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Ornette Coleman at the SF Jazz Festival

Renee Rosnes

If someone had shouted, “Old school’s in the house!!” at the Kennedy Center, during the second day of the 8th Annual Women in Jazz Festival, they wouldn’t be just talking about pianist Barbara Carroll, who was presented with this year’s Mary Lou Williams Award. After Rene Rosnes’ spirited opening set, the evening belonged to soul-jazz veterans, Gloria Lynne and Gloria Coleman.

Rosnes got the party started with the infectious, “Pas de Trois,” from the titular new CD on True Life with the Drummonds (her drummer-husband Billy and bassist Ray). With its initial waltz time and block chords, sounded a bit too much like a McCoy Tyner composition. Nevertheless, Rosnes demonstrated her melodic inventiveness by unraveling elegantly languid passages on the tune. On Rodgers and Hart’s “Spring Is Here” she and trio members drummer Billy Drummond and bassist Michael McGuirk concocted an enticing Ahmad Jamal-like groove that propelled her imaginative solos. On her own composition “Icelight,” Rosnes displayed more of her daring side, steering her band through rough, intricate rhythms and zigzagging melodies. Rosnes’ emphatic rapport with her drummer-husband was also on fine display; he provided suspenseful accents and gentle polyrhythms that, at times, mirrored her melodies perfectly.

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