Anat Cohen and Jamie Cullum Bring Down The House At The Newport Jazz Festival (Newport 2010 Recap, Part 6 of 6)
August 20th, 2010 No Comments »
With heavy hearts, D.A. and I geared up for the last two sets of the day. We managed to find great close-up seats at Harbor Stage for clarinetist Anat Cohen, whom we had seen earlier with George Wein’s Newport Allstars. Once she launched into her first song, it was obvious why she had been part of that brilliant group of musicians.
What can I say about her playing that could do her technique justice? The girl’s got soul and funk, plain and simple. Each note seemed to take the very last breath from her body. At times she played one-handed in order to wipe the sweat from her brow. Sometimes she scrunched her face and twisted her body, as if the melody was being taken from her very soul. Likewise, it was truly fascinating to watch Cohen wandering the stage in between her solos. Alternating between fits of ecstasy, bouts of anger or simply smiling at someone off stage, all eyes were glued to her to see what she would do next.
At the conclusion of each solo, the crowd went wild, making it that much harder to tear ourselves away for the last show. But we did reluctantly make a quick getaway during a round of thunderous applause for her breathtaking version of “The Roses Do Not Speak.”
Running back to Fort Stage, we joined the crowd just in time to hear Jamie Cullum’s jazzed up remix of Rihanna’s “Please Don’t Stop The Music.” However, just when you had him pegged as a pop-type artist, he pulled out some classic numbers like “What A Difference A Day Makes,” “I Got A Woman,” and “I Get A Kick Out of You.” Yet these weren’t the same tunes your parents or grandparents used to listen to back in the day. Putting his unique spin on them, it truly felt like you were hearing these songs for the first time.
Cullum has cited a wide variety of artists as musical influences in his career, ranging from the great Herbie Hancock to Radiohead. It was obvious from the show that he’s not a cookie cutter performer – his style constantly shifts in new directions, his inspiration paving a road not many people within the industry choose to travel. To say that I was amazed by his onstage showmanship would be a great understatement. Glancing around I could see audience members felt the same way. People both young and young-at-heart were swaying contentedly to Cullum’s innovative musical arrangements.
I could not have asked for a better way to end my first Newport Jazz Festival visit. On the return trip to town, I looked back on Fort Adams State Park growing smaller in the distance, but felt the joy, wonder and appreciation of the day’s celebrations overflowing from my heart. Although a mere thank you doesn’t begin to cover it, I’ll say it anyway – thank you to all who were part of this year’s festival and helped make the event every jazz lover’s dream come true.
For those who weren’t able to make it to Newport this year, NPR has archived selected sets of the 2010 Newport Jazz Festival on their website. (scroll down and look in the left hand margin)
Hear Jamie Cullum’s jazz-infused cover of Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop The Music” at Newport Jazz Fest 2010:
Hear Jamie Cullum cover Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman” as he throws in a little Kanye West for good measure at Newport Jazz Fest 2010: