Atsuko Hashimoto - "Time After Time" Album Press Kit (click
here to download)
Below is a collection of articles that feature and
review Atsuko's performances in the U.S.
1. From "2008 Lionel Hampton..." - It was more
than a swingin' affair and good time, it provoked one of the strongest
physical responses to music I've ever had. Hashimoto was...
(click here to read full article)
2. From "Mining For Gold..." - We all went nuts
and veterans Person and Hamilton, who have seen all in their storied careers
were grinning and shaking their heads in admiration in amazement as Atsuko
tore up Sunny, Blue Moon... (click here to read full article)
3. From "Monterey Jazz Festival Retains..." - While
we're noting exhilarating entertainers, add the wickedly surprising hot
licks by organist Atsuko Hashimoto... (click here to read
4. From "Lionel Hampton International..." - Hashimoto,
a native of Osaka, Japan, was inspired to play the organ at age 4 after
watching a performance in her kindergarten class... (click
here to read full article)
5. From "50th Monterey Jazz Fest..." - This delightful
young organist from Japan and her cohorts, Jeff Hamilton, drums, and Houston
Person, tenor sax, displayed the true essence of jazz, the oft quoted
sound of surprise... (click here to read full article)
6. From "Lionel Hampton International..." - Hashimoto
and Hamilton developed a tidal wave of swing in their tag ending to "It's
the Good Life," leading Holloway to ask... (click here
to read full article)
1. 2008 Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest Wrap Up, Part 2 (aka,
how it was shown that music can make grown men laugh and squeal like tiny
Yep, it happened, several times. As I was sitting backstage throughout
the festival's four nights I witnessed, and at times I participated in,
grown men, many of whom are accomplished musicians, professors and writers,
be so overcome by something they heard in the music that they had an uncontrollable
and involuntary urge to laugh, squeal, gasp, or contort their faces or
even their entire bodies. There were quite a few of these moments, caused
by numerous musicians, and I¼¾¼Ùm sure there's going to be some things
I've missed, but here are some notable offenders:
Bill Charlap, who played the first three nights in the house rhythm section,
was able to elicit many reactions, especially from a certain Canadian
pianist I know. Charlap's playing was tasty, understated, classy, and
any other adjective in that vein that comes to mind. He doesn't have any
flash, it's all chicken and no fluff. There were many times when in the
middle of a phrase something would pop into his head that was not only
new and interesting to hear, but would demonstrate his complete control
of the keyboard. His playing is filled with nuance, so one really has
to pay attention to pick it up - and I'm sure I missed a lot of that nuance
- but he was able to play music at such a high level and with such freshness
that it forced some people to react.
Atsuko Hashimoto is a tiny Japanese woman who brings the Hammond B3 organ
to life. She opened up Friday night's concert in a 25 minute set or so
with drummer Jeff Hamilton and tenor saxophonist Red Holloway. Hamilton
told me before the festival that their set was going to be a swingin'
affair and that he was looking forward to introducing Hashimoto to the
Moscow audience. It was more than a swingin' affair and good time - it
provoked one of the strongest physical responses to music I've ever had.
Hashimoto was featured on "The Good Life" and as she built her
solo everyone at my table was moaning, groaning, shouting, and twisting
in reaction to her playing. It was unbelievable. Her playing was nasty,
dirty and soulful. After the solo's climax I felt as I had been baptized
and saved. I could go on with the hyperbole, but for your sake I won't.
When she was done she received an instant standing ovation, which is rare
at this festival, and there was much rejoicing. One person shouted: "that
was some testifying." Another asked: "does anyone else need
a cigarette?" Yep, that good.
Hank Jones not only amazed folks, but he did it to himself. Just seeing
Jones in person and realizing that not only has he been around since the
mid '40s and has worked with just about everyone, but that his two youngest
brothers (drummer Elvin and trumpeter Thad-both deceased) are legends
in their own right, is hard to comprehend. Friday night he played a couple
solo piano tunes and also two-piano duets with Gerald Clayton and Taylor
Eigsti, but it were the solo pieces that stood out. As he finished each
one up he kind of laughed at himself, half surprised, as if he had stumbled
accidentally upon the meaning of life, realized it was ridiculously simple,
and then was content to let it go. It was amazing to see someone near
90 years old with his experiences still be able to surprise himself with
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2. Mining for Gold in Monterey
The 50th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival, Sept. 21-23, 2007
Attending the annual Monterey Jazz Festival is much like ordering in an
upscale classy Chinese restaurant. So many choices, so many venues, and
so little time to cover all your bases. (Let's see -- 1 from column A,
two from column B, and hold the Smooth Jazz...).
