Jersey City Heights Riverview Jazz Festival, Year One

It was over 90 degrees in the shade yesterday, but that didn’t stop Janna and me from walking up to Riverview Park in Jersey City to spend a day listening to some great live music during the very first Jersey City Heights Jazz Festival.

The show started off a bit slow with a confused, and noisy, performance that had big problems with the microphones and speakers — everything was painfully distorted and muddled and just plain too loud — and so we decided to take a little walk around the neighborhood and try again in an hour.

What a difference 60 minutes makes!

When we sauntered back to the festival, a new group was on the makeshift stage — New Tricks, led by Ted Chubb — and the entire vibe of the scene had changed for the better.  The sound was fixed.  The horns were ripe and hot.  The bassline was killer.  The drums set a groove that few others could ever hope to match.  The performances were breathtaking.

Ted told us that the drummer, Carmen Intorre, was “on loan” from Pat Martino — and I have to say that every effort needs to be make to get Carmen solidly in the group forever.

The drummer is the engine of any musical endeavor — and without a righteous thump that never breaks and doesn’t wander — everything falls apart.  New Tricks stood on its head yesterday, and the base for that feat was That Unbendable Intorre Beat.

The reason I am so certain that New Tricks was extra hot yesterday because of Carmen Intorre — and not just because of the heat — is because I immediately raced home and purchased their “Alternate Side” album from iTunes and I was disappointed.

The vibe of the album was not as great as it was live — that’s partially a recording problem, not a performance issue — but the entire album also had no energy.  Sure, the horns were popping, but the underlying pulse that lifts all melodies was just not there.  Carmen Intorre is not an official member of New Tricks. Tell me where I can purchase the live New Tricks set from yesterday starring Carmen Intorre and I’ll pay all over again!

Overall, the Jersey City Heights Riverview Jazz Festival was an awesome event in its infancy year.  The people who attended the event were alive and lively, and the folks in charge of the show were communicative and supportive of the neighborhood and the performers.  I can’t wait for next year!

(UPDATE:  I just found, and purchased, a Carmen Intorre album on iTunes if you want to get a taste of his groove! It’s quite excellent!)