The Blue Note 7: Live Last Night

Live Last Night

By the time the Blue Note 7 arrived at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater last night, it was a seasoned, tight-knit ensemble, with a recording and extensive tour under its belt.

So instead of encountering an ad hoc group of all-stars saluting the 70th anniversary of the storied Blue Note record label, the audience witnessed a performance by a fully integrated band that would have been a treat to hear under any circumstances, featuring pianist Bill Charlap, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Lewis Nash, guitarist Peter Bernstein and saxophonists Ravi Coltrane and Steve Wilson.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Of course, it didn't hurt that the tunes heard during the early show were all composed by jazz legends closely associated with the Blue Note legacy, or that they included pieces seldom performed in concert these days. But more important, the compositions of Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and other luminaries inspired fresh interpretations, thanks largely to a batch of new and colorfully expansive arrangements.

The hard-bop pieces contributed by Henderson ("Inner Urge") and Shorter ("United") were reinvigorated by the Blue Note 7's formidable front line of brass and reeds, in addition to Charlap's percussive attack and Nash's muscular swing.

But even more enjoyable were two arrangements crafted by pianist and Blue Note vet Renee Rosnes: a rhythmically undulating arrangement of Hancock's "Dolphin Dance," which began as a textured showcase for Payton's soulful finesse; and a softly glowing orchestration of McCoy Tyner's "Search For Peace," made all the more affecting by the horn section's burnished harmonies and Charlap's deft touch.


By J. Freedom du Lac |  April 6, 2009; 1:43 PM ET Live Last Night
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