Vocalist Dominique Eade, a voice professor at New England Conservatory and noted jazz interpreter, and trumpeter David Adewumi, an NEC student, perform on the closing evening concert at the annual Panama Jazz Festival. Photo credit: Mark Holston
The final day of workshops, clinics and formal concerts at the annual Panama Jazz Festival concluded with a blast of salsa music, straight ahead jazz and a searing sampling of the avant-garde.
Willlie Panama, a local hero of his home country’s small but vibrant salsa scene, entertained an SRO audience and a bevy of happy dancers with his 13-piece orchestra. Panama is a well traveled singer and actor who has appeared in such films as Malcom X. He graciously featured several student musicians as soloists, helping to keep the festival’s focus on music education and the efforts of the Danilo Perez Foundation front-and-center.
The evening double bill at the Ateneo Theater on the campus of the expansive, Panama Canal-fronting City of Knowledge opened with a quartet of talented New England Conservatory student musicians and NEC voice professor Dominique Eade, considered by many critics to be in the upper echelon of jazz singers in the world today. Eade is known for her sure pitch, scatting and vocalese talents, and skill as an arranger. An example of her deft artistry was evident on her reworking of the standard “There Will Never Be Another You” and saxophonist Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” into an enticing new form. Trumpeter David Adewumi, pianist Chris McCarthy, Isaac Levien on bass and drummer Ryan Sands impressed with their keen reading of Eade’s many moods.
The evening closed with a power play — literally — featuring the MCA Power Trio and the diverse talents of pianist Geri Allen, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and reed master David Murray. Standout performances included two Carrington compositions — one dedicated to tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter and another jaunty arrangement created with pianist Allen in mind titled “Geri-Riggin’.” The trio mined the inner and outer realms of “free” jazz. Murray, a Grammy winner who claims 150 albums as a leader, offered boisterous blowing on both tenor sax and bass clarinet, delighting the audience with ravenous runs and shrill upper register outbursts.
The Panama Jazz Festival concludes today (Saturday, January 16) with a free outdoor concert under the sun on the parade grounds of a former U.S. army base, Fort Clayton. The afternoon and evening event draws thousands and features special guests and new parings of musicians who have appeared throughout the week.