Musicians and other performers representing several eras and areas paid tribute to Felix Grant last night at Kennedy Center on the 25th anniversary of his WMAL-AM radio show. Mayor Marion Barry presented him with a plaque commemorating his service to the community.
George Wein, at the piano, led his Newport All Stars in two pieces that displayed the sardonic wit and warm emotionalism of trombonist Vic Dickenson, whose instrumental voice is inimitable, totally his own.Ruby Braff's bell-like attack, a restrained, balladering Illinois Jacquet, and Slam Stewart's wry humming-cum-string bass were briefly given expression. Panama Francis provided impeccable time-keeping. But the set was not allowed sufficient time to develop.
Brazilian percussionist Dom Um Romao presented a "mini-visit to Rio" that utilized a variety of rhythmic patterns and ranged in mood from a carnival ambience to plaintive street cries and the torrid eroticism of a dance number.
Vocalist Clea Bradford's range and technique put her in a position to add to the tradition passed down from Billie via Ella to Betty Carter. Her "Over the Rainbow" made good use of such simulated instrumental voicings as a breathy saxophone, the whisper of a muted Miles Davis, and fast runs across a string bass.
Dizzy Gillespie was in fine form, well-supported by guitarist Ed Cherry and drummer Duffy Jackson (son of Chubby) on "Tin Tin Dao" and a blues piece.
Sound problems plagued the concert, especially the Brazilian set Underpowered, and with some dead mikes) and inexplicably for a 2 1/2-hour concert, there was no intermission.