It's too muggy to come up with anything either insightful or clever to fill this spot, so I won't. On with the column.
Note: Since April, I have held back on some of the concert reviews from Jazz Factory performances as a small way to keep the memory of the club alive. Last month the print edition included my Larry Coryell review, while the online version also included the "finale," featuring the Harry Pickens Trio and guests. It is now presented as the final installment for those old-fashioned souls like myself who still like to hold what they read without having to scroll down an electronic "page."
The joint was jumpin', as Fats Waller sang so long ago. It was also packed, as jazz lovers gathered to simultaneously mourn and celebrate on the Jazz Factory's final night, on Saturday, March 29. A more fitting sendoff would be hard to imagine, as the Harry Pickens Trio, featuring Chris Fitzgerald on bass and Jason Tiemann on drums, took it out in style. The first set was the trio's "solo" set, before they were joined by numerous guests on through the "wee small hours of the morning." Before the music started, however, owners Dianne Aprile and Ken Shapero shared some of their thoughts with the audience; Dianne by reading a Mary Oliver poem "Lingering and Happiness," and Ken by offering thanks to all and observations on the remarkable run the club had.
Pickens' opening number, Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage," seemed to convey a bit of irony under the circumstances. After an introspective piano solo introduction, Fitzgerald and Tiemann joined Pickens for a collective demonstration on the art of shifting dynamics. A highlight of the set was the title track from their recent release, The Shadow of Your Smile. From the beginning of the second set on through 3 AM, when I finally went home, guests joined the trio and at times even supplanted it. Singer Gail Wynters opened with three songs, including "Midnight Sun," after which Louisville Jazz Society President Nancy Grant presented Dianne and Ken with the Society's first "Best Friend of Jazz" award. Flamenco dancer Graciela Perrone, who had performed with the group Al Sur at the club many times, danced to prerecorded music, giving the musicians a break. Paul Culligan sat in for Tiemann on two songs, including Bobby Hebb's "Sunny." As Culligan modestly jotted in my notebook later, "Boy, that Paul Culligan was incredible." Josh Shapero, the son of the proprietors, took the trio further out with his interpretation of a John Coