Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDE

February may be the shortest month, but is has more than its share of exciting jazz events, including the University of Louisville's Jazz Week, special presentations at the Jazz Factory by the John La Barbera Big Band, Little Jimmy Scott, the Larry Coryell Trio and more. Plan ahead by checking out the "On the Horizon" segment after the concert reviews.

RECENT CONCERTS

Zach Brock and Craig Wagner at the Jazz Factory

Billed as the "Zach Brock/Craig Wagner Reunion," I at first expected an evening of violin and guitar duets from these extremely talented musicians. As it turned out, they were co - leading a quartet that included a talented bassist whose name I regrettably did not catch and Jon Deitemeyer, Brock's regular drummer from his band the Coffee Achievers. After seeing Brock with the Coffee Achievers several times and Wagner with the Java Men, in which both emphasized their electric instruments, it was refreshing to hear both on their acoustic ones. In fact, Brock commented during the performance that he and Wagner were forming a "Kentucky Acoustic Project," to stress the dynamics of working with unamplified instruments and hoped to record later this year. In any event, the performance that night certainly brought the dynamic range of these artists to the fore. Songs raged from the classic "Manha de Carnaval" to a Flamenco take on Brock's original "Mr. Shaw" (from the first Coffee Achievers CD), to a Brock waltz, "Wallflower," to the bluesy "Isotope," by Joe Henderson. The audience was justly enthusiastic and the prospect of Wagner and Brock staying connected to do the acoustic album is exciting.

Liberation Prophecy at the Jazz Factory

Imagine a meeting of Charles Mingus, Sun Ra and Carla Bley, here in Louisville; if you can stretch your mind this far, you will appreciate Liberation Prophecy. Saxophonist Jacob Duncan is the leader of this young and exciting band. I have been wanting to catch this group for over a year and finally did so on Thursday, December 29. Arriving during the first set, I was immediately wrapped up in "Armed Ant War," featuring free saxophones anchored by a steady drum pulse and augmented by plucked piano. The pianist was none other than Todd Hildreth and Jason Tiemann was the drummer. As I told them after the second set, I couldn't recall either of them playing with such fire in the many times I have seen them perform. Highlights of the evening included the first set closer, "Kentucky Mud Shuffle," which reminded me of Mingus' "My Jelly Roll Soul," as performed by a slightly loopy New Orleans second line brass band. A crowd favorite (these folks have a loyal fan base) was the second set closer, "Slush Pump." Before listing the entire personnel, I want to offer a quote from a recent e - mail to me from Duncan: "We all believe in trying to express the human condition through music, not just be - bop. This is why our music is sometimes edgy eclectic, sometimes hopeful, sometimes sardonic and regretful, but always real. We are certainly adventurous unapologetic eclecticists." The complete lineup is: Aaron Kinman - Tenor, Clarinet; Chris Fortner - trombone, trumpet; Josh Toppass - Bari Sax; Jacob Duncan - Alto, Flute, Clarinet - composer; Todd Hildreth - Piano, Accordion; Craig Wagner - Guitars; Sonny Stephens - Acoustic and Electric Bass; Jason Tiemann - Drums, percussion; Amber Estes - vocals.

ON THE HORIZON

University of Louisville Jazz Week 2006.