Having attended several prior Monterey Jazz Festivals, and often being
somewhat disappointed in the caliber of the lineup offered, I had mixed
emotions in planning to attend the 50th annual Monterey Jazz Festival
this year. I knew I needed to attend as this was the festival's Golden
Anniversary, and surely any red-blooded jazz fanatic had to be there.
When it was announced that for the first time in the festival's existence,
that they had sold out all the grounds admission passes, I had fears of
a cattle stampede in fighting the crowds to get from one venue to the
next. In past years, the Garden Stage, an intimate outdoor stage setting,
was packed to the gills with not a square inch of space available to anyone
arriving less than 15 minutes before the announced act was to begin.
Well, I can't say that this year was much different, as witnessed by my
one visit to this venue to catch a bit of the Benny Barth Trio. Every
seat and grass spot was taken, but the opportunity to see Buddy Montgomery,
the last remaining Montgomery brother, was too hard to pass up. Although
Buddy looked tired and a bit weak, who could pass up the chance to see
the late Wes Montgomery's brother still lifting the mallets.
Such was the case-and strength of this year's festival, the chance to
see many of the last remaining Jazz Masters - some who had played Monterey
in its infant years, when it was just the beginning dream of the founders
Jimmy Lyons and Ralph J. Gleason. The present festival director, Tim Jackson,
should be commended for honoring its past roots and still keeping newer
jazz fans happy with current artists like Diana Krall and Isaac Delgado.
Whereas the crowd dug the looks and moderate swing of Ms.Krall, we were
also rewarded with the film showing of the festival's 10th anniversary
concert footage by co-founder Gleason's son, Toby. Those that were in
the Jazz Theatre on Sunday afternoon got to see and relish a bit of Carmen
McRae's 10th anniversary concert. Now here was a true jazz singer, caressing
each word, taking the time and space to emote the lyrics¼¾¼Ù passion and
power. Ms. Carmen reacted with glee on stage that night when Dizzy Gillespie
sneaked up behind her blowing soulfully on his upturned trumpet. Those
were the days of true jazz royalty.
Well, this year's Monterey Jazz Festival brought us back to those golden
years with several pivotal and magical moments. Some of those highlights
I include here in chronological order:
The Jim Hall and Geoff Keezer duo with Master Hall ringing out clear notes
on the guitar, being comped admirably by the young veteran Keezer on piano.
Their set was highlighted by All the Things You Are, and Milt Jackson's,
A Merry Chase. Preceeding their set on Friday night in the indoor Bill
Berry stage was Gerald Wilson's son, Anthony, with his wonderful nonet.
Their set was moody, atmospheric, and ethereal, ranging from the sublime
to the funky. Especially memorable was a seamless blend of Miles Davis'
In Silent Way segueing into Joe Zawinul's, Walk Tall, made famous by Cannonball
Adderley's band. Strong solos were provided by Anthony's guitar and Gilbert
Castellanos on trumpet. Terence Blanchard's quintet also had a moving
set in the same venue on Friday night. They previewed much of Blanchard's
new album, a Hurricane Katrina tribute. His band's power and emotion playing
this music was brought out in a repeat performance on Saturday night,
in the outdoor Jimmy Lyons stage, when they were backed by the Monterey
Jazz Festival Chamber Orchestra performing A Tale of God's Will - A Requiem
for Katrina. Blanchard performed much of the soundtrack for last year's
Spike Lee HBO documentary on Katrina, and some of the footage was shown
on the video monitors, while Blanchard's group played with obvious emotion
on their Katrina tribute. Terence shared with the festival crowd the wrenching
emotion he felt when he accompanied his mother back into their devastated
New Orleans home, when they were allowed back into their neighborhood.
He broke off a trumpet tribute to his mother, mid-note late in the composition
when he was overcome with these memories.
