Jazzin’ Up the Music Hall

September 28, 2010

The Charleston Jazz Orchestra in full swing

In true Southern fashion, the crowd slowly trickled into the Charleston Music Hall Saturday night to attend “Latin Night,” the fourth concert of the 2010 season by the renowned Charleston Jazz Orchestra.

Led by conductor and accomplished trumpeter Charlton Singleton, the CJO has garnered steady attention and accolades since its inception in early 2008 with rousing performances and a stream of high-profile special guests sharing the stage.

This night was no exception.

Although the program stated that the music would begin promptly at 7 p.m., emcee Jack McCray did not take the stage until 20 minutes later to officially get the night’s events underway.

McCray’s onstage demeanor set the tone for the night, as he invited the capacity crowd to sit back, relax and “take some dust off of the day.”

Singleton soon entered to a loud ovation and chatted with the crowd, offering previews of what his group had in store for the night and down the road before kicking things off with Duke Ellington’s “Flaming Sword,” a mid-tempo, upbeat piece that featured several outstanding solos from the brass and woodwind sections.

The first special guest of the evening, flautist Regina Helcher Yost, was introduced shortly after as the featured player for the next batch of songs, starting with the three-movement “Sonata Latino.” This arrangement started off with a heavy dose of bongos and pianos before the full band kicked in with much majesty.

There was an evident chemistry between guitarist-vocalist Duda Lucena and vocalist Leah Suarez, as the two performed a steamy duet titled “Samba em Prulido.” Lucena was given a well-deserved cheer as he exited the stage, leaving Suarez to perform a spicy version of “Save the Last Dance for Me.”

After an intermission that lasted just “15 jazz minutes,” the second set saw Singleton introduce featured Cuban pianist Fernando Rivas to the stage. Rivas not only is a Lowcountry local, but also happens to be a Grammy and Emmy award winner. “Afro Blue” featured some interesting percussion solos from another special guest, Ecuadorian-American Gino Castillo. Castillo’s inventive and exhilarating use of several different pieces of percussion really drew the approval of the audience.

The middle portion of the second set saw the performance stripped down to a core group, featuring Singleton’s trumpet and John Cobb’s baritone sax at the forefront. Although this group did not utilize the full band’s sound, the songs did not lose their power and grasp of the audience.

“Recuerdo” featured guitarist-vocalist Cristobal Cisneros, who alternated between acoustic and electric guitar, which helped to give the piece a balance between flamenco and rock-and-roll as the full orchestra once again joined the fray.

The set was closed out by a jazz icon Chick Corea’s “Spain,” an aptly-titled arrangement given the night’s theme. After receiving a standing ovation from a wildly-appreciative crowd, the CJO performed an encore to preview their October 23rd show titled “Pops,” leaving the audience wanting more.

September 7, 2010

A sold-out Music Farm audience was treated to an impressive performance from the Deftones, the Sacramento-based group known for creating some of the more memorable genre-bending rock albums for the better part of the past two decades.
Since their debut album Adrenaline dropped in 1995, the band has made a living of crafting their art both on stage and in the studio leading to a career highlighted by critical acclaim and mainstream success. But they have always strayed just a bit out of the spotlight, which has helped them stay fresh during the downfall of a genre they helped inspire – numetal.
The members of the band seemed quite relaxed as they enjoyed food and drinks at Juanita Greenberg’s before the show, talking with fans and posing for pictures. But they were all business on this night.
Openers This Will Destroy You played to an already crowded house, hammering through a 30-minute set consisting of post-metal instrumental jam sessions that had some in attendance bobbing their heads as they jostled for position in the crowd.
As the house lights went off and the Deftones crept on stage, the room came alive and it was apparent the band had a strong local following.
Starting the set off with the title-track off their newest album, Diamond Eyes, the band was energetic and tight. Frontman Chino Moreno was on point, displaying a vocal range unparalleled in the industry and the charisma to boot.
With a catalog full of radio hits and fan favorites, one could basically throw darts at a list of their songs and create an interesting setlist. But it seemed that there was some careful thought put into those they chose to play for their first-ever performance in Charleston.
The band plucked tracks from all six of their albums save for Saturday Night Wrist, an album that dropped in 2006 during some of the most tumultuous times the band has ever faced. This was the record that was the result of the band’s near breakup at that time, and it seemed as if the band chose to focus on the positive instead.
The band tore through over 20 songs in a little under two hours, knowing just when to lay off the gas on some of their more aggressive offerings by slowing the tempo down with electronica-tinged ballads. There was a good amount of interaction between the crowd and Moreno, who has been known to sometimes give less-than aspiring performances in the past. The band was having so much fun they even launched into an impromptu cover of the beginning of Steve Miller Band’s “Swing Town” as the crowd sang along with delight.
Other highlights of the night included some of their lesser known songs, including “Needles and Pins” from their self-titled album and “Feiticeira,” the opening track off 2000’s epic White Pony.
However, as the night came to a steamy and sweltering close, it was clear that the band was here to entertain their old school fans. Performing a finale featuring several tracks off Adrenaline and ending with a furious rendition of “7 Words,” the Deftones left the crowd feeling worn out and energized simultaneously as the house lights went up.
Click on the link for a setlist!
http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/deftones/2010/music-farm-charleston-sc-bd5e99a.html