The Sullivan Fortner Trio kicked off the Albright-Knox Art of Jazz Series Saturday evening (November 17, 2018) in stellar fashion. Fortner led a first-class trio featuring two highly-acclaimed jazz artists in Ameen Saleem on upright bass and Winard Harper on drums. Evidenced from the first tune was Fortner’s technical capabilities on piano. Which were dazzling.
Hailing from New Orleans, Sullivan Fortner’s displays an inner New Orleans style of playing the piano. It is bluesy and evokes the spirit of the roots of jazz that the city of New Orleans possesses. The piano to Fortner acts like a means of dialoguing with his fellow musicians, as well as, with the audience.
The audience was held spellbound when Fortner began Duke Ellington’s “Sentimental Mood.” In this tune, you were able to discover what the buzz and news are about Fortner in the jazz world. His ability to build in emotions into melodies is striking and piercing. This also happened when he began an imaginative rendition of Ellington’s “Take The A Train.” Presenting to the audience the familiar melody in newly style intonations that captivated the mood.
Throughout, Saleem’s bass solos were a show in of itself. Extending the lines of improvisation begun by Fortner. Harper is a magnificent drummer. His trademark use of drumsticks to create sound on all parts of the drum kit made for a fun show to watch and hear.
On a more solemn note, Sullivan Fortner talked about his, as well as, Saleem’s association with the recently passed Roy Hargrove. Recalling how Hargrove would introduce new concepts on the bandstand live – urging his musicians to improvise and find new paths to explore.
Fortner’s future in jazz is bright. His evolving maturity is sure to bring to the jazz world more stunning piano mastery. For us who were there, we will soon feel fortunate that we caught him on the way up.
Enjoy the following fabulous photos by the Media Specialist for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Tom Loonan. And, many thanks to Tom for his longtime advocacy of keeping the Art of Jazz Series alive. Providing us with concert productions of the highest-quality that artists and audiences rave about.