Friday, June 15-Sunday, June 17
It was great to see the 2007 Indy Jazz Fest’s opening night devoted to women in jazz. On Friday, June 15, local representation included performances by Monika Herzig and her tribute band, Hiromi, the Regina Carter Quintet and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, with special guests Nnenna Freelon and Rachel Price. It’s just too bad more people didn’t come out. The crowd was responsive, but Friday crowds are usually smaller, and there were two other concerts taking place that night (Wilco and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra playing Zeppelin).
However, Hiromi played with aggression and grace — sometimes even in the same song.
On Saturday, the African jazz/soul singer Somi’s vocals soared. Piano legend McCoy Tyner cooled things down Saturday evening with his own work, some John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. While Tyner represented the old regime, Dan Tepfer, the recipient of the American Pianists Association’s Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz, continued the energy and legacy of the jazz trio.
One of the festival highlights was seeing the Rev. Al Green. He performed classics (“Let’s Stay Together”), his latest work (“I Can’t Stop”) and gospel (“Amazing Grace”). His tossing of roses to the crowd drove ladies of all ages crazy. But there was one minor nitpick for the Rev: He’s made some of the greatest soul songs ever, so he didn’t need to perform a medley of the Four Tops, the Temptations and Otis Redding just to please a festival crowd.
Nevertheless, British bluesman James Hunter left a favorable impression. His music was based on ’50s blues and R&B — not the bar band guitar grind.
The Indiana music scene was also well-represented all weekend with Herzig, Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel, Frank Smith, the Cool City Swing Band, the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra High School All-Stars and Ori making the city and state proud.
IJF ended Sunday on a somber and beautiful note with a dual performance by Chick Corea and Bela Fleck. They have a new album coming out soon, and it was a joy to hear them trade licks on Corea’s “Song of the Pharaohs” and the subtle new tune “Senorita.”
Note to festival-goers: If you’re making more noise than the music on stage, shut up, please. Notice, I said please. See you next year.