January 19 @ 8:00 pm
Friday, January 20 @
Saturday, January 21
@ 9:00 pm
Sunday, January 22 @
Cover charge per day: $20. - On Thurs/Sun and $25. - On Fri/ Sat Tickets are only available at the door.
vocal prowess highlights rhythmic journey
The hottest locale in the chilly Midwest on Friday night had to be the Jazz Showcase, where an incendiary band persuaded a large audience to think of white Brazilian beaches and smoldering Havana nights. Though at least one listener still winces at the thought of a musician naming a festival after himself, there was no disputing the musical impact of the second evening of the annual Marshall Vente Jazz Festival. Certainly Vente, a terrific pianist and arranger, acquitted himself quite well leading his Tropicale Festival Ensemble.
The very sight of so many first-rate instrumentalists and vocalists crowded onto a single stage pointed to the significance of the occasion, for Vente surely spared no effort--or personnel--in his exploration of Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian jazz. With four percussionists, three horns, three vocalists and an assortment of other players before the microphones, the Tropicale band was equipped to address various facets of jazz invented south of the border.
The most galvanic performance by far came in a mambo tune by the venerable Cuban pianist-bandleader Chucho Valdes, who likely would have been impressed by the sheer muscularity and rhythmic aggressiveness of every phrase that Vente and friends played. If the tempo was a bit faster and the volume levels more intense than Valdes might have offered, the hard-hitting, Chicago-style energy of the performance could not be denied. In this piece, and others, tenor saxophonist Pat Mallinger turned in bebop-inspired playing that added to the dynamism of the corporate effort.
But the Tropicale band also showed a more genteel side, particularly in Brazilian music by Oscar Castro-Neves and Manfredo Fest. The more muted dynamic levels, transparent ensemble textures and gently undulating backbeats reaffirmed the band's stylistic mastery in this repertoire. Mallinger's flute playing proved particularly effective in music of Castro-Neves, the multi-instrumentalist's sweet tone and ample vibrato utterly appropriate to this idiom.
The most pleasant surprise of the evening came with the vocals of Rita Duarte, the newest member of Vente's ensemble. Her solos suggested a vocalist doubly blessed with an unusually evocative, amber-toned instrument and an uncommonly sensitive, utterly disarming way of using it. Though it's a fair bet that most in the audience did not understand a word of the Portuguese she sang, the warmth of her timbre and the understated beauty of her phrasings were unmistakable.
Vente has made a real find in Duarte, and the more time she spends at the front of this band, the better.
So chalk up another win for this annual fest, and here's hoping it warms up many more Januarys to come.
A new name, however, wouldn't hurt.
The Marshall Vente Jazz Festival ends with performances starting at 3
p.m. Sunday at the Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand Ave.; the lineup will feature
the Bobby Schiff Trio and Marshall Vente and Project 9, with Billy Harper.
Admission is $20; phone 312-670-2473.
January 20-23, 2005
Marshall Vente Jazz Festival
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