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Ornette Coleman at the SF Jazz Festival

Christian McBride
Lee Konitz at the Umbria Jazz Festival, Umbria, Italy 1998

Whether by design or not, the formidable French jazz festival known as Jazz à Vienne presented an idealistic political message with its Fourth of July concert. While Americans were celebrating and questioning the new meaning of patriotism across the Atlantic, Wayne Shorter and his quartet were in the house-the house being the evocative 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre where the festival’s main evening concerts take place. Joining him was the rightfully esteemed L’Orchestre National de Lyon, led by its famed, risk-loving conductor David Robertson (a Los Angeles native, by the way) with aplomb, flexibility and the all-important aspects of swing and enigma crucial to Shorter’s agenda.

Voila, it was a Franco-American summit meeting on a high poetic order.

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