Jazz in festivals and clubs

Summer jazz in festivals and clubs,
Also, Living Daylights, Old Songs

by Seth Rogovoy

(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., June 27, 2002) -- Jazz has yet to garner a place at the Berkshire cultural table commensurate with its significance as an American art form and equivalent to the region’s offerings in classical music, theatre, dance, or even folk and rock music. But there are opportunities to hear jazz in the county before the two weekend festivals crowded into the end of August at Butternut Ski Area in Great Barrington and at Tanglewood. And some of the world’s greatest jazz performers are just a day- or a weekend-trip away.

Two of the east coast’s biggest festivals take place this weekend. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center is celebrating a quarter-century of jazz on Saturday and Sunday with an all-star lineup including the Manhattan Transfer, Dave Koz, James Ingram, War, Regina Carter, Dave Holland, Kurt Elling, Soulive, and a tribute to John Coltrane featuring Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove on Saturday. On Sunday, SPAC presents Natalie Cole, Wynton Marsalis, Fourplay, Cassandra Wilson, Roy Haynes, Angelique Kidjo, Steve Turre and Living Daylights. For more information visit SPAC online at or call 518-587-3330.

Jazz fans can get a sneak preview of one of SPAC’s up-and-coming acts tonight at Club Helsinki (528-3394) in Great Barrington at 9, when Living Daylights, the bass, saxophone and drums trio led by Seattle-bred saxophonist and composer Jessica Lurie, returns with its unique blend of soul-jazz, world-groove and Eastern European-inflected jams. Last April at Helsinki, the group played pan-global jazz that overlaid traditional melodies and original compositions in the style of traditional melodies and rhythmic patterns on top of a bed of contemporary drum beats, often referred to as “jungle” and “drums ‘n’ bass.” The combination made for shimmering and surprising juxtapositions when Lurie veered from minor to major back to minor modes, pinching her notes to give them the feel of Balkan flute music or squealing through her horn with bursts of precise honks recalling John Zorn.

The world-famous Montreal International Jazz Festival kicks off this weekend and runs through July 7. The festival, which annually attracts nearly two million attendees to downtown Montreal for its 500 concerts – over half of which are free – includes performances by Herbie Hancock, Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, Archie Shepp, Dianne Reeves, Lauryn Hill, Angie Stone, Kool and the Gang, Miriam Makeba, Omara Portuondo, Trilok Gurtu, J.J. Cale, Daniel Lanois, Marianne Faithfull, Norah Jones, Jane Monheit and Medeski, Martin and Wood.

Other performers at Montreal include Roswell Rudd, Marc Ribot, Marcus Miller, Dave Holland, Pat Martino with Joey DeFrancesco, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Jacky Terrasson, Buju Banton, Jack DeJohnette, Avishai Cohen, Jon Hassell, Blind Boys of Alabama, Larry Coryell, Vernon Reid, Charlie Hunter, Pioneer Valley cellist Gideon Freudmann, Tuvan throat singers Huun-Huur-Tu, and Gypsy ensemble Taraf de Haidouks.

For more information visit the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, as it is properly known, online at or call 1-888-515-0515.

Closer to home, the Castle Street Café presents two jazz artists with a region-wide reputation this weekend. On Friday night, the Noah Baerman Trio brings its unique, keyboard-based improvisations to Great Barrington. A native of New Haven, Baerman is a protégé of jazz piano legend Kenny Barron, and is the author of eight instructional books, including “Jazz Keyboard Harmony” and “Complete Jazz Keyboard Method.” Baerman teaches at Central Connecticut State University.

His trio’s brand-new CD, “U-Turn,” showcases Baerman’s gift for witty, accessible melodies and his delicate touch on the Fender Rhodes electric piano. Bassist Tyler Goodwin and drummer George Mastrogiannis also contribute numbers to the effort, which is alternately playful and soulful, upbeat and lyrical.

On Saturday night, Woodstock, N.Y., vocalist Teri Roiger leads her trio into Castle Street. As heard on her CD, “Misterioso,” Roiger is a sophisticated jazz vocalist who favors compositions by Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, sometimes offering original lyrics inspired by the tunes. She also performs original songs by her trio partner and arrranger, bassist John Menegon. When they’re not performing, the two teach at Williams College and at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Old folk at Old Songs

The first of the major summer folk festivals takes place this weekend with the Old Songs Festival of Traditional Music and Dance at the Altamont (N.Y.) Fairgrounds, 10 miles west of Albany, from Friday through Sunday. This year’s headliners include topical singer-songwriter Tom Paxton, folksinger Anne Hills, Acadian ensemble Barachois, old-time duo Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz, and contradance band Swallowtail.

Also featured are English folk group Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies, Italian folk guitarist Beppe Gambetta, acoustic blues guitarist Roy Book Binder, Irish folk group Craobh Rua, New England folksinger Bob Franke, Vermont singer/storyteller Margaret MacArthur, Senegalese ensemble Fakoli Dance and Drum, Scottish balladeer Norman Kennedy, shape-note singers Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, and the Berkshires’ own Roger the Jester.

The festival, which includes on-site camping, nine different performance areas, children’s activities, a juried craft show, puppet shows, dances, classes and workshops, is in its 22nd year. For more information visit the Old Songs website at or call 518-765-2815.

Radio Beat

Another in our series of periodic tallies of the most-played recordings -- most new, some old – on our imaginary radio station:

1. Jen Chapin/Stephan Crump, “Open Wide” (Purple Chair Music)
2. Badly Drawn Boy, “About a Boy (Original Soundtrack)” (XL/BMG)
3. Ali Hassan Kuban, “The Rough Guide to Ali Hassan Kuban” (RGNET)
4. Rosey, “Dirty Child” (Island)
5. Shannon McNally, “Jukebox Sparrows” (Capitol)
6. Elvis Costello, “When I Was Cruel” (Island)
7. Gogol Bordello, “Voi-La Intruder” (Rubric)
8. Jewlia Eisenberg, “Trilectic” (Tzadik)
9. Sheryl Crow, “C’mon, C’mon” (A&M)
10. Dave Douglas, “The Infinite” (Bluebird)

[This column originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on June 27, 2002. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2002. All rights reserved.]

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

To send a message to Seth Rogovoy
content management programming and web design