Tim Roberts

Jazzin'
By Tim Roberts

Before we dig into this month's can of meat, here's a quick note: a sixteenth.

Seriously, though, since February's deadlines for this fine periodical are always shorter (I don't think normal folks are aware of how much stress missing two full days in a month makes, but normal folks would avoid this kind of life like they would avoid, say, wading through a pile of rusted razor blades), and since U of L's Jazz Week doesn't happen until the last week of the month, you can check back here for a summary of it in April.

On to this month's ramblings:

The illusions: bands form and lock together, united behind a groove, a vision, a love for performing with the others. They stay together and make memorable music, put on unforgettable shows, build a fan base with pockets around the country, or even the world.

The realities: bands break up, case recording or performing, members leave for some reason or another and are replaced, touring becomes a drudge, personal and professional frustrations grow into walls of cinder-block.

I've learned those realities in this city are as common as breathing air tainted with bacteria from starlings' droppings. Still I felt stunned when I heard the rumor that the Java Men were breaking up, this after two acclaimed CDs, A Letter to St. Paul and Void, a strong following, respect from those outside the jazz community and after playing in an impressive list of venues nationwide. If there were to be another jazz success story to come out of Louisville, this trio would have been it. While each member did have a few side projects, including teaching, it seemed the Java Men was an anchor band for them.

However, guitarist Craig Wagner and drummer Ray Rizzo have both officially been offered positions with Days of the New and will be touring with them throughout the spring and summer. Keyboardist Todd Hildreth reports that the JM will still exist as, in his words, "a band in waiting." They have been recording a new CD, he states and will work their performance schedules around each other.

A "farewell (for now)" show is being planned. Come back here for more information.

Jamie Masefield returns to Louisville with The Jazz Mandolin Project for a show on Tuesday, March 23 at the Phoenix Hill Tavern. Joining mandolinist Jamie will be Chris Dahlgren on upright bass and new drummer Ari Hoenig, replacing Jon Fishman (of Phish).

Their instrumentation is semi-traditional, with mandolin taking the leads. They are one of what I call Dead Splinter Bands, performers like Phish, Medeski, Martin & Wood and Bruce Hornsby who have sponged up the younger followers of the Grateful Dead. So their following tends to be younger and apparently not hardcore jazz fans. Yet they can do Coltrane just as well as any traditional sax-bass-drums trio can.

This tour is supporting the recently-released CD Tour De Flux. Call the PHT at 589-4957 for ticket prices and more information.

The Louisville Jazz Society brings Cincinnati jazz vocalist Ann Chamberlain to town for a First Monday show on April 5 at the Comedy Caravan. Show time is 7:30 p.m.. Ticket prices will be $7.00 for LJS members, $10.00 for non-members.