- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2006

For Pete and Maura Kennedy, Saturday evening brings a CD release concert and chance to reconnect with friends.

The first couple of folk rock will be performing selections from their latest disc of covers, “Songs of the Open Road,” starting at 7 p.m. at Vienna’s Jammin’ Java (www.jamminjava.com). The official release date for the disc is Tuesday. It is the Kennedys’ second disc on the Appleseed label.

Mr. Kennedy, a guitar slinger who grew up in the Washington region, produced the disc and plays an effervescent mix of guitars, electric sitar, banjo, bass, keyboards, percussion and even ukulele, along with providing harmony vocals. Mrs. Kennedy, originally from New York state, adds guitar and lead vocals.

The couple recently relocated to Northampton, Mass., following a few years of living in Greenwich Village. Mrs. Kennedy says the artistic community west of Boston offers a good home base for their touring lifestyle. The couple formerly called Reston home.

Although the Kennedys are known more for their jangly original tunes, their concerts are often liberally seasoned with crowd-pleasing cover songs, ranging from the Beatles and Bob Dylan to George Gershwin and Charlie Byrd-style bossa nova.

“We’ve been playing a number of these live for years,” Mrs. Kennedy says, so when it came time to start planning material for this disc, “we thought it might be a good idea to put these out on one album.”

The songs also provide some insight into what influences the Kennedys. Three come from Southern California country-rock origins: “Eight Miles High” and “Gypsy Rider,” credited to Gene Clark with co-authors David Crosby and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, as well as “Sin City,” a Gram Parsons song written with Chris Hillman and performed with the Flying Burrito Brothers before both artists teamed up with the “Sweetheart of the Rodeo”-era Byrds. “Pretty Girl Why” is a Stephen Stills song from the same vein.

Two of the songs are from the late Dave Carter, “Happytown” and “Gypsy Rose.”

Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” Jimmy Webb’s “Galveston” and John Stewart’s “Jasmine” are given the Kennedys treatment, too, as are Mahalia Jackson’s “I’m On My Way” and Nanci Griffith’s “Late Night Grande Hotel.” The Kennedys met while both were backing Miss Griffith on tour in the early 1990s.

Although two of the songs have the word “gypsy” in their titles, there’s no prevalent open-road theme to the selections, except, Mrs. Kennedy says, “there’s a certain freedom that these songs evoke.”

“Maybe people will take this album out on the road and it will be their road music,” she says.

Jay Votel

While reading “The Devil’s Horn: The Story of the Saxophone, from Noisy Novelty to King of Cool,” Michael Segell’s comprehensive tome about the history of the instrument, Paquito D’Rivera noticed a glaring omission.

“It’s an excellent book, very imformative, but there’s no mention about Latin American jazz musicians. Nothing about Gato Barbieri or other great Latin jazz saxophonists,” the six-time Grammy winner says while calling from Phoenix.

“How can you write a book about the history of the saxophone and not include Gato? The influence of Cuban and Latin musicians on jazz was very important. You cannot overlook that.”

Locally, that won’t be the case at the second annual Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, where Mr. D’Rivera and his large ensemble take center stage Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. with “Viva Las Americas,” the festival’s first performance, at the Inter-American Development Bank.

“In ‘Viva Las Americas,’ the musicians will celebrate the contribution of music from their countries to the New World,” the Cuban-born Mr. D’Rivera says of the program that will showcase the influence of music from Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela on jazz.

A week from this Saturday, on Oct. 7, Mr. D’Rivera performs with trumpeter Michael Philip Mossman and Baltimore-born alto saxophonist Antonio Hart during a noon brunch in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art.

Both concerts are among dozens of events scheduled for the festival’s four-day run, which continues through Oct. 8. Performances, many at no cost, will take place at various locations, including the District’s historic U Street corridor, the Mall and the Kennedy Center.

Along with Mr. D’Rivera, the festival’s all-star lineup also will feature drummer Roy Haynes; pianist Randy Weston; pianist and composer Dr. John; guitarist John Scofield with Mavis Staples (of the famed Staples Singers); percussionist Poncho Sanchez; trumpeter Roy Hargrove; vocalists Janis Siegel (of the Manhattan Transfer), Luciana Souza and Stephanie Jordan; trumpeter Wallace Roney; and pianist Geri Allen. A complete schedule of shows and times is available at dejazzfest.org.

Robyn-Denise Yourse

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