When one plays Carnegie Hall, one brings their A game. That is very much what I experienced on Saturday night as performers from South Africa, New York and Los Angeles took the stage at the premiere historic concert hall.

Starting the evening was a band from South Africa lead by flautist Wouter Kellerman. His command of the instrument is strong and his sidemen brought a level of musicianship that rose to meet him. They performed some beautiful harmonious African melodies, chants and rhythms. It was truly transformational, allowing the audience to escape to an exotic place. Trumpeter David Longoria joined in for a theme and variations on a Spanish melody titled “Follies” and brought an outstandingly sweet tone and prowess on his horn to the mix. It seemed effortless yet improvised. It was an unexpected blend that was to my ears as a delicious meal with a newly discovered dessert.

Bassist and vocalist Phresh Makhene performed a percussive water song by slapping the water in a bowl. This was truly entertaining and creative. Kellerman performed flawlessly song after song and brought about many unexpected sounds and rhythms uncharacteristic of the instrument. From baroque infused tonguing to beat boxing, he kept the attentive audience surprised around every turn. A personable performer, he seems maybe even a tad shy, but connected well with the concert goers even with few words. Grammy nominated pianist Jason Lyn appeared in a flowing traditional Tai Chi uniform for Kellerman’s solo flute piece that combined African tonality with an Asian martial arts kata. It was lovely to watch, and Lyn ended the piece with a dramatic split over a pair of chairs. I venture to say it’s likely a first in the famous Hall’s history.

Longoria joined in again in the set on a tribal number that left me breathless from his passionate and incredible command of the trumpet. The feel of the unusual yet hypnotic rhythm was a perfect backdrop for the trumpet to build from sensual melody to a powerful frenzy. That connected well with the audience who broke into a strong applause after the solo.

The second half of the concert started with Vincent Lyn at the concert grand piano backed by a duo of double bassist Pablo Menares and percussionist Shirazette Tinnin who played some lovely jazz numbers. The sound of the trio was strong and it was obvious that each player was confident and adept at their instrument. Kellerman joined the trio on a melodic solo of the love theme from the movie “On Golden Pond”. The flute sang and although stylistically it was a departure from the rest of the set, it was nice. Longoria came in to join Lyn and the band for a Freddie Hubbard classic “Little Sunflower”. It would not be an exaggeration to say Longoria owns the stage when he performs. Without saying a word, he took his place and filled the concert hall with his outstanding tone and range. He is a fearless instrumentalist that took chances, and with every one he seemed to take joy as he caressed and built a dynamic and moving performance from a simple song. This too was an audience favorite.

Lyn’s piano performance was well rehearsed and seemed to flow well, maybe even in spite of his strong discipline. He is a proficient player and played jazz with his own feel. All in all this was a concert with great variety and three soloist performers who each brought their A game. The response was a standing ovation from an enthused audience. A two hour concert that captivated the capacity house at Carnegie Hall was a lovely experience for the audience as well as for this writer.


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