Jazz In July, 2018 Season - New York City Article
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Jazz In July
92nd Street Y (92Y)
1395 Lexington Avenue, (212) 415-5500
Tuesday July 17 through Thursday July 19, and
Tuesday July 24 through Thursday July 26
In the middle of the second half of the opening night of this year’s “Jazz in July” season, guitarist James Chirillo played a largely unaccompanied solo on Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust,” a song widely regarded as practically the national anthem of jazz standards. He was introduced with a thoughtful observation by host and artistic director Bill Charlap, who pointed out that the two distinct sections of the song are in effect, homages to the two trumpet titans that Carmichael continually genuflected to in his music: that the verse was inspired by Bix Beiderbecke and the chorus was “pure (Louis) Armstrong.” This was an imposing introduction to live up to, but Mr. Chrillo played both sections in a way that reflected nobody so much as himself, in a way that was cool and intellectual and yet full of very personal emotion, sticking to Carmichael’s melody but making it so sound so fresh, it was like we had never heard it before. This was chamber jazz of the most intimate sort, but Mr. Charlap contrasted it immediately after with something completely different: a four-handed two piano duo between himself Ted Rosenthal that was all flash and sparkle, piano played with outsized “jazz hands.” This was an elaboration on the stride tradition of James P. Johnson, where one piano is an orchestra and two pianos is a production number. And, as it to telegraph his choreographic intentions, he based the whole works on the most famous dance song of the 1920s, Johnson’s “Charleston.”
The contrast between the two numbers illustrated what’s best about Jazz in July, Mr. Charlap’s keen balance of the introverted and the chamber-y with the extroverted and theatrical. He understands better than most impresarios how Both forms of expression have a legitimate place in the music. And that’s one of the reasons we keep coming back to Jazz in July year after year, for 34 years now.
As usual, all remaining five shows are recommended: Wednesday July 18 is the annual piano spectacular, “The Elegant Piano: Teddy Wilson, Tommy Flanagan, and Hank Jones,” co-stars Mr. Charlap with three other keyboard masters of varying generations, Dick Hyman, Rossano Sportiello, and Aaron Diehl. “Richard Rodgers: With a Song In My Heart” (Thursday, July 19) features pianist Renee Rosnes, singer Sandy Stewart and three dynamite horn players, trumpeter Terell Stafford, tenor sax monster Harry Allen, and baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan.
Next week, “Dizzy! Celebrating Dizzy Gillespie” (Tuesday, July 24) presents Dizzy’s number one protegee, Jon Faddis, tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene, and pianist Renee Rosnes. “Leonard Bernstein: Jazz on the Town” honors the great composer-conductor’s centennial in a program with singer Rene Marie, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, and young tenor master Melissa Aldana in a program that, like the Richard Rodgers show in the first week, is guaranteed to sell out. The final show, “Blues in the Night” (Thursday, July 26) features a delicious roster of funky players starting with tenor champ Houston Person, guitarist Rodney Jones, singer Melba Joyce, and two blues-centric keyboardists, Lafayette Harris and Mike LeDonne on Hammond organ.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)