Jazz for america's future at symphony space - NYC, nov 2

  • photography by Clara Pereira / text by Filipe Freitas

Jazz for America’s Future 2016, an all-star concert produced by the pianist Aaron Goldberg and hosted by Alicia Hall Moran, took place at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space in New York, benefiting Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The one-night-only event gathered illustrious jazz personalities, most of them veterans and masters deeply connected to the vibrant NY scene and beyond.

The first luminaries to step on stage were the pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Robert Hurst, and the three-time Grammy Award-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. This unstoppable trio astutely deviated their sound from the conventional, embarking on an emphasized locomotion where sophistication and modernity walk side by side.
After a couple of tunes, the virtuous pianist, who released a great album this year entitled Book of Intuition, joined the hyper-expressive saxophonist Joe Lovano for an unprecedented duo performance. They enchanted the audience with an exhilarating rendition of Thelonious Monk’s “Pannonica”.
Succeeding to a quartet headed by Lovano and Goldberg, we had the trumpeter Nicholas Payton, who also played piano and sang. He presented two tunes, part of his new project Afro-Caribbean Mixtape, founding awesome support on bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Joe Dyson to deliver a vocalized ballad first, and then “Jazz is a Four-Letter Word”, a tune composed in memory of the drummer Max Roach. Payton applied pre-recorded samples, often subjected to loop treatments, on top of hip-hop grooves and unextended swinging sections.
Before the intermission, it was Cecile McLorin Salvant who extrovertly showed the immensity of her voice in Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and Bessie Smith’s staple “Sam Jones Blues”. Pianist Aaron Diehl provided the harmonic sustenance for this emphatic performance.

Also impressive was the emergent Nigerian singer Somi, who opened the second half and stunned the audience with a soul-jazz song about the loss of innocence. The power and emotion created had much to do with the favorable teamwork of Michael Olatuja on electric bass and Toru Dodo on piano.
However, the greatest moment of the night was Kurt Rosenwinkel’s appearance to play “Use of Light”, an emblematic tune from his masterwork, Next Step, dated from 2001. The provisional formation put together for this occasion included Goldberg on piano, Hurst on bass, and the iconic drummer Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, who was visibly proud to be part of this colorful quartet.
The following number was Henry Butler solo. The legendary pianist, besides an impressive boogie-woogie technique, also showed to have a keen sense of humor and a knack for abrupt rhythmic variations.

The show ended with a 6-piece ensemble whose soloists - Lovano, Rosenwinkel and Goldberg - ended up trading fours with the hard-hitting Watts who kept rejoicing in the drummer’s seat.

The strong political consciousness associated with the event, together with the presence of some of the most exciting jazz players in the active, have turned this night into a major celebration of a country that deserves better. 
Two in one, bravo!