Jazz Fest 2018, Day 1: Ron reviews Terell Stafford Quintet, Matt Savage, and Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez
03.05.2021 Ron Netsky
Matt Savage Matt Savage

There are so many variations on what constitutes a jazz group these days that it was almost shocking to see the Terell Stafford Quintet walk onto the Kilbourn Hall stage in ties and jackets and launch into a hard-core, hard-bop classic. The tune, “Hocus-Pocus,” was by the late, great trumpeter Lee Morgan, and Stafford, one of today’s greatest trumpeters, said if you don’t like Lee Morgan tunes, this concert is not for you. Sure enough, two more Morgan tunes followed: a fantastic rendition of “Mr. Kenyatta” and a fiery “Speedball.”

Stafford brought an all-star band to the festival. Joining him on the front line to play Morgan’s infectious heads and unravel serpentine solos was saxophonist Tim Warfield. Bruce Barth played one dynamic solo after another at the piano, at times pounding the keys with cluster chords reminiscent of Don Pullen. Peter Washington (bass) and Billy Williams (drums) anchored the band and had their own great moments.

Matt Savage seemed to be enjoying himself immensely at Hatch Hall, with a repertoire that ranged from standards, like “All The Things You Are” and “Like Someone in Love,” to more recent classics like Lennon and McCartney’s “Got To Get You Into My Life” and Strouse and Charnin’s “Tomorrow.” The Beatles tune was a stream-of-conscious tour-de-force that took a nicely circuitous path before finding it’s way back to the melody.

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