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This article by Richard Skelly was published in U.S. on September 22, 1999. All

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Music Festival Weekend

Fans of jazz, blues and roots music will find plenty

to sink their teeth into this weekend, between Princeton’s JazzFeast,

a food and jazz festival in the heart of downtown Princeton, a


Weekend" that is also a sesquicentennial celebration for


and a Riverfest Celebration at Trenton’s Waterfront Park.

Among the performers this weekend are Etta Jones, a Bronx resident

who sings blues-based jazz tunes with saxophonist Houston Person.

Jones performs at Princeton’s JazzFeast on Saturday, September 25.

Meanwhile, one of her vocal inspirations, jazz balladeer Jimmy Scott,

sings at 7 and 10 p.m. at the Solebury High School Theater, Route

179 in New Hope. Scott, who was recently featured on the Bravo


"Profiles" program, has been enjoying a career renaissance

since 1991, when he was signed to a multi-album deal with Sire/Warner

Bros. Records by Seymour Stein, the same record executive who brought

us the Ramones, Madonna, and Blondie in the late 1970s, lower


punk-rock uprising.

Scott, who was based in East Orange until 1996, now makes his home

in his native Cleveland, Ohio. His latest recording, "Holding

Back The Years" on the Artists Only label, has broadened his fan

base in England and the rest of Europe, as he covers pop tunes not

normally associated with a 74-year-old singer of jazz ballads, tunes

by Elton John, Simply Red, and other songs made famous by British

pop musicians. But appropriately, Scott’s recent album ends with a

blues, a tune made famous by Jimmy Rushing, "Mr. Five by


in the late 1940s, "Don’t Cry, Baby."

Scott performs two sets at the high school in New Hope on Saturday,

Saturday, September 25, at 7 and 10 p.m. Friday night, Lionel Hampton

and his orchestra will perform at 7 and 10 p.m. and the "Jazz

Weekend" concludes on Sunday with one show by Maynard Ferguson

and his Big Bop Nouveau Band and the Trudy Pitts Trio. Tickets to

Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Scott or the Maynard Ferguson/Trudy Pitts shows

are $25, $35, and $45, and are available by calling the Lambertville

Chamber of Commerce at 609-397-0055.

Musicians performing at the Fourth Annual Riverfest Music and BBQ

Festival at Trenton’s Waterfront Park, this Friday, Saturday, and

Sunday will include the Betty’s, Jeremy Tobak, Sixpence, None The

Richer, and the New Orleans-based roots rock, swampadelic specialists,

Better Than Ezra. Saturday’s lineup includes the Paul Plumeri Blues

Band, the Ivan Neville Band and Little Feat, who will close the


with a set at 9:30 p.m. Sunday’s lineup at the Riverfest will include

Carnaby Street, and some reconstituted versions of the classic rock

groups the Platters, the Beach Boys, and the Marvelettes. Tickets

to Saturday or Sunday’s festival are $10.

You can call Etta Jones a great female jazz and blues vocalist, but

please don’t call her a star.

"I don’t like that word, `star,’" Jones says. "Buddy


was a kind and gentle man, and that’s what makes a `star.’" The

singer recalls the piano playing bandleader who gave her her first

big break in 1944. Jones, born in Aiken, South Carolina, but raised

in Harlem, was singing at an amateur hour at the Apollo Theater in

Harlem when Johnson first heard her. "Two days later, I was on

the road with Buddy Johnson and his big band," she recalls. She

was just 16.

Many years later, in 1981, Jones won a Grammy nomination

for her album on Muse Records that features a Johnson composition,

"Save Your Love For Me." Through the years, Jones has recorded

for the RCA Victor, King, Prestige, and Black and White labels. She

has recorded for Muse Records since the 1970s, and her extensive


includes more than 40 albums and a dozen or so singles.

"I sing standards," she says, "and my favorite songwriter

has always been Sammy Cahn. If the audience knows anything by Sammy

Cahn, they’ll know the kinds of songs I sing."

Jazz lovers can hear Jones sing the songs of Cahn and others with

saxophonist Houston Person and his band Saturday afternoon at the

Princeton JazzFeast. Person and Jones will perform two sets at


and if you think you’re more of a blues fan than a jazz fan, you will

like what Jones and Person will perform, since it always includes


Asked about her first inklings of wanting to become a vocalist, Jones

says it was not even a conscious decision. Rather, it was something

she’s always done.

"I used to sing all the time as a child. From the time I was three

or four, around the house, I was always singing. My career started

when I went to sing at the amateur shows at the Apollo," she

recalls. She

stayed almost a year with Johnson’s band, until 1945.

"His sister was having a baby at the time, and in those days,

it was a no-no singing pregnant on stage. After I got off the road

with Buddy, I sang at the Onyx Club on 52nd Street and stayed there

for a month. Then I went off on the road with different bands: J.C.

Heard, Art Blakey, Earl `Fatha’ Hines, and others."

Asked about influences on her singing style, Jones says Scott had

an impact on her, but Billie Holiday left a huge impression on her.

"I never got to know her all that well, but our paths crossed

from time to time. Any time she was singing somewhere, I’d go and

see her. Another person that meant a lot to me was Thelma Carpenter.

She was with Count Basie’s band for a while," she recalls.

"I think Billie just changed the whole concept of singing. She

turned it all around, in terms of her phrasing, her timing and her

melody. There’s something she did with the melody that was real


It suited her perfectly and it’s real obvious with her early


but even at the end of her life, she was still great," she says.

Jones depends heavily on her saxophone playing partner, Houston


In fact, she thinks the world of him. "We’ll probably be together

for the rest of our lives," she says. "He’s my best friend

and we work so well together. You know the old saying, `if it ain’t

broke, don’t fix it.’ He writes a lot of our stuff, and he arranges,

he produces, and he manages."

"’Bout the only thing I have to do is open my mouth," she

adds, laughing.

— Richard J. Skelly

Princeton JazzFeast, Palmer Square, 609-921-2853. Saturday

lineup includes Alan Dale and the New Legacy Jazz Band at noon;


Person and Etta Jones at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m.; the Warren Chiasson Group

at 2:30 p.m Sunday lineup includes Alan Dale at noon; Tony Tedesco

and Doris Spears at 1:15 p.m.; Bucky Pizzarelli at 2:30 p.m.; and

Claudio Roditi Group at 3:45 p.m. Admission free, with food and


for purchase. Saturday and Sunday, September 25 and 26, noon to

5 p.m.

Lambertville Sesquicentennial Jazz Weekend, Solebury High

School, Route 179, New Hope, 609-397-0055. Lineup includes Lionel

Hampton Friday, Jimmy Scott, Saturday and Maynard Ferguson and Trudy

Pitts Trio, Sunday.

Riverfest, Waterfront Park, Trenton, 609-394-8326. The

annual festival of music, food, and family fun that features six


teams competing for best BBQ. No admission charge before 3 p.m. Friday

when entertainment begins at 5:30 p.m. with The Betty’s, followed

by Jeremy Tobak, Sixpence None the Richer, and Better Than Ezra. $10

adults; $7 children.

Friday, September 24, 11 a.m. to midnight. Saturday, music by

Valhalla Taxi and no admission charge before 2 p.m. Evening


begins at 6 p.m. with the Paul Plumeri Blues Band, followed by the

Ivan Neville Band, and Little Feat at 9:30 p.m. $10 adult; $7 child.

Saturday, September 25, noon to midnight. Sunday music by the

Platters at 3:30 p.m.; followed by the Marvelettes at 4.30 p.m.; and

the Beach Boys at 6:30 p.m. $10 adults; $7 children. Sunday,


26, noon to 8 p.m. Free shuttle runs from the Trent House and Labor

& Industry Building parking lots off Market Street beginning at 2


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