May 2, 2013

Nonet opens annual Jazz Festival

Nonet opens SUNY Plattsburgh's annual Jazz Festival


---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival Nonet, featuring Ray Vega, packs away “Birth of the Cool” after SUNY Plattsburgh Music Department’s 37th-annual Jazz Festival.

The nonet — Vega (trumpet), Alex Stewart (baritone saxophone), Tom Cleary (piano), John Rivers (bass), Brian McCarthy (alto saxophone), Yutaka Kono (tuba), Geza Carr (percussion), Joy Worland (French horn) and Rick Davies (trombone) — perform Friday evening in the E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium at Hawkins Hall.

“Birth of the Cool: The Music of Miles Davis, Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan” was a seminal album for Davies. Comprised of 1949 and 1950 recordings, it was released by Capitol Records in 1957.

Stewart assembled and directed the nonet for the 2012 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival.

“He’s on their board of advisers,” said Davies, a professor of music at the college. “We’ve done a lot of projects, usually with a big band, this time with a nine-piece.”

Stewart and company received rave reviews at the festival, which also featured a quartet led by the alto-saxophone legend Lee Konitz, who is one of the original “Birth of the Cool” soloists.

“He’s kind of in his own thing now,” Davies said. “He’s way beyond that now. He’s more avant garde now. It’s nice he was there to give a historical thing to the whole program. People loved it.”

The nonet had an encore performance at the University of Vermont Recital Hall last fall.

“It went over great at UVM,” Davies said. “We said we have to do it one more time before we put it to bed. Plattsburgh is lucky to get to be the host this time.”

Friday’s musical selections include “Venus De Milo,” composed by Mulligan; “Deception,” composed by Davis; and “Boplicity,” arranged by Evans.

After intermission, the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival Nonet joins the student Jazz Ensemble and Mambo Combo, performing pre-cool compositions/arrangements by Evans and Mulligan written for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra in the 1940s. Nonet members will solo during several selections, including “Jambangle” by Evans, “Line for Lyons” and “Walkin’ Shoes” by Mulligan.

“Alex (Stewart) has to play the whole set,” Davies said. “We need a baritone-sax player, I told him.”

The nonet hasn’t performed since September, so they will rehearse prior to Friday’s concert.

“It’s going to be a long day,” Davies said.

Saturday evening, the Mambo Combo hits the Naked Turtle with Latin/Caribbean/funk grooves.

Sunday from noon to 3 p.m., Davies’s Thugtet performs his originals at the Smoked Pepper.

His latest release, “Salsa Nortena,” received two nominations in the prestigious 12th Independent Music Awards. In the Latin category, the CD was nominated for Album of the Year, and “Baile de Amor” was nominated for Song of the Year.

The recognition is not anything Davies anticipated, and he’s thrilled to be among the eclectic mix of established and emerging artists.

“I’ve been writing a lot of funk lately,” he said. “I like funk.”

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IF YOU GO WHAT: "Birth of the Cool: The Music of Miles Davis, Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan." WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday. WHERE: E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium, Hawkins Hall, SUNY Plattsburgh. ADMISSION: Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Angell College Center or at the door. Prices are $8 general admission; $5 seniors, students and college faculty and staff; and $2 for college students.