It's no huge secret that the best jazz is usually found in intimate settings.
The romantic ideal -- finding a burning tenor player at 2 in the morning in a smoky, hole-in-the-wall jazz club, whose playing transcends mere notes and rhythms -- may well be the best way to hear jazz, but the music has also flourished in concert halls, university venues and outdoor festivals. Plenty of inspired moments have been heard in these larger arenas, and pianist Benny Green and saxophonist James Moody have both been awe-inspiring when performing in a football stadium in Idaho.
The musicians were joined by singer Nnenna Freelon, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, bass player Derrick Hodge and drummer Kendrick Scott Friday at Symphony Hall for a tour celebrating 50 years of the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Unfortunately for the musicians, something seemed cold about the room, and none of them were quite able to piece together snippets of inspiration into a cohesive set.
The octogenarian Moody, with ample comic support from Green, launched into his puckish singing routine "Benny's From Heaven," to uproarious applause. And Hodge joined Freelon for a delicate and swinging duet on "Skylark," but these moments were too few. Blanchard closed the concert with readings from his Grammy-winning rumination on New Orleans.
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