It’s Springtime in Hollywood…A quartet under the stars, nestled fittingly in the arms of mother nature, featured an all-star lineup of Grammy winners – drummer and composer Jack DeJohnette, Saxophonist Joe Lovano, vocalist and bassist Esperanza Spalding and Argentinean piano virtuoso Leo Genovese. The ensemble descended onto the legendary Ford theater stage to perform their spellbinding compositions to a packed house of roughly 1,200 jazz lovers from around the world.
Aptly titled The Spring Quartet, this group of jazz masters with undeniable chemistry, offers a perfect blend of old and new. Two of the members (DeJohnette and Lovano) are senior by decades to both Spalding and Genovese, yet the contemporary flow of tonal resolution and rhythm transcends both eras of sound for both generations. By any standard this isn’t an easy task to pull off – yet those who attended this show experienced just that – the continued evolution of jazz.
There’s something for everyone with the Spring Quartet. If you’re seeking some massively phenomenal piano playing, then look no further than Leo Genovese – and hold on tight because this young man will take you on a ride throughout the cosmos. At moments you’d swear you’re listening to Bach or Stravinsky yet on the other hand, Hancock, Monk or even Oscar Peterson. With Leo you never really know what you’ll get, yet you know it’s sure to be powerful, meaningful and more importantly, authentic and free.
If you wish to lend your ears to some perfectly placed bass notations and vocals that are as soft as a morning sunrise, then Esperanza Spalding is your girl. She basically needs no introduction at all, as she’s performed for presidents, packed stadiums, the Grammy’s and a host of other venues, all while being true to her purpose, ethnicity and of course monumental fan base. She’s even done some acting (with Roman J. Israel, ESQ./Denzel Washington). Esperanza exudes the perfect vibrations which captivate anyone within earshot of her performances. She goes deep into the free expression of jazz, and her fearless experimentation is clearly supported by teaming up with Lovano and DeJohnette. Spalding easily holds her own on stage with these legends, and they all clearly love playing together. In fact, both Lovano and DeJohnette seemed to be stretching themselves further out than ever, still discovering new dimensions of improvisation after all these years, likely inspired by the fresh new perspectives of Spalding and Genovese.
From left to right, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Esperanza Spalding, Leo Genovese
The venue could not have been better suited for the Spring Quartet, on what turned out to be a perfect evening in LA. The John Anson Ford theater, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd East, sits just north of and opposite the legendary Hollywood Bowl. It’s just across from the 101 freeway, hidden perfectly inside a manmade hillside depression. When approaching the venue, one might expect the Ford to be an enclosed space, rather than being exposed to the skies and stars. It has been around for well over half a century and now boasts a brand new makeover by architect Brenda Levin, who gave the venue a unique, sexy and sleek modern appeal – making the Ford arguably one of the most attractive music venues in North America. Lined in rustic stone, masterfully carved to look as authentic as the Acropolis, the Ford is an intimate, sweet and romantic getaway where staff are attentive, courteous and ready to accommodate anyone in need.
In case you weren’t able to catch The Spring Quartet this past Saturday and would like to, please visit their website @ IMNWorld.com for tour dates. Photos were not allowed (per the musicians) at this performance. Find out about upcoming shows on LAArtParty’s Summer Events drop-down on the Upcoming Events Page. Additional info about Ford Theatre performances can be found on the website – FordTheatres.org