Saturday night's absolute highlight for me was the appearance of the Gerald
Wilson Orchestra, with guest star, guitarist Kenny Burrell. Wilson, now
near age 90, was commissioned for Monterey's 50th anniversary to write
a new tribute to the Festival, Monterey Moods. This extended composition,
recently reviewed here by John Henry, has just been released on Mack Avenue
Records. Gerald reminded the audience that he has also played during every
decade of the 50 years of the Festival's existence. His big band is whip-tight,
and swings like crazy. He was proud to announce that the least experienced
band member in his Orchestra has been with him for 17 years while the
most experienced, the ageless baritone saxist, Jack Nimitz, tops the longevity
scale at a whopping 45 years. Wilson's Orchestra largely enticed me to
Monterey this year, and they did not disappoint.
The same can be said for Sunday night's headliners, the Dave Brubeck Quartet,
with special guest, Jim Hall; and the festival's closer, Sonny Rollins,
and his sextet. Brubeck appeared frail until he set on the piano stool,
and then his 50 plus years of excellence was soon on display culminating
with his perennial favorite, Take Five, which surely must be the most
recognized jazz composition on Earth. If only the jazz gods had brought
back Paul Desmond, for one more night on stage... (Bobby Militello on
alto substituted admirably.) Sonny Rollins closed out the Festival with
a passionate set. Prowling like a tiger on the stage, and never taking
a seat, Sonny, poured out his heart on both calypso and burning post-bop
classics. Normally stoic, Sonny, reminded the crowd, who responded with
both rapt attention and thunderous applause, that he'd be back in the
next 50 years in Monterey. Don't doubt it... I'd be remiss if I did not
mention some other brilliant performances at MJF 50. Those would include
Ornette Coleman, resplendent in a royal blue suit, playing in a three-bass
quintet. Ornette pulled out all the stops, mixing straight blues, with
the avant/out playing for which he is so famous/infamous. His closer,
Lonely Woman, brought down the house.
I snuck into Kenny Barron's set in Dizzy's Den on Sunday night to catch
Barron playing three Billy Strayhorn ballads and his closing composition,
titled Calypso. Those 20 minutes were magical and evidence that some of
the best music every year at Monterey is provided on the smaller stages.
I'd like to close with what was my favorite set of the whole festival
- and evidence of the thrills Monterey can provide. That rapture was provided
by a new Hammond B-3 star in the making, Atsuko Hashimoto. Several years
ago in Monterey I was blessed to see Rhoda Scott on the Hammond, sharing
the stage with the incomparable tenor sax player, Houston Person. This
year, I returned to the Bill Berry stage on Sunday night to see Person
again. This time he was accompanied by Jeff Hamilton on drums. Hamilton,
who besides being a consummate big band drummer, showed me that he is
also a master stick man in a Hammond B-3 setting.
Hamilton introduced Ms. Hashimoto, and the diminutive, demure young Japanese
sweetheart knocked the socks off an adoring audience, pulling out all
the stops on gritty soul with tension and release and blues runs galore.
We all went nuts and veterans Person and Hamilton, who have seen all in
their storied careers were grinning and shaking their heads in admiration
in amazement as Atsuko tore up Sunny, Blue Moon, Don't Get Around Much
Anymore, and Send Me Someone to Love, to name just a few. Person's masterful
solos, and Hamilton's cymbal and brushwork were the icing on the cake.
Look for a new CD by these three sometime early in 2008.
Discovering a new star in Monterey, such as Atsuko Hashimoto, is the reason
why many of us show up to fight the crowds each year at this festival.
You can say you were there both when the magic began, and also when the
flames were rekindled. Long may the Monterey Jazz Festival provide these
magical moments!! -Jeff Krow
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3. Monterey Jazz Fest Retains Its Magic for 50 Years
The Monterey Jazz Festival has always been about much more than music.
Since its inception, the festival has effectively balanced presentations
by premier performers and stylish staging of fine, commercial and even
wearable arts. It has annually offered intellectually stimulating conversations
by such distinguished jazz journalists as festival co-founder Ralph Gleason
at the beginning and Orrin Keepnews this year who sat on a panel with
Gleason's son Toby and others sharing anecdotal tales.
Fabled satirist Mort Sahl returned this year as the sociopolitical commentator
keeping people on their topical toes. And, most importantly, new and returning
fans from all over the world came to once again enjoy socially sensitive
and significant exchanges.
As identified in Gerald Wilson's 2007 commissioned composition "Monterey
Moods," there's a certain ambiance that draws people to the festival year
after year. If one comes once, one comes again. Always.
Souls connect at Monterey, passionately painting vastly diverse people
with the universal brush of the common language of jazz. Everyone finds
solace and excitement in the music of Monterey because jazz dismantles
Even rain drenching fans for the first time Friday night and second time
Saturday didn't dampen the magic of Monterey's golden moments.
It didn't seem possible that the festival's golden outing could musically
surpass its awesomely magnificent 49th celebration. And it didn't.
There was the mysteriously unanswered question of why queen of musical
mediocrity Diana Krall was the only female main-stage soloist instead
of quality queens and genuine divas DeeDee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves,
Nnenna Freelon, Lizz Wright, Ernestine Anderson or Angelique Kidjo.
Many wondered about the choice of Los Lobos and Brit James Hunter for
the arena's blues show. Were B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Etta James, Keb' Mo',
Shemeika Copeland, Charlie Musselwhite, Dr. John, the Blind Boys of Alabama,
Rod Piazza or Mavis Staples not available?
"Saturday afternoon in the arena celebrated White people playing the blues
without cultural context and giving us the blues," charged longtime Monterey
fan Moody Law. "There was nothing phenomenal musically about the blues
set. It was disappointing."
There were, however, hundreds of other reasons the 50th annual Monterey
Jazz Festival, presented by Verizon, achieved even more historical meaning
than it already possessed as the world's oldest continuously running jazz
festival and one of the best on the planet.
Topping this year's list of great performers were terribly talented trumpeter
Terence Blanchard, octogenarian genius Gerald Wilson, rollickingly rhythmic
and sizzling saxophonist Sonny Rollins and peerless pianists Dave Brubeck,
Benny Green and Kenny Barron.
While we're noting exhilarating entertainers, add the wickedly surprising
hot licks by organist Atsuko Hashimoto. She defied the cultural divide
and, with titillating tenor Houston Person and damn-good drummer Jeff
Hamilton, slam dunked the Hammond B-3 organ blowout and tipped fans' feelings
toward her and focused less on organ king Joey DeFrancesco.
One must mention and memorably retain Nnenna Freelon's melodically dramatic
vocals which enhanced the perfect MJF 50th Anniversary All-Stars set featuring
Blanchard, Green as music director, sax legend James Moody and rhythm
timekeepers Kenrick Scott on drums and Derrick Hodge on bass.
While the all-star Saturday night set was delicately delicious and Wilson's
"Monterey Moods" moving and tasty, the Honeydripper All-Stars served garden
stagers a heaping helping of down-home blues that afternoon.
The happening set was too crowded for people to have much room to dance,
but that didn't stop hip shakers, arm wavers and seat scooters burned
by the musical heat of Howlin' Wolf saxman Eddie Shaw, slamming pianist
Henderson Huggins, honking harpist Arthur Williams, great guitarist Gary
Clark Jr., dynamite drummer Lester Jordan, throw-down bass player Lafayette
Gilbert and vocalist Mable John (sister of the late great Little Willie
The music all over the Monterey County fairgrounds was mostly good. How
good was a matter of individual talent and taste.
However, tireless Terence was unequivocally the festival's MVP.
The New Orleans trumpeter took his artist-in-residence role more seriously
than anyone else in past years. He was busy all year - assisting teens
competing for performance slots, mentoring them musically and headlining
Patrons at the fall festival were repeatedly treated to Blanchard. He
conducted the emotionally evocative and super-sensitive "A Tale of God's
Will: A Requiem for Katrina" with the MJF Chamber Orchestra, rehearsed
and played with the next General Jazz Orchestra of talented teens and
led his own quintet in a tight, intimate set on the nightclub's Bill Berry
Amazingly, his lips and high-note skills were still intact Sunday night
when he occupied center stage in the arena and Dizzy's Den with equally
off-the-hook incredible cohorts in the MJF 50th Anniversary All-Stars.
Hands grew sore applauding Blanchard's pristine performances.
Wilson, Brubeck, Rollins, singer Ernestine Anderson, guitarists Kenny
Burrell and Jim Hall and bassist Dave Holland are master musicians who,
like fine wine, only become better with time. In the jazz spotlight for
decades each, they still make people sigh, squirm and shout.
Los Angeles County High School for the Arts students sweeping MJF's jazz
band, choir and combo top honors, Honeydrippers' 22-year-old guitar sensation
Gary Clark Jr., trumpeter Chrsitian Scott, Clifford Brown-Stan Getz Fellows
and Berklee-Monterey Quartet guitarist Jeff Miles, pianist Mika Nishimura,
drummer Ryo Shibata and bassist Katie Thiroux assure the future of jazz
musicians. it's a sure thing their stars will rise higher as they mature
and merit more attention.
