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MUSIC: 2013 Exit Zero International Jazz Festival Wraps Successful 2nd Edition

(Marc Cary Focus Trio)

The 2nd annual Exit Zero International Jazz festival bowed Veteran’s Day weekend in Cape May, NJ highlighted by an especially strong Saturday lineup that featured both jazz legends and emerging talents and everything from salsa to vocal jazz to Afrosoul.  

Motema Music, the Harlem-based indie label that has scored hits recently with records by Gregory Porter, Pedrito Martinez Group and others, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2013, and Motema artists were out in number at Exit Zero. Pianist Marc Cary, fronting a slightly retooled version of his Focus Trio, played a powerful set that showcased his virtuoso chops and his ability to craft rhythmically-complex compositions that marry elements from a wide-range of influences, including post-bop, classical, Indian music and hip-hop.

(Marc Cary Focus Trio)

(Marc Carey Focus Trio)

Singer-songwriter Jana Herzen, who also heads Motema, teamed with label-mate and frequent collaborator bassist Charnett Moffett for a set of gently-sophisticated, often latin-inflected guitar-bass-vocal numbers like the title track from the pair’s 2013 album, Passion of a Lonely Heart. Other highlights included sets by vibraphonist Joe Locke, whose formidable band featured Jaimeo Brown on drums and Jaleel Shaw on sax; co-headliner and latin jazz legend Eddie Palmieri, who packed Cape May Convention Hall for his 8pm show; and percussionist and vocalist Alidu, who had the audience up and dancing with his fusion of funk, rock, soul, and traditional Ghanaian music.

(Jana Herzen and Charnett Moffett)

(Alidu)With its combination of small clubs, a “strolling” format where attendees move from venue to venue, and a nicely-balanced lineup of big names and lesser known artists, Exit Zero truly is a festival where, as the official slogan promises, you can “Meet Your Music.” That could mean discovering the music of someone like Alidu, who defies easy categorization, or, just as likely, chatting after a set with a performer you’ve followed for years.

(Joe Locke)

A Spring edition of this superb festival is slated for May 30 - June 1, 2014. See for details.

(Eddie Palmieri)

(All photos: Thomas V. Hartmann

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