Departing Savannah this morning after four densely-filled days, I shared a ride to the airport with a man named Craig, 60ish, with an unplaceable European accent, who described his recital last night at the Festival as taking place in a beautiful art museum. He said the space was packed with listeners, and he was surrounded by sergeants. I asked why armed guards were necessary at a classical recital, and he corrected me: he meant Sargent, the painter.
The Savannah Music Festival is an amazing event, passionately run by Rob Gibson, former executive director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, who manages to find ways to involve his favorite musicians in a variety of settings, year after year. I am fortunate to be on this list, and have played the Festival in the past as conductor and performer with Police drummer Stewart Copeland, with my eclectic group Odeon, as clinician with the Swing Central high school band competition, with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and this year as music director and performer with “Downtown Uproar,” a presentation of Duke Ellington early music. On this concert I got to play with some of my favorite musicians on the scene. The lineup included John and Jeff Clayton, Dave Stryker, Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Printup, Marcus Roberts, Gerald Clayton, Bill Kennedy, Terell Stafford, Rodney Whitaker, Jason, Marsalis, Jack Wilkins, Jim Ketch, Leon Anderson, Paul Mckee, Slide Hampton, Rodney Jordan, Kevin Bales, Bill Petterson, Ron Westray, Obed Calvaire, and Joe Temperly.
Somewhat last-minute I was added to a concert with Chico Pinheiro, the Brazilian guitarist and composer. Robert Sadin was conducting a set of pieces that was a beautiful synthesis of classical and modern Brazilian music. Chico is a great composer and player, and is also a very nice guy! The second set last night was Dianne Reeves. Many vocalists talk about their “instrument,” but Dianne is one of the few who really owns one! She’s got a cute new hairstyle, too...