Jazzing up Tanglewood
by Seth Rogovoy

(LENOX, Mass., September 2, 2004) -- This weekend’s Tanglewood Jazz Festival features a diverse array of performances in six, separately-ticketed events over the course of three days and nights, including some of the biggest names in jazz, including Brubeck, Marsalis and McPartland, and some of the most promising, least-known names, including Eigsti, Wamble and Zenon. The festival includes an evening of Latin music, an afternoon of jazz dance starring Savion Glover, the entire roster of a modern jazz label, two separate appearances by Harry Connick, Jr. – one as a pop singer fronting a big-band and small orchestra, the other as the piano-playing leader of a quartet – and the legendary Dave Brubeck leading his quartet and a chamber orchestra.

In other words, something for almost everyone’s taste.

It’s a lot of music to take in over the course of a weekend, but with some careful planning, concertgoers will undoubtedly be rewarded with some stellar performances in America’s homegrown musical idiom.

For tickets, call 888-266-1200 or go to

Eddie Palmieri/Eliane Elias (Friday, 8 p.m., Ozawa Hall): Friday nights at the annual Tanglewood Jazz Festival seem to have been carved out as Latin jazz night the last few years, and this year is no exception. Kicking off the festival is pianist Eliane Elias, an apt choice to make the transition from Tanglewood’s season of classical music into jazz, as Elias straddles both worlds. The Brazilian-born, New York-based, Juilliard-trained virtuoso and former member of the fusion ensemble Steps Ahead is considered one of the great interpreters of bossa nova pioneer Antonio Carlos Jobim. Occasionally doubling on vocals, Elias will perform with bassist Marc Johnson, drummer Satoshi Takeishi, and guitarist Ruban de la Corte. With the death of Tito Puente, pianist Eddie inherited the mantle of king of salsa. The Spanish Harlem native and seven-time Grammy Award-winner is equally influenced by Thelonious Monk and McCoy Tyner, and combines chamber string influences, salsa, mambo and Latin jazz. Friday night’s program, featuring Palmieri and his 10-piece ensemble, La Perfecta II, will be broadcast live on selected public radio stations across the country.

Savion Glover and Jimmy Slyde (Saturday, 1 p.m., Theatre): Tony Award-winner Savion Glover and tap legend Jimmy Slyde will team up to showcase the dance side of jazz. Slyde, born Jimmy Gotbolt, was so named when he joined the Slyde Brothers and mastered his signature style of sliding or skating across the stage. Glover brought jazz dance to new heights with his fusion of hip-hop, bebop and world music in Broadway shows including “Jelly’s Last Jam” and “Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk” and in films including “Bamboozled” and “Tap.”

Marian McPartland and Taylor Eigsti (Saturday, 3, Ozawa Hall): Marian McPartland follows up her previous live “Piano Jazz” taping sessions at Ozawa Hall with Sir Roland Hanna and Norah Jones this year with young prodigy Taylor Eigsti, who made his stage debut when he was eight performing with David Benoit. Eigsti, who turns 20 later this month, has already appeared with Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, Kevin Mahogany, Dianne Schuur and Dave Brubeck. He has also performed in classical and operatic settings, was a presidential scholar at the University of Southern California, and is a member of the faculty of the Stanford Jazz Workshop and the San Jose State Jazz Workshop.

Harry Connick, Jr. (Saturday, 8 p.m., Shed): Performing in the Shed with his 16-piece big band and an additional, 16-piece chamber orchestra as part of his national “Only You” tour, Harry Connick, Jr., will sing an eclectic selection of pop love songs from the 1950s and 1960s, including “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “For Once in My Life,” and the title song. If the audience is lucky, the sometime film star might dig a little deeper and do some tunes by Doc Pomus or Fats Domino; look for him also to pay tribute to the late Ray Charles with a version of “You Don’t Know Me.” Fans of Connick’s piano playing will want to return on Sunday afternoon – see “Marsalis Music Presents” for more info.

Marsalis Music Presents (Sunday, 2 p.m., Ozawa Hall): Not just a concert by saxophonist Branford Marsalis and his quartet, this afternoon show features four separate acts. What they all have in common is they record for Marsalis Music, a Cambridge-based label curated by Marsalis. With national distribution provided by Rounder Records, Marsalis Music is an independent label dedicated to presenting new and established jazz artists outside of the commercial pressures of a major record label. Among those recording for Marsalis and performing in what will undoubtedly be the weekend’s longest show are Harry Connick, Jr., showcasing his critically-acclaimed piano music, accompanied by Charles “Ned” Goold on tenor saxophone, Neal Caine on bass, and Arthur Latin, II, on drums. Guitarist and vocalist Doug Wamble, who weaves blues, jazz, country and gospel together in his original compositions, will perform with his quartet featuring pianist Roy Dunlap, bassist Jeff Hanley and drummer Peter Miles. Alto saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenon, a graduate of Boston’s Berklee College and New York’s Manhattan School of Music, will lead his quartet in original compositions heavily influenced by Puerto Rican folk singers, salsa, and West African rhythms. Marsalis himself headlines the afternoon, performing lyrical melodies from his upcoming recording, “Eternal,” accompanied by quartet members pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts.

Dave Brubeck (Sunday, 8 p.m., Ozawa Hall): The indefatigable, 83-year-old and longtime Tanglewood favorite Dave Brubeck continues to churn out new recordings and delight audiences with old favorites and new works, as heard on his recent quartet album, “Park Avenue South,” a collection of standards (“On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “Love for Sale,” “On a Slow Boat to China”), old hits (“Take Five,” “Crescent City Stomp”) and new pieces (“Elegy”), recorded live at a Starbucks coffee shop, with accompaniment by saxophonist/flutist Bobby Militello, bassist Michael Moore, and drummer Randy Jones, all of whom will join Brubeck on Sunday. Brubeck always seems to shine on his visits to Tanglewood, probably due to his long history in the area going back to the days of the Music Inn, where a young Dave Brubeck often stayed with his family and performed brand-new music back in the 1950s. The quartet will also perform accompanied by a 23-piece string “symphonette.”

[This article originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on September 2, 2004. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2004. All rights reserved.]

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