Tim Roberts

By Tim Roberts

Welcome to 1998! Here's to a forthcoming year of memorable performances and success for all our local jazz musicians.

This month, folks, we extend our coverage an hour's drives north on I-65 (yes, an hour's drive - remember, we are heading into the Central Time Zone) to a world-famous town called Bloomington, Indiana: home of Indiana University, Bobby Knight, and BeebleBrox (not necessarily in order of cultural importance).

Who? BeebleBrox, a name slightly altered from Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed President of the Galaxy in Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and its sequels, is a jazz ensemble whose core members are keyboardist Monika Herzig and her husband, guitarist Peter Kienle. Other personnel include various IU students and performers in Bloomington.

Their new CD, Indianapolis Intergalactic Spaceport, (reviewed elsewhere in this issue) has recently been released on Acme Records, featuring all original tracks in a sound that moves between be-bop and Weather Report-style fusion. The Weather Report influence is hard to avoid, not only in how a few of the tracks sound, but because there is a tiny picture of that famous quartet within a photo montage in the CD's booklet. But don't think the sound is derivative or unoriginal. The track "Let's Fool One" is a luscious, bluesy tune that won the 1994 Best Original Song award from Downbeat magazine. This band can create innovative stuff on their own.

Monika and Peter have had the group for fifteen years. They started it in a small town outside Stuttgart in their native Germany. During those fifteen years they rounded out their band with performers from whatever town they lived in at the time. They arrived in Bloomington in 1991. Monika, who received her doctorate in music education, now teaches music fundamentals and piano at IUPUI. Peter, besides being "a natural guitarist," as Monika describes him, is a music copyist. Their regular gig in Indianapolis is on Monday nights at the Chatter Box. Monika has been trying to hook up with Clifton's Pizza here in Louisville to schedule a performance, with no luck so far. Twice-Told Coffee House could be another possibility for them.

Like many of Louisville's superb local jazz acts, the musicians in BeebleBrox are trying to reach out from their home base to increase their exposure, a difficult task when all the promotion and booking is handled by those musicians. Persistence is a necessity and makes a difference. Check back here to see when BeebleBrox will arrive in Louisville.

The Louisville Jazz Society temporarily stopped their search for a new president while the holiday season passed. With so many of the group's executive board performing during the season plus holiday family duties, there simply was not time for it. They will continue sometime after the first of this year.

After the first of the year, Hawley-Cooke Booksellers will dramatically cut back on the number of paid musical acts to appear at their Shelbyville Road Plaza and Glenview Pointe stores, said Victor Simon, who books the music acts. Each store will have only two paid performances per month, and only one of those will be a trio. "It was an owners' decision," he told me. "It was a $1,200 to $1,500 expense each month. The stores weren't making enough to justify that expense."

That means some of Louisville's best-known small jazz ensembles will have one less place to play on weekends. But since when is it the job of our local bookstores to provide paying venues for jazz acts? Music does add to a bookstore's overall ambiance, adding more to the "cultured" feel of such places, but bookstores are in business to sell books. (or coffee, or music, or whatever else they add to their inventories) They are not looking for added expenses.

So with two fewer places to play, some of our local talent will need to rely on guts, smarts, superb marketing, and extremely generous club owners.

Live Jazz in Louisville: Use it or Lose It.

P. S. For those on the net, you can e-mail me at tim@troberts.win.net. Send me news on local performers, who's playing where, and anything else relevant. I hope to hear from you.