Jazz at Lincoln Center
Philadelphia: City of Brotherly Jazz
Frederick P. Rose Hall
Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center
Duane Eubanks, Trumpet
Jimmy Heath, Saxophone
Joey DeFrancesco, Hammond B-3 Organ, Piano
Buster Williams, Bass
Albert “Tootie” Heath, Drums
Pat Martino, Guitar
Scott Thompson and Zooey Tidal: Press
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 10, 2006
According to the JALC program notes (Ted Panken), the Philly tradition of soul dates to mid 1950’s, with Jimmy Smith, a pianist for Blue Note. Five to six years later, John Coltrane, says Joey DeFrancesco, was “blues-drenched” and embraced funk, bebop, and soul jazz. Pat Martino is a “guitar icon” of the past 40 years, having worked the Philly circuit with Jimmy Smith, as well as B-3 organists. Jimmy Heath, a tenor and soprano saxophonist, has composed and arranged 130 numbers during the past 50 years. The legendary Heath brothers also included Albert “Tootie” Heath, the youngest, and a drummer, who has now recorded more than 600 records. Tootie was the final drummer for the Modern Jazz Quartet and worked with Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon, and Lester Young. The late Percy Heath was a renowned bassist.
Duane Eubanks has been playing trumpet since age 11 in Philly, now tours internationally and performs as bandleader and sideman. Joey DeFrancesco recorded and collaborated closely with the late Jimmy Smith. Pat Martino grew up in Philly around Coltrane Chubby Checker, and Bobby Darin. Martino still lives in Philly. Buster Williams began playing with Jimmy Heath in 1959 and has played and recorded with Art Blakey, Wynton Marsalis, and McCoy Tyner. (JALC Notes).
The first piece, by Miles Davis, breezy, bouncy, with Jimmy’s long sax riff, spilled over with bebop-plus, before Jimmy Heath passed the lead to Duane Eubanks, with a more contemporary, melodic mood. Pat Martino took off with lightning speed, followed by Joey DeFrancesco’s and then Tootie Heath’s sassy solos. A Lee Morgan piece, CR, included clavé rhythms and a tantalizing theme. Repetitive and fragmented passages echoed through Rose Hall, before DeFrancesco took them to edgy, energized levels, prior to mellowing the mood. Buster Williams was showcased in this Latin-like refrain. These are Soulful Days, by Cal Massey, featured a trio, Martino, Tootie Heath, and DeFrancesco. Martino’s guitar electrified the stage, with organ and drums adding depth and musical texture. It was during this particular performance that I realized the live B-3 organ was a must-hear instrument, when played by the right keyboard artist. The sparks were flying.
A Benny Golson piece, I Remember Clifford, highlighted Duane Eubanks on smooth, soulful trumpet, as the JALC lighting turned from dim spotlight to warm, shining glow and splashes of red. It should be noted that the three new jazz event spaces at Jazz at Lincoln Center have been designed with some of the most interesting lighting in any New York cultural venue. In fact, the architecture and lighting are worth the trip to Columbus Circle, on their own. A guest vocalist appeared, an imposing figure in a formidable hat, and he belted out, Moanin’. But, these jazz pros could not be upstaged, and Eubanks’ trumpet took off, with sharp, shrill, shaking sound. DeFrancesco added a right hand flourish on his Hammond B-3. The vocalist, called TC, closed the set with a Coltrane tune, Mr. PC, full of scat, lively and lyrical.
The post-intermission set began with Gemini, with racing drums and guitar, in contrast to slower, but highly spirited sax. Eubanks had a new take on four notes, seized from the theme, before the featured organ and guitar. Williams had two exceptional bass solos. A Coltrane tune was next, led first by trumpet and then scintillating sax, a mellifluous melody all around. Lee Morgan’s Sidewinder, swinging and swaying, had accented, repetitive notes, and the playful theme was especially effervescent from Martino’s pro performance. Freddy Freeloader, by Miles Davis, brought back the vocalist, and Mona’s Mood, composed by Jimmy Heath for his wife, was rapturous and rich, with rippling notes leaping up and down his saxophone. Gingerbread Boy, also by Jimmy Heath, gave him an extended solo, while also showcasing Martino’s and Eubanks’ rambunctious riffs. This was a piercing and percussive piece.
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