Don’t trust a jazz musician over 30
|By Lawrence Cosentino|
East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival puts the accent on youth this time around
At 19, Grace Kelly has left the jazz prodigy bit behind
“Sometimes I watch videos of myself and I just laugh,” she said. “It looks like I’m doing a chicken dance.”
Kelly leaves it to others to take her seriously — and they
At Barack Obama’s inauguration, Kelly jammed with Dave
She swings the young-hope-of-jazz burden like adolescent King Arthur casually hefted Excalibur. What’s the big deal?
“I don’t think of it as being under pressure, because I
Kelly’s torch-passing tours with Woods have been especially significant to both musicians.
“He’s a warm person,” Kelly said Woods, “but he’ll tell you when you’re messing up — onstage, in front of people.”
“She’s 14 years old — and I’m going to break her fingers,”
Check it out on YouTube: As Kelly soars into bebop heaven,
Last year, Kelly and Woods got together to record a CD of originals, “The Man With the Hat,” with Kelly taking top billing.
“It’s been surreal,” Kelly said. “He’s been one of my biggest idols since I started.”
“I sleep a little better knowing there’s people like Grace
On a typical Kelly/Woods summit, a fleet and sweet solo
“She’s the first person to get that hat,” Woods said.
When Kelly was a larva in single digits, she listened to
As a youngster, she was enthralled by a street musician in New York who played “The Pink Panther.”
“I wanted to be able to do that on saxophone,” she said.
She was scalded by the joy of jazz at a Boston gig by trumpeter Clark Terry, a veteran of Duke Ellington’s band and many others.
“He was older, and having a hard time playing trumpet, but
Kelly’s alto style flows from the bebop mainline, straight
Kelly has been careful to acknowledge her inspirations and
“A lot of people play what fits the giants, but there will
She already has a scrapbook of heady memories.
A recent gig in a public square in Warsaw, Poland, stunned her by drawing thousands.
“I could hear a pin drop,” Kelly said. It sounded like we were in a concert hall. They were so hungry for the music.”
On tour with Woods, Kelly learned that European audiences are still rabid for jazz.
“They’ll bring these out-of-print records Phil signs that
She’s gotten generous praise from a lot of jazz greats and
“Playing with him is like a surge, a whirlwind,” Kelly
Kelly is a calculating performer when she’s singing, but
“I love it when it’s 100 percent raw,”
Taylor Eigsti Quartet
New York-based pianist Taylor Eigsti is only 26, but he
“Maybe it’s too Utopian to hope for a world that has a
Eigsti might adapt an alt-rock anthem by Coldplay, a sad
The formula informs much of today’s piano jazz: curious young person with wide-ranging iPod plus prodigious chops.
“You could say it reflects being born in 1984 and being a professional jazz musician,” Eigsti said.
Eigsti brings his quartet to the East Lansing Summer
“You’ll hear jazz, because we don’t want to abandon what
As a kid, Eigsti was fired up by jazz virtuoso Art Tatum,
Gone are the days when one form of jazz, whether
“We live in an era when we see Kanye West sitting in at the Blue Note,” Eigsti marveled.
“A lot of things that are in my roots — enjoying rock
Last September, Eigsti closed a strange loop of his life by sitting in with the Doobie Brothers.
In 1987, the Doobies played at a hospital where Eigsti’s
Eigsti’s gig with the Doobies last September was a mix of melancholy and elation.
“That was a big moment, getting to jam with them,” Eigsti said. “I bought a new leather jacket for the occasion.”
Eigsti’s label, Concord, packages him as a young hunk with
“A lot of bad things that have happened in my life that
Summer Solstice Jazz Festival
FRIDAY, JUNE 17
4:30 p.m. Metro Jazz Voices
6 p.m. Etienne Charles & Folklore
7:30 p.m. Grace Kelly Quintet
9:15 p.m. Tumbao Bravo
Afterglow Arlene McDaniel Quintet (at Mumbai)
SATURDAY, JUNE 18
4:30 p.m. Randy Gelispie & Friends
6 p.m. Billie Holiday Project featuring Mardra Thomas
7:30 p.m. Taylor Eigsti Quartet
9:15 p.m. Grupo-Aye
Afterglow Rodney Whitaker Quartet (at Mumbai)
The performances are staged under a large tent in downtown East Lansing’s Parking Lot 1 (230 Albert Ave.), on the corner of Albert Avenue and Abbot Road. Afterglow performances will be held at Mumbai, 340 Albert Ave. All performances are free. Visit www.eljazzfest.com for updates.