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July 08, 1978 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1978-07-08

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Page 8-Saturday, July 8, 1978-The Michigan Daily
New or es Jazz's

Story and Photos by
Bob Rosenbaum
THE TALE IS TOLD that for 51 straight
weeks annually, jazz musicians are decreed
to wander aimlessly about the countryside,
ordained to perform in as few places as possible
for the highest possible admission price.
The story continues, though, that for one week
out of the year, the musicians are given a
reprieve from their curse, allowed to exit from
their cell-like recording studios and journey to a
common ground where they can hold an epic
jam, offering devoted followers and newcomers
alike the opportunity to listen in at drastically
reduced prices. Sort of like a jazz factory outlet
They call it the Newport Jazz Festival. For 25
years, the last week in June has been devoted to
the celebration of that unique American music
known as jazz. The festival's name has long sin-
ce lost its significance. Producers of the event in
1972 moved it from its birthplace in Newport,
Rhode Island to New York City. And this year,
the culminating days of the festival were moved
once again from their urban locale to the
unlikely exurbia of Saratoga Springs, New York.
Last Saturday, at the enormous amphitheater
and grounds of the Saratoga Pefforming Arts
Center (the "winter" home of such distinguished
organizations as the New York City Ballet and
the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra), upwar-
ds of 25,000 spectators unrolled blankets, un-

packed collers, rolled over and steamed in the
sun to live jazz.
The musicians came by limousine, by cab, by
chartered bus-any form of transportation
which might afford them safe passage through
the unspoiled wilderness of upstate New York.
Everyone came. Established greats like Dizzy
Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Chick Corea, Herbie
Hancock, John Lewis, Sonny Rollins, Tony
Williams, and Gary Burton. "Fusion" stars like
Jean-Luc Ponty and George Benson. Newcomers
like Al Jarreau and David Chesky.
Seeing artists of such caliber file off their
buses into the afternoon sun gave one little cause
to wonder why 25,000 people would make the
treak to the wilds of New York state. Wherever
these performers go is Mecca to a true jazz fan.
Whether they had whisked over a four-lane in-
terstate freeway to get there or picked their way
through the smallest towns on one of New York
state's treacherous two-lane highways, arrivals
to Newport/Saratoga would not be disappointed.
For 14 consecutive hours, audience members
were swung, blued, be-bopped, cooled and latin-
ned through a marathon jam of top name main-
stream jazz.
P ERHAPS NOTABLY, the festival-goers
were young. Few members of the audience
seemed older than college age. No doubt they

were attracted to the Fest by the generous
listening of young, pop performers-Geroge
Benson, Jean-Luc Ponty or Al Jarreau. But the
crowd displayed an overall openmindedness to
all of the music performed, and remained
steadily receptive to even the most esoteric of-
Much of the first half of the day's show was
devoted to the work of modern "big bands." The
festival opened with the premiere of two com-
postions by trumpeter Hannibal Marvin Peter-
son, as performed by the-Sunrise Symphony Or-
chesta. Hannibal's work on trumpet throughout
"Children of Fire" and "The Flames of South
Africa" was phenomenal. Powerful cascades of
high notes spit out of his trumpet like lava.
Even as a second band, the David Chesky Or-
chestra, performed up-tempo jazz/rock
arrangements onstage under the direction of its
21-year-old keyboardist leader, spectators con-
tinued to flow in from the admission gates. While
winning audience attention for its brassy crisp,
tight voicings on several of its leader's com-
positions (one which featured the firm piano
handiwork of John Lewis), the Chesky band was
unable to get the crowd to settle down entirely.
What it took, finally, was the.all-too-short ap-
pearance by Latin-rooted percussionist Airto
and vocalist Flora Purim. The pair's perfor-
mance engulfed Brazilian jazz rhythms, with

to a virtuouso performance by Chick Corea and Ga
(upper right), and the unique touch of the Semi-symph
sang her classic "Five Hundred Miles Hig
composition she made famous while a me
of Chick Corea's earliest Return to Forev
semble. Airto's group lent strong supp
Purim in her exploration of intricate
copations. The entire peformance was
The Airto/Purim set was followed b,
more "big band" sets, both of which wei
enough to rival even the popular Latin idior
An ensemble led by composer/arrf
George Russell followed a twisted path th
blues, swing, funk and the avant-garde, an


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