Thursday, October 9, 2008

Praise/sweetness of Jazz for Obama benefit concert

A concentration of jazz talent made an appeal for the democratic candidates with sobriety, humor and flair. Jazz for Obama, a benefit for the Obama/Biden campaign that featured more than enough of the genre's luminaries was the second installment of political fundraisers organized by pianist Aaron Goldberg, Jazz for America's Future.

Doug Wamble, the Memphis-bred guitarist and vocalist embodied concept well He and guitarist Charles Hunter tackled Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" during the first set. Charlie Hunter's considered accompaniment perfectly complemented Wamble's shuddering vocal work. It was a great performance on a bill overrun with them.

Bilal and Robert Glasper opted for the pensive as well. Bilal, whose stylistically ambidextrous, launched into a smart ballad, "All Matter", restricting himself to his mid range in lieu of his mannered falsetto and baritone.

Dianne Reeves, whom emcee Kurt Elling introduced as "the Renee Fleming of Jazz," most invigorated the audience. The Denver native brought with her that August 25-28th zeal, closing up the first set with Cat Stevens' "Morning Has Broken". It was rousing enough to demand her inclusion on the Obama Inauguration Party bill, when, not if that day finally comes. Reeves know hows to build a sentiment and convey power without overwhelming.

With the exception of the strident, straight-ahead stylings of the first set's opener--the Roy Haynes Quintet with Roy Hargrove, Joe Lovano, Aaron Goldberg and Christian McBride--the mood was reflective. And reflecting back on these past eight years doesn't evoke the pleasantest of thoughts.

But, in closing, Dianne Reeves and Dee Dee Bridgewater's imaginings of a post November took shape via "Afro Blue." Bridgewater, late of Mali, set forth the percussive and Reeves picked it right up, with the women volleying rhythmic improvisations over pianist Edsel Gomez's Latin arrangement. Unpracticed, its was exemplar, and an apropos example that experience ain't everything.

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