The 13th Annual University of Louisville Jazz Week is coming up and is full of both workshops as well as concerts. Special guest artists worthy of mention are trombonist Bill Watrous, saxophonist David Liebman (whose three recent releases were reviewed here in June, 2005) and vocalist extraordinaire Jon Hendricks, whose influence is still strong decades after the breakup of the famed Lambert, Hendricks and Ross ensemble. Time does not permit as full a discussion as I would like of these artists, so I encourage you to visit www.jazz.louisville.edu for further information and details. The full schedule is set out below: Thursday, February 23, 8 pm Jazz Ensemble II with guest adjudicators - $5 general admission; Friday, February 24: 12:30 pm Jamey Aebersold - Improvisation Clinic free; 5:30 pm Bill Watrous, trombone - Clinic free; 8 pm Bill Watrous, trombone - Concert with Jazz Ensemble I and Faculty Jazz Combo - $15 general admission, $12 students w/ID, $10 festival participants; Saturday, February 25: 12:30 pm Jamey Aebersold - Improvisation Clinic - free; 5:30 pm Jon Hendricks, vocal - Clinic - free; 8 pm David Liebman, saxophone - Concert with Jazz Ensemble I and Faculty Jazz Combo - $15 general admission, $12 students w/ID, $10 festival participants; Sunday, February 26: 1 pm David Liebman, saxophone - Clinic to be held in Bird Recital Hall - free; 3 pm Jon Hendricks - Concert - $25 general admission, $15 students w/ID, $10 festival participants. Ticket packages are available; for tickets and additional information, call 502 - 852 - 6907 or visit www.jazz.louisville.edu. Note that all concerts will be held at the School of Music, Margaret Comstock Concert Hall, unless otherwise noted.

A special fundraiser for Community Living will take place on Saturday, March 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the River Bend Winery, 120 South 10th Street, Louisville. Featuring Mike Tracy and friends, this event will benefit the efforts to provide residential programs for people with mental retardation. For more information or reservations, call 502 - 585 - 5272.

The lineup for February, for The Jazz Factory, (815 W. Market St. in The Glassworks, 502 - 992 - 3242) as available at press time, follows; more information may be found at the website: www.jazzfactory.us. The Louisville Jazz Society and The Jazz Factory together will present The John La Barbera Big Band with Pat and Joe La Barbera (their latest CD, Fantazm, was reviewed here last month and this is a don't miss show) on February 3; The club will feature: The Jim Snidero Quartet with Phil DeGreg on February 4; legendary singer Little Jimmy Scott on February 17; the return of the phenomenal Larry Coryell Trio with Paul Egan and Paul Wertico on February 25; Mardi Gras Celebration with The West Market Street Stompers on March 3 - 4; the return of Chicagoan Ryan Cohan on April 14 - 15; Kenny Werner (date in Spring TBA); the return of the delightful Lynne Arriale Trio on April 28; funky drummer Jim Payne on May 19 and the always amazing Dave Liebman Quartet on June 23 - 24.

Besides Larry Coryell, highlighted below, The John La Barbera Big Band deserves special mention. John is a professor at The University of Louisville and has coaxed forth remarkable performances from his students there. He will be bringing to Louisville his justly renowned brothers Pat on saxophone and Joe on drums, along with Bill Cunliffe on piano and organ, to form The core of The Big Band. The ensemble will feature works from both the latest CD, Fantazm, as well as the prior Grammy - nominated On The Wild Side. Time and space do not allow for a more detailed preview of Little Jimmy Scott, but this is a rare opportunity to see a truly legendary singer in an appropriately intimate setting.

The Seelbach Jazz Bar, (500 S. Fourth Street, 502 - 585 - 3200), features Dick Sisto, who always provides excellent mainstream jazz, frequently with guest artists joining his trio (with bassist Tyrone Walker and drummer Jason Tiemann). Featured guests during February will be announced later.

The Jazz Kitchen (5377 N College Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220; phone: 317 - 253 - 4900; www.thejazzkitchen.com), in addition to good local and regional talent, has announced The following: The Tony Monaco Trio - February 3 & 4; The Bad Plus - February 6; The Bobby Shew Quartet - February 20; Larry Coryell with Paul Wertico & Mark Egan - February 27; Danilo Perez Trio - March 17; Pat Martino Trio - March 29; Steve Smith & Vital Information - April 3; and the Fareed Haque Group - April 15.

In Cincinnati, "Jazz at the Hyatt," at the Hyatt Hotel Sungarden Room, presents Larry Coryell on February 24, The night before his performance here in Louisville. Full details are available at www.jazzincincy.com.

