By Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
5.16.16: Philadelphia – (Entertainment): Of the many drummers I’ve seen perform throughout my life – I began playing drums at age 6, became a professional and recorded my first project while in high school and, in my late teens, managed a Guitar Center drum department where I was responsible for, among many things, organizing the annual ‘Drum-Off’ competition – Mr. Ali Jackson of the Lincoln Center Orchestra, who along with Mr. Wynton Marsalis yesterday paid tribute to jazz great Miles Davis at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Center City Philadelphia, was the most dynamic in terms of tonality and finesse.
At times, it seems as if his wooden drumsticks were actually pencils: he’s so light-handed that he barely had to touch his tightly-tuned tom-toms to get them to respond with melody. And then there were moments – like during a phenomenal drum solo towards the end of the evening – where Mr. Jackson, who arranged at least two songs performed last night by the orchestra in the Verizon Hall, sounded as if he were playing with tree barks.
But Mr. Jackson wasn’t the only show-stopper. In fact, many of the musicians on-stage – like Mr. Dan Nimmer on piano or trombonist Mr. Elliot Mason – were compelling acts. Though Mr. Marsalis, who at the Kimmel Center in November of 2015 received the Marian Anderson Award, is usually the head-liner, when apart of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, he’s one of 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players in the country, and maybe even the world.
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The aforementioned collective throughout the night revisited favorites from Mr. Davis’ grand body of work, including ‘My Funny Valentine,’ which featured on trumpet Mr. Marcus Printup, and a jazz rock tune titled ‘Selim,’ which is Miles spelled backwards.
“Miles made the complex simple and the simple cool,” said Mr. Jackson, who, indeed, played rhythms that despite being syncopated and sometimes hard to count appeared effortlessly.
Mr. Davis this month would have been 90 years old. In 2006, Mr. Davis, who died in 1991, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as “one of the key figures in the history of jazz.” A 2015 movie starring Mr. Don Cheadle titled ‘Miles Ahead’ is an exploration of the trumpeter’s life and music.
Among Mr. Davis’ collaborators were Mr. John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Mr. Charles Mingus, an American jazz bassist who died in 1979.
Beyond being a jazz virtuoso, Mr. Davis had another gift, which was, according to Mr. Jackson, his ability to “find talent.”
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About Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
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