Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDE:

As I mentioned last month, due to complications related to moving my office, I was unable to attend the first weekend of Jazzfest. By all accounts, one of the highlights of the first weekend was the pairing of New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint and "Mr. Diana Krall," a.k.a. Elvis Costello. They have just released a CD on Verve Forecast entitled The River in Reverse, which includes new renditions of such Toussaint classics as "On Your Way Down" and a personal favorite, "Freedom for the Stallion," as well as songs co-written by the two, including the title track. Throughout the recording, the blend of Elvis Costello bandmates, including keyboard player Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas, with such New Orleans stalwarts as Toussaint hornmen Amadee Castenell and "Big Sam" Williams, comes together seemingly effortlessly. Post-Katrina, older songs take on new depth, while new ones, including the title song and a new Toussaint piece, "Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further" provide a truly artistic response to the devastation wrought not only by the forces of nature, but by the ineffectual efforts of too many politicians. Musically and lyrically, this is powerful yet not over the top.

RECENT CONCERTS

Umphrey's McGee performed in Louisville on Friday, May 19 at the Brown Theatre as part of the eclectic lineup for the first of two WFPK Listener Appreciation Concerts. Opening act, the rootsy veteran rockers the Bottle Rockets, seemed slightly constrained in a theater, as if they would be more comfortable in a more casual setting. However, their country-influenced rock was a lively beginning. Next up was World Party, in a trio format, which allowed the songwriting skills of leader Karl Wallinger to come through. Umphrey's McGee, as the only improvisational act of the night, could have used a longer set to more fully display their instrumental virtuosity. The funky opening "Intentions Clear," from the new CD Safety In Numbers (SCI-1032) had people up and dancing for the first time of the night. Even within the time constraints, the band soared through a lengthy jam on "Miss Tinkle's Overture," rendered an a capella rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" and closed with a stretched-out "Plunger." The final act, Los Lonely Boys, performed an abbreviated set which started late due, apparently, to equipment problems. Sounding like a stripped-down Santana, their set included "Oye Mamacita" and their triple-A format hit "Heaven."

The 20th annual Bellarmine Jazz Guitar Clinic and Concert took place on Monday and Tuesday, June 5-6, with the concert itself being Monday night. This year's concert was a tribute to Johnny Smith, featuring Jack Wilkins (the foremost expert on Johnny Smith) and Gene Bertoncini (who studied with Johnny at NBC where they were both on staff) and Bellarmine Professor Jeff Sherman.

Smith himself was unable to attend, as he is apparently caring for a very ill wife; nevertheless, he was in good spirits when Sherman, Wilkins and Bertoncini called him with a telephone hookup, which allowed the audience to greet him and to listen to him, reminisce about his early days. Smith noted that "When I was young, there were no guitar teachers - now you have people like these. They can bring you up to the present a lot sooner so you can concentrate on the future."

Following the call, all three guitarists, joined by bassist Tyrone Wheeler and drummer Paul Culligan, performed "Walk, Don't Run." I must admit that as a child in the early 60s, I played that song so often by the Ventures, that it was a revelation that night that it actually has a jazz pedigree. Sherman then performed two standards, "Out of Nowhere" and "My One and Only Love," followed by a lesser-known piece entitled "Bill, Not Phil." Throughout, his warm tone and elegant styling were ably accompanied by Wheeler and Culligan.

Bertoncini followed with a set which began with solo which would have sounded at home on Sketches of Spain, followed by a medley of Cole Porter's "So in Love" and the pop classic "The More I See You." He took some time to reminisce about Smith before performing a solo medley which included "Here's that Rainy Day," among others. He was rejoined by bass and drums for "My Romance," soloed on "Everything Happens to Me," and concluded the first set of the evening with Wheeler and Culligan joining in a race to the finish on a fast-paced version of "Like Someone in Love."

After a brief intermission, Bertoncini returned with a Jobim medley, with tasteful percussive work by Culligan adding to the Brazilian feeling. Wilkins joined Bertoncini for a pair of duets, before Sherman, Wheeler and Culligan returned for a tune Johnny Smith had recorded with Stan Getz, "Jaguar." One encore did not satisfy the audience's demands, so a brief second encore brought everyone back for a rousing finish. Kudos to Sherman and to Bellarmine for its support of this musical "Rite of Summer."

