Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

NOVEMBER 2007 JAZZIN' ONLINE

Due to a production error, the print edition of the November 2007 issue of Louisville Music News reprinted the October "Jazzin'" column. In addition to now-dated previews, the November column included the following reviews: "CD Release Parties at the Jazz Factory: Zach Brock, Ryan Cohan & Eric Person;" and "Roland Vazquez at the 2007 Big Rock Jazz Fest." The column was posted online and is now archived at: www.louisvillemusicnews.net/webmanager/index.php?WEB_CAT_ID=49&storyid=4433&headline=Jazzin'

PRELUDE:

To quote from my all-time favorite movie, Yellow Submarine: "Ad loc, ad hoc and quid pro quo; so little time, so much to know." In this case, it's also a matter of "so little time, so much to write;" and various performance and recording reviews will just have to wait. This month's column is pretty full as it is, so enjoy and best wishes for the Holidaze!

JAMEY AEBERSOLD HONORED

Sometimes I think that those of us in the Greater Louisville area take for granted the presence of Jamey Aebersold, who is known and respected around the world as one of the preeminent jazz educators and perhaps the most prolific producer of jazz-education materials, including books and play-along recordings and who also happens to play a mean alto sax, among other instruments. He was recently honored as one of the 2007 Indiana Governor's Arts Awards recipients during a special ceremony at the Musical Arts Center on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, presented October 25th. These awards have been bestowed every other year since 1973. Aebersold is one of only three jazz musicians to receive this award, the other two being J. J. Johnson and David Baker. The Indiana Governor's Arts Awards is a joint venture of the Indiana Arts Commission (a state agency) and the Office of the Governor. In addition to Johnson (1989) and Baker (1991), Aebersold joins the company of such other notables as Robert Indiana and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1973); Hoagy Carmichael (1975); Cole Porter and Michael Graves (1983); Janos Starker (1995); and Joshua Bell (2003). Congratulations to Jamey and continuing best wishes.

RECENT CONCERTS

THE ADELANTE LATIN JAZZ FESTIVAL AT THE JAZZ FACTORY

The third annual Adelante Latin Jazz Festival at the Jazz Factory brought an amazing array of music to Louisville from September 21-29, with some of the proceeds going to help support the work of the Adelante Hispanic Achievers, Inc., a nonprofit organization formed to provide opportunities for Hispanic youth and their families. Family obligations prevented me from attending every night, but I was able to catch the return of the exciting pianist Chuchito Valdés on the first Saturday and the Louisville premieres of pianists/composers Omar Sosa the following Friday and Jovino Santos Neto on the final Saturday night. Each of the three artists I saw was profoundly individual in style; to say that each pianist played "Latin jazz" is rather like saying that saxophonists Paul Desmond, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman all played "modern jazz," so different were the approaches to the music.

Someone near me commented that Chuchito Valdés is the "Little Richard of Afro‑Cuban Jazz," referring to Valdés' highly energetic piano pummeling. Joined by conguero Frankie Ocasio, trap drummer Emilio Valdés (Chuchito's brother) and bassist Chris Nolte, the leader actually began with two understated pieces including an unidentified ballad. Billy Strayhorn's theme for Duke Ellington, "Take the 'A' Train," was taken at a tempo upwards of 90 MPH in one of the more straightahead arrangements of the evening. For the most part, however, this was a night for revisiting and updating the legacy of Santería-influenced Afro-Cuban jazz, with many numbers deftly mixing the percussive elements of the piano and the two drummers. A humorous note in the second set was an almost "Havana Holiday Inn lounge" version of "Besame Mucho," complete with audience participation. Throughout the night, it was difficult to determine who was having more fun, Valdés or the Jazz Factory patrons. It is no wonder that he has developed a loyal following here in Louisville.

