|Photo by Emily Singer|
Riding the wave of last year's highly successful Vineyard Vibes debut concert, BR Creative and Berklee, with media sponsor Jazziz magazine, presented Vineyard Vibes '02 on August 1 at the Martha's Vineyard Performing Arts Center. A crowd of over 600 people of all ages experienced an extraordinary musical event, which included headliner Joe Lovano, last year's show-stoppers, trombonist Phil Wilson and the Berklee Rainbow Band All-Stars, plus Berklee alumna and Martha's Vineyard native Joanne Cassidy.
A glorious, late-afternoon boat ride from Falmouth took alumni and guests to a preshow reception. The concert kicked off with singer/songwriter Joanne Cassidy, who is currently pursuing her career in New York City. Cassidy's commanding set of original songs featured some backup singing from surprise guest and fellow alumna Robin McElhatten, who penned one of the songs. Cassidy closed with a moving rendition of the Beatles tune "Blackbird," joined by alumnus Clay Cook on guitar.
In his usual, amiable fashion, master of ceremonies Lawrence Bethune, vice president for student affairs/dean of students, used the time between acts to relay a bit of Berklee history to the audience. But the story was told best by the musicians themselves; four generations of Berklee musicians who wowed the audience that night.
Many in the audience attended last year's event and were prepared for the stunning performance by Professor Phil Wilson and the Berklee Rainbow All-Stars.
Trumpeter/vocalist Christine Fawson '02, who performed last year, once again brought the audience to its feet by alternating her exuberant singing with thrilling trumpet solos and masterful scatting. Another returning performer, pianist Mamiko Watanabe '02, a finalist in the Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition, dazzled the audience with her compositions and breakneck fingerwork. Wilson's well-constructed trombone solos delighted both the crowd and the band.
Topping the bill was jazz saxophone giant, Joe Lovano '72, also first occupant of Berklee's Gary Burton Chair in Jazz Performance. After the Rainbow All-Stars' set, Lovano joined the ensemble to perform selections from his Grammy-winning nonet CD, 52nd Street Themes, as well as new material. It was apparent that the band members, wearing looks of awe each time Lovano soloed, felt honored to play with him. He returned the favor, repeatedly saying, "How about this band!" After his magnificent encore, backed solely by the rhythm section, a grateful audience leapt to its feet for a standing ovation.
A goal for executive producer and Berklee Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Steven Lipman has been to provide a Berklee scholarship fund for deserving Martha's Vineyard High School students. Proceeds from this year's event helped toward that end. To donate to this fund, contact Marjorie O'Malley at 617-747-2569.