On the night of Jan. 11 I had the incredible pleasure of being in the audience of Jazz Roots at the Arsht. On the same stage were Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Shelley Berg, Dave Grusin, Mark O’Connor, and Terence Blanchard — at one point, all at the same time.
Also starring were alumni of Young Arts: Eric Owens who sang an incredibly moving aria from a new opera written by Terence Blanchard; Elizabeth Roe who held her own with Shelly Berg in a two piano tribute to Gershwin; and Desmond Richardson, the master of ceremonies who also did a voice/dance duet with Bobby McFerrin that left everyone breathless.
The Henri Manicini Orchestra of the Miami Frost School of Music was led brilliantly by Scott Flavin. He took us through a journey of time and styles, ranging from the old European masters like Bach to the American masters like Copeland and Gershwin, with an entire rainbow of genres, composers and beats in between. The concert really showcased the mandate of this training orchestra.
What made the evening so memorable was not the individual artistry, which was stellar, but the fact that this was a collaboration between four different groups, each with their own vision and history; presenting seasoned soloists with those still studying; moving from the huge power of the full orchestra to the dialogue between two pianos.
Dave Grusin and Chick Corea improvising off each other — how much better can it get!
As the grand dame of Miami civic life, Ruth Shack, said to me afterwards, “A few short years ago, cooperation was a dirty word.”
Not this night, not at the city’s communal village green, our Adrienne Arsht Center. The result was magical.
Gabriele Fiorentino, president, The Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation, Miami