The Capital City Jazz Festival presented its most innovative program Saturday afternoon at the Convention Center, with stellar performances by Max Roach, his percussion ensemble M'Boom and The World Saxophone Quartet.
To say Roach plays drums is tantamount to saying Wayne Gretzky plays hockey. In several solo pieces, Roach achieved a striking blend of power and grace. Crisp rhythms were tempered by a keen sense of lyricism, and at one point Roach created a veritable symphony of sounds on the hi-hat cymbal alone.
M'Boom extended Roach's melodic and textural ideas on a grand scale. Equipped with an arsenal of percussion instruments of determinate and indeterminate pitch -- everything from the conventional trap set to timpani, timbales and even the musical saw -- the ensemble, with its mallets and sticks, forged a vibrantly colorful music.
The World Saxophone Quartet strutted on stage to the tune of "Hattie Wall," with Hamiett Bluiet's baritone sax anchoring the group's rich sonorities. Although a couple of Julius Hemphill's more dissonant pieces had the saxophones buzzing like a swarm of angry hornets, "Stick" was punctuated with a delicate Baroque-like refrain, and another number turned soulfully rhapsodic when David Murray cut loose on tenor sax.