Sunday, August 22, 2010

Grading the 2010-11 Gem Theater Season

I'm impressed. Very impressed.

Branford Marsalis Quartet- November 6
Marsalis fatigue is a common ailment among jazz fans. I'm immune, however, and welcome all things Marsalis. Branford Marsalis' energetic quartet is excellent. Here's an example.
Grade: A-

Dave Holland Quartet- January 22
If the American Jazz Museum hoped to impress jazz nerds by booking Dave Holland, well, they succeeded. The British bassist and former Miles Davis sideman is far from a household name, but he's revered in experimental jazz circles. Here's a sample of his high concept. I'm positively giddy.
Grade: A+

Bobby Watson and Horizon- February 4
I'm a little biased. Bobby Watson is Plastic Sax's Person of the Decade. Watson and Horizon thrilled me January 2 at The Blue Room. Here are my notes on that gig. My only reservation about this booking is scale. Only about 125 saw Watson and Horizon that snowy January night. Here's an amusingly dated clip of Watson playing "Spain."
Grade: A

Dianne Reeves- March 25
Which Dianne Reeves will appear at The Gem? Will we see the impeccable jazz vocalist who's released at least one stunning album of standards, the tasteful crossover pop singer or the bluesy shouter seen in this footage? Whatever- it's all good.
Grade: A-

Terence Blanchard- April 16
Since composer and trumpeter Terence Blanchard appeared at the Folly's jazz series in 2009, his reputation as one of the most intelligent men in the music industry has only risen. Here's a music video from 1990, an era in which straight-ahead jazz artists still recorded for major labels and were accorded video budgets.
Grade: B+

Jonathan Butler- May 21
Most every Jammin' at the Gem series has at least one overtly commercial artist. This time around that role is filled by Jonathan Butler. I can't say I'm a fan of his hybrid of gospel and smooth jazz, but as long as his concert fills the theater with paying customers, Butler will have served his purpose.
Grade: B-

I conducted similar exercises for the Gem's 2009-10 and the 2008-09 seasons.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)


Rick in PV said...

Call me a nerd. I'm excited to see Dave Holland and nobody else in this series ... I have to dig out that Dave Holland/Sam Rivers duet LP to prepare ...

Happy In Bag said...

Nerds rule.