Newport festival tribute delightfully lacks surprises |

Newport festival tribute delightfully lacks surprises

With a lineup that includes trumpeter Randy Brecker and singer Karrin Allyson, it was no surprise the Newport: Now 60 show at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild was more than simply a tribute.

It also was a concert filled with a similar — and delightful — lack of surprises.

It was no surprise, for instance, that Allyson could do a lovely version of “Round Midnight.” Or that Brecker could roam through Thelonious Monk’s “Brakes Sake.” Or that Anat Cohen could get the hall cheering after her blistering solo on “La Vie en Rose.”

Doing two shows at the guild Feb. 15, the all-star band offered a tribute to the 60 years of the Newport Jazz Festival. But it did that by showing off its own strengths.

Brecker has been a force in jazz for decades, while Cohen has established herself only in the past 10 years as perhaps the leading clarinetist in the genre. Put them together and surround them with Allyson, pianist Bruce Barth, guitarist Mark Whitfied, drummer Clarence Penn and bassist Larry Grenadier and you get a group whose talents override any difference in age.

Their music roamed through the adventurous sounds of Ornette Coleman on “Blues Connotation” to “Never Let Me Go,” dominated by Allyson’s voice.

But the manner in which they presented the music was almost as important at the variety or their skills. “Round Midnight” was a duo of Allyson and Grenadier. Whitfield did “Midnight Sun” solo. Grenadier led a trio verison of “Pettiford” with Barth and Penn.

The most powerful moments of the night, of course, were when they played as a septet. In those numbers, Allyson often joined in almost as a third horn. That was obviously true in the wordless “Blues Connotation” and, on “Can’t We Be Friends,” she joined Cohen on tenor saxophone in a riff behind Barth’s solo.

Easily the best instrumental moment of the night was Cohen on “La Vie en Rose.” She is a clarinetist with speed, tone and seemingly endless improvisational thought, all of which showed on her long outing.

The band ended the first show with a rousing version of “Yeah, Yeah” and then came back to the stage for a gentle version of “Squeeze Me.”

Sometimes encores are just a little too much. Even with this band.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at [email protected] or 412-320-7852.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.