University Of Louisville Jazz Week 2003

By Martin Z. Kasdan, Jr.

The 10th Anniversary of the University of Louisville (U of L) Jazz Week marks a change in direction following the past two years, which featured incredible performances by the McCoy Tyner Trio (2001) and the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine (2002). These innovators both represented jazz streams emanating from the spiritual river of the John Coltrane Quartet. For 2003, innovation of a different variety will be spotlighted with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Brubeck is one of a handful of jazz artists whose appeal extends past the sometimes narrow confines of the jazz world. Like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis, to name a few, he has remained true to his muse while attracting listeners whose tastes may run more to pop, rock or classical music.

Back in 1960, Brubeck had an unexpected Top 40 hit with composer/saxophonist Paul Desmond's sprightly "Take Five." This song reached popularity in an era when pop music was somewhat stagnant, between the early rock and roll of Little Richard, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley and the revival of rock with the British Invasion and the folk-rock of the Byrds and Bob Dylan. Not only was it unusual for a jazz instrumental to be in the Top 40, but its time signature was also an unusual 5/4. For non-musicians, this means that instead of a steady rock beat, usually 4/4, or a waltz in 3/4, the catchy melody floated over a rhythmic cycle of 1-2-3, 1-2. The album from which the single was taken is the now-classic Time Out, released in 1959. Its nonconforming use of not only 5/4, but other non-standard time signatures, made Columbia Records reluctant to release it at the time.

His recording career did not start with Time Out, however. He had been making records since 1949 and to this day Brubeck continues a prolific recording career. His current group, featuring saxophonist/flutist Bobby Militello, bassist Michael Moore and drummer Randy Jones, has been together for several years, thus enhancing the communication necessary for effective improvisation. The recent Telarc release, Double Live From the U.S.A. and U.K., is a bargain-priced double CD of concert recording dating from 1995 in Washington D.C. and 1998 in Great Britain and provides an economic way for new listeners to preview the U of L concerts and for long-time fans to update their collections.

The 2003 lineup will also feature performances and clinics by saxophonist Bobby Watson and trumpeter Marcus Printup. Watson first came to prominence with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, from 1977-1981. For many years after that, he led the quintet Horizon, a hard bop quintet with a progressive edge. His U of L appearance will mark his first visit to Louisville since a performance years ago at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Marcus Printup's performance will also be a return for Printup, who last appeared as a guest with Dick Sisto at the Seelbach. His most recent album, The New Boogaloo, has been hailed as a solid evocation of the early soul-jazz of the Art Blakey/Horace Silver school. In addition to his small group work, he has been a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis for nine years

Louisville's Java Men will bring their progressive blend of jazz and fusion to the Planetarium. The group has expanded to include Chris Fitzgerald on bass, joining founding members Todd Hildreth on keyboards, Craig Wagner on guitar and Ray Rizzo on drums. The following night the Planetarium will also be the venue for Hal Miller, the noted jazz film and video archivist, who will again present an evening of video clips which span much of the history of jazz. Miller, also an accomplished percussionist, will present a number of other programs throughout the week. Gail Wynters is a singer in the best Southern tradition of blues and gospel-flavored jazz. She grew up in rural Kentucky in the 1950s, hearing jazz on radio stations beamed in from the more cosmopolitan cities of Lexington and Louisville as well as neighboring Cincinnati, Ohio.

A complete concert schedule, including prices (public/student) is below. For further information, including details on the workshops, call 502-852-6907 or go to, then click on JAZZ WEEK 2003.

· Dave Brubeck Quartet - Sunday, February 23, 2pm, School of Music

$20 per ticket, groups of 10 or more. Single tickets may be available the week prior to concert.

· Dave Brubeck Quartet - Monday, February 24, 8pm, Brown Theatre.

$25 to $50 per ticket. Student ticket $15 with valid ID

· The Java Men - Tuesday, February 25, 7 & 9pm at Rauch Planetarium

$10/7 advance, $12/10 at door.

· Hal Miller - Wednesday, February 26, 7pm at Rauch Planetarium $5/3.

· Gail Wynters - Thursday, February 27, 8pm, School of Music $5/3

· Bobby Watson - Friday, February 28, 8pm, School of Music $15/10

· Marcus Printup - Saturday, March 1, 8pm, School of Music $15/10