Tuxedoed and offering a repertoire of classics, the Blue Three were elegant to see and hear at Wolf Trap's Barns in concerts Saturday night and yesterday afternoon. Drawing on memory and the inspiration of the moment, the trio presented a diverse program from the works of Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael and others.
Piano solos by Dick Wellstood were brilliant in their evocation of the stride school, an approach as basic to jazz piano as the growl is to brass, yet well-executed now by almost no one except this pianist and one or two others. James P. Johnson's "Snowy Morning Blues" and a loping, twisting "Jingle Bells" were outstanding.
Clarinetist Kenny Davern, equally expressive on blues, stomps and the lovely ballad standard "Sweet Lorraine," exercised his rich improvisatory skills on "C. C. Rider," "Wild Man Blues" and other selections, his sonorities including a chilling upper register, a rounded, woody tone and a hint of Pee Wee Russell's rasp. Master drummer Bobby Rosengarden kept it healthily swinging with sticks, brushes, hand-clasped cymbals, booted bass drum and -- on his vehicle "Caravan" -- palms and wetted index finger rubbed on a conga, producing soft moans not unlike a bassist's sliding pitches.