Have you shaken your "Jazz in Central Park" withdrawal yet? Several people called me at the station and asked where it went, and I had to go through the sad tale all over again. In the words of Billy Crystal, "Why don't you just give me a paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?*" I'm all right, really. I've dealt with that inner demon, and my therapist says that I can now move on to bigger things, like the day I got a paper cut and someone poured lemon juice on it.
Anyway, good news came in my e-mail the other day. The Louisville Jazz Society has emerged from their summer hiatus with what looks to be a great fall lineup. It begins on September with a performance by a band led by West Coast vibes player Charlie Shoemake. Charlie has been on the scene since the late 1950s, most notably working with George Shearing in the late '60s. For many years, he has been a mainstay of the LA studio scene, the home of many excellent Jazz musicians who get tired of the road. His latest album, Land's End, was heard in heavy rotation recently on WFPK. Joining Charlie is guitarist Bruce Forman, a fixture of the San Francisco Jazz scene, who is frequently in the lineup of the Monterey Jazz Festival. On bass, Kentucky native and veteran of the Gene Harris band, Luther Hughes. Drummer Paul Kreibich, also from the Gene Harris band, comes along. As a special treat, Charlie's wife, vocalist Sandi Shoemake, fills out the ensemble. On October 1, tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton returns to Louisville for the first time since another LJS concert in 1990. Scott is backed by the highly capable Phil DeGreg trio, a staple at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati. Both shows will be at the Comedy Caravan in Mid City Mall at 7:30. Cover is $12 for Louisville Jazz Society members, $15 for non-members, at the door.
Wait, there's more. On Sunday, October 14 at 2pm, the Highlands-Douglass Neighborhood Association invites you to Big Rock in Cherokee Park for a gig with saxophonist/arranger Dennis DiBlasio. Dennis is a veteran (survivor?) of the Maynard Ferguson bands of the 1980s and most recently has been in town to teach at the Jamey Aebersold summer Jazz Camp. He'll be joined by the University of Louisville Jazz Ensemble, led by Jerry Tolson. Bring your own lawn chair and have a good time.
November brings several interesting performances to Comstock Concert Hall at the University of Louisville. On the 5th, [pianist Kenny Werner appears with his trio and the U of L Jazz Ensemble, led by Jerry Tolson. Kenny has appeared a couple of time in the past several years with Toots Thielemans but this will give him the opportunity to stretch out on his own. Later in the month, on the 10th to be exact, saxophonist Pat La Barbera will perform in a duo concert with pianist Harry Pickens. Pat spent the late '60s and early '70s in Buddy Rich's band, then settled in Toronto, where he was lived for the past 26 or so years. In case you were wondering, Pat is the older brother of trumpeter/arranger/radio host John and drummer Joe La Barbera. Pat will follow that concert with another on the 20th, this time featuring the U of L Jazz Ensemble. Jerry Tolson has a busy fall lined up for his students.
Random Thoughts: Admittedly, the local club scene for jazz is pretty weak, but with organizations like the Kentucky Center for the Arts and Louisville Jazz Society bringing class acts our way on a regular basis, we might only have to make side trips to Cincinnati and Indianapolis on an occasional basis.
If you caught the Java Men at the Twice Told Coffeehouse a few weeks ago, you probably noticed something unexpected - a quartet. The Java Men have added Bassist Chris Fitzgerald to the mix; giving them a new voice and perspective to the great music they have given us for lo these many years. Next month, we'll catch up with them and see what new possibilities are out there for the guys and if there are any new recordings in the works.
Now for a shameless plug. The Fall membership drive at Public Radio Partnership begins on the 7th and continues through the 15th. If you're a jazz fan, you know that the only place you're going to hear jazz on the radio around here is at 91.9 FM WFPK, Radio Louisville. For it to continue, it needs the financial support of its listeners. This is an important membership drive for the station; since federal funding that we have been getting the past several years has been cut further, and we must depend on our listeners to help make up that money. Our board of directors will be looking at how we do this membership drive and our success or failure will have an effect on certain strategic planning that we have been undertaking. Not only that, but jazz fans in particular are needed to make their presence known, so that the powers that be will see that jazz remains an important part of the music mix on WFPK. Please call with your support during the drive and tell them Rick sent you.
* obscure reference; see Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride."