Right after I turned in my February , things around the old radio station changed dramatically. As you have probably heard or read by now, Phil Bailey passed away in his sleep on the night of January 28th. His death leaves a void in the community that will be impossible to fill. We carry on; keep the flame of Jazz alive in our town, but it will not be the same without Phil. His was a unique voice. It could sometimes peel paint off the walls, be heard for miles, and scare small children and pets, but it was certainly all his. Everybody who knew him had his or her own Phil impression, and the tales of his "Philness" abound.
He was a curious soul. Curious in the sense of "different" to be sure, but even in a more literal sense, he was curious about the world. We'd have discussions on James Bond films, books that would appear on the sale table at Hawley Cooke (he usually had them already in hardback), and, oddly enough, the life and writings of Physicist Richard Feynman. His reading tastes were eclectic, and he was never shy about sharing some juicy tidbit that he had read the night before. His curiosity trickled down to his girls, too. He was always talking about something that Morgan or Gretchen had discovered an interest in and worked to encourage their explorations.
Whatever you thought about Phil, there was one thing that you had to admit, the cat knew his music. We would spend hours in the office at the library discussing Brahms, Bartok, Basie and Brubeck. His passion for music transcended any particular genre, but of course, his favorite was Jazz. What was it that attracted him to Jazz? Was it the freedom of improvisation? Or perhaps the comradery of the ensemble? Whatever it was that drew Phil, he gave his whole self to the music. His ear was constantly tuned to what was going on, what was happening. I often that new releases had been purloined from my office and I generally knew where they could be found - Phil's desk. He was constantly on the lookout for something new to play or some clever topic to make into a one o'clock special.
I won't canonize Phil here (writing about it is still difficult). He wasn't a saint; who among us is? But the tributes will continue. The echoes of the jam session the week after he died still ring in our ears, yet there is more to come. There is work being done that will showcase Phil's work on the radio over the years. You'll hear more about it here. And if you really want to remember Phil in a way he'd approve, contact Mike Tracy at the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies Program at the University of Louisville. There is a scholarship being founded in Phil's name that will help in the development of future generations of players. I think he'd like that.
On the concert scene...
There are a few events coming to the area in the next few weeks that you might want to know about. If a drive north to Indianapolis sounds like fun, you might want to check out the Jazz Kitchen. On Monday, the 11th, 8-string guitarist Charlie Hunter will appear in two non-smoking shows at 8 and 10 p.m. Then a couple of days later, on the 13th, the Dave Holland quintet plays there at 8 and 10. I sense a road trip coming on.
Closer to home, Diana Krall will be in town to play the Palace Theatre on Tuesday, the 26th at 8 p.m. Krall has broken on the scene in the past few years with a smoky, sultry image, but let's face it, she can play. There has been a lot of debate about the way she's being marketed by Verve Records. Some have complained about the "cheesecake" quality of the photography that accompanies her albums. Whatever you might think about the way she's being marketed, she has the chops to grab and keep your attention. We don't get many shows like hers in town very often. This is a great opportunity to hear some wonderful music in a great hall.
As always, if you have any news about what's happening around town or have a suggestion for a topic, feel free to let me know. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>.
There's lots of good music to be heard if you take the time to look for it.