All That Jazz
Jazz at Lake Worth Street Painting Festival
If you are a lover of America’s original art form and happened to be in the Palm Beaches last weekend, you were in heaven. Enhanced by unseasonably balmy weather, jazz was bursting out all over.
It emanated from a stage at the east end of downtown Lake Worth, just past the quirky city’s two main streets, where more than 600 artists hunkered down on the pavement for two days running to create chalk drawings. The two art forms, along with a food court, drew about 100,000 people for the city’s 24th annual Street Painting Festival, which claims to be the largest such free event in the world.
Another jazz event, even more exciting than the festival, was a private affair Monday night at The Wine Scene on the edge of downtown West Palm Beach.
Richie Cole (white shirt), Dante Luciani (black shirt) — Lake Worth Street Painting Festival
It seems that the Lake Worth festival’s jazz offerings get better each year. The Palm Beaches boast some exceptional musicians, including the young Nathan Skinner, arguably one of the world’s best vibraphonists. His band was among a number of stellar groups performing Saturday, one of them being Reginald Policard, named for its keyboardist/composer, Haiti’s most renowned musician. It featured the Haitian-born trumpeter Jean Caze, who tours with Michael Bublé, and vocalist Stacey Marie-Luce of Martinique, daughter of the group’s outstanding bassist, David Einhorn.
Sunday’s lineup was headed by Richie Cole and Alto Madness. Some jazz critics heralded Cole in the 1970s and ’80s as the successor to all-time great Charlie Parker. Trading off solos with Cole was the virtuosic trombonist Dante Luciani, a University of Miami professor, who has performed with many of the jazz greats, including Dizzy Gillespie and Ira Sullivan.
Believe it or not, the festival’s jazz may have been topped by an evening of nonstop jamming in a private affair Monday night at The Wine Scene. The event celebrated the birthday of longtime jazz drummer Marty Campfield, and attracted internationally known musicians and South Florida jazz stalwarts alike. They pulled out all the stops in nonstop, spontaneous combos all night long.
Play among the stars
There were, perhaps, two highlights. Blazing through a string of jazz gems was an all-star group composed of Cole, peripatetic keyboard star Bill Mays, trumpet masters Freddie Jacobs and Steve Ahern, nonpareil French guitarist Jerome Degey, unerring time keeper Jeff Abbott on drums, and inventive bassist Paul Shewchuk. The other riveting event was a duet of Mays and Cole. The saxophonist ingeniously strung together snippets from a potpourri of jazz standards, switching rhythms with a speed that left listeners aghast but the inimitable Mays undaunted as he synchronized deftly on the keyboard. The two performed together in California years ago. Those lucky enough to be invited to this affair were riveted, and showed it with ebullience.
The Wine Scene, 501 Fern St., is becoming the spot for jazz in the Palm Beaches, hosting combos on most Saturday nights. An augmented jazz program is in the offing.