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Eclectic array of music highlights Oyster Bay fest

Last Saturday, while Jamaica was pounding with the sounds and activity of JAMS 2001, the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, L.I. also hosted a music party, the Dime Music Fest.

A 1,500-seat tent — filled to capacity — was the site for an eclectic array of world-class jazz.

Acoustic/electric guitarist Larry Coryell opened with his quartet, featuring his two sons, Julian and Murali on accompanying acoustic guitar. Coryell, a veteran with creative time spent in the company of such music royalty as Stephan Grapelli, Paco De Lucia, Charles Mingus and Sonny Rollins to name a few, amped the crowd up as he and his crew rocked the house with some of his original compositions. During the set, each member was featured, and other then Coryell's wizardry on his axe, a most memorable aspect were the vocal/guitar solos offered up by his two progeny.

The young (22 years old) rising jazz vocalist, Jane Monheit, continued the evening’s vibe by demonstrating why some have hailed her as a sultry, young reincarnation of Ella Fitzgerald. Monheit has some time and distance to go before she can truthfully be compared to one of the greatest female vocalists to have ever voiced a jazz phrase, but certainly she is on her way.

Monheit, who had already demonstrated her chops as the first runner-up in the prestigious Thelonius Monk Vocal Competition in 1998, brought the message to the capacity home crowd (she grew up in Oakdale, the site of the Dime Jazz Fest), that she truly is, in her own right, an accomplished singer with a unique vocal signature. She magically worked the crowd with tunes like, “Something To Live For” by Billy Strayhorn, and her favorite tune from her debut CD release, Never Never Land — “More Than You Know.”

Her closer was a dedication to her grandmother — who was in the audience — “Wish Upon A Star.”

Dave Brubeck, who won the Grammy Life Time Achievement Award, the Jazz Master's Award in 1999, and many other awards, made the show more then special, as he and his cadre of three took center stage, and brought the multitude of fans where they had been anxiously waiting to go...down the memory lane of Jazz with some of the greatest musical gifts ever delivered at any venue.

Often pigeon-holed as a “West Coast musician” and at times called “bombastic” — a label he once openly embraced — Brubeck and company, with Randy Jones on drums, Bobby Miltello on alto sax and flute, and Michael Moore on bass, made the evening perfect as they delivered the goods.

The Summer Festival, though not part of the Dime Jazz Series, continues at the Planting Fields Arboretum on Aug. 11 with the internationally famous Latin songstress Celia Cruz and the renowned Johnny Pacheco Orchestra. Friends of The Arts Productions can be reached for future shows in August, and for travel directions, by calling 516-922-0061.

Reach Qguide writer Norm Harris by e-mail at Timesledger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.

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