I’m still grinning when I think of all the good music created last weekend (April 17-19) at the 26th Atlanta Jazz Party.
Here’s another leisurely sample, performed by Ben Polcer, trumpet; Allan Vaché, clarinet; Dan Barrett, trombone; John Cocuzzi, piano; Nicki Parrott, string bass; Danny Coots, drums.
It’s the ROYAL GARDEN BLUES. Now, if I could see you, I would catch some of my readers in mid-wince. “God, not that song again! That’s what’s wrong with ‘traditional jazz’!” Even I have been known to think and say, “I wish I could have a moratorium on ROYAL GARDEN,” but this performance reminds me again how little the repertoire has to do with the beauty created:
Although they play the song with the correct conventions, the appropriate gestures, there’s nothing locked-in here. Once those gavottes are accomplished, you can feel the musicians relaxing into a medium-fast twelve bar blues . . . and each one has a beautiful story to tell. Pay particular attention to that rhythm section! And you all know and admire Messrs. Vaché and Barrett, but one of the great lyrical surprises of the AJP was Ben Polcer — who is so much more than just “Ed Polcer’s kid” — an easy, hot player with a fine range who knows the twists and turns but also has a swing feel . . . now and again reminding me of Buck Clayton, and that is high praise.
This performance was only one of more than a hundred at the AJP — and it is by no means the only standout. Next year, the Party will be on April 15, 16, and 17. I hope to be there, and at Table Three. My jazz home away from home for three days.
May your happiness increase!