Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 6:35 pm
Tuesday night the rising R&B star Frank Ocean did something important. At first, however, few observers agreed on what he'd done. Headlines varied on quickly assembled gossip reports, from the measured to the hyperbolic.
At the Newport Jazz Festival, we're visiting the Quad and Harbor Stages, where the first rows of audience sit snug up to the performer. With her understated style, love of the lyric and freedom, Gretchen Parlato makes that closeness work. Everyone leans in and listens.
Around the time I turned 12, I figured out exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up: an alcoholic.
I didn't actually know what it meant to be an alcoholic, but I knew that one day, I would drink copious amounts and dash around the streets of Paris, preferably in the company of bullfighters, bankrupts, impotent newspaper correspondents, and morbidly depressed, exotically beautiful divorcees.
In a good jazz rhythm section, the players function independently and as one. Their parts and accents crisscross and reinforce each other, interlocking like West African drummers. Beyond that, the bass is a band's ground floor. When it changes up, the earth shifts under all the players' feet. From moment to moment, Linda Oh's bass prowls or gallops, takes giant downward leaps, or stands its ground.