Using the enthusiasm of toddlers Nora Jones, Richard Barrett-Wood, Robert
Wood and Tye Sutherland, preschooler Tricha Daubert-Dequit and adolescent
Solenne Besson as the measuring stick, there will be no future fan shortage.
These children quickly adapted to the Brazilian jazz rhythms so ably taught
by master percussionist Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro, a cultural treasure
whose legendary career was launched at age 14 when he appeared in the
classic film "Black Orpheus."
With only 30 minutes of instruction, the tiny musical revelers strutted
around the festival grounds, joyously mimicking Carlinhos' beats and melodies.
"He's planting seeds that will be musically harvested in a few years,"
claimed KUSP-FM's Latin jazz disc jockey Brett Taylor, smiling.
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4. LIONEL HAMPTON INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL: Playing
Jazz organist lights up the stage Friday night
Atsuko Hashimoto's mentor taught her to "always play music with spirit."
Hashimoto played with enough spirit at Friday's Lionel Hampton International
Jazz Festival concert to draw the first standing ovation of the evening.
She grinned and bopped to the music as her Hammond B3 organ solo drew
wild cheers from the crowd at the University of Idaho Kibbie Dome.
Friday's "Masters and Mentors"-themed concert featured new and familiar
performers working together. Hashimoto was an immediate crowd favorite
when she opened the show along with Red Holloway on tenor sax and festival-staple
Jeff Hamilton on drums.
Alyssa Dunn and Rory Hislop, students at Elgin Park Secondary School in
Vancouver, B.C., said Hashimoto was their favorite act.
"The organ solo was insane," said Dunn, a tenor sax player.
Dunn and Hislop said they've been inspired and excited by the festival
"To see everyone perform, they're all so happy," Dunn said.
Hashimoto, a native of Osaka, Japan, was inspired to play the organ at
age 4 after watching a performance in her kindergarten class.
"I loved the sound of the organ," she said through her translator, Kimiko
Miyazana. "I just fell in love with it and started playing."
Hashimoto began playing piano and organ professionally at 20. She released
her first CD, "Introducing Atsuko Hashimoto," in 2000. Just last weekend,
she released her second album, "Time after Time," a collaboration with
The wide-open spaces of the Palouse and the size and energy of the festival
impressed Hashimoto, who had never been to Moscow. She has played with
Hamilton for several years, but only listened to many of the other performers
"To meet (Holloway) in person and to play together, the impact is quite
different," she said.
Hashimoto said she wishes she'd had a festival like UI's when she was
a young musician. "Living in Japan, I really haven't had that opportunity
to meet this many familiar artists," she said.
"I think anyone who is following jazz in the U.S. is very lucky."
Jon Hendricks is one of those familiar artists. The 86-year-old has been
singing jazz for 79 years.
He closed Friday's show with his daughter, Aria Hendricks, and young singer
"When I was born, jazz was all there was," Hendricks said. "That was the
hippest and the only creative music America was producing, and everything
else came from that."
Hendricks knew he wanted to be a jazz singer at a young age, but has explored
other creative pursuits as well. He writes poetry, was a jazz critic and
has spent years studying Sir Francis Bacon, who he believes is the true
author of Shakespeare's plays.
"I was always interested in everything," he said. "If it happens on this
planet, it's within my purview."
Hendricks raised his children on jazz, and has performed with Aria for
"We have five children, and at the age of 6 we pushed them all onstage,"
he said. "We were determined we weren't going to have any doctors or lawyers
in the house."
Aria joined Hendricks' performance as a last-minute addition. Hendricks
has performed at the festival three times, but this was Aria's first visit.
After listening to three vocal clinics, she said she "can see clearly
the advantage that the newer people have hearing people like dad and (veteran
piano player) Hank Jones to influence them, because they're amazing."
Aria said the high caliber of young performers at the festival shows the
work music educators have done over the years.
Hendricks said keeping the festival focused on young people's musical
education is "a master stroke."
"(The festival) is becoming a teaching experience for young artists and
a mentoring experience for we older artists, which is a wonderful thing
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5. 50th Monterey Jazz Fest Sells Out
Stars From First Event Along With Other Greats Play
Concert Review by: Larry Taylor
Jazz Photo Sept. 21 through Sept. 23 - A new record was set for the 50th
Monterey Jazz Festival with 45,000 tickets sold for the three days - all
this in spite of rain which came midway Friday evening.
The brief showers didn't dampen spirits here. Those wanting shelter came
into one the several inside venues, including the large Jazz Theater where
the concert was televised, joining those who didn't have tickets for the
outside Jimmy Lyons Stage.
On the stellar program were stars who participated in the first-ever festival
in 1958. As well, there were groups and players who had appeared many
times before during the five decades, plus outstanding newcomers.
All together it was a banquet for fans, leading to a tendency to gorge,
with so many acts appearing in the six locations scattered throughout
the fairgrounds. For example: Who to see Terrence Blanchard or Dave Holland
or Cyrus Chestnut with their groups, all playing at 8 p.m., Saturday?
Fortunately, most performers, besides appearing on the large Lyons Stage,
also played at one of the smaller inside halls during the three days.
Special anniversary items on the program included legendary band leader/composer
Gerald Wilson's commissioned piece, "Monterey Moods." Saturday
night. Wilson has also written special pieces for the 20th and 40th anniversaries.
Another notable orchestral composition played was Terrence Blanchard's
recently completed, touching and powerful, "A Tale of God's Will
(Requiem for Katrina)," with his quintet backed by a chamber orchestra.
To mark its 50 years, the festival brought back a handful of the players
who were here in '58--Sonny Rollins, Ernestine Anderson, Jim Hall, and
Dave Brubeck, along with Ornette Coleman who appeared in '59. Now all
in their mid seventies and eighties, the artists showed that they have
retained their drive and skill after five decades. All performed impressive
Of particular interest was Coleman¼¾¼Ùs turn. Over 50 years have passed
since he introduced his controversial free-form type of jazz to the world,
this year he received a Pulitzer. His innovations now are now recognized
officially. Still a few still walked out Saturday afternoon, finding his
unique sound hard to take. But most stayed and gave him a rousing ovation
at the finish. His current group is now made up of three bassists, two
upright and an electric, along with a drummer, his son Denardo. The muscular
massed bass sound formed a solid foundation on which he built his creative
Returning first-timer Rollins' rousing set with his sextet closed the
festival with one of his inevitable calypso-based tunes that had the audience
up, dancing and shouting. Ernestine Anderson, on the occasion of her return
after 50 years, now has to sit while singing. She still showed, however,
that she had her blues chops, drawing a lot of "yahs" from unseated
Also on the final evening Dave Brubeck (pictured above) with his quartet
teamed up with Jim Hall to give a thoroughly satisfying set. What the
two legends may have lacked in their bravado of old, they more than made
up for in their taste and finesse. Again, the capacity crowd cheered long
Another nod to the beginning was the appearance of comedian Mort Sahl.
He was emcee for the first event. In the '50s Sahl made his hip reputation
as the opening act for numerous jazz bills, particularly Brubeck and Kenton,
making close friends with many West Coast musicians.
On Saturday afternoon, he was guest at a question-and-answer session,
recounting the old days with hilarious anecdotes about his jazz friends
- like the time Paul Desmond left his sax in the trunk of Mort's car who
was on hiss way from L.A. for Santa Barbara. Sahl hilariously recounted
Paul's furtive efforts to get it back in time for that night's gig.
A popular feature of all the festivals has been the blues afternoon. This
year patrons wiped the rain off their seats in the outside stage, and
joyously welcomed the Honeydripper All Stars, singer James Hunter and
the Otis Taylor Band.
Sunday afternoon traditionally is dedicated to young musicians, with award-winning
student bands performing on the Lyons Stage and throughout the grounds.
In fact, overall the festival is dedicated to awarding student scholarships
from festival proceeds, and a great many listeners look forward to hearing
the talented young upcoming stars. This year's MJF artist-in-residence
was Terrence Blanchard who oversaw the concerts and played with winning
The star billing of vocalist Diane Krall Saturday surely helped set the
record this year. She was greeted with whistles by the audience. Smiling,
she said this was very encouraging because she just recently gave birth
to twins. She played for well over an hour, leaving the audience wanting
more. It becomes apparent as she improves over the years that the fact
that she is an excellent pianist contributes to her skill as a true jazz
singer. She knows the music inside out, making for her flawless phrasing
Here are a few of the other numerous highlights:
* The Dave Holland Quartet. These innovative players raised the bar with
their music - bassist Dave Holland the hub around which dynamic tenor
player Chris Potter and Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rublacaba revolved, with
drummer Eric Harland driving the engine.
