Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDES:

1) The Jazz Factory has decided to close its doors, as you have probably heard. It goes out on a grand note, with a concert by the Larry Coryell Trio on Tuesday, March 25, three University of Louisville jazz combos on the following night and The Harry Pickens Trio Thursday through Saturday, with special guests. I write in the present tense because the print edition of Louisville Music News may be on the street before the final weekend.

Although I am tempted to write a diatribe on supporting live jazz and the sad results that take place when such support is lacking, I prefer to simply give a heartfelt thanks to Jazz Factory proprietors Ken Shapero and Dianne Aprile. Their devotion and dedication made their club into one with world-class status. Please join me in wishing them well as they embark on the next stage of their journey.

2) RIP Buddy Miles, who not only played with Jimi Hendrix, but was also the drummer for Michael Bloomfield's Electric Flag and played on the still-amazing John McLaughlin album, Devotion.

LOUISVILLE JAZZ SOCIETY NEWS: AEBERSOLD CAMP SCHOLARSHIPS

As I have mentioned here before, I serve on the Board of Directors of the Louisville Jazz Society. The annual general membership meeting was held in the Green Room of the Jazz Factory on March 19, only a week after news of the impending closure of the club began to spread. Despite the inevitable sadness, the good news is that there was a good turnout. Among the many activities of the LJS is the sponsorship of a scholarship to the annual Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, held at the University of Louisville each summer. This will be the 36th annual workshop and is set for June 29th - July 11th. For details, go to the website, www.louisvillejazz.org.

RECENT CONCERTS

With the imminent closure of the Jazz Factory at this writing, I am going to hold back on some of the concert reviews as a small way to keep the memory alive for the next few months.

JANE BUNNETT AND THE SPIRITS OF HAVANA AT THE JAZZ FACTORY

Canadian flutist and saxophonist Jane Bunnett brought her "multikulti" [thank you, Don Cherry] ensemble to the Jazz Factory on Saturday February 23. Husband Larry Cramer played trumpet and flugelhorn, Arturo Stable was the conguero, Jorge Najarro played timbales and occasional sang, Osmany Paredes was the pianist and Yunior Terry (saxophonist Yosvany Terry's brother) held the bottom down on bass. The opening "Elegua" was a traditional Afro-Cuban piece, named after a saint. The lilting piano introduction was followed by Bunnett's soprano, before all joined in for chanting and playing. "Joyful Noise" included a Yoruban rap section; Cramer's flugelhorn work was incisive and hard-edged. "La Camparsa" was named for the groups that play for Carnival in July. A beautiful lullaby followed, "Lune Negrita," which Bunnett said she had not played for years until a performance the prior night at Antioch. Her lyrical soprano was accompanied only by Paredes' gentle piano and he sweet singing of Najarro. The first set ended with "Ron con Ron" ("Rum plus Rum"), which featured audience participation on the clave introduction.

"Changui para Alfredo," opened the second set, with a bass solo, which reminded me of Jimmy Garrison. "Cha Cha Cha" was next, showcasing the interwoven lines of Bunnett's soprano and Cramer's muted trumpet. Bunnett switched to flute for her solo, followed by a stunning piano solo that elicited applause long before its conclusion. On "El Rio" ("The River"), Bunnett's sax soared over the churning percussion. "Guantanamo Blues" reflected the band's trip to that now notorious location and demonstrated a melding of Latin and blues forms. During the final three numbers, "Forever Strong and Happy," "Timba Ma Bo," and an over-the-speed limit version of Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee," the band kept building to higher and higher peaks. Bunnett did not so much play her instruments as she became one with them, her body swaying and her sax and flute becoming extensions of her. Looking back on this performance, I remembered her first appearance back in August of 2004. Although "Jane who?" was my first reaction to the announcement of her upcoming date, I was able to obtain an interview with her that enlightened me as to her depth of study and assimilation of Afro-Cuban music. I was blown away by her 2004 concert and realize now that this is just one of many artists to whom I was introduced by the Jazz Factory's superb and varied bookings.

CHICK COREA AND BÉLA FLECK AT THE BROWN THEATRE

Pianist Chick Corea and banjo artist Béla Fleck treated Louisville music lovers to a very special evening when they played to an appreciative audience on Monday, February 18, at the Brown Theatre. Beginning with Corea's "Señorita" (also the leadoff tune from their 2007 recording The Enchantment (Concord CCD-30253)), these master musicians performed two hour-long sets. Continuing in the order of tunes on the album, they stretched out on a Fleck composition identified as "Spectacle," before varying the program with Fleck's lovely "Waltse for Abby" (8th in the CD for those keeping score). After some banter, which seemed almost forced, but which did not affect the playing, they did a bluesy take on Corea's "Joban Dna Nopia" [read it backwards] before they closed with an extended version of Fleck's "Mountain." Corea introduced the piece by saying that "Béla's been teaching me how to play some bluegrass piano." Fleck proceeded to perform an extended, spellbinding solo which was less "bluegrass" than "Fleck;" he modulated into a more bluegrass style just before Corea joined in, after which they seemed to reinvent old-time mountain music as chamber jazz, a stunning achievement.

