Saturday Afternoon's lineup took a departure for the almost traditional "Blues Saturday Afternoon" of recent years. Tradition was served, but it was the traditions of the music of New Orleans, the swinging bop styles of the 40's, and the Soulsville sound of Stax/Volt Records.
Starting the afternoon on the Jimmy Lyons Stage was "An Afternoon in Treme", celebrating the music that was born out of the rhythms and sounds of Congo Square in New Orleans. Featuring Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, the Soul Rebels, Kermit Ruffins, and Glen David Andrews, the arena crowd was rockin'. Special guest Wendell Pierce from the HBO series Treme, provided the narrative to fill in the historical details behind the sound.
On the grounds, Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88's brought the spirit and sounds of the jump boogie and small big bands. This was the sound that gave way to rock n' roll. In a convenient segue, the main stage welcomed Huey Lewis & The News who delivered their own soulful set. When the Soul Rebels, Ivan Neville's group, took over the Garden Stage, it was an all out party. How they ended up in a medley of Sly Stone tunes, it turned into an all-out party.
The evening had it's usual array of musical pleasures to choose from. Geri Allen & Timeline on the main stage, The Robert Glasper Experiment with Lionel Loueke in Dizzy's Den, and an encore performance of Richard Bona & Raul Midon on the Garden Stage. Allen's current band is a trio format with Kenny Davis on bass, and Kassa Overall on drums. They rolled through a set of contemporary and modern classics, mixed in with some of Allen's own compositions. Percussion elements were provided b tap dancer Maurice Chestnut. The buzz created from their opening night performance resulted in an overflow audience at the Garden Stage for Bona and Midon. Both artists have unique vocal styles and their music has deep roots in their home countries of Cameroon and Argentina. Their solo segments were captivating. One can only hope there is a live recording in their plans. India.Arie suddenly appeared onstage during one of Midon's solo numbers to everyone's delight.
The collaborative project James Farm is Joshua Redman's latest venture along with Aaron Parks on piano, Matt Perlman on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. Redman's prowess on tenor saxophone is really showing. He has turned his sound into something more of a presence to be felt as well as heard. Harland is one of those players where whose moment has definitely arrived, and you suddenly realize how incredibly good he is.
Herbie Hancock's library of recordings is so deep, he can pull anything out at a moment's notice, and it will be great. Touching on several eras of his career, he delivered a concise, focused set that covered all the bases. His current traveling band includes James Genus on bass, Vinnie Colaiula on drums, and the always in demand Lionel Loueke on guitar and vocals. Electric blended into fusion, into post-bop, and back. Hancock is having fun on stage now. He obviously can play his classics in his sleep, but he is in a space now where he can bring them into today's world. Strapping on a midi keyboard, Hancock had extended musical "conversations" with Genus and Loueke. In years past, it was seen as a gimmick. Now it's refined into an extension of his keyboards where he and his band can connect on a more intimate level.
Before you knew it, the night was over. Time to go recharge the batteries and get ready for Sunday's look at the future of the music with the youth of jazz taking the stages.