2011 Atlanta Jazz Fest – Day 2 (5/29/11)


Sunday at the Atlanta Jazz Fest started very well and ended not so well. And it had nothing to do with the music.

Sunday morning was a rare R & R day. The family and I got up, went out to breakfast, the came back to the hotel and went for a swim. We then head over to Piedmont Park. Traffic patterns were flowing better than Saturday, so we arrived in time to catch a bit of the last of the opening acts; The North Atlanta High School Jazz Band, under the direction of Adam Brooks. They were well rehearsed and swung nicely; it was a great treat to hear these promising kids as we were entering the park. They also featured a promising young vocalist named Brittany Carr, who performed an accomplished version of “Blue Skies”. Hopefully we’ll hear more from Ms. Carr in the future.

The young folks were an appetizer for the explosive main course that followed, in the person of trumpeter Sean Jones.  Mr. Jones was celebrating his birthday on Sunday and he was doing it in high style.  He kicked off his set with a scorching tune from his just released album No Need for Words, which managed to make it even hotter outside.  His band which included up and coming talent Brian Hogans on alto was every bit the equal of the leader (Mr. Hogans also has a new album out, titled Evidence of Things to Come – check it out!).  Set highlights were a take on Freddie Hubbard’s “Dear John” and two of the new numbers “Obsession” and “Momma”, which Jones dedicated to his mother, who in attendance, seeing him at a festival for the first time.

Next up was pianist Gerald Clayton, who has caused quite a bit of buzz in the jazz world of late.  Young Mr. Clayton is a talented pianist, whose style is a bit introspective and freely stretches boundaries.  He also loves to deconstruct standards, which he did to great effect on “My Shining Hour” and “Con Alma”. I enjoyed his set immensely. I can’t say the same for some of the audience, who seemed a bit confused and put-off by Clayton and his trio. I think the problem may have been that a trio like Clayton’s loses some of the intimacy that it needs, in a sprawling outdoor setting like the Atlanta Jazz Festival.  I noticed that a large part of the audience either left or turned their conversational volume up, which was a shame, because they missed some terrific music.

 My anticipation built after Clayton’s set, as we awaited Ninety Miles, the group featuring Stefon Harris on vibes, David Sánchez on tenor and Christian Scott on trumpet.   I expected this to be the highlight of what had already been a very fine festival.

However, I never got to see them.

While killing time after the Clayton set, my son and I decided to play catch.  While tossing the ball around, either a particle off of the ball or a gnat, flew into my left eye. I rubbed my eye to try to get the particle out. I think I rubbed it too hard. By the time we arrived back where my wife was sitting, her panicked reaction told the story. My eye had become extremely swollen and infected.  My wife and son pleaded with me to go to an urgent care or emergency room.  I finally acquiesced after getting a look at myself in my wife’s mirror.  As we packed up, Ninety Miles took the stage.  What I heard of them was great. Unfortunately, I only heard half of the first song.

Turns out that I had a scratched cornea; the doctor gave me eye drops, which soothed my eye and began the healing. It didn’t quell my disappointment though at having to miss what was likely a terrific festival closing set.

Overall, the 34th Atlanta Jazz Festival provided some great jazz and an awesome chance to relax with and hang with the family.  I can’t ask for much more than that.  We definitely plan on being back next year, but next time, I’ll wear goggles!


4 Responses to “2011 Atlanta Jazz Fest – Day 2 (5/29/11)”

  1. whoa, sorry about the eye incident, had a scratched cornea before – not a good thing

    thanks for the blog and vids

  2. Darn that cornea, preventing me from getting my review of Ninety Miles. I say you should have stayed, swollen eyes or not. Seriously though, that had to have been a drag, wasn’t it.

    I think I know how you feel (minus the cornea). Back in 2006, I missed an entire night at St. Lucia Jazz when I got stuck in the countryside on account of my rental not being delivered to me on time. When I was finally closing in on the venue, I must have been the only one driving the “wrong” way. You get the point.

    If I were you, I’d wear a biker’s helmet, visor and all, to the next edition of Atlanta Jazz. Who knows, you may just set a new Jazz fashion trend.

  3. sorry to hear you missed that final performance, hope the eye is doing well

  4. […] Mr. Scott has continued down that stylistic path on most of his subsequent recordings. He has never let go of what he learned from his mentors such as his uncle saxophonist Donald Harrison, but he has also definitively refused to let himself get stuck in a retro-jazz rut. His most recent recorded project, Christian aTunde Adjuah,  is a 2 disc set that has given Scott the space to bring many of his new “stretch music” ideas to the forefront. I’m sure we will hear some of those on Saturday night. And I will make every effort to avoid spontaneous eye infections and catch this set, unlike 2011. […]

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