The Jazz Foundation of America's loft party, an annual concert to benefit a vital organization that helps players with medical expenses, housing, recording, you name it, is wall to wall music occupying three large spaces simultaneously. It is hard to know which room to occupy,--choices must be made-- but when we heard that Kenny Barron would be playing in the Jazz Loft, we simply had to be there. We caught the tail end of Sharon Clark who scats like Ella, singing "Moonlight in Vermont" and "You'd be So Nice (To Come Home To)." And then Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers introduced Kenny Barron's trio featuring David "Happy" Williams on bass and Victor Lewis on drums performing "Blue Monk," "Dialogues in Blue," Eubie Blake's "Memories of You," and "Autumn Leaves." Kenny Barron asked if anyone noticed he forgot the bridge on the Eubie Blake. No one complained.
Not moving from the front row hot pink couch where we perched, we then heard James Carter's Quartet "explosion," as Chad Smith put it, commenting too on the man's wardrobe: a striped suit with a tie not off any Brooks Brothers rack, "if you know what I mean." And explode they did. Carter is a showboating showman, arching his back, jumping up and down, and literally popping on the saxophone. Even his sidemen got into to act, Leon Dorsey on bass, Eli Fountain on drums, and especially D. D. Jackson plonking those piano keys. It was a thrill to watch, and a relief that their sound on "There's No Greater Love," "Caravan," and "Body and Soul," could make it over the din of back room conversation. As Carter put it, "Ain't no party like the Jazz Foundation loft party." Amen.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.