James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival 2013
Written and photographed by Jonathan French
The New Jersey Performing Act Center (NJPAC) was the home of the second James Moody Jazz Festival from November 4-10. NJPAC teamed with Newark’s WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM station together they showcased Samba, Duke Ellington and the sound of many today’s well known Jazz artist and crossovers. James Moody born in Savannah Georgia spent most of his growing years in Newark was remembered by his wife Linda Moody and family members.
Newark the home of such well-known Jazz artist as Wayne Shorter, Larry Young, Sarah Vaughn and Andy Bey even Little Jimmy Smith lived there, with those names you know Newark has a great many Jazz aficionados and they were all in attendance.
The Ironbound section of Newark, known for being a Portuguese speaking neighborhood whose population is stable thanks largely to immigration from Brazil and several Lusophone countries in Africa, especially Cape Verde were well represent Friday night as “Jazz Meets Samba”. Eliane Elias, opened the show with her tribute to Antônio Carlos Jobim the great composer and creator of Bossa Nova. She held me captive with her stories and how she easily changed styles and moods especially when she did a straight-ahead song from her latest release I Thought About You: A Tribute To Chet Baker. Eliane was accompanied Lee Ritenour, Marivaldo Dos Santos and Joe Lovano.
Sergio Mendes who in 2006, forty years after his famed the fame “Herb Albert : Presents Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66” revived “Mas Que Nada” with the Black Eye Peas Will.I.AM though he was not there H2O a rapper from Los Angeles did an excellent job and the whole audience dancing in the aisles. There is no doubt that Sergios’ music is timeless.
Christian McBride a Philadelphia native now living in Montclair was a fantastic Bandleader. My eighty-seven year old father had flashbacks of the golden days of Newark when he arrived in New Jersey during the Great Migration. He spoke of Laurel Gardens which was on Springfield Avenue and Lloyd’s Manor both which drew the top bands during the swing era. He also talked of the Key Club where he would often see Sarah Vaughn in attendance of a Jimmy McGriff performance. That rich Jazz history of Newark folks had to stop here between Philly and New York, maybe that is why Christian is here.
For seven days in November the James Moody festival with its lineup of Diane Reeves, Al Jarreau, Jeffrey Osborne, Gerald Albright, Melissa Walker and Cyrille Aimee a finalist in Thelonious Monk vocal contest filled in NJPAC with music. Newark itself had look at its yesterday and a vision of its tomorrow as the James Moody Festival will become a must attend festival. I can hear James Moody saying “Come on swing and sing Newark if you want to…you have just begun!!!!!!!!”