Among the artists Quincy himself introduced last night at the Quincy Jones Productions showcase at Subrosa on Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, was UK wunderkind Jacob Collier. What he does with the piano and loops and voice and what have you is so extraordinarily musical and imaginative. It also has a certain coziness and warmth which I think is pretty rare for a 20-year old. Watch out for his album later in the year.
And I have to admit it felt very special to be in a room with legends like Quincy and also Tommy LiPuma who was in the audience as well. Jacob asked Becca Stevens on stage and they matched so magically in the two songs they did, among them Stevie Wonder’s classic “As”. Just brilliant.
Coming up next was another young master – pianist Justin Kauflin and his trio opened their set with a Mulgrew Miller composition, playing fiercely boppish lines and keeping up the pace for a slower, hymn-like piece as well. I’ve heard him at last year’s Jazz Ahead conference and he is certainly someone to watch out for as well.
Earlier in the day, it was showcase time again at the Hilton where I checked out Denise Donatelli, recently nominated for a Grammy for her album “Find A Heart”. I hadn’t seen her perform before and I decided towards the end of the set that I really liked her. She came across a bit cold at first in her singing, but then opened up in the course of her show. And I think it is all about repertoire. She chose to sing songs by contemporary artists like David Crosby, Sting, Donald Fagen, or Geoffrey Keezer (who also produced her album) and it worked. Since there are so many singers around, I think it is essential to focus either on your own, self-written material or come up with a varied selection of contemporary story-tellers. And it didn’t hurt to have Laurence Hobgood on piano and Don Braden on sax, either.
With all the swarming going on midtown, I dived to Washington Square Park at around noon to see my dear friend Roz Corral playing her regular brunch gig at North Square. And with Freddie Bryant on guitar and Paul Gill on bass, she too is someone who won’t stick to the same old same old Great American Songbook fare. She mixed in a Brook Benton tune, the classic “Undecided”, closely associated with Ella Fitzgerald, and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer)”. And I’d like to thank her for that! And I love New York.