Omar Sosa, an award‑winning Cuban-born musician who now calls Barcelona home, brought a very different, more "world music" vibe to the Jazz Factory the following Friday. He was joined by his international touring quartet of Childo Tomas (Mozambique), on electric bass; Mola Sylla (Senegal), on vocals, percussion and xalam (or n'goni, a lute-like African instrument); and Jimmy Branly (Cuba and USA), on trap drums. Sosa set the tone from the beginning, as he entered with jingling bells, stroked the strings of the piano, utilized sampled voices and played a "whirligig" percussion instrument to create a mood, not just a piece of music. Two songs and a half-hour later, Sosa played what might be called the first overtly "Latin" song of the evening, with tango and other variations. Both sets seemed to weave together Afro-Cuban rhythms with more subdued, almost trance-inducing elements, to create a highly personal and unique musical tapestry. Two recent live recordings, Promise (Skip Records LC 10482), from Hamburg, Germany in 2006 and Live a FIP (World Village 479019), in Paris, France in 2005, capture aspects of Sosa's creative vision. If you can't find them locally, check out www.melodia.com.

The 2007 Adelante Festival closed with a musical journey to Brazil, courtesy of Jovino Santos Neto. Drummer Jamey Haddad, whose resume includes long stints with artists as diverse as Dave Liebman and Paul Simon and bassist Roberto Occhipinti, a Canadian from Italy who favors Afro-Cuban and Brazilian jazz, rounded out Neto's trio. Spirited performances of originals by Neto, compositions by famed composer and multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal (with whom Neto performed from 1977 to 1992) and a beautiful version of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Wave" (complete with a tongue-in-cheek "Smoke on the Water" ending), showed the rich diversity which comes under the heading of "Brazilian jazz." "Festa De Ere," early in the first set, featured fast-paced rhythmic exchanges between Neto and Haddad. A new Neto composition, "Saudade de Sua," offered Occhipinti the opportunity to display his dexterous technique. Neto, who teaches at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, frequently enriched the musical experience by offering introductions to the songs that provided insight into the composers and his own conceptions. His 2006 release Roda Carioca (Rio Circle) (Adventure Music AM 1023) offers an opportunity to hear this great musician in the company of several of his compatriots in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro. If you can't find Neto's music locally, check out www.jovisan.net.

JOEL HARRISON AND HARBOR AT THE JAZZ FACTORY

Guitarist, composer, bandleader and occasional vocalist Joel Harrison came to the Jazz Factory with more than a musical message to convey - he was here to spread awareness of and support for the environmental and social justice advocacy group, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (www.kftc.org). Musically, Harrison led a great quartet, Harbor, named for Harrison's most recent CD, Harbor (HighNote 7167). His bandmates were guitarist Pete McCann, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Jordan Perlson. McCann and Crump previously played in the Mahavishnu Project, but the fast and furious fusion of the Mahavishnu Orchestra was only rarely hinted at during this night's heartfelt performance. The two guitar lineup, with bass and drums, if anything seemed to hint of the intertwined lines of John Scofield and Bill Frisell in their work with Marc Johnson's Bass Desires. Harrison and company covered territory from Jimmy Webb's pop composition "Wichita Lineman" to the Merle Travis lament "Dark as a Dungeon" to George Harrison compositions "Here Comes the Sun" and "Beware of Darkness." Harrison's original pieces included "End Time," based on a work by French composer Olivier Messiaen and "Hudson Shining," which unfolded like a mini-suite.

The first set was relatively short, as Harrison stepped aside for readings from various members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, on a theme of saving the mountains from destruction. A recitation of Elvis Costello's "The River in Reverse" by Mark Isaacs prompted Harrison to return to the stage for improvised musical "punctuation marks." Other speakers mentioned famed author Harry Caudill and read poignant and moving statements from some of the people caught up in the destruction of their beloved communities. The message was conveyed completely by the music in the second set, with sensitive playing by all. This is not to say that Harbor couldn't play more aggressively; indeed, in "End Time," Harrison's intentional use of feedback and McCann's thrashing raised the roof. The group closed with a lengthy medley of what Harrison introduced as an Appalachian blues ballad, "Lonesome Road Blues," and the classic "Shady Grove," a song performed by artists as diverse as Kentucky legend Jean Ritchie and psychedelic barnstormers Quicksilver Messenger Service. In fact, it reminded me of David Lindley's work with the underrated band Kaleidoscope, as Harrison's searing solo provided the bridge linking these two pieces and the band flowed from folky to Middle Eastern to "blues meets bluegrass." Both musically and politically, this was a memorable evening of adventurous music and here's hoping for a return visit by Joel Harrison and Harbor. For more information about this artist, go to www.joelharrison.com.

