There were some "high-level serious guitar cats," as Peter Leitch called them, at the eleventh annual Bellarmine College Jazz Guitar Clinic on June 10 and 11. Canadian Leitch joined his colleagues Mark Elf, Cal Collins, and Jeff Sherman (clinic director, spokesman, and straw boss) for two days of discussions, workshops, and jam sessions.
On the night of the 10th, close to one hundred fans and clinic participants came to Wyatt Hall on the Bellarmine campus to hear the four instructors perform. Backed by bassist Ty Wheeler and drummer Michael Ferraraccio, borrowed from the University of Louisville School of Music, each guitarist worked through a three-song set. Toward the end, all four came together for a dazzling jam consisting of two standards: "How 'Bout You" and "You Stepped Out of a Dream." The four and their rhythm section received a warm standing ovation when they finished.
"After eleven years, we've got a pretty good handle on how to do one of these things," Jeff Sherman said two days after the internationally known clinic had wrapped up. He was pleased by the 24-student turnout. Funding the clinic, though, is still a challenge. Bob and Martha Todd have helped raise a great deal of the funds to run the clinic. Additional help may come from former state representative and congressional candidate Susan Stokes, who is helping to promote the clinic nationally and pull together more support for it. "Our goal," Jeff said, "is to try to bring in the legends of jazz guitar."
The goal is simple and expensive, but the results are fabulous and contribute to making Louisville a place where arts thrive.
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By the time you read this, the Jamey Abersold Summer Jazz Workshops at the University of Louisville School of Music will either be a) underway or b) over. The workshops run from Sunday, June 29 to the 4th of July at the music school on the Belknap Campus. About 50 instructors, among them Bobby Shew, Mark Levine, Hank Mann, Lynn Seaton, David Baker, and U of L's Steve Crews and Mike Tracy, will spend each day, from 8:30 to 4:30, in workshops and classes. On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, the sessions will end with a free concert at 7:30 p.m. in the music school's recital hall.
On Wednesday night, July 2 at 8:30, the workshop will co-present a concert with the Louisville Jazz Society at the Silo Microbrewery. Featured performers are the Bobby Shew Quintet, the Hank Mann Quintet, and the Barry Ries Sextet. Admission at the door is $7.00 for jazz society members and workshop participants, $9.00 for non-members.
The U of L Jazz Ensemble returned in the middle of June from a tour of England. Mike Tracy said it was a good experience for all. They get a few weeks' rest before the Abersold workshops start. Mix that with the local gigs they normally have and you'll come up with people who love their work.
Senegalese-born guitarist Pascal Bokar and his band were the opening act for the June 13 Rockin' at Riverpoints concert. Other acts that followed were blues acts Whiskeytown, Charlie Musselwhite, and Duke Robillard, so Pascal's world-beat fusion may have seemed out of place with the tones and styles of the bands that followed. And even though he was hurried onto the stage after an hour-long rain delay, and appeared to be frustrated from that, Pascal and his band, dressed in colorful, traditional African clothing, managed to play an entertaining hour-long set.
Toward the end of the group's last tune, a small section of the clouds that had covered the city for the past two days opened. Evening sunlight warm the riverfront for several minutes. Then clouds closed it off again before Whiskeytown took the stage.
It was as if, for a few kind minutes, Pascal had peeled the clouds away.
"I told you I would," he said backstage. Grinning.