The boom and bop at Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival
Editor’s note: Occasionally, Harvard Arts Blog writers step off campus to seek out their arts desires in surrounding neighborhoods. Music blogger Patrick Lauppe and vlogger Sheema Golbaba teamed up for this blitz at the Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival in Boston.
This weekend, Boston’s Back Bay boomed and bopped with the beats of the Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival, back in town for its 12th year. After some navigational issues (it wasn’t exactly at Berklee), this blogger spent his Saturday afternoon storming stages to bring you the highlights other than the headliners. Here are a few worth checking out:
The Neo Soul Ensemble All-Stars: “Neo” typically connotes immature and trifling, but neither of these adjectives describes this superb Berklee soul group, each of the three singers of whom could (and did) melt hearts on bare ballads throughout an otherwise energetic set of jazz-rock-soul. The band behind them held the tightest of grooves and built up stadium-worthy swells that made this blogger feel like he was a part of something important. Bassist Gizmo’s album, featuring the rest of the band, drops soon.
The Erena Terakubo Quartet: Fulfilling the promise of this year’s festival theme, Women in Jazz, alto saxophonist Erena Terakubo proved that rapid-fire bebop changes aren’t only the territory of the Dizzes and Birds of the world. She burned through a mid-afternoon set, making sure not to singe the lapels of her bright white pantsuit.
Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic: The sentiment “jazz, hip-hop and R&B all share common roots” is a standard truism of contemporary jazz festivals, but rarely is it encapsulated as perfectly as it was on Saturday by Carrington’s band, the most successful genre-benders of the festival.
Moving from a dark and mysterious rock arrangement of the jazz standard Body and Soul, featuring saxophonist Tia Fuller, to a horn-backed hip-hop shout-out to all the ladies in the house (Carrington’s Sisters on the Rise over her Transformation), and finally to a cloud-parting gospel number Walk with Me, Lord, featuring the vocally and visually transfixing Lizz Wright, Carrington’s band proved that their chops had no time for labels.