Sunday, July 3, 2011
Grading the 2011-12 Folly Theater Season
Aside from a handful of weirdos like me, who would want to see both The Yellowjackets and Peter Nero? That was my first reaction when I read Joe Klopus' preview of the Folly Theater's 2011-12 season. As I analyzed the seven selections, however, I realized they weren't entirely dissimilar. Excepting the Vanguard Orchestra, each act has a florid musicality in common.
Expect to hear a lot a notes this season.
What concertgoers won't hear is innovative modern jazz. Disappointing turnout for serious music has understandably resulted in a less artistically adventurous new season. Trading Joe Lovano for the Yellowjackets and The Bad Plus for Peter Nero is a bitter pill to swallow.
The Yellowjackets- October 1
Anyone expecting snark from me about the "relaxing" music of The Yellowjackets is going to have to hold their breathe. The jazz fusion ensemble is very good at what it does.
Peter Nero- November 5
With all due respect, I hadn't realized that Peter Nero was still alive. Not only is he alive, Nero, 77, leads a Pops orchestra in Philadelphia. Given my weakness for pianists like Erroll Garner and Vince Guaraldi, it's no surprise that I'm actually looking forward to hearing Nero perform his hit "Summer of '42".
Mark O'Connor's American String Celebration- December 17
Genre-hopping violinist Mark O'Connor's concert was the best-attended event of the 2009-10 season, so it's no surprise to see his name listed here again.
Nnenna Freelon- January 14
I didn't "get" Dee Dee Bridgewater until I saw her perform in the Jammin' at the Gem series in 2007. While I was familiar with her recordings, it took seeing Bridgewater in person to connect to the vocalist's unique sensibility. I'm hoping to experience the same type of musical epiphany with Nnenna Freelon in January.
Grace Kelly Quintet with Phil Woods- February 4
Grace Kelly's 2009 performance at the Blue Room was a mixed bag. While I was impressed with with the teen's technical mastery, she didn't exactly have me sitting on the edge of my seat. (Here's my review.) The presence of Phil Woods- one of Charlie Parker's greatest disciples- and the hope that Kelly has become a less rigid stylist, make this an interesting booking.
The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra- March 3
Big bands don't travel much in 2011. That's the primary reason the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra is the Folly season's most compelling booking. The current edition of the ensemble includes Dick Oatts, Terell Stafford, Scott Wendholt, Gary Smulyan and Jim McNeely.
John Pizzarelli- April 14
A popular interpreter of the Great American Songbook, John Pizzarelli has found a nice niche as more tasteful alternative to Michael Buble and Michael Feinstein. This is a safe booking that will please conservative listeners.
I conducted similar exercises for the 2010-11, 2009-10 and 2008-09 seasons.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)