards in the last five years, twice as “Best College Big Band”. The Lab Band has traveled the United States and backed major jazz artists including Slide Hampton and Louis Bellson. At Telluride, the Band played a balanced set of traditional and contemporary jazz that highlighted the talents of several individual band members. A slide trombone solo by Adam Bartczak was particularly impressive with its clear tone and intuitive phrasing.
Vocalist and composer Felipe Ruibal links the music of Nosotros to poet Federico García Lorca’s concept of “duende”. Duende is the spirit that binds everyone together; when duende is present, the music envelops every seat in the audience; artist and audience are as one. And so it happened in Telluride where the crowd threw their arms in the air and moved their hips in circles to the jazz influenced Latin soul of Nosotros. It was a salsa party among the mountains and under the sun.
Roberta Gambarini with Convergence
Roberta Gambarini earned a Grammy nomination in 2006 for her debut American album, Easy to Love. It was easy to love Roberta in Telluride as she sang effortlessly, executing complex vocal runs while sharing an ever present smile with the crowd and Convergence, the Denver based band of instrumental all stars that backed her on stage. Both the vocalist and band appeared equally pleased to share the stage and a glorious afternoon of music together.
Roy Hargrove Quintet
Grammy award winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove was cool on a hot summer day, shaded by dark glasses, aloof yet connected in a vintage blue suit and bow tie. He would glide off and then back onto the stage to deliver classic jazz and pure musical tones from a horn that literally gleamed in the sunlight. He traded instrumental solos with alto saxophone player Justin Robinson and bass player Ameen Saleem. Saleem brought the funk in an extended solo that was well received by the crowd. Robinson was welcomed back with smiles; he had offered a smooth solo during the Crescent Super Band’s set on Friday.
Victor Wooten Band
He is a Grammy award winner and a founding member of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. In 2011, Rolling Stone named Victor Wooten one of the top ten bassists of all time. None of that matters though, because on Saturday evening in Telluride, Victor Wooten played a headlining set live on stage with a joyful smile on his face and fingers that moved at lightning speed over the fret board. He repeatedly traded licks with older brother Regi Wooten at stage front, leaning into the music and forward to the crowd. Regi nearly set the guitar on fire as the siblings executed an instrumental call and response that left the audience cheering. From the back, Anthony Wellington played a decisive “2nd bass”, a position he has held for more than ten years, contributing to the innovative fusion sound that defines the Victor Wooten band.
Day 3 Highlights:
New Orleans Themed Parade through downtown Telluride.
Meeting at noon on Colorado Avenue, the main street in Telluride, we found ‘New Orleans’ reinvented in the brass bands and fancily decorated umbrellas and revelers strutting their stuff in the Colorado sun. Soul Rebels Brass Band and The Hooligans Brass Band got things started as they proceeded down the center of the main drag looking directly at the mountains and Angel Falls lilting between the twin peaks. This is one parade where all you need to do to get a string of beads is put your hands up in the air and the purple, green or gold beads fly your way. Lucky enough to catch the beads and get them around your neck meant you left with enough beads for Fat Tuesday in 2013. The parade ran down the avenue straight onto the grounds of Town Park, home of the festival. The bands and fans followed one another until the hit the Roy Hargrove main stage. The parade ended too soon!
Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band
In keeping with the New Orleans theme of Telluride Jazz Celebration, the Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band got the already jazz’d up crowd up and on their feet. With the fiddle, washboard, triangle and accordion the band brought the audience right to the steps of Bleaker Street and Mardi Gras! The umbrellas decorated with purple and green plumage dotted the sky as folks strutted like a Philadelphia mummer to the tunes of the Mudbugs. Known as the best Zydeco and Cajun band in the Midwest, the Mudbugs sound belies their Western origins. No one wanted it to end. They band kept asking if we could ‘do’ one more. One more one more went on and on until we saw the dust fill the air from stomping our feet and dancing with strangers.
Completely out of breath and ready to hear some big brass sounds, the audience held back at first until one of the lead vocalists Erion Williams asked then demanded that the crowd get UP! ‘You in the back in the chairs? We mean you, too!” From the first horn to the last bow, the Soul Rebels engaged the crowd with their bountiful sound. Young musicians from Telluride All-Stars, Crescent Super Band and The Hooligans lined the fence and jumped up in the air with fists pumped to the crazy New Orleans beat. Small children joined in on the shoulders of parents holding up their fingers to the band’s tune ‘5-0-4’, the area code for Nola.
This band has it all. Brass, drums, horns, and a giant tuba whose sound substituted for the lack of guitar beats. The covered ‘Sweet Dreams are Made of This’ by Annie Lennox; an original tune ‘We Gon’ Take Your Body’ which turned out to be true in the end. Their entire set was rambunctious and rowdy but always tight and together. From their new CD, Unlock Your MInd, tune after tune built the beat up to an intensity unrivaled by any artist in attendance. Everyone was on their feet and I mean everyone. The chair sitters were up and lead by the commands of another lead vocalist Marcus Hubbard to get down and then get back up. After the show, the entire band met fans and signed CDs, posters and even a wine cask a fan was carrying and having signed. Soul Rebels performs at the New Orleans Jazz Festival and will return for their 21st annual performance in February.
The band The Meters make up a large part of this band. They are seasoned veterans and each musician has been everywhere in the world and played with anyone who is anyone. Seeing Art Neville on keys just clinched the deal. Hearing George Porter, Jr. stoke that bass guitar lead us down the road to musical history. The veteran Brian Stoltz, a Michael McDonald look-a-like, made the music smooth beyond comprehension as he and his guitar dueled with Mr. Porter’s bass. What the band did not understand is that the audience was looking for a respite, a small relief from the frantic music to date. Not to be. And the crowd rallied for over 90 minutes as the funky Meters brought the Jazz Celebration to a resounding close on the last night of the festival. The total years of experience demonstrated by these four men was laid bare on the stage to the delight of a wild-for-jazz crowd as long as it was mixed with loads of funk. The funky Meters came through for the audience. They’ve been doing it for many years and will no doubt continue for many years to come.
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Up Next!: Telluride Jazz Sights, Sounds & Good Times Photo Gallery
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