Is there anyone more passionate about jazz in Cape May than Michael Kline? His passion affected everyone who visited here this past weekend. Walk-in guests who had no idea the festival was happening, jumped at the opportunity to grab Pat Metheny tickets.
“We will see you in November,” said Mr. Amin from Staten Island as he checked out of the Victorian Motel on Sunday morning after the Exit Zero Jazz Festival. “Man, we heard some great jazz,” he went on to say.
Michael Kline confided in me that he was nervous introducing the first act on Saturday night. Looking to his left he whispered to himself, “Whoa! That’s Ron Carter waiting to come on stage.” Poise and professionalism took over and Michael introduced Pat Metheny and Ron Carter on Saturday evening at the Schmidtchen Theater, sponsored by the Whales Tale.
It was my first time seeing the pair on stage. Walking around town earlier in the day, it was evident that Pat Metheny followers were loyal and long-time devotees. You could sense the audience’s exuberance from the first chord Mr. Metheny played. The rare duo performance, showed the mutual admiration the two had for each other. The dexterity that Ron Carter displayed on the Bass was incredible.
Friday night’s opening act at the high school was Lisa Fisher and Grand Baton. Jay Lustig of the New Jersey Arts reviewed her stellar performance. “You can take the singer out of the Rolling Stones, but you can’t take the Rolling Stones out of the singer.”
Earlier Friday evening Pedrito Martinez performed an explosive set of Cuban influenced percussion and vocals. This might have been the first time a performer had a Cape May audience singing back in Spanish. Social media posts had people asking me where else the Latin ensemble would perform over the weekend.
The band features a Venezuelan bassist with a ferocious groove (Alvaro Benavides) and a great percussion section featuring Jhair Sala and Edgar Pantoja-Aleman on Piano.
Following Pedrito, the Bali born Joey Alexander performed a world class set of classic Jazz pieces in his authoritative technique. I met up with Joey, the 12 year old phenom, on his way into sound check. It’s a tough choice to describe him as humble or bashful, or a little of both.
The authentic performance by the young pianist left most listeners stunned and delighted at the same time. Joey’s virtuosity is that of a performer multiple times his age.
Through-out the weekend the other stage venues in town were packed with avid jazz aficionados. Carney’s and Cabanas both had unprecedented shoulder season crowds. A testament to the festival decision to move up a few weeks from May to build the off-season in Cape May. The festival fulfilled it’s mission of bringing Bourbon Street to Cape May.
As Mr. Amin said checking out of our motel, “Cant wait for November, when Wynton Marsalis returns to Cape May–Cape May is passionate about Jazz.