Boston’s biggest outdoor jazz event has more of a local focus his year—hardly a problem, given the wealth of talent connected to Berklee, NEC and other institutions.
By J. R. Carroll
This year’s Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival–running from noon to 6 p.m. in the South End–is a bit more locally focused in 2013. This might be a problem in some locales, but not in Boston, with its wealth of native talent and the immense musical resources of Berklee, NEC, and other jazz education programs in the area.
As with all multi-stage festivals, you can’t be everywhere at the same time, so choices–inevitably frustrating–will have to be made by everyone who attends BeanTown. What follows below are my personal suggestions, but you undoubtedly have your own preferences and will arrange your own schedule of what you want to hear when. (Berklee has helpfully provided a sampler of recordings by many of the performers on this year’s BeanTown roster.)
Simon Moullier Quartet
12 p.m., Berklee Stage
French vibraphonist Simon Moullier has assembled an international quartet (Panamanian alto saxophonist Simon Batista, Swedish bassist Elin Sandberg, and Japanese drummer Kazuhiro Odagiri) with quite a distinctive sound, especially when Sandberg picks up her bow. Moullier, clearly a guy with open ears, has already developed a recognizable compositional voice of his own, but he and his band members also put a fresh twist on tunes by Radiohead and others.
Rick DiMuzio Quintet Featuring Lage Lund
1:15 p.m., BeanTown Stage
Saxophonist Rick DiMuzio is a familiar face on the Boston scene, as a leader and as a sideman with a diverse array of performers. Here you can catch him with his own quintet, consisting of pianist Mark Shilansky, bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa, drummer Austin McMahon, and special guest guitarist Lage Lund.
Mike Tucker Trio +1 Featuring Warren Wolf
2:30 p.m., Berklee Stage
Saxophonist Mike Tucker and his Organ Trio (with organist Jake Sherman and drummer Lee Fish) have teamed with much-in-demand vibraphonist Warren Wolf in an instrumental combination that works surprisingly well.
Will Calhoun Trio
3:45 p.m., BeanTown Stage
Drummer (and Berklee alum) Will Calhoun came to fame as a key member of the still very active hard rock band Living Colour but has been involved in projects ranging from hip hop to ambient world music to straight-up jazz. Calhoun’s trio, with keyboardist Marc Cary (recently heard at Sculler’s in a solo tribute to Abbey Lincoln—see Michael Ullman’s review) and bassist Charnett Moffett, leans toward the latter end of this wide spectrum, but elements from all the preceding find their way into the band’s group explorations.
5 p.m., BeanTown Stage
Capping off the afternoon, New Orleans-born Christian Scott (saxophonist Donald Harrison is his uncle) is another artist who pulls a wide range of interests and experiences into his music, as well as an acute social consciousness that’s reflected in both the titles and the content of his original compositions.
Saturday is forecast to be a beautiful early autumn day, with temperatures in the upper 60s and plenty of sun. So, no excuses—the Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival is the place to be.