Organist Atsuko Hashimoto

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 full article)

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 children)

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 music.

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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 differences.

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 John).

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 pre-festival concerts.

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 Stage.

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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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 thus far.

"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 Hamilton.

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 on CD.

"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 Sachal Vasandani.

"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 years.

"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 to do."

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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 sets.

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 improvisations.

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 fans.

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 and hard.

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 bands.

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 and timing.

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 years ago.

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 course

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6. Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival (Part 2)

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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