Murali Coryell played June 8 at The Jazz Factory. If the last name of this guitarist and singer sounds familiar, it is because he is one of the sons of famed guitarist Larry Coryell, whose own trio blew away an audience here this past February (reviewed here in April). Murali, however, is adamant about being Murali Coryell, not "Larry's son," when it comes to making music. Even as he forges his own way, in an e-mail to me a few months ago, he noted that "I love my family and the wonderful music legacy I have been born into." On his card, besides the usual contact information, he has the catch-phrase "The Future of the Blues," also the title of a new three song EP. Rather than pursuing the jazz direction of his dad, Murali performs a combination of original and classic blues and old school soul. In performance here, his covers included soul songs by Marvin Gaye (the opening number "What's Goin' On," "Let's Get It On" and "Sexual Healing") and Al Green ("Love and Happiness"), as well as blues such as Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights, Big City" and Elmore James' "I Can't Hold Out Too Long." Murali's own pre-marriage "Too Many Women" reminded the audience that the blues can also be humorous, while his "Hi Charlie, I Love You Charlie," written for his little boy, was touching.

Rather than carrying a band, Murali told me that "he has bands everywhere," including a Chicago group featuring Buddy Guy's drummer. Here in Louisville he was tastefully accompanied by electric bassist Lee Puckett and drummer Theo Richardson. Richardson seemed particularly motivated during a performance of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," while Puckett reined in his jazz chops to provide the funk and blues bass lines required for the evening, although he did get to stretch out a bit on the Charles Mingus classic "Goodbye Porkpie Hat," which featured the Rahsaan Roland Kirk lyrics.

One high point came at the end of the first set, when Murali called on his uncle, Jim Coryell (a banker by day, a guitarist by night), to join him on a tune Jim taught Murali many years ago, the T-Bone Walker classic "Stormy Monday Blues," followed by James Brown's eternal vamp classic "Sex Machine."

Louisville's own Jennifer Lauletta sang on the opening song of the second set, a moving version of Etta James' "At Last." Murali showed throughout that he has more taste than many younger blues musicians and his soul pieces evoked a Curtis Mayfield vibe. Murali has several CDS available, including the recent Strong As I Need To Be (which includes "Hi Charlie"). They are available locally at ear X-tacy and through Murali's website, www.muralicoryell.com. As I write this, I have just received an e-mail with the news that Murali will be back in town on Thursday, July 6, at Stevie Ray's.

The Louisville Jazz Society Annual Silent Auction and Jam Session

As both a jazz columnist and a Board member of the Louisville Jazz Society (LJS), I can only plead "temporary insanity" (induced by the trauma of moving) to my failure last month to tell you about LJS Annual Silent Auction and Jam Session. It took place at the Jazz Factory on Sunday, June 11. In addition to donating his club for the event, Jazz Factory owner Ken Shapero even made a cash donation to the Society. Kudos to the marvelous musicians who donated their time and talent to the event: Craig Wagner with Chris Fitzgerald, Jerry Carlon with Jeff Sherman and Sonny Stephens and all the way from Frankfort (and presumably not under investigation by the grand jury there) The Ray Byrd Band. The Louisville Jazz Society (LJS) is a non-profit, all volunteer organization, supported by membership donations and dedicated to promoting jazz music, especially live jazz. LJS publishes a quarterly newsletter, co-sponsors the "Big Rock" Jazz Festival and helps sponsor many other local jazz activities. LJS also sponsors education programs in area schools and has a scholarship program to help rising young local talent. For more information, visit the LJS website, www.louisvillejazz.org.

EIGHTH NOTES

Since I began this column, I have been fortunate enough to have met and, in some instances, interviewed many of the finest musicians in jazz (and occasionally improvisational rock). I have also been fortunate enough to meet (virtually, at least), many music label sources and to be able to obtain from both the musicians themselves and the various label representatives and others in the music industry, CDS, DVDs and books to review here. As a die-hard perfectionist, I sometimes find myself waiting for "just the right time" to write reviews and of course, that time all too frequently doesn't come. Therefore, I am initiating this new feature, which I call "Eighth Notes," in an effort to provide short reviews of releases that you may find of interest. There are many resources available for simply finding out that "Joe Blow's new CD, The Best of Joe Blow, on Blowhard Records" is now available. I want to give more information than simply release dates, without getting so caught up in providing detailed track-by-track analyses that I end up never letting you know about some very good recordings. I would appreciate any feedback on this new segment.