* Terrence Blanchard Quintet. In addition to leading his stellar orchestral
piece, he and his group put on an impressive show in on the Bill Barry
Stage Friday Night. "Raising the roof" is an apt cliche here
as Blanchard strolled from player to player his trumpet urging them on¼¾¼Ôthe
interplay truly exciting.
*Jazz Gallery pianists. Each evening in the intimate Gallery outstanding
piano players played sets the entire evening. We took in Cyrus Chestnut,
who dug down to his soulful gospel roots, while swinging with the fervor
of an Oscar Peterson or Art Tatum. On Sunday, we heard Jackie Terrason
whose percussive explorations were cutting-edge, while the lyricism of
his ballads soft and subtle.
* Atsuko Hashimoto on the Hammond B3 organ. This delightful young organist
from Japan and her cohorts, Jeff Hamilton, drums, and Houston Person,
tenor sax, displayed the true essence of jazz, the oft quoted "sound
of surprise," in their three-way musical conversations - one playing
a riff; the other picking it up and answering back - and then some. After
"Shiny Stockings," one walked out exhilarated knowing what made
jazz so great.
And there are always serendipitous moments - dropping by a stage, not
knowing whose playing and then being delighted. For instance, we looked
in on the Gallery and were stopped short by Smith Dobson, a new voice
on vibes, with his group. We sat and were swept into a lush rhythm of
a bossa nova. Another time, music coming from the Garden Stage sounded
like guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli together
again. We hurried and caught the end of the set. It was the Hot Club of
San Francisco - an incarnation of the Hot Club of France from over 50
Always, one of the great pleasures is strolling the fairgrounds, looking
over all the eclectic merchandise on display and checking out the mouth-watering
food. We decided years ago not to leave the fairgrounds for dinner with
such delicious items on hand - barbecued ribs and turkey legs, in addition
to Korean, Thai,Cajun specialties and so on. First day, we had Caribbean
grilled salmon with plantains, spinach and rice; next afternoon, a large
turkey leg with corn-on-the-cob. Stoking up for the music to come, of
go to top
6. Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival (Part
Date(s): February 19, 2008 - February 23, 2008
Written By: Doug Ramsey
The Hampton festival's insistence on variety and short sets can be a source
of frustration to musicians who often fly thousands of miles and play
only briefly. That was definitely not a problem for the house rhythm section,
which worked constantly. But Curtis Fuller played "Caravan"
with the rhythm section, jammed on a blues with fellow trombonists Ismael
Cuevas and Ryan Porter, and was through. For at least one Fuller admirer,
that was far too limited an appearance by one of the greatest trombone
soloists of the past 50 years.
The musicians of the Open World Russian Jazz Stars have years of intensive
classical training but are at the point where, as their translator put
it, they are "tending toward jazz." In a workshop, they did
more than tend toward it. They played fully realized renditions of Sonny
Rollins' "Strode Road" and Miles Davis' "Solar" with
a pronounced postbop vocabulary and fine swing. I arrived too late to
hear their entire hour, but those pieces were first rate. Seventeen-year-old
Darya Chernakova, a pianist from the age of 3, switched to bass two years
ago. How she developed so much technique on the instrument in so short
a time may remain a Russian secret. She and tenor saxophonist Roman Sokolov
were solid and inexhaustible in after-hours sessions.
Hammond B3 organist Atsuko Hashimoto and drummer Jeff Hamilton backed
the venerable tenor saxophonist Red Holloway. Holloway's patented choruses
had some members of the audience singing along. Hashimoto and Hamilton
developed a tidal wave of swing in their tag ending to "It's the
Good Life," leading Holloway to ask, "How do you follow that?"
He answered with "Shiny Stockings" and the suggestive "Locksmith
Blues," recruiting the audience in a call and response routine.
As a result of the lateness of the main stage concerts, a new facet of
the festival, Hamp¼¾¼Ùs Club, took a hit. The bandstand near the main
stage was designed to give student competition winners the opportunity
to jam in public following the concerts. At 1:00 a.m., the kids had to
decide whether to play or go back to their rooms and rest for the next
morning¼¾¼Ùs competitions. Veteran band director Clarence Acox of Seattle¼¾¼Ùs
Garfield High School was irate about the delays. "It's outrageous,"
he told me. "The winners end up losing."
