The 2021 Caramoor Jazz Festival Brings on the Young Talent

The Caramoor Jazz Festival this year, in collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center, brought a wealth of young talent to the garden oasis in Katonah, New York.

Andromeda Turre: If she doesn’t become a star, there’s no justice. (Jim Motavalli photo)

A case in point: Andromeda Turre wasn’t even on the bill. She turned up to sing an unlikely song, “Old McDonald’s Farm,” during an East Lawn set by Endea Owens and the Cookout. The daughter of trombone player Steve Turre, she came out swinging. In one brief three-minute song she demonstrated via a big, brassy voice every possible nuance of the great jazz singer, including scat. More please!

Owens, a bass player, had just delivered her own strong set. She was Lincoln Center’s emerging artist of 2019, and is quickly building a reputation that could provide competition to Esmerelda Spaulding. I could have done without “Imagine,” but “Idea” was a strong original from a front line that included a very strong Jeffrey Miller on trombone. He was later seen with Charles Turner. It was like Newport, with some musicians appearing multiple times.  

Alexa Tarantino in full song. (Jim Motavalli photo)

Alto saxophonist Alexa Tarantino is a talent deserving of wider recognition, as Downbeat puts it. She’s a fluent player and writer, and featured an adept quartet. “It’s amazing to play for real humans,” she said. Her mostly original set included Herbie Hancock’s “One Finger Snap.” Strong Tarantino writes, mostly from her new album Firefly (described as “a day in the life of COVID”), were the limpid “Daybreak” and the very bright and busy “Surge Capacity.” I wrote down, “Maybe everybody doesn’t have to solo on every song.”

Brandon Goldberg has been playing since he was 3. Now he’s 15 and a veteran. (Jim Motavalli photo)

Brandon Goldberg is just 15 and (having started playing at 3) is already a jazz veteran. He played a set with a trio that sounded informed by life experiences not usually visited on one so young. Close your eyes and it was Cedar Walton up there. Goldberg’s many originals have frequent changes in tempo. It was windy so his written music sheets went flying, but he didn’t miss a beat. Goldberg’s new album In Good Time, produced by the late drummer Ralph Peterson, is out September 17. Most likely, his originals “Time” and “96” will be on it.

I’ve been fascinated by Nicole Glover since hearing her on a Gene Perla record. She’s now a member of all-female group Artemis (with such old souls as Anat Cohen, Renee Rosnes and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant). At Caramoor, she was heard in duo with bassist Daniel Duke.

Nicole Glover channels the masters, playing standards on tenor. (Jim Motavalli photo)

Glover, on tenor, played a program of standards with a huge tone and timing reminiscent of the jazz masters. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Charles Turner was polished, with Bobby McFerrin in his sights. (Jim Motavalli photo)

Charles Turner and Uptown Swing were very polished. Turner is a very, very promising jazz singer, immensely talented and a wonderful host. Bobby McFerrin comes to mind. Miller on trombone added a lot. Turner’s ultra-fast “Honeysuckle Rose” reminded me of Betty Carter’s take on “My Favorite Things.” He brought down the house with his original, “Black Lives Matter”—which was straight out of the gospel choir.

In the Sunken Garden, veteran bassist Larry Grenadier—one of the few players who was on the stand back in the ‘80s—played solo. Grenadier started at 16, and was soon working with Johnny Griffin, Bobby Hutcherson, Art Farmer, Johnny Coles and Frank Morgan. Solo bass is an acquired taste, but I was totally on board when he took out his bow.

I missed headliner Sean Jones, but I’m sure he was fine. If you want a reason to come get embraced by the loveliness that is Caramoor consider a visit August 20 to see the female folk ensemble Della Mae.