Saturday, September 01, 2007

They don't mess around at Jazz in the Park

I kept on writing last year that i was sick of Jazz in the Park, and it was probably because I'm too lazy to really get into Jazz in the Park. It takes work to go to Jazz in the Park. You can't just turn up with a peanut butter sandwhich and a schpack of Blatz. This isn't some elaborate Packer or Brewer tailgate party. No, this is the Fashionable East Side's answer to the tailgate party. These people do not mess around. They bring candles, the freshest fruit available, wine that isn't Two Buck Chuck (though this crowd isn't ashamed to admit they go to Trader Joe's). They set up elegant little tables adorned with fresh flowers. If you're not drinking wine, have a Margarita. And if you didn't bring your own fixins, you can get one at the vendor stands. There's two flavors: regular, and Chambord. I'll admit, I went fru-fru and got a Chambord Margarita. Hoo, it was good. There are some people who actually drink beer (note, however, these are not exactly PBRs, and there are people who made me feel less inadaquate with either a standard serving of fruit,, but the family was here to see Deirdre, so we spread our blanket (hey, at least we bought one of those!) out next to the playground, where the kids played happily while we scouted the food and musical offerings.

This is Jazz in the Park, people, not State Fair. Yes, there was a hot dog/sausage cart which made Sammy Happy, and Flannery's offered hamburgers and cheeseburgers. But they also had buffalo chicken wraps; Louise's Trattoria, in addition to lovely pizzas and a plateful of Ravioli, also had goat cheese arugula salads. Stella has good things to say about Louise's pizza -- she likes a good thick bread pizza and we all agreed the sauce was tangy and good. Whole Foods was handing out free samples of their fresh beef jerky (very, very good) and smoked salmon spread. I noshed all night on samples and small servings.


Blueswailin', Jazzscattin, Deirdre
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
I've written about the fabulous Deirdre before, and I was glad to see her get her chance to wow the JITP crowd, and wow them she did. While it was still light, she eased in with some impro versions of standards, almost lounge, very "And now, the Vocal Stylings of Miss Deirdre Fellner," but it seemed that she got rowdier and blues wailiner as the sun went down with the alcohol. By set two, the dance area in front of the stage was packed, and her band seemed to have loosend up as well. Guitarist Steve Peplin was almost musically invisible during Set 1, during set two he'd turned my head with licks that teetered on the end of almost not finishing their phrase (but they did). Bassist Eric Hervey plays this cross between that "Theme From Seinfeld" style with a touch of Stanley Clarke.

Deirdre herself was in top form. Again, by set two she herself had loosened up and knew that her talent alone had won over this crowd, and with that under her belt adressed the entire crowd as old friends, introducing stongs, telling stories, making you think she's just one of us, and then the music starts and she opens her mouth to sing and that's when you're reminded she's something special. Her eyes are closed a good portion of the time -- she's living this music and working it out from deep inside. Maybe its why I put up with the "Vocal Stylizations" part of the set in the beginning. It's kind of showoffy (but you have to impress this crowd with those skills if they're gonig to look up from their artisan cheese plates and note your name), but then she applies these to her livelier music and it fits in so well. They don't mess around at Jazz in the Park, and neither does Deirdre Fellner. Its about time the two were put together.

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