For a second year in a row, Dixiefunk broke out all over the Main Arena on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Like Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu, there’s still no cure for these pleasantly delirious afflictions.
Symptoms usually subside in a few days without treatment. Severe cases call for rest in a comfortable lounge with an empathetic bartender dispensing good scotch. Listen to two Sarah Vaughn CDs before bed and call Dr. John in the morning if you aren’t feeling better.
See Saturday MJF slideshow HERE.
Wendell Pierce took time off his busy schedule – Tremé and B.B. King & I, currently in the works, or as they say in Hollywood, “pre-production” – to MC “An Afternoon in Tremé: The Musical Majesty of New Orleans.” Pierce has also worked on The Wire and Horrible Bosses.
Dixiefunk is all about putting “glide in your stride and a slip in your hip,” as Pierce so aptly put it. The Rebel Souls Brass Band (see slideshow) proved him right, opening their set by marching through the Arena aisles.
Terence Blanchard again took the stage with Dumpstaphunk featuring a smokin’ version of “Night in Tunisia.”
See video of Dumpstaphunk at the Trasimeno Blues Festa in Italy from July 30, 2011.
Huey Lewis and and his bluesy voice followed. The band has always produced serviceable MOR pop, comfortably avoiding the music’s well-honed outer edges. A couple of songs, like “Need a new Drug” and “This is It” are pop ’80s classics.
The good and bad news is that Lewis is Lewis. The band was fine, although one would have liked to have seen backup singers Sandy Griffith and Daunielle Hill featured more prominently.
The most painful – and inevitable – part of any MJF are the great performances one hears about but can’t attend. Berklee Flamenco and Pianist Bill Carrothers, for starters.
On Saturday night, Geri Allen and Timeline paid tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. At least Maurice Chestnut’s impossibly complex tap beats could be heard live over local radio station KUSP on the way to the festival.
Chestnut tapped his way out of the New Jersey Tap Dance Ensemble to Carnegie Hall. He was in Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk and toured throughout Europe as featured soloist with the the Geri Allen Trio. If the show looked half as good as it sounded, chalk up another missed opportunity.
Following Geri Allen was James Farm, a collaborative featuring Joshua Redman on sax, Aaron Parks on piano, Matt Penman on bass, and Eric Harland on drums.
The band played selected pieces from their most recent CD, “James Farm.” The selections they chose and in the order they played them made the music sound like a suite rather than a set of unrelated pieces. Listen via this link.
Next it was over to see the Donny McCaslin Group at The Night Club managed by stage manager David Price, who every year takes leave of his film career in Poland 6,000 miles away to make sure the Club runs smoothly. (Price most recently can be seen playing the Interrogation Officer in Essential Killing  opposite Vincent Gallo.)
McCaslin opened with a fine rendition of Tower of Power’s “You Got to Funkifize.” (See photo)
Earlier in the day McCaslin made some astounding guesses during Downbeat’s “Blindfold Test” in Dizzy’s Den hosted by Dan Ouellette.
McCaslin’s heard something in the style of the first sax solo, correctly surmising it could have been Wayne Shorter. It was, from Shorter’s first LP, “Introducing Wayne Shorter” (1959).
McCaslin then nailed Von Freeman’s solo on “Never Fear, Jazz is Here.” The man knows his music, and it was a joy listening to him describe his thought process in deducing the musician from the music.
BTW, famed music critic Leanard Feather began the DownBeat Blindfold Test in 1949.
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