by Steven Pisano and FoM
Last weekend, BRIC hosted its third annual three-night JazzFest marathon, which back in 2015 instantly became a mecca for adventurous jazz fans looking to hear a wide-ranging array of jazz styles. This year's festival kept that tradition going, revisiting old faithfuls and discovering new talent on the rise. There were also new bands put together by veterans of the scene, such as drummer Terri Lyne Carrington's Social Science, featuring a singer and MC delivering emotional lyrics inspired by police brutality and our polarizing political climate. Upstarts included Sharel Cassity's forward-leaning Elektra and the elegant, ethereal singer Kavita Shah. Guitarist Binky Griptite (formerly of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings) led a swinging band that inspired more than a few dancers, while Mexico's Troker straddled the line between jazz and funk. The venerable Sun Ra Arkestra, now in it's 65th year, closed out the night.
Also bringing a strong political slant to their music was 25-year-old Samora Pinderhughes and his group. Videos projected behind the group of the writer James Baldwin talking about racial inequality and rappers detailing police abuses against minorities drew cries of support from the audience, almost as if at a political rally. But there was no worry that this would just be politics set to a soundtrack. Pinderhughes and his various singers and instrumentalists were stunningly entertaining, thought-provoking, and emotionally moving.But the night was not only for the up-and-comers. Capping the night near midnight was Regina Carter, one of the world's premier jazz violinists, playing music associated with Ella Fitzgerald.A set in the Ballroom brought together trumpeter Dave Douglas with a young brass quartet hailing from Seattle called the Westerlies. For everyone who loves their jazz heavy on the horns, this was the place to be.Also rich with horns was the Papo Vazquez Mighty Pirate Troubadours, who have earned a Grammy nomination for one of their recordings.One of the highlights of the evening was seeing pianist Vijay Iyer play with a sextet, instead of his usual trio. Again, the extra horns made a world of difference.Lafrae Sci + The Groove Diplomacy Youth Orchestra brought a vibrant, youthful vibe to the area of BRIC called the Stoop, where the audience sits on steps overlooking an art gallery, which was exhibiting photographs of Brooklyn. Lafrae Sci lists herself as an "activist, composer, and drummer" on her site, and she does a lot of work to get young people involved in music and also just plain involved--which seemed to be the theme of a lot of the musicians this night.Braxton Cook closed out the night on the Stoop with his rollicking saxophone.