Art Blakey is a living legend, a musical, almost melodic drummer, a musician who performs for his audience as much as he does for himself. Unfortunately, you missed him. He was at the Jazz Workshop until last night.
Les McCann is another great performer. Rev. B., Les's lyricist, describes Les this way: "Working with Les is a constant source of amazement and delight. And so much fun that it should be illegal." Guess what--Les is gone too. He was at Paul's Mall until yesterday.
But it's not your fault that you missed Art and Les. Last week's magazine never materialized thanks to technical difficulties here at the Crimson. Last week's column, in which I talked about Blakey's style, about his history, about Les McCann's earthy optimism, never saw the light of day. So it goes.
Although Art Blakey has zipped up his cymbal bags and gone away, ample percussive talents have arrived in Boston to fill the void. Billy Cobham is playing tonight at the Paradise, and Jack DeJohnette is appearing tomorrow night at the Berklee Performance Center with John Abercrombie, Eddie Gomez, Lester Bowie, and special guest bass player Eberhard Weber.
Cobham has played with the original Mahavishnu Orchestra, a post-"Bitches' Brew" group that helped to influence the developing jazz-rock fusion of the early '70s. He has also played with Stanley Clarke on Clarke's "School Days," a very funky album in which Cobham enjoys setting forth basic funky rhythms and varying them, complicating them, creating a funk-avant-garde feel. Essentially, that is what Cobham plays; funk-avant-grade, jazz-rock. His album titles speak for themselves: "Funky Thide of Things," "Shabazz," "Spectrum."
DeJohnette is also a very avant-garde (to overuse that term) drummer. He is "outside, very outside," according Glen, who live downstairs. What else can I say?
Yvonne Elliman is at Paul's Mall Friday thru Sunday. She was a star member of the original cast of "Jesus Christ Superstar." She sings. Yvonne is followed next week (Feb. 21-23) by Ramsey Lewis. Noel Pointer is at the Workshop tonight thru Sunday night. If you like Jean-Luc Ponty, you will probably like Pointer's more progressively oriented jazz violin style.
And now for the big news. Four Harvard students will perform on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 4:15 p.m. in the Mather House dining room Claude Bolling's "Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano."
Bolling, a French-born composer, conductor, arranger, and pianist, wrote the suite especially for the world-renowned classical flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal. The two recorded the piece (with drums and bass) in 1975 on the Columbia label. The album has been a bestseller for three years.
The suite is exciting--the constant interplay of jazz and classical elements is in every measure new and fresh. If you have never heard the work you will enjoy it. If you know the piece well from listening to the album, you have got to hear it live.
So, if you get too far outside this week with Cobham and DeJohnette, you can tune yourself back in on Sunday. It has been a great honor.