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Watch 5 standout performances from Winter Jazzfest

For impromptu musicians across New York, this month’s return to the live stage of Winter Jazzfest may have provided a near-normal period – not to mention more than 100 gigs packed in the… a period of just over a week – for a the scene many people believe. For the audience, there will be a moment to revisit the deep end: going around, from clubs to theaters to makeshift stagesListen to how the creative winds of jazz have changed over the past two years.

That’s not in the card. With the rise of the Omicron variant, organizers have curated the live portion of the festival and instead put together an impressive series of digital broadcasts that pursue current events. 18 years old Mission: Check the multitude of jazz music at the beginning of each calendar year. (There are speculations about a possible summer version of the festival; only one has been announced so far, a Pino Palladino and Blake Mills gigs on July 30.)

In the end, more than 30 groups played at digital events spanning nine nights, including four consecutive “marathons” that approximated the live festival. signature event. Instead of being held at venues across Lower Manhattan, the festival showcases 20-minute recordings that artists have recorded independently at studios and venues across New York – and beyond. .

The marathon sets exposed a false assumption that live winter Jazz competitions tend to encourage: that they all reflect the New York scene. Musicians who didn’t want to go to New York to play have sent in high-quality video from where they are: clarinetist Oran Etkin in São Paulo, pianist Nduduzo Makhathini in Johannesburg, trumpeter Amir ElSaffar at a retreat in Sarasota, Fla.

There are ongoing technical hiccups in the intro and transitions between sets, but the performances themselves are of high quality, as you’d expect. The festival, which puts women and men in bands in roughly equal numbers, also includes a series of three-day panels on gender politics and coalition-building in jazz, under the banner This is a movement. (These Zoom chats are not immediately publicly archived; if they were available, a January 16 conversation about community questions would be particularly rewarding.)

Here are five performance highlights you can still stream from the 2022 Winter Jazz Festival, which ends this weekend.

With her playful and serious tagline “Make Jazz Trill Again,” Melanie Charles has given herself a tough job: to consider jazz, a Negro music genre with a particularly clear history of white exploitation. , is redeemable. So she must first define what the genre means to her – which we know she’s accomplished, from her love affair with Betty Carter’s “Jazz” staple (Ain’t Nothing But Soul),” which she remixed on her latest album, “Y’ all Don’t (Really) Care About Black Women. Her choice of accomplice is also important: her brother, the young promising saxophonist Rogerst Charles; bassist Jonathan Michel, who, like Charles, is Haitian-American in New York; keyboardist Axel Tosca Lagarde; and drummer Savannah Harris Melanie Charles’ music can be heavy on rapid changes in dynamics and volume; it’s like an extension of her background as a beater. rhythm and arranger, and it allowed her to show a lot of ground in 25 minutes of music (shot at HighBreed Music Studio that was lighted by designer Laura Fernandez and dressed in textiles). But the movie ends in a moment when the groove has almost had time to sink in completely: in Charles’ original “The Dilemma,” where she sings on a grateful ’80s soul, “We are.” dimmin ‘our light / But we still shine brightly.”

Innocent. Supper. Concentrate. Change. Impotent. Angel Bat Dawid, the festival’s artist-in-residence, put on an epic, two-hour performance of futuristic gospel and catharsis in a circle with the Cosmic Mythological Ensemble, a large group she regularly convenes in Chicago. Crude and untidy, it has what it takes to be worshipped: ritual and repertoire and a large volume of voices in collective movement. Reconnect with organizations like Sun Ra ArkestraHorace Tapscott’s Union of Musicians of God and Amiri Baraka’s Spirit House Movers, Dawid is reaching for an aesthetic of black creative assemblage that was mostly left on the ground somewhere in the 1970s. She started taping, at the Co-Prosperity location. The Sphere (a welcoming home for it, though not ideal for recording a performance like this), with a slow, spirited procession filled with percussion and vibrating singing. What followed included a series of improvised and loosely choreographed pieces for more than a dozen musicians; readings by Baraka, Robert Farris Thompson and more than 100-year-old reports carrying news of Southern lynchings; and bursting with energetic dance moves.

Not every marathon performance – even some of the successful ones – elevates the energy levels in the recording studio to the point where you can really feel it in your room. Without a live audience at the studio, it’s hard. But saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin didn’t have a hard time. Leading the tough quartet for generations – Zaccai Curtis on piano (upright), Lonnie Plaxico on bass and EJ Strickland on drums – she plays her music recently released tribute to the holy family of jazz, Alice and John Coltrane, drawing on the blues background and overwhelming power of the high-tempo dance “Liberia” and playing a quiet, hip-hop-inspired version of “Syeeda Song Flute”.

On the porch at an artist’s beachside retreat in Sarasota, Amir ElSaffar – a multi-instrumentalist who draws jazz and other experimental methods into conversation with maqam modes of Arabic music – playing the trumpet into a microphone with an echo, facing the bay. He tuned to the long horizon ahead of him, letting his array of analog synths build an increasingly coherent rhythm, and sometimes singing.

The final night of the festival begins with the words of L. Browne mahogany, a poet with musical and triumphant style, who read a poem that proposed “a system of belief with water as its minister,” and called each living being’s body “water of water.” . Following her was Samara Joy, a young vocalist with a custard-like bass that – at different times Sarah Vaughan and Nina Simone both thought of – and a dedication, at least for now, to her Classic cool jazz sounds. The night’s climax was the only one without words, featuring drummer and metronome Makaya McCraven and a group of longtime collaborators – Marquis Hill on trumpet, Matt Gold on guitar and Junius Paul on bass – on word groove his most recent album. On the LP, “Decoding the Message,” the band weaves his way into patterns he pulls from the classic Blue Note Records catalog. At the festival, the group performed their additional repertoire without backbone samples; it was a completely different experience from the recording – a reminder of what we missed on stage, if not really an alternative.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/arts/music/winter-jazzfest.html Watch 5 standout performances from Winter Jazzfest

Fry Electronics Team

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