Wednesday, August 13, 2008
As a lifelong jazz fan and also a jazz clarinetist, I was thrilled when my wife and I heard that Nnenna Freelon and Mike Garson were coming to the Strings Music Festival here in Steamboat Springs on Aug. 8 to perform a "Jazz Meets Classical" concert in the Strings Music Pavilion. I immediately reserved seats for the two of us and for our good neighbors who also wanted to attend the concert.
The performance was wonderful. Nnenna Freelon sings in the style, range and force of the great Ella Fitzgerald. But in addition, her wonderful voice is further complimented by the movement of her body and especially her arms, hands and fingers as she acts out each song she is singing with these parts of her body.
Mike Garson's piano playing was unbelievable in his mastery of the piano keyboard. He plays very soft and quiet at times and then jazzes it up with a forceful rendition of the song he is playing. He does this with classical music and right in the middle of the classical song, he changes to jazz with the melody. He does this all the time hardly looking at the piano keyboard. His is a rare talent.
It truly was a great musical evening for us and the only negative comment we could make about the performance was that it ended way too soon as we could have stayed there for many more hours listening to these two very talented musicians perform the music of Ellington, Gershwin, Berlin and more.
James A. Humphrey