November 1st, 2011
We Four at Town Hall
Celebrating Coltrane and Mingus: We Four which Earshot Jazz Festival 2011 presented at Town Hall Saturday Oct 22 was a fantastic show. Seattle photographer Michael Craft photographed this performance and these are his pictures. Among tributes to John Coltrane, We Four ranks as the most soulful and masterful: joining the tenor-sax hard bopper, Javon Jackson, was piano master Mulgrew Miller, peerless bassist Nat Reeves, and – here’s the clincher – NEA Jazz Master and Kind of Blue drum vet Jimmy Cobb. John Coltrane remains one of jazz music’s most revered artists, nearly 44 years after his death. For this concert, the collective We Four proves that the saxophonist’s music can still electrify audiences with its combination of potent swing and spiritual depth. Featuring legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb, the 82-year-old provides much of this band’s heat. Cobb is joined in We Four by tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson, pianist Mulgrew Miller and bassist Peter Washington, a new band of highly esteemed New York jazz players, all of whom feel a special connection to John Coltrane.
Check out the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule to see what’s next in the last week of the 2011 Festival lineup.
An NEA Jazz Master, Cobb’s playing on Coltrane recording sessions is unforgettable. He famously played with Coltrane in the Miles Davis band of the late 1950s, including on Kind of Blue. Not to be overlooked is his standout performance on the recording of one of Coltrane’s most renowned ballads, “Naima,” a tune likely to be performed tonight. Cobb’s inspirational work with Davis, Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and company spanned 1958 until 1962 and included work on Sketches of Spain, Someday My Prince Will Come, Live at Carnegie Hall, Live at the Blackhawk, Porgy and Bess, and many, many other landmark Miles Davis recordings. Miller is a most excellent pianist who has worked steadily as a musician, including three years with Woody Shaw’s Quintet, three with the Mercer Ellington Orchestra and over six years with the Tony Williams Quintet. He is featured on over 400 recordings total and has composed nonstop. In 1985 Miller made his first recording as a leader for producer Orrin Keepnews’ former label, Landmark, and later recorded on the RCA Novus label. He tours throughout the world and is also a member of the Contemporary Piano Ensemble, a unique group consisting of four pianists performing simultaneously on four grand pianos with a rhythm section. Other innovative projects include his duos with Danish jazz bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen.
Jackson came into international prominence as a member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He has also toured and recorded with Elvin Jones, Betty Carter, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Curtis Fuller, Stanley Turrentine and many others. As a recording artist, Jackson has appeared on over 125 recordings and has developed a formidable career as a leader, recording and touring throughout the world. His current musical group, The Javon Jackson Band, incorporates many styles, including jazz, funk, R&B and rock. Reeves was introduced to the electric bass by his grandfather, Russell Jackson. By 1979, he was in New York City, performing in small jazz clubs and at jam sessions. He soon after toured the US and Japan with Sonny Stitt and worked with Jackie McLean, including teaching alongside McLean at the University of Hartford. Influenced most by bassists Sam Jones, Paul Chambers and Ron Carter, Reeves is a gifted musician, who can be seen performing in every major jazz venue in the world.
We Four’s repertoire will explore many of the classic tunes associated with Coltrane, including “Impressions,” “Giant Steps,” “Mr. PC,” “Central Park West,” “Fifth House,” “Like Sonny,” “Blues to Elvin” and “Countdown,” in addition to original material inspired by John Coltrane. – Danielle Bias from the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule