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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Montreux Jazz Festival 2012. Triple Bill July 11.

Fourplay:Bob James - Piano, Nathan East - Bass, Chuck Loeb - Guitar, Harvey Mason - Drums.
(Review by Ron Ainsborough).
I recently checked out Fourplay on Spotify and most of it was classed as 'smooth jazz'! But, when you see them live in a festival situation, forget 'smooth jazz', they played the most exciting 'straight-ahead jazz' as good as you're likely to hear. Tight arrangements, musicianship and improvising were out of this world, and the exchanges between all four 'players' were exceptional. Wonderful improvising constantly going on. In other words, I think they are a 'fantastic band' to see live, playing everything you would want to hear at a Jazz Concert.
I didn't catch the titles of the pieces played, although some of them were quite familiar. A great start, and Herbie Hancock on next!

Prior to Hancock's set, he had had the honour of presenting Tony Bennett with a 'peace award' certificate from an 'Arts organisation' of which Hancock, along with Wayne Shorter, he is joint President. Overlooking proceedings from the side of the stage was non other than the great Quincy Jones who also said a few words.
Herbie Hancock and his band: Herbie Hancock (Piano + Kong Kromos sythesizer + Roland AX synth (strap on keyboard in the shape of a guitar)+ Vocoder (which sounds like Stephen Hawkins (to my ear) when Herbie sings into it, and it can also be set to give multi vocal harmonisations) - Lionel Loueke  (Guitar), James Genus (Electric Bass), Trevor Lawrence Jr (Drums).
It's a long time since I've heard any of Herbie Hancock's music so I didn't know what to expect although I was aware he was into electronics. The musicianship was outstanding but I was mistakenly expecting a fair amout of jazz piano, but most of the set was electronic. Even the guitar sounded like a sythesizer at times and I couldn't differenciate between that and Herbie Hancocks synthesizer. Don't get me wrong! I did enjoy quite a lot of his set, and realise that if I had done some research I'd have been more prepared for the electronic onslaught. He did play one extended piano solo, which was great, but spent most of the set playing his strap on keyboard. Hands up, I know I'm the one out of step with his many ardent fans -their was certainly a lot of them in the audience enthusing over, which I did but to a lesser extent.
On a personal note!. When you take your wife, daughter and son-in-law to jazz concerts (who are on the jazz periphery but at the same time like and enjoy the lighter accessible jazz music, eg Sonny Rollins, Chucho Valdes) on your recommendations and this kind of music is played it can, I might add, make the likelihood of them joining me at the next jazz concert somewhat unlikely. As it turned out, they liked being in the Hall savouring the atmosphere of The Festival.
'Sergio Mendes & Brasil 2012' (yes the same man of Brasil 66 fame).
We only saw the first 30 minutes of this set and left at 1.00am because some of us had work in the morning, but the band and singers were really good, the arrangements were excellent ,with lots of anecdotal stories from Sergio Mendes about Jobim and other composers back home in Brasil. It was an extremely enjoyable concert by people at the top of their game giving impeccable renditions of every song they sang/played. 
The following is meant as a compliment, as it would be fare to say that, 'Sergio Mendes & Brasil 2012'  -''it does what it says on the tin'', they were so professional,and obviously The Girl From Ipanema was sung together with lots of other delightful music. First class band! well worth seeing any time.
I also had the good fortune to go on a 'Brazil Music Jazz Boat' (Sat. 7th July,afternoon) sailing around the lake for 3 hours, it had two 6 or 7 piece bands actually from Brazil, playing two one and a half hour sets, but unfortunately I was unable to find out what they were called, but the standard of musicianship and singing was brilliant although it is difficult to understand the lyrics when it is all sung in Portuguese, but a fantasticly enjoyable experience  for us all just the same.
The Montreux Jazz Festival is in its 46th year (Herbie Hancock was making his 26th concert this year), and if possible I will certainly try to go again next year. It's  a fantastic experience!
Ron Ainborough 

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