For the finale, festival officials reduced the program inflation that
bloated previous nights. The final Hampton Festival concert was sleek
and full of excitement provided by two big bands. The ad hoc performance
hall in a field house the size of a dirigible hangar was outfitted with
dance floors on either side. Throughout the evening, members of the hip-hop
generation crowded the floors, grooving to music with roots in the swing
era. The Lionel Hampton band and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra performed
separately and together. The Hamptonians included members closely associated
with Hampton before his death in 2002, among them the impressive young
trombonist Clarence Banks, vibraharpist Chuck Redd and the entertaining
drummer Wally 'Gator' Watson. In addition to its instrumentals, the band
backed pianist and singer Dee Daniels in two soul-inflected vocals and
Jon Hendricks scatting that most basic of Hampton jump tunes, "Hey
Bob a Rebop."
John Clayton, his alto saxophonist brother Jeff and Jeff Hamilton unleashed
their explosive big band in a set alive with deep swing and superb solo
work. Charles Owens and Ricky Woodard had a testosteronic tenor battle
on "Jazz Party." 89-year-old Snooky Young riveted the audience
- and his fellow band members - with his plunger trumpet solo on "I
Be Serious 'Bout Dem Blues", which also had exciting choruses by
Jeff Clayton, Woodard, veteran trombonist George Bohanon and the 21-year-old
guitar discovery Graham Dechter. John Clayton dedicated "Squatty
Roo" to the late bassist Ray Brown, who for years was a mainstay
of the Hampton festival. Trumpeters Clay Jenkins and Gilbert Castellanos
were impressive and distinctively different from one another on that classic
Johnny Hodges "I Got Rhythm" variant. The piece incorporated
a passage of quiet intensity from the rhythm section of Hamilton, pianist
Tamir Hendelman and bassist Christoph Luty, who in their other life are
the Jeff Hamilton Trio. Singer Kevin Mahogany was at the top of his bass-baritone
game sitting in for "Route 66" and "One for My Baby".
The graceful choreography of John Clayton's conducting added visual interest.
Following intermission and the introduction of outstanding student soloists
from the Hampton Festival's extensive educational activities, the big
bands together played two of the arrangements from First Time!, the 1961
recording by the Count Basie and Duke Elllington bands. Ellington's and
Billy Strayhorn's "Battle Royal" (those "Rhythm" changes
again) was highlighted by a good-natured, often hilarious, drum competition
between Watson and Hamilton. In the gorgeous Thad Jones ballad "To
You", George Bohanon soloed movingly in the trombone spot filled
by Quentin "Butter" Jackson on the Ellington-Basie recording.
Redd, on Lionel Hampton's vibes, led the way into "Flyin' Home",
32 men swinging hard on Hamp's theme song. As they eased into "What
a Wonderful World" and backed the recorded voice of Hampton singing,
the big screens in the hall showed a montage of photos of this year's
festival performers in action. Then the bands segued into "Happy
Birthday" in honor of Hampton's 100th and the crowd of 5,000 joined
in. In a spectacular wrap-up, the montage dissolved into video and still
photographs of Hampton through the years, as confetti and streamers wafted
down onto the crowd, sparkling in the lights that swept the auditorium.
As for the reason Lionel Hampton involved himself with the festival in
the first place, after the festival University of Idaho Provost Doug Baker
summed up the significance of the educational component. "The clinics
and competitions are the major part of the festival for the students",
he said. "It is inspiring to see them grow during the week and to
see the joy of the musicians teaching them."
There was no plainer manifestation of that joy than what I witnessed in
a workshop the first day of the festival. It was called "Hands On! Vocal
Fun Shop," populated by twenty or so thirteen-year-olds. What made it
fun was vocalist and teacher Madeline Eastman, who in slightly more than
an hour had the kids keeping proper time, counting, syncopating, scatting,
yodeling and laughing. No one had more fun than Eastman, as she brought
out the shy boys and girls while reining in the wise guys, showoffs and
hyperactives. After one young man had sung well, then strutted around
like a touchdown king in the end zone, she cautioned him, "Hey, no boasting.
Be cool." He became cool - for a minute or two. The workshop kids learned
something about singing. More important, they learned about cooperation,
listening and mutual support in the act of creating music together.
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