By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
Twenty years ago, George Wein would not have reduced Mildred and Red to one set featuring singer and pianist Daryl Sherman. He would have brought in an orchestra to play the Eddie Sauter arrangements, the best vibes players in the world, and the kind of musicians who could make ''Dance of the Octopus'' shimmer all over again, so that you'd leave the hall knowing why a salute was in order. That said, Sherman has locked into something in exploring her affinity for Mildred, whose supple phrasing, lilting tones, and knowing time she captures with feeling and charm. Unfortunately, she was backed by an ensemble that would have been more appropriate for Lee Wiley, who married into Chicago Dixieland rather than modernistic swing; it all but drowned her out on ''Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing in a Hurry,'' causing her to overemphasize her vibrato, lose her footing, and glance at her watch. She recovered nicely on ''Lover Come Back to Me,'' until the band charged her on the outchorus, and ''There'll Be Some Changes Made,'' expertly supported by Randy Sandke.
The tribute to Dick Gibson, who died earlier that week, was another missed opportunity. No one remarked onstage who Gibson was or why he was worth saluting; at the very least, one expected a few dozen anecdotes--Gibson was the anecdotal man, as teller and subject. Wein's remark that he was important for starting a party circuit that provided musicians with work was spectacularly short of the mark. Putting aside the careers revived or spurred and the bands created during the 30 annual Colorado jazz parties lavishly thrown by Gibson and his wife Maddie (who was in attendance), they had an incalculable influence on the international revival of the mainstream jazz Wein fuels his festival with. And if Gibson proved less than brilliant in watching out for his own finances, he never stinted on jazz--I can't imagine Wein (or anyone else) flying Trummy Young from Hawaii for annual duets with Vic Dickenson, matching Joe Venuti with Zoot Sims, delivering Carl Fontana from pit band hell or John Collins from studio obscurity, or arraying the stage with 11 trombonists (okay, that last one is a little iffy). ''The First Ever New York Jazz Party,'' as it was billed, offered several players who I doubt would have made the Gibson cut, and failed entirely to capture the mix-and-match madness he mischievously forced on beboppers and Dixielanders alike. A few musicians actually seized the day and fanned mainstream embers: Urbie Green and Slide Hampton on ''Blue Monk''; Bucky Pizzarelli and Howard Alden on ''Three Little Words''; Kenny Davern on ''Moonglow''; Joe Wilder on ''Squeeze Me''; Jerry Jerome with that old-time timbre on ''Pennies From Heaven.'' But the evening never caught fire.
You wouldn't exactly say that Joao Gilberto caught fire either. As Jon Pareles wrote in the Times, he ''may well be the coolest man alive.'' Without fanfare (no blathering DJs for him), he walked out onstage with his guitar, acknowledging the standing ovation with a nearly imperceptible bow, and then played 90 minutes of bossa nova, never availing himself of the bottled water by his chair on an otherwise bare stage, and never responding to the crowd, which after the first hour or so was beginning to levitate. Pareles reported, ''and once, just once, he smiled.'' I must have been scribbling--missed it completely. On the very last number, he introduced his daughter, singer Bebel Gilberto, who, lifting her microphone, said, ''Good evening.'' A ripple of laughter rolled over the audience; except for Joao's mumbled introduction, they were the first (and last) words spoken all night.
At 67, Gilberto is, if possible, even more economical than when he made those groundbreaking albums with Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto. He's so spare that every gesture is magnified. Only late in the evening did he play an instrumental chorus, otherwise declining even pickups and breaks. Each piece was an intimate communion of voice and guitar, understated yet glistening, his rhythms enameled in their certainty, his embellishments supple but contained. He expended no apparent energy, though the music requires great energy--the lyrics are wordier than in American songs and the melodies subtly insular, focused almost entirely in the midrange with higher and lower notes that Gilberto finessed as casually as he appeared to do everything else. At the 1964 Carnegie Hall concert with Getz (Getz/Gilberto #2), the saxophonist rather haplessly tried to explain the secret of the man he kept referring to as ''the great artist,'' first suggesting that he refrains from injecting his personality into the songs, then instantly backtracking at the absurdity. Getz was right: he's there and not there, singing as though he didn't need to breathe, the voice a warm, barely vibrating string-instrument drone. He sang both volumes of the Getz collaboration, ''S'Wonderful'' (his only number in English), and others, and when you filed out of Carnegie, you knew you had seen something.
You knew also that Carnegie Hall will pick up every whisper of musicians who treat it right. The place was back to normal for the Roy Haynes and Chick Corea concert. Haynes's new trio with Danilo Perez played a powerhouse set and should be recorded, beginning with Monk's ''Bright Mississippi'' and continuing with such standards as ''I Hear a Rhapsody'' and ''It's Easy To Remember,'' a reminder of the value to be found in the harmonic steeplechases of good songs. The great drummer, in a chartreuse suit and exhibiting his usual cockiness, exerted a geometrical control over the arrangements, but the trio waxed and waned as a unit and left me wanting more. Whereas I was sated by Chick Corea's Origin, which is peppery and inventive and mines several moods, from Spanish-tinged lyricism (''Hand Me Down'') to dauntless sentimentality (''Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered''). The problem is that, as a soloist, Corea greatly outdistances his three wind players (altoist Steve Wilson is most distinctive), so that their lengthy perorations are often dead air. Other new bands were also shaky: violinist Regina Carter, turning away from funk pablum, exhibited energy, humor, and a vocalized timbre, but her show-off pianist needs to be spanked into line--his cadenza on ''Don't Explain'' was opaque and incoherent--and Rodney Jones is too good a guitarist to be recycling Wes Montgomery charts. Kenny Garrett, who shared the show with her at Symphony Space, was similarly bent on recycling John Coltrane, less so in a version of ''Giant Steps'' than in a couple of originals; nor did his amiable chanting (''as we travel through space''), gospel and blues licks, and handclapping cadenza add up to much.