What's Playing? - Sunset concert at Lyndhurst
If you've never been over to Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, which is right off the highway just before you arrive at the Tappan Zee Bridge, you've missed a treat.
Last Thursday evening we were invited to a classy concert of jazz sponsored by Jazz Forum Arts, whose impresario is Mark Morganelli, who is a fine trumpet player, as he proved later in the evening.
This was "classic" jazz, I mean the kind of music that follows a time-honored form, taking a tune, stating the theme and then improvising (and how!) on it. That may not sound like a lot, but when this is in the hands of the amazing players we heard the other evening, it takes on a stunning life. The members of the quartet were Joel Holmes, keyboard, Javon Jackson, tenor sax, Corcoran Holt, standing bass, and on drums, the incredible one --and-only Jimmy Cobb, a superb drummer who has probably played with every other jazz giant in recent memory.
It was a perfect evening, cool, close enough to the Hudson to appreciate the view, and eventually, even moonlit. Close to two hundred people sat on lawn chairs, or on the ground, listening. They played two sets, beginning with some standards, "So What/" and "No Blues," and including "Someday My Prince Will Come," (Snow White remember?) and a memorable interpretation of "My One and Only Love." After a break, Mark Morganelli joined them, with some blazing trumpet riffs, as well as smooth melodic playing.
The second set included "Four," the dulcet "Naima," and "Autumn Leaves," and they closed with "All Blues." (They could have gone on, as far as we were concerned."
Mr. Holmes provided some virtuostic keyboard variations. Javon Jackson plays with a really sweet, cool tone and he and Morganelli had a nice back-and-forth at one point. Watching Corcoran Holt's fingers fly over the bass strings on his solos was fascinating, and often offered a sort of "ground bass" under the music, especially when he picked up his bow. And of course, what can we say about Jimmy Cobb? First of all, he was, as always, the backbone of the music, but his technique and power created unique melody all by itself and went way, way beyond keeping everyone rhythmically honest, so to speak. Jazz drumming is an art all by itself, and he is a master.
We wan to note that all these musicians, have been trained early as classical musican. One attended Peabody Conservatory, another played in the Washington DC Youth Symphony, and so it goes. This form of music doesn't come out of nowhere. It is a studied and polished style, and an evening such as the one we heard was the exciting expression of jazz at its best.
There are many concerts still to be enjoyed over at Lyndhurst this season, and the information is available on line. If you want to know more about the jazz events, Morganelli would be pleased to tell you about them, either at www.jazzforumarts.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's only about thirty minutes from here, but what a beautiful difference.
Going briefly to something really, really different, I heard on Saturday, thanks to WQXR and the Los Angeles Opera, a broadcast of the American premiere of an oper by a laer romantic composer named Franz Schrecker, called "The Stigmastized," ("Die Gezeichtneten." Schrecker was one of many prestigious artists and composers whose works were banned by the Third Reich. Many are only coming to light now. This opera was a tonal work, with music influenced by Richard Strauss and orchestration close to that of Wagner, but with an original vocabulary of its own. The singing was excellent, as I listened, I wish I could have seen the production. The story is set in renaissance Italy, and is a story of virtue, generosity and love set against a sub-lot of politics, seduction and selfishness. It wouldn't be a bad idea for with the Metropolitan or New York City opera companies to bring this piece here. Music like this should be given new life and new audience, even half a century later.