Sunday, August 14, 2011

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 1

It was certainly a perfect summer afternoon yesterday in downtown San Jose for the final sets of the San Jose Jazz Festival. On the salsa stage at 6 p.m., Fito Reinoso y su Ritmo y Armonia sizzled in front of a beautiful San Jose rainbow crowd. Playing salsa Cuban style, the band is a well-oiled machine, and Reinoso is a charismatic front man. His baritone is so rich I kept wishing for a ballad, but the band and the dancers in the crowd would have none of that. The horns were tight, the timbales driving the rhythm without punishing your eardrums, the piano providing that propulsive montuno riff. The answer, in short, is yes.

Earlier we caught the first half hour of Miguel Zenón's quartet. The band seemed tentative and a bit disorganized at first, but by the time I left to check out some other stages, they were cooking, mastering tough chord changes and bizarre meters as if it were the 12-bar blues. Zenón plants his feet and wobbles around on bent knees while he solos on alto. I'm not sure I've heard a better saxophonist in some time.

We walked by the main stage twice, hearing a bit of Ramsey Lewis one way and then George Duke/ David Sanborn coming back. Is it funk jazz? Smooth jazz? Arena jazz? Whatever it is, it's popular, and it kind of sucks.

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