Jazz Review

InConcert Sierra Jazz on the Pond – September 18, 2011

 Music, sun, food and friends at ICS’ Jazz on the Pond

By Charles Atthill, Special to The Union

Owing to circumstances over which InConcert Sierra had no control its recent Jazz on The Pond fundraiser took place exactly as advertised.

The sun shone. On a breathless afternoon Joan and Lance Goddard’s beautiful gardens shimmered. Nobody fell in the pond. An audience of over 400 spread themselves on the lawn, and indulged in the trio of food, sun and friends. Master piano technician Peter Sumner impersonated the English Patient in his Panama. Young Bren, son of violinist and composer Rich Altenbach and singer Dawn Marie Simmons, showed the parking crew a thing or two with his model multi-story parking garage. A fine backdrop to the trio of pianist Ken Hardin, bassist Mickey Bennett, and drummer Kit Bailey.

The Ken Hardin Trio (“We tried to change the name once,” said Hardin, “but it didn’t take”) impressed with its precision, ensemble, and drive, in a program of instantly recognizable standards. “I don’t really think I need introduce these numbers,” said Hardin. The program previewed fall with Autumn Leaves, featured Bennett’s walking bass and tuneful solo in Jersey Bounce and Bailey’s exotic samba drumming in Let’s Go Dancing, foreshadowed winter with a rippling Snow Dancing, and captivated with a brooding Body and Soul.

At the heart of the afternoon was singer Kurt Andrew Hansen, Hardin’s one-time student and veteran of Broadway productions of Miss Saigon and Mamma Mia. His porkpie hat alerted us to his main theme: Frank Sinatra. He revealed his affection for the trio with I’ve Got You Under My Skin, and I Can’t Get You Out of My Heart. He took us to New York New York, flew us to the moon, began the beguine with Bailey’s gently pulsing drums, and when he wasn’t passionate (by night and day), he was nice ‘n easy. “Playing with these great musicians makes me hot and sweaty,” Hansen confessed, “but then I look at them and I’m ok.”

Once again the popular 60s and 70s nostalgia band Then Again warmed up the crowd of ICS loyalists who are as enthralled by recreations of classic rock as by jazz trio, string quartet or pianist.

I’m exhausted,” exulted actress Corinne Gelfan, on a day off from rehearsing “I Hate Hamlet” opening soon at the Off Center Stage. “So many friends to talk to.” I meanwhile woolgathered. Which was my first recording of Autumn Leaves? (Miles Davis). When did I first hear Ol’ Blue Eyes? (Surprisingly late: I had a sheltered childhood). When did I first get to know Body and Soul? (Playing in the High School Jazz Band).

Jazz on The Pond celebrated summer, the beginning of a new season, the enchantment of picnics, and the company of friends. “What’s not to like?” said one beaming listener. Indeed.

Charles Atthill lives in Alta Sierra. He is perfecting his vocal walking bass technique in case one day his idol Mickey Bennett is not available.

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