The joyous first cut

2012-08-24 11:19

The thing with latin grooves is that they are infectiously joyous.

This means Eddie Palmieri, the Brazilian jazz pianist, and his band were well placed to open the annual Joy of Jazz this year.

Palmieri and crew formed part of the four-band line-up that initiated this year’s jamboree.

Others included French super-drummer Manu Katche, the much-loved American acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh, and South Africa’s own Sax Summit – a posse of female saxophone players that includes Shannon Mowday, Rosemary Quaye, Tineke Postma, Grace Kelly and Nthabiseng Mokoena.

They took to the stage first.

Their exciting display was followed by Palmieri who bewitched the audience with the salsa leanings of his compositions: a cocktail of complex polyrhythms that first made their way into modern jazz at the hands of legendary Bee-Bop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo.

They made it impossible for music lovers to sit still, courting everybody into a call-and-response pattern of hand claps and hollers.

His trumpeter, Brian Lynch, kept codifying Hugh Masekela’s nobler aspirations, bending and soaring his phrases and notes as if to say, “Hello, I know this is Masekela’s town.” An honour of sorts.

They closed their jam with a surprise visit by Wycliffe Gordon, the award-winning trombonist who will be leading his own band tonight.

It was only natural that Katche’s quartet worked to calm the scene down. He kept crushing and thumping his drum kit like a gracious nerd.

The passionate playing was evidently mitigated by his years of practice and study.

After all, Katche has toured with the best in the world.

Giants like Sting, Peter Gabriel, and many more.

The night was not taken to its logical conclusion by the final act, Klugh: a bit cheesy for the conventional jazz fan.

However, as a crowd pleaser, one can never go wrong with the multiaward-winning king of fusion.

There’s reason to be excited about the weekend of jazz.

» See Percy Mabandu’s selection of must-see gigs at the 13th Standard Bank Joy of Jazz held in Johannesburg.

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