Summertime, and the listening should be easy

My latest column in City Arts-New York is now online, with pick hits for free August concerts in NYC. I don’t suggest the season’s not right for serious,
substantial music, just that we would appreciate the surrounding
circumstances being comfortable and hassle-free. Here’s the opening graph, meant to set the tone and keep you reading — and notes about the Caramoor jazz fest in suburban Westchester.

Music is what we want. Music that swings like the breeze, lifts
burdens, gladdens steps, transports us past doubts we’re in the right
place at the right time. Music that assures us that–despite challenges
regarding healthcare reform, global climate change, peace in the Middle
East and strife in Albany–things will end up all right because they’re
pretty nice here and now.

Space limitations in City Arts‘ paper edition required the excision of the following paragraphs — but my thoughts on this fest stand:

The two-day Caramoor jazz festival, in an open-air but covered theater amid gardens of an opulent home in Katonah, is available by car and Metro-North. The program each day starting at 3 p.m. is sophisticated, though piano heavy.

August 1 pianist Jean-Michel Pilc unveils original music inspired by Charlie Chaplin; pianist Cedar Walton plays “Giant Steps” and other works associated with (non-pianist) John Coltrane; young pianist Gerald Clayton leads a trio, followed by third-generation Cuban-born pianist Chuchito Valdés‘ Quartet, and finally diva Dianne Reeves sings in the company of guitarists Romero Lumbambo and Russell Malone. August 2 starts with 81-year-old blues-informed pianist Junior Mance, continues with gospel inflected pianist Cyrus Chestnut‘s trio, detours for Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza with guitarist Lubambo (also Brazilian), and climaxes with commanding 83-year-old pianist Randy Weston‘s African Rhythms Trio. So many fingers, so many keys . . .

Choice options closer to home abound  — I’m particularly impressed with the Cornelia Street Cafe‘s Festival of Festivals sched, which includes a cross-genre piano concentration curated by Jed Distler. The Cafe itself, in the West Village, is a pleasant little bistro serving tasty food and drinks; the downstairs music room is long, dark and usually cool, with upclose sound. Nice place to relax and hear live music.

Of course, there are other such places around town (and in other towns, too). And it can be cool to get hot. Just don’t stress out about it . . .
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  1. Mark says

    Why do the Caramoor and Litchfield festivals insist on running their jazz festivals on the identical weekend every year? What is the benefit to the Westchester/Fairfield audience or the mission statements of either non-profit, of splitting the audience like this?
    HM: Good question which I will try to pose to principles at both fests. If I’m not mistaken, Litchfield also ran concurrently with the Newport Jazz Fest at least once. There are only so many viable weekends, though; the Chicago, Detroit and Tanglewood fests are all over Labor Day weekend, though that only poses a difficult choice for those of us who might travel widely to hear jazz.