Friday the 15th at the famous Jazz a Juan jazz festival at Juan-les-Pins was devoted to commemorating jazz giant Miles Davis. The first band of this two-part evening was Bitches Brew Beyond led by trumpeter Wallace Roney. With sidemen Al Foster, Bernie Maupin, Antoine Roney and others, the group struggled to honor Miles Davis’ groundbreaking fusion album, Bitches Brew. For whatever reason, it didn’t work. The mysterious alchemy that makes jazz “swing” was entirely absent, leaving the audience disengaged and bored. It didn’t help that the group started about 1/2 hour late which meant a long wait for the music everyone came to hear: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Marcus Miller in their “Tribute to Miles”.
Now that was jazz at its most transcendent, most spiritual. The intricate harmonies lay within a complex rhythmical structure that was both subtle and pulsing. Hancock, Shorter and Miller have nothing to prove on the technical front so we were spared flashy see-how-fast-I-can-play nonsense. Every note was a well-chosen stitch in the larger tapestry of sound. The effect was hypnotically beautiful. I fell into a kind of trance where nothing existed but the music weaving its magic. I wasn’t surprised when Miller (in excellent French) explained that they were expressing Miles’ dreams!
As always, the acoustics in the Jazz a Juan festival were impeccable, the crowd respectful and the serene, seaside setting fantastic.
The program for the 2011 Jazz festival at Juan-les-Pins, “Jazz a Juan” is now online and it’s truly a banquet for jazz-lovers. I recommend reserving your tickets early to make sure you get a seat at your preferred concert. Check out the line-up:
REVELATIONS (promising new artists)
BITCHES BREW BEYOND
Tribute to Miles Davis
KEITH JARRETT TRIO
SOIREE OFF (free)
ALEX TASSEL / CURTIS STIGE
IMANY / BEN ONCLE SOUL
RAUL MIDON/RICHARD BO
HAROLD LOPEZ NUSSA TRIO
MANU KATCHE PROJECT
CRAIG ADAMS / SOIREE GOSPEL (free)
For more information and to reserve tickets, click here.