Ray Mantilla, the noted Latin percussionist, has just released Good Vibrations (Savant CD 2073, available at www.jazzdepot.com if you can't find it locally). Featuring [Mr.] Edy Martinez - piano; Mike Freeman - vibes; Cucho Martinez - bass; Bill Elder - drums; Enrique Fernández - reeds; and guest Steve Berríos, percussion, this should appeal to fans of Cal Tjader's brand of swinging yet not "in your face" Afro-Cuban jazz. It opens with the classic "Flying Home" and includes two of Milt Jackson's lesser known compositions: "Blues for Queen D [Dinah Washington]" and "Namesake." The closing number, Mantilla's own "Bari con Bata," provides a rousing finish to this otherwise laidback CD.

Guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli pays tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes on Dear Mr. Sinatra (Telarc CD-83638). He is not so much accompanied by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra as he becomes a part of it, in arrangements by John Clayton, Quincy Jones and Don Sebesky. Among the Sinatra classics are "Witchcraft" and a medley of "I See Your Face Before Me" and "In the Wee Small Hours (of the Morning). This will be an enjoyable addition to the collections of Sinatra fans, although those just discovering Sinatra's sophisticated delivery should probably opt for some of the original recordings before branching out into this heartfelt tribute.

ON THE HORIZON

Following is a selective listing of just a few of the highlights for July at The Jazz Factory, (815 W. Market St. in The Glassworks, 502-992-3242). A complete schedule and more details may be found at the website: www.jazzfactory.us. Thursday June 29 is the superb singer Kevin Mahogany, joined by saxophonist Red Holloway; Friday and Saturday, June 30-July 1: The Aebersold All-Stars with Jim Snidero; Wednesday July 5: "Bluegrass Meets Jazz;" Thursday July 6: the return of The Ron Hayden Group (reviewed here in May); Friday and Saturday July 7-8 Aebersold All-Stars with trumpeter Jim Rotondi (Friday) and guitarist Dave Stryker (Saturday); Tuesday July 11: Beeblebrox keyboardist Monika Herzig's Acoustic Project; Thursday July 13: 4U; Friday and Saturday July 14-15: Aebersold All-Stars with trumpeter Scott Wendholdt; Tuesday July 18: The New Lions Big Band; Wednesday July 19, the ever-popular "Jazz and the Spoken Word;" Thursday July 20: The Todd Hildreth Trio; and Friday July 21: The Outer Orchestra.

Coming up the following night, Saturday July 22, is the return of The Winard Harper Quintet. Harper is a young veteran of the bands of Dexter Gordon, Betty Carter and other legendary figures. He formed the Harper Brothers with his brother Philip on trumpet and recorded CDS in a hard bop vein. On his new release, Make It Happen (Piadrum 0602), Winard moves from hard bop to African and Latin-influenced pieces in a manner reminiscent of the great Art Blakey. Like Blakey did from time to time, Harper augments his trap drums with African and Latin percussion, making for a full and rich sound. According to Jazz Factory owner Ken Shapero, when Harper was in town before (a performance which I regrettably missed), he brought with him Abdou M'Boup on Talking Drum, who was much appreciated by the audience. M'Boup is on the CD and is scheduled to be part of the group on this return engagement. So, to coin a cliché, be there or be, well, you know . . .. Important note: If you haven't been to the Jazz Factory lately, you should be aware that the schedule has changed. The Friday and Saturday set times are 7:30 and 9:30, rather than 9 and 11. An "after hours salon" is currently being set up for the weekends; more details at the Jazz Factory's website.

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). The schedule for July was unavailable at press time, but Sisto, his trio and the guests always present superlative jazz..

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: Kevin Mahogany with Red Holloway - July 1; Vocalist Jackie Allen- July 22; Mike Clark Trio [the Headhunters' superfunky drummer] - July 26; and Brian Auger & the Oblivion Express - July 29.

Cincinnati's "Jazz at the Hyatt," (details are available at www.jazzincincy.com) presents: Killer Ray Appleton-Melvin Rhyne Quartet July 7; The Jazz Circle July 14; Winard Harper Sextet July 21; Azar Lawrence with the Eddie Bayard Quintet July 26; Music Fusion Week Jazz Festival: Patrice Rushen/ Leon "Ndugu" Chancler Classic Jazz July 27; Mike Wade and the Ambassadors July 28; Visions from Los Angeles All-Star Jam with Patrice Rushen, Azar Lawrence, Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Mike Wade and Eddie Bayard July 29.

Marcos Calvacante, Guitarist from Brazil will perform with the Phil DeGreg Trio June 30 and July 1 at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241-WISP; www.bluewispjazzclub.com). The remainder of July was unavailable at press time.

The International Jazz Café at the Library begins Tuesday, June 27 with an evening of tango with Argentinean musicians Waldo Brandwajnman on saxophone; Roberto Gesaghi on guitar; Luis Montanana on bass; and Jose Pablo Menajovsky on guitar. Russian jazz takes center stage on Thursday, July 6 withAleksey Badyanov on guitar,Oleg Golyunov on trombone, Zhanna Llmer on Saxophone, and Roman Stolyar on piano. On Thursday, July 13 hear Brazilian jazz with Renato Vasconcellos on piano, Marcos Siqueira Cavalcanteon guitar, and Bruno Pegoraro on tenor sax. In addition to the music performances, an exhibit of jazz albums opens June 27 in the Bernheim Gallery and continues through August 31. International Jazz Café is presented by the Louisville Free Public Library, the University of Louisville Jazz Studies Program, the Louisville Jazz Society, Open World Cultural Program through partnership and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the International Association of Schools of Jazz. The series is free and open to the public.

As always, 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).

AEBERSOLD SUMMER JAZZ WORKSHOPS AND CONCERTS

As discussed here last month, the 2006 Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops begin this year with a two-day "Anyone Can Improvise" Seminar with Jamey Aebersold on July 1 and 2, followed by two weeklong Workshop Sessions, July 2 - 7 and 9 - 14. The curriculum includes daily Theory, Ear Training, Combo and Master classes. There will also be concerts each evening with groups comprised from the 70+ faculty members, including Don Braden, Bobby Shew, Rufus Reid, David Hazeltine, Dave Stryker, John Riley, Jim Rotondi and many more. For more information contact: Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, 1-800-456-1388 ext. 5, ben@jazzbooks.com, or visit www.summerjazzworkshops.com. The Louisville Jazz Society (LJS) has granted scholarships to two students; details are available at the LJS website, www.louisvillejazz.org..

Longtime Louisville jazz aficionados have come to look forward to the special 7 p.m. Wednesday concerts held at Masterson's, which feature all-star lineups from the topnotch faculty. For the past several years, former Louisvillian Don Braden has been among the best received of the players at these concerts. He has just released Don Braden - Workin' (HighNote CD 7155), a swinging live album featuring Kyle Koehler on organ and drummer Cecil Brooks III. Recorded live at Cecil's in New Jersey, it shows Braden's combination of heat and finesse. He tackles a combination of pop standards (such as "The Closer I Get To You" and "Feel like Makin' Love") as well as originals such as "The Vail Jumpers." After a rousing opening number, "You Can't Hide Love," he mellows out with a pair of tunes for his daughter, the unaccompanied "Looking for Her" followed by "She's on Her Way." In short, this CD provides further proof of both Braden's talent and of the extremely high caliber of artist that Jamey Aebersold brings to town year after year as part of his faculty.

PHIL LESH AND FRIENDS TO FEATURE GREG OSBY AT LOUISVILLE PALACE

In May I reviewed Phil Lesh's autobiography, Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead. I did not know at the time that his summer tour would bring his band, Phil Lesh and Friends, to Louisville for a performance on Tuesday, July 18, at the Palace. As I wrote then, "Throughout the book, he makes explicit his and the band's connections with jazz, name-checking artists including Charles Mingus, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, all of whom were profound influences on Lesh and his fellow musicians." Lesh walks the walk, as the earlier portion of Lesh's summer tour included guitarist John Scofield as part of the lineup. While, unfortunately, Sco will not be on board for the Louisville show, jazz fans will nonetheless be pleased to see progressive saxophonist Greg Osby as part of the band.

In previous columns I have mentioned Osby's role as part of Charlie Hunter's Groundtruther project (November 2004) and Yo! Miles!: Sky Garden (also November 2004) and Upriver (which I reviewed in the Louisville Jazz Society Newsletter, May 2005). He has also sat in with the post-Jerry Garcia version of "the Dead," so his contributions to the improvisational rock of Lesh and company should lift the music. A member of the experimental funk/jazz collective M-Base, Osby has had a distinguished career accompanying musicians the caliber of Jack De Johnette as well as on his own. His most recent release, 2005's Channel Three (Blue Note 60671), is an exciting trio recording featuring drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts and bassist Matt Brewer. All the pieces are originals, except for the opening "Mob Job" by Ornette Coleman and the concluding "Miss Ann" by Eric Dolphy. In addition to Osby, Lesh will be joined by our own Joan Osborne on vocals, Larry Campbell on guitar, mandolin, fiddle and vocals, Barry Sless on pedal steel, Rob Barraco on keys and John Molo on drums . Unlike most "jambands," this band's inclusion will bring genuine jazz presence to rock improvisation.

CODA

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