A (Re-)United Front

Even more than Hyman himself, the major recurring theme at the Y was the diversity of jazz sources, an illustration of how this music came not only from Scott Joplin and New Orleans (via the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the ODJB-styled Roof Garden Jass Band), but the Islands (Jazz à la Creole), the English music hall, vaudeville and the popular song (in one memorable turn, former English rock star Ian Whitcomb showed a houseful of alter kockers how to get in touch with their inner Jolson), and Eastern Europe (via songs by Weill and other refugees from Hitler, including Bronislau Kaper and Django Reinhardt).

A decade ago, when the JVC Jazz Festival began presenting "The Knitting Factory Goes Uptown," there was hope that George Wein would begin incorporating more "cutting-edge" musicians into jazz's world series. Instead, as Gary Giddins noted recently, JVC has since "surrendered" its postmodern responsibilities to the Knit's own annual summerfests. Surprisingly, Wein has done a neat job of absorbing the Hyman/Y style into the JVC's June subfest series at the Kaye Playhouse. Still, Hyman comes up with his own surprises, presenting John Sheridan as a potential new star of swing piano, and proving that Preservation Hall, for 40 years the flag ship unit for all traditional jazz, can still cut it: New Orleans may have run out of living legends, but the city can yet produce a spirited ensemble. After a decade and a half, Hyman and company continue to show that jazz's past is every bit as unpredictable as its future. —Will Friedwald


Kids Rock

While wild flower kids, too young to have even been conceived at the first Woodstock, set fire to Rome, New York, another set of kids, too young to have learned their moves in the '80, took to break-dancing on Pier 54 in Kangols and fat shoelaces as part of the Rock Steady Crew's 22nd Anniversary weekend. With nothing but blue sky above and brown water be low, stand-up comics Danny Hoch and Ricky Powell paced the stage cracking jokes in an attempt to keep the 10-plus underground acts, including the Beatnuts and the Arsonists, moving and the crowd from leaving.

Artists spun on and off the stage as if it were a revolving door. Onlookers ducked and leaned to avoid the wrath of break-dancers spinning on their heads on portable dance floors. Somewhere in the crowd, there was a spinning wooden stick with a long string flying off fast. At one end was the Puerto Rican flag turned kite, at the other end was none other than hip-hop founding father DJ Kool Herc (who is actually Jamaican).

"Yo, I got a little kid up here who can rhyme," yelled Rahzel of the Roots from the stage. Rahzel commenced his trademark beatbox, and Supernatural, underground veteran and father of the junior MC, kicked the rhyme off. It was difficult to decipher exactly what the eight-year-old rapping wonder was saying between the cheers from the crowd and shouts for his mic to be turned up. His flow, however, was impressive. On his turn to rhyme, Supernatural invited Crazy Legs's son to follow in his father's dance steps and spin on his head. He didn't. He was probably too comfort able on his father's shoulders, stage right, but there's always next year. —Felicia A. Williams

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