PAT METHENY TRIO

I was so psyched for the concert by the Pat Metheny Trio, featuring bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanchez, that I was almost afraid I might be let down. I needn't have worried. Metheny began the concert, on Monday November 5 at the Brown Theatre, with three solo pieces, each played on a different guitar. Opening with "Make Peace" and "Unrequited," originally from his 2006 duo album Metheny Mehldau (with pianist Brad Mehldau) and continuing with "The Sound of Water" (from the 2007 followup CD, Metheny Mehldau Quartet), Metheny entranced the audience with a full and warm half hour of intimate guitar artistry.

After the solo segment, McBride and Sanchez then joined him for two more hours of music. Metheny premiered pieces from a forthcoming album, Day Trip, including the title piece and "When We Were Free." A beautiful ballad, "When Night Turns Into Day," harkened back to Metheny's days playing with then-newcomer Joshua Redman. A series of duets began with an almost rock performance of "Go Get It," with Sanchez occasionally moving into thunderous Elvin Jones territory. The standard "My Romance" featured McBride's eloquent playing. The trio closed with a fast piece which gave McBride the opportunity to demonstrate his considerable bowing skills, followed by a funky encore which finally gave McBride the opportunity to get down on the electric bass which had been onstage all night. Metheny's work during the trio and duo segments of the evening showed his versatility and artistry. As one who has seen Metheny and McBride on several occasions in the past (although never together until this night), I was expecting the best and I got it. As a newcomer to the live performing of Sanchez, I was almost unprepared for his sheer artistry. His fluid work on the drum kit was a delight throughout. Sanchez could be as subtle as the late Connie Kay and as aggressive as the aforementioned Jones and always seemed to find just the right accents to fill out each song. This was, in short, a rare opportunity to see three master musicians performing at their individual and collective best.

DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET

If I could use but one word to describe the recent (Saturday, November 10) performance of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, it would be "MAGIC." Brubeck, together with longtime members Bobby Militello (alto sax and flute), Randy Jones (drums) and Michael Moore (bass), performed two captivating sets at Louisville's landmark Memorial Auditorium.

Brubeck's classic quartet of the 1950s-60s, featuring saxophonist Paul Desmond, bassist Eugene "Senator" Wright and drummer Joe Morello, is justly famous. Having had the opportunity to see the current lineup several times over the past few years, in addition to listening to several of their numerous recordings, I believe that the current lineup should be and ultimately will be known as "The Second Classic Dave Brubeck Quartet," much as there were two "classic Miles Davis Quintets."

Brubeck, just weeks shy of his 87th birthday, entered to a rousing ovation. Although looking a bit frail as he walked to the piano, once he began to play he years melted away. The opening song was an easygoing, swinging affair that featured long melodic lines from Militello. Moore's solo followed, the first of many arco features for the talented bassist (who visually reminds me of Pepperland's Lord Mayor from the Yellow Submarine film). Interspersed among the original pieces were such standards as "Stormy Weather" and a gorgeous rendition of "Over the Rainbow," which offered Militello the opportunity to show his prowess on flute. The first set closed with "Drivin' Blues," which Brubeck credited to an inspiration from his wife, Iola. The second set opened with a humorous introduction by Brubeck to his "Concordia Latvia." After a full hour first set, the second set lasted some 45 minutes and closed with another variant of the Paul Desmond-penned classic "Take Five," this time featuring a brilliant Jones solo which, although lengthy, never seemed to lose the attention of the audience. During both sets, Brubeck continually seemed genuinely delighted by the playing of his bandmates. He also seemed to derive great pleasure from keeping them on their toes, as he subtly shifted gears during many of the songs. We should all be so fortunate as to have the energy, passion and joie de vivre of Brubeck when we reach his age; this was truly a night to remember.

ON THE HORIZON

CHICK COREA AND BÉLA FLECK AT THE BROWN THEATRE

Unfortunately, I had to miss the performance of pianist Chick Corea and banjo artist Béla Fleck this past summer at the Indianapolis Jazz Festival; I have no intention of passing up their performance on Monday, February 18, 2008, at the Brown Theatre here in Louisville. Look for more details here next month. For now, tickets are available through the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts at 501 W. Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202, 502-584-7777 (or online at www.kentuckycenter.org).

Selected Club Listings

The Jazz Factory (815 W. Market St. in The Glassworks, 502-992‑3242) always has a complete and updated schedule, with more details, at the website: www.jazzfactory.us. Highlights (my listing is subjective and omission of an act is due to space and time limitations, not quality judgments) include the return of saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman onFriday December 7. First coming to the fore as a member of Ray Charles' band, he has led his own sessions for decades and is always a superb performer. He will be accompanied here by Steve Allee on piano, Frankie Smith on bass and Jonathan Higgins on drums. Special holiday-themed performances include Gail Wynters on December 4; Jazz and The Spoken Word: Holiday Edition on the 12th; Bluegrass Meets Jazz: Sleighride Edition on the 19th; and a Harry Pickens Holiday Special, for three nights, December 20-22. An unusual "End of Prohibition Party," with The West Market Street Stompers, takes place on the 15th; clubgoers are asked to come dressed "in prohibition era garb . . . wide lapels, flapper dresses, felt fedoras and fine‑feathered millinery." In addition to these featured performers, the Jazz Factory presents fine jazz every night, Tuesday through Saturday, with early specials, a revamped menu and an eclectic mix of acts Friday and Saturday nights after the second jazz set, for the Late Night Salon series.

The Seelbach Jazz Bar, (500 S. Fourth Street, 502-585‑3200), features vibraphonist and occasional pianist Dick Sisto, who always provides excellent mainstream jazz, frequently with guest artists joining him.

The Jazz Kitchen (5377 N College Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220; phone: 317‑253‑4900; www.thejazzkitchen.com), presents: David "Fathead" Newman with the Steve Allee Trio on December 8, the night after his performance here at the Jazz Factory; in addition to the nightly offerings of local and regional jazz; check the website for the full schedule.

The December schedule for The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241‑WISP), was unavailable, due to management changes at the club. There is a new website which you may visit for further information: www.thebluewispjazzclub.com.

Important Note, Part 2, Slight Return: "The Jazz E‑News" service has been discontinued. The Louisville Jazz Society has revamped its website (www.louisvillejazz.org) and now offers a new means to disseminate news of live performances locally: be sure to sign up for the e-mail "Louisville Jazz Society's Jazz Insider." In any event, 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 of the weekly listings in the Courier-Journal and LEO and the Louisville Music News' monthly music listings, in both the print and online editions (www.louisvillemusicnews.net).

LOCAL JAZZ CONTACTS

[NO New Additions for Dec 07]

With two just-turned nine‑year‑olds, it's hard to get out as much as I would like to hear music. As a result, picking and choosing which performances to catch sometimes require that I postpone seeing some of the local musicians and singers in order to not miss the one-night-stands from out-of-town artists. Invariably, I feel guilty, so in an effort to assuage my guilt and, more positively, to provide more exposure to our community of great local jazz performers, I am initiating this feature containing website and e-mail contact information. I am only including those artists who have given their permission to me; some have indicated a preference for website listing only; others have only e-mail addresses. If you wish to be included, drop a line to me with your permission and preferences, at mzkjr@yahoo.com. I reserve the right to edit and to exclude those whose connection to jazz is, in my opinion, tenuous; and this feature may end up online if it begins to take up too much space in print.

BOBBY FALK: www.myspace/bobbyfalk.com, drummer and composer Bobby Falk;

WALKER & KAYS: www.walkerandkays.com, singer Jeanette Kays and guitarist Greg Walker;

JENNIFER LAULETTA: www.jenniferlauletta.com, singer Jennifer Lauletta;

JEFF SHERMAN: jeff.sherman@insightbb.com, guitarist Jeff Sherman;

RON JONES: www.ronjonesquartet.com, rjmusic@ronjonesquartet.com, saxophonist Ron Jones;

STEVE CREWS: www.jazzcrews.com, jazzcat@iglou.com, pianist Steve Crews.

CODA

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