I love jazz. What makes Jazz so wonderful? Performed well, it sounds like one of us and all of us at the same time. It’s the Three Musketeers put to sound, “All for one and one for all” It’s so human and it replicates life! In life, we are sometimes simultaneously cooperative and competitive and jazz is no different. There are rules but sometimes we need to make it up as we go along. In life we call it individuality or thinking outside of the box; in Jazz we call it improvisation. Jazz is the only true art form in the Americas. What is special about jazz? Jazz is swing and blue notes, it has a beautiful symmetry in its complex chords, it has so many rhythmic variations. Man, did Jazz ever come alive last night with the Jon Faddis Quartet! Jon Faddis, trumpet player extraordinaire and band leader brought to the stage Andrew Latona, Todd Coolman and Dion Parson performing at Blues Alley, Thursday and Friday night, October 27 and 28 to one standing ovation after another. Founded in 1965. Blues Alley is the nation's oldest continuing jazz supper club, having showcased internationally renowned concert hall artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Grover Washington Jr., Ramsey Lewis, Charlie Byrd, Maynard Ferguson, Phyllis Hyman and Eva Cassidy in a small intimate setting. Located in the heart of historic Georgetown in an 18th century red brick carriage house, Blues Alley offers its patrons a unique ambiance, reminiscent of the jazz clubs of the 1920's and 30's. Last night’s classic performance continues this tradition. The set began with the first 5 movements from Gillespiana, a suite that Lalo Schifrin wrote for Dizzy Gillespie to be performed with a big band. One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time, Gillespie was such a complex horn player that his contemporaries ended up emulating Miles Davis and Fats Navarro instead, and it was not until Jon Faddis's emergence in the 1970's that Dizzy's style was successfully recreated. Faddis, remember, earned accolades from his close friend and mentor the man himself,“Dizzy” Gillespie, who declared of Faddis, “He's the best ever, including me!” Faddis showed off his unparalleled range and full command by making the impossible, effortless. What makes Gillespiana different is first, Its not bop or jazz, to me, its cool bop and there’s no sax section – there is a trumpet section and Faddis proves triumphant deftly incorporating all those amazing high registers and fast runs, seamless chord changes, flawless phrasing and articulation. Although composed for a big band, nothing was lost in this quartet’s translation. Andrew Latona’s guitar work was nothing short of remarkable, moving deftly through rhythmic changes with speed and grace. Latona born and raised in Maryland niw residing in Brioklyn, NY, studied with the late Paul Wingo and got experience playing at Church, Go Go spots, and Jazz clubs. He attended university at Purchase College where he studied with the late Vic Juris, and met Faddis. Faddis followed with the soothing work, Prelude, and then a surprise--the band turned to “blues” and brought the audience to laughter with a feel good rendition of White Collar Blues featuring droll style vocals hilariously performed by Todd Coolman. On upright bass, Todd Coolman is elegantly creative and flawless. The Grammy award-winning Coolman has performed and/or recorded with a virtual, “who’s who” of jazz artists. This was followed by rousing renditions of Pan Americana and Africana. When the band performed Toccata, drummer Dion Parson showed us what differentiates a truly accomplished jazz drummer. Parson executed an improvisational solo with a rich texture layered approach seldom found in drum solos. Parson is an educator, composer, and a Grammy-award-winning drummer. A native son of the isle of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands of the United States (VI-US), Parson’s musical foundation ranges from classical, reggae, calypso, jazz, African, and pop music. Jazz has been searching for, and is in need of, a new inclusive genre. Parson’s answer Jazzribbean. Jazzribbean is Parson’s unique genre creation exploring the influence of the Diaspora on jazz. With his Twenty First Century Band of virtuoso musicians, Parson is incorporating African, Island and New Orleans rhythms and instrumentation into his jazz improvisations. You can learn about and hear this exciting new music on his weekly radio show, Sounds of the Diaspora, Artist to Artist every Tuesday 7-8 PM EDT, exclusively on The SORC TVRadio Network WTSN (SORC-TVRadio.com) Washington, DC. What a night! If you can catch Jon Faddis don’t miss the chance to hear a jazz legend and by all means, drop by Blues Alley for some of the best in jazz.
REVIEW OF JON FADDIS FEATURING DION PARSON, ANDREW LATONA AND TODD
BLUES ALLEY, WASHINGTON DC OCTOBER 27, 2023