Another year and another free outdoor jazz festival in Rosslyn. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this years was looking good because The Bad Plus was playing. I have seen them before, even own a few albums and was looking forward to seeing them play on the small stage at Gateway Park. The date coincided with the anniversary of 9/11 but thankfully there was only one small mention in passing by one of the directors of Rosslyn Bid. The artists left the politics at home and provided a splendid afternoon of great music. No one was there for a political rally.
I got a late start and didn’t leave the house till almost noon. By the time I got off Metro and picked up my morning coffee I literally had two minutes to spare before the 1pm show start. I found a nice spot on the wide open lawn away from people, most in fact were off to the sides in shade. Securing my area just before the first act got on stage I clipped my first cigar and sipped some coffee. For the next couple of hours I managed to smoke two cigars and have no one complain. More and more people filed in, but I kept puffing away and made sure everyone around me knew what I was doing. You didn’t have to sit next to me if you were going to be bothered by my smoking.
Afro Bop Alliance was the first performance, a Grammy winning Latin jazz band. Surprisingly no one was up and dancing, last year several couples danced the afternoon away to the sounds of Spanish Harlem Orchestra. Pretty tame today, I guess being the first act in the middle of the afternoon didn’t help.
Next up was Jason Moran and the Bandwagon, a trio that has been playing together for 10 years. Jason Moran was rather young but certainly well versed in musical history. They played several intro pieces from old artists including Billie Holiday and a menstrual act from the early part of this century. It would be a 30-60 second piece with them slowly playing salong before they quickly took the arrangement in a new direction. I wouldn’t call it fusion, but very close. The beats were crazy and the solos spectacular. These guys certainly had command of their instruments and I was pleasantly surprised by their set.
When they finished it was time for The Bad Plus, the act I was most excited about seeing. I didn’t have any more cigars to smoke, later Jeremy reminded me to always bring more than you think you will need. There set was fantastic and the crowd was really into it. I was afraid they might be a little out there for most people but the crowd ate it up, very enthusiastic. Some of the songs during the set were from their forthcoming album that will be released Tuesday called Never Stop.
After their set was finished it was time to call it a day. Even though the weather was good I was tired of roasting in the sun. The final act, The Tierney Sutton Band, I was not much interested in seeing. I made a lazy walk around the park to soak up as much energy as I could and headed home on the Metro. Another thing I love about this festival, it’s so close to home.
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