The catch a rising star moment wrapped the M&T Syracuse Jazz Fet in its happy arms early Saturday night.
Lake Street Dive, good to know you now. I only hope those plaques proclaiming it your day all four of you brought home, the bouquets placed in the arms of lead singer Rachael Price and bassist Bridget Kearney, the repeated waves of applause from the crowd at Onondaga Community College, will stick in the memory bank as the climb continues.
Your decade rise from Boston bars to the top of Rolling Stone magazine’s bands you’ve got to meet list is most deserved. May you return again as the featured headliner.
And Ms. Price, you who told us you were so excited to come out amongst us to see the following set of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin? May I call you the Princess of cool pop?
Yes, boys and girls, Lake Street Dive turned in a great and grand set.
Oh, those songs. Oh, the aura of front woman Price. She sings so strong and sultry, and moves with grace and just the right amount of allure. You can’t take your eyes or your ears off of her.
Oh, that voice. When she sang, “You Go Down Smooth,” Price played on the word smooth so smoothly … sweet.
The four set quite a spell, with Bridget Kearney working the big upright bass, and Mike “McDuck” Olson trading off between lead trumpet and guitar, and drummer Mike Calabrese keeping the beat from drums on a side riser and not shying away from vocals a bit, either. An acoustic break in front was very hip, too.
“Bad Self Portraits,” “Spectacular Failure,” “Hello? Goodbye” … they can write tight and hot, too. Then Kearney made the wise decision to pin Van Halen’s “Jump” to the end of their own “Bobby Tanqueray,” and everybody in the crowd did.
Their other cover choices were slick, too. Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass” was silk and heat, and the Jacksons’ “I Want You Back” will never, ever be the same after Lake Street Dive’s slow-down.
The Upstate Burners filled the second set of the day with hard bop and light comedy.
Drummer Danny D’Imperio started this collective of tough jazz guys in 1978. D’Imperio — the cat from Cortland who as the house drummer at the famed Three River Inn in Syracuse sat with so many huge names in the art and went on to play with the bands of Glenn Miller, Buddy DeFranco, Gap Mangion, Maynard Ferguson and more — explained that he’s the only one left from his original crew. The others are all in Vermont. And that’s the prefered euphimism for … “They’re all dead,” he ended his little story.
The set whizzed by with a lot of little stores and a lot of sturdy jazz, thanks to D’Imperio’s new band: saxophonist Gary Smulyan, one of the bes on the planet and with the readers and critics poll awards to prove it, trumpeter Greg Gisbert and the youngster of the group, Syracuse area standout Andrew Carroll.
They clicked, the horns fluent back on the opener “Blowin’ the Blues Away,” smooth and fast talkers both.
“Good Date” was, and “Perdido” also brought out Mark Suben on the bongos.
As a band leader as smart as he is steady on the kit, D’Imperio knows well to allow all of his great guys there space. And Mack, a standup bass guy from Auburn, took full advantage stringing on a rich and thick “Goodbye Porkpie Hat.”
Young band Noteified started day two late Saturday afternoon with a strong set of classics done their way.
Syracuse TV reporter Carrie Lazarus introduced the quintet as the extraordinary talents they are, high school musicians — some now entering college to study the art — who trained classically but fell in love with jazz.
With Sam Smith on bass, Richard Bostick on piano, David Millen on guitar, Scottie Madonia on drums and Dunham Hall on saxophone, they kept the family, friends and early arrivers happy by opening with a smooth “Birdland” and marching into “Caravan.”
The sun was hot, and so were they young men on the improv-a-lot piece “Proclamation.”
And they were together on the Average White Band funk classic “Pick Up the Pieces,” and thankfully showed their age with the closer, a spunky “What about Banky?” from Brooklyn band Snarky Puppy. Cool.
Click on any gallery photo for a description. Click on the bottom right photo for an enlarged slide show.
Here are videos I took of the bands from the fifth row with my iPhone 6.
Click here for my review of the day-closing set by Aretha Franklin.
Click here for my review of Friday’s day one of the festival.
What show are you planning to see next, and why? What’s your favorite photograph, and why? What’s your favorite video, and why?