Jazz from Bloomington presents The Larry Coryell Trio at The John Waldron Arts Center Auditorium, 122 S. Walnut Street, on Thursday, February 23, 2006, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available by phone with Visa or MasterCard: (812) 323 - 3020. The Box Office is open noon to 5 p.m. every day. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.bloomingtonarts.info, as well as at The door. Ticket prices are: $14 General public, $10 Jazz from Bloomington members. More information is available at: www.jazzfrombloomington.org

A reader tipped me to a rare area performance by avant - garde saxophonist Ken Vandermark. The limited information I have is that he is scheduled to perform at Underlying Themes in Lexington February 5. I regret not having more information, but presumably you can use your favorite search engine to find out more if you are interested.

Also in Lexington, The University of Kentucky's excellent Spotlight Jazz Series continues on with The Bad Plus Saturday, February 11 at 8 p.m. in UK's Memorial Hall. Tickets can be purchased through TicketMaster. Regrettably, despite their performing in Lexington that night following their February 6 appearance in Indianapolis at the Jazz Kitchen [listed above], this controversial piano trio will be conspicuous in its absence from Louisville.

As I have before, I urge you to subscribe to sign up for "Jennifer's Jazz E - News," by e - mailing Jenjenjazz@louisvillejazz.org. There are so many opportunities to hear live jazz that it is both impossible for me to try to provide a complete listing here and it would be duplicative in any event. Also, Louisville Music News' monthly music listings are carrying more jazz events than ever, in both the print and online editions (www.louisvillemusicnews.net).

Larry Coryell: An Appreciation

Those of you who have just finished checking out the On the Horizon section of coming attractions will have noted that guitarist Larry Coryell is doing a tour of the area, with a local appearance here at the Jazz factory on Saturday night, February 25. He was last here, with the same trio of drummer Paul Wertico and bassist Mark Egan, in October of 2003, when he performed at the Big Rock Jazz Festival and at the Jazz Factory. In the October 2003 issue of Louisville Music News, I wrote an extended piece covering Coryell's history and then - recent work. To avoid duplication here, I would like to recommend that you surf to www.louisvillemusicnews.net, click "Prior Issues," then "October 2003," then click "Larry Coryell" under "Interviews." A follow-up review of his performances from his last visit here may be found in my column of November 2003.

An overly brief synopsis of his career would have to include his work in the early 1960s with master drummer Chico Hamilton; his groundbreaking work with the Gary Burton Quartet, to which he brought a rock approach to jazz improvisation; his work as a leader in electric fusion bands such as the Eleventh House; his lush acoustic work, both as a soloist as well as teamed with such guitarists as Philip Catherine, John Scofield and Emily Remler; and his straight ahead, Wes Montgomery inspired work with mainstream jazz luminaries such as Kenny Barron, Stanley Cowell, Billy Hart and Buster Williams. In a recent phone interview from his home in Florida, Coryell spoke of wrapping up work on his autobiography, in the midst of a grueling tour schedule which included trio work with former Weather Report bassist Victor Bailey and former Return to Forever drummer Lenny White (as documented on the recent Chesky release, Electric); his upcoming tour with Egan and Wertico and more. He remarked that this trio had recently returned from a Brazilian tour and noted the cohesion of his fellow musicians. See for yourself when he returns to the Jazz Factory on Saturday, February 25 and if you are up for a road trip, note also his area appearances [detailed above] in Bloomington, Cincinnati and Indianapolis which bookend his performance here.

