Two jazz legends have confirmed their reputation at ZeelandJazz. Archie Shepp (79) and Lee Konitz (88) played fine concerts during the second part of the festival in Middelburg.
The second part of the festival started Thursday 16 June with a boat trip from Terneuzen to Middelburg. While sailing, the Zeeland Suite Revisited (2014) was performed by an orchestra lead by the composer, pianist Jeroen van Vliet. The suite performed some twenty times over the past years and this is most likely the last time.
The boat trip was intended as a connection between the two jazz cities in the Dutch province, also described as land in the water. The band of singer and trumpet player Jeroen Zijlstra played the second concert. He is a former fisherman who worked the North Sea before he graduated from the Conservatory. His music is a mixture of jazz, blues and sailor songs. The fine saxophonist – Jan Menu plays in his band.
On Saturday Archie Shepp played on the main stage in Middelburg one of his best concerts I have attended in recent years. Tenor and soprano saxophone sounded very good and his blues singing was heartwarming.
At the beginning of his long career Archie Shepp was a follower of John Coltrane. Over the years, more and more influences of Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster have came into his music. That mix of avant-garde and swing remains fascinating, as in the well-known song “Revolution”; a tribute to his grandmother.
Archie Shepp played with his faithful companions Tom McClung (piano), Reggie Washington (bass) and Steve Mc Craven (drums). Alto saxophonist Lee Konitz only had pianist Walter Lang on stage. Just the two of them was enough to fully enjoy the intimate playing of this veteran to its fullest.
Lee Konitz was in a happy mood on Sunday. A Blackbird at the beginning of the concert started to whistle on the Abbey square. All of us were treated to singing and a bird whistling.
Crows that at the end of the concert began to make noise, which were not welcome: “Hey, hold it down.’’ But the birds did not listen to the old maestro.
The saxophonist, who is one of the founding fathers of the cool jazz, played standards for a relaxing hour. Pianist Walter Lang supported him convincingly and excelled several times, as with the intro of “All the things you are”.
Benjamin Herman’s band New Cool Collective ended the festival in a swinging mood. Vocalist Mark Reilly (Matt Bianco) was present as a guest.
Photo credits: Mauritz van Hout