Made in Chicago is a special festival for how it tries to convey the music's richness. One of the key words to it is: continouity. Chicago Woj-tet's music shows the continuity innate to jazz music, how it connects to the heritage of past decades, how its fruits come from the trees rooted in history. How the presence encompasses both past and future.
Robert Irving III tributes the band to the memory of Wojtek Juszczak that features both the veteran sax player Ari Brown as the youngster Leon Q Allen on trumpet (the sextet is rounded up by Harrison Bankhead, Scott Hesse and Ernie Adams). The first piece is introduced by Irving with comparison of 80s in Poland to 60s in the States, the piece tries to express the rebellious times with ominous modal chords as the audience can hear fragments of talks, speeches, announcements (inbetween them, echoes of Lech Walesa and demonstration of "Solidarność"). Irving's story about his first visit to Poland (with Miles Davis band in the early 80s) was probably as valuable as the sounds themselves.
The music played by the band doesn't offer any particular surprises, but lots of pleasures. Ari Brown's lyrical solos are precious and uplifting, Robert Irving's piano playing is stylish and lushfull, Leon Q Allen is rewarded with a fistbump from Ari Brown after one of his joyfull statements. The timing is right there, the light swing as well and some sharp tunes and more heated uptempo moments.
A great concert to remind you that jazz might be just to enjoy it, not to break any boundaries or re-invent the wheel.
The last concert of the festival was Liquid Soul - a funk band led by usually pretty avant-guard sax player Mars Williams. Liquid Soul brings back jazz to the clubs and dancefloors mixing the jazz (including such classics like "All Blues", "Salt Peanuts") with funk, hip-hop or what is often called "urban music". It's great idea and generally and lots of fun.
The festival's performance unfortunately was not as much fun as it should, and not even for the musical reasons (although I would appreciate a bigger horn section than just sax and trumpet). What's the point of making a concert of band that is designed to make you party in an concert hall with seats in the middle and dancefloor? Liquid Soul should have played the weekend night in a place with disco lights and (open) bar. Not a very fitting finale to a festival in my oppinion, although the audience fortunately didn't mind.
Robert Irving III - piano; Ari Brown - saxophone; Scott Hesse - guitar; Harrison Bankhead - bass; Ernie Adams - drums; Leon Q Allen - trumpet
Estrada. Poznan. Made in Chicago. Poznan. 01.12.2013
Mars Williams - saxophones; Tom Klein - guitar; Ricky Showalter - bass; Devin Staples - drums; Doug Corcoran - trumpet, keys' David "My Boy Elroy" Arreddondo - turntables and beatbox; Walter "Dirty MF" Sargent - MC; Brian "MC B" Quarles - MC
Pawilon Nowa Gazownia. Made in Chicago. Poznan. 01.12.2013