REPORT: Nice Jazz Festival (Weds 8th July 2015)

The Nice Festival crowd for the Lauryn Hill concert
Image published on Festival Twitter feed

Frank G was on holiday in the South of France this week, and took the opportunity to attend one of the evenings of the Nice Jazz Festival, Wednesday 8th July. He writes:

The show commenced with USA singer, Indra Rios-Moore and her trio of keyboards, bass and a nicely warm-toned tenor saxist and bass clarinettist. More of a folk-flavoured sound but they closed with a spirited rhythmical version of What A Wonderful World.

The clear highlight of the evening was pianist Kenny Barron's Trio with Kyoshi Kitagawa, bass and Jonathan Blake, drums. Jazz violin fans with know of Jon's late father, violinist Jon Blake, who played with everyone from McCoy Tyner to Grover Washington. The trio's opening gamut was a lesser known Monk vehicle, Green Chimneys followed by Barron's' Lunacy which also showcased Blake's percussive fills and generally unrelenting rhythmic "undercurrence". Not one to ignore classic songs, Barron treated us to an acappella chorus of For Heaven's Sake and then ushered in the full trio for a series of gently swinging improvised choruses. Bassist, Kitagawa's deep dish swing coupled with his considered and melodic solos were of particular note on this selection. The set finished with Barron's Calypso, an appropriate call considering the near sweltering summery Mediterrania environs. It "spread what it said on the tin" as they say - and then some - to climax a more than exhilarating set.

The night concluded with legendary saxist/flutist, Charles Lloyd and his quartet. Lloyd is one of the three remaining near contemporaries of John Coltrane (not that near actually as he was born in 1939 to Coltrane's 1926) who continue to espouse Coltrane 1960s message of fiery beauty and "calmth" simultaneously. The other two of course are Pharaoh Sanders and Archie Shepp. His set included largely his own compositions including the well known "Sombrero Sam" and "Sweet Georgia Bright". These were welcome additions to a menu of modal and slowish out of tempo and somewhat self-indulgent pieces that lacked rhythmic ardour and more sprightly group activity and interaction. His trio was magnificent though boasting the talents of Gerald Clayton (son of LA-based bassist and arranger, John Clayton), bassist, Joe Saunders, and eclectic drummer, Kendrick Scott. All outstanding soloists in their own right as well as very supportive and sympathetic to their illustrious and iconic leader.

As an added bonus there was a pre-concert interview with Kendrick Scott and a French journalist with the aid of bilingual writer, American Ashley Kahn (author of the critically acclaimed Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece chronicling the genesis of the album. The journalist would ask interminably lengthy questions in French (well, it was the Nice Jazz Festival) and Ashley, to his credit would translate and consolidate each one into thirty words or so, in order for Kendrick to be able to sensibly answer it. He did so with eloquence as well, discussing Mike Clark's role in Herbie Hancock's Headhunter's amongst many other innovative drummers contributions to the music. Well done, Ashley, well done,that man.

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