LEGENDS OF BLACK JAZZ

The Black Jazz label was a pioneering jazz record label in the early 1970s. What I never thought was that in 2010, I would have the opportunity to hear a concert by some of the most influential and creative of the Black Jazz legends.

Billed as the Doug and Jean Carn Reunion Concert, a celebration for Kwanzaa, the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium brought these two amazing legends back together before an audience at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn on Dec. 30.

The Carns specialized in putting lyrics to some of the standards of spiritual jazz: Songs such as John Coltrane’s “Welcome,” “Naima,” and “A Love Supreme,” or Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes,” or Bobby Hutcherson’s “Little B’s Poem” as well as some Doug Carn originals all gained new dimensions as vocal works.

But here in Brooklyn, Doug and Jean Carn were back, singing the songs of those three classic Black Jazz albums. Doug Carn played piano, and was joined by Stacy Dillard on sax, Duane Ebanks on trumpet, two brothers named Carter on stand-up bass and drums. They played two Doug Carn instrumental originals before Jean Carn made her entrance. At 63, she was in incredible form. Dancing around the stage in the apparent body of a 20-something, her voice has lost none of its power and range.

It was a great audience. Because of the snow lingering on the ground from our “snowpocalypse” the auditorium took a while to fill up. The show started late, opened by an extraordinary dance and drumming troupe led by a charismatic dancer from Cote D’Ivoire. But the show ran long and nobody was complaining ending at 11:30 p.m. on a cold winter night. And it was a treat to see incredibly well-behaved little kids air-drumming along in their seats.

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