NEW CD and DVD RELEASES

Elvin Jones: Jazz Machine (Kultur DVD D4004), is a wonderful reminder of how great Elvin Jones was. Jones, forever associated with the groundbreaking "classic" John Coltrane quartet, actually spent many more years leading his own bands than he did as Trane's drummer. This DVD, recorded in March of 1991 in Stuttgart, Germany, features Jones' frequent pianist, Willie Pickens [misspelled as "Pickins" on the DVD credits], Sonny Fortune on tenor sax and flute, Ravi Coltrane on tenor and soprano saxes and Chip Jackson on bass. Although there are only three selections, "Is There a Jackson in the House?" by Jackson, "El Ray" by Elvin's brother Thad Jones and a Japanese song whose title in English is "The Doll of the Bride," each piece lasts from 16:50 to 22:55 so the concert of just under an hour is full of lengthy solos by all band members. Throughout, Jones' mastery of the drum kit is inspiring, as he demonstrates not only the fiery polyrhythms for which he is justly famous, but also the tasteful use of brushes ("El Ray") and, during Jackson's solo on "Doll," the good sense to simply lay out while the bassist takes a solo. Throughout, the sound quality is crisp and the camera work judiciously alternates between band shots and close-ups of the soloists. If you were fortunate enough to see this artist's February 2002 performance at the University of Louisville's Jazz Week, this DVD needs no further recommendation; if your only acquaintance with this Master Drummer is his work with the Coltrane Quartet, this DVD provides an excellent example of his work on his own. Elvin Jones was a true original and this concert captures him at his best.

TWO BASS HIT

Nicholas D'Amato's Royal Society: Nullium in Verba (Buckyball BR017) is the debut CD of this electric bassist. Accompanied by Wayne Krantz on guitar and John O'Reilly Jr. on drums, this is a relatively short (39+ minutes) but highly intriguing set of music. The styles range from the backbeat funk of the opening numbers, "Sequitur" and "Pivot," to a Jimi Hendrix-ish solo piece, "Expanded," to extended and unusual workouts on "Sequence." D'Amato brings the CD back to earth with the closing "Ratio," a number that has alternating sections of balladry and (to borrow the title of an old Brecker Brothers album) "heavy metal be - bop." Throughout, O'Reilly and Krantz adapt well to the quirky nature of the leader's compositions.

Brian Bromberg is a bassist with a lengthy and varied resume, including stints backing Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and many others, as well as leading solo projects which range stylistically from straightened to fusion to so - called "smooth jazz" [I call it "fuzak"]. He has a new label, Artistry Music, with two new releases: Brian Bromberg: Wood II and Alan Broadbent: 'Round Midnight. On Wood II, Bromberg is straight ahead through and through. Leading a trio consisting of pianist Randy Waldman and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, he covers a wide variety of classic jazz compositions, beginning with the Ellington - Tizol composition "Caravan," and including Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa." The pop world is also the source for some of the pieces, including Earth Wind and Fire's "Shining Star" and Paul McCartney's "Let `em In." The bass is mixed high, but does not overwhelm the other musicians. Bromberg frequently solos while accompanying, rather than having the other musicians drop out for his solo work. Alan Broadbent's: 'Round Midnight reunites the pianist with bassist Bromberg and drummer Joe La Barbera, who together recorded the 2004 Grammy - nominated album You and the Night and the Music (also on Artistry Music). This is a classic piano trio recording; standards such as the title tune and Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High" predominate, while Broadbent contributes two originals, "Die Vereinbarung" and "The Journey Home." "Die Vereinbarung" is a gentle song inspired by Broadbent's feelings for the city of Vienna and features an extended solo by Bromberg. "The Journey Home" is described in the leader's own notes as " [taking] me back to my roots in New Zealand and my rootlessness as an itinerant musician." Over the course of this CD, this trio demonstrates class and chops, swinging with apparently effortless ease. La Barbera's historic tenure with Bill Evans is evident in his subtle accents and his meticulous use of both sticks and brushes to provide varied colors to the music. Of course, Broadbent is no stranger to working with assertive bassists, having been a member of Charlie Haden's Quartet West for many years. However, Bromberg's role here is more supportive than on his own CD, which is reflected in the mix. While he is by no means buried, he is more of an equal voice rather than ongoing soloist.

CODA

As always, I am interested in your comments. Contact me at mzkjr@yahoo.com.