One of the many highlights of the second set was Corea's "Children's Song #6," introduced by Fleck as "one of my favorite songs Chick has written." Corea began the piece by plucking the strings of the piano and both he and Fleck took solos which, while long, were entrancing. They ended by giving each other heartfelt and well-deserved high fives. Corea then performed a lullaby from the Preludes of Henri Dutilleux, who was born in 1916 and described in Wikipedia as "one of the most important French composers of the second half of the 20th century." The title track of the CD w as followed by "Spectacle" [confirmed as the actual composition of this title during a brief conversation backstage following the concert]. Corea and Fleck returned for a extended encore of "Brasilia" which hinted at Corea's classic "Spain," before the final ovation. Both Corea and Fleck proved, as if proof were necessary, that the seemingly incongruous pairing of progressive bluegrass banjo and modern jazz piano, was actually a perfect match.

ON THE HORIZON

GALACTIC AT HEADLINERS

New Orleans funk/rock/you-name-it band Galactic returns to Headliners on Tuesday, April 15. From the Corner to the Block is the latest release from this band; while I cannot claim to have heard it yet, reports are that it combines classic Galactic elements with a number of guest rappers. According to the band's website, www.galacticfunk.com, the Louisville leg of their pre-Jazzfest tour will feature rapper Boots Riley (of The Coup) and special guests the Salvador Santana Band (Salvador being the son of Carlos Santana). Additional ticket information is available at the club's site, www.headlinerslouisville.com.

JAZZ IN LOUISVILLE EXHIBIT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE

“Reflection: Jazz in Louisville,” will run from April 6 - May 30 at the Ekstrom Library (across from the Chao Auditorium and also Media Center), on the Belknap Campus, University of Louisville. This will include local history, narratives, biographies and photos of performers, plus interpretive art for auction to support WFPK's Instrumental Partners (instruments for low income youth with musical interests). There will be a reception at noon, Wednesday, April 16, with live jazz and food. For more information, call Jami Allen, 852-8747.

SAMMY FIGUEROA AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE

The reconfigured University of Louisville "Jazz Week" program, expanded to include performances in the Fall (Dave Brubeck) and the traditional February events, closes with Latin percussionist Sammy Figueroa on April 4. His latest CD, the Grammy-nominated The Magician (Savant SCD2979) demonstrates a savvy blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz. Additional information is available through the U of L School of Music, 502-852-6907, www.louisville.edu/music.

BELLARMINE JAZZ GUITAR CLINIC AND CONCERT

Bellarmine University will host the 22nd Annual Jazz Guitar Clinic and Concert on Monday and Tuesday, June 9-10. At press time, Professor Jeff Sherman could not confirm details as to guest artists, but prior years have featured heavyweights such as Gene Bertoncini, Peter Bernstein, John Stowell and Jack Wilkins. For more information, check in here next month.

Selected Club Listings

Thanks to an e-mail from Bradley Tharp, owner of SPEAKEASY, in New Albany, I can add this club to the listings here. The club opened last summer and prior bookings have included Jamey Aebersold, David Hazeltine, Chuck Mahronic, Craig Wagner, Tim Whalen, Dick Sisto and more. Tharp is a trumpeter and leads a house big band that plays every Wednesday. Although April listings were unavailable by deadline time, his e-mail indicated that Sisto, often accompanied by Tyrone Wheeler, plays Thursday nights, while every weekend, saxophonist Tim Whalen and guitarist Craig Wagner play. For more information: SPEAKEASY JAZZ, 225 State Street, New Albany, IN 47150; 812-981-0981, 1-866-498-JAZZ; or surf to its website: www.speakeasyjazz.us

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 nightly offerings of local and regional jazz; check the website for the full schedule and updates. April shows which you might think worthy of a road trip include: Wednesday, April 9: guitarist Fareed Haque brings his Flat Earth Ensemble, which features Fareed Haque on guitar, Kala Ramnath on Hindustani violin, Salar Nader on tabla and percussion and John Tate on bass to the club; and Wednesday, April 23, trumpet great Randy Brecker will be joined in concert by the Steve Allee Trio.

The April schedule for The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241-WISP), includes Saturday, April 12: New York saxophonist Greg Abate Quartet; Saturday, April 19: guitarist Dan Faehnle. Wednesdays remain the province of the Blue Wisp Big Band. There is a fairly 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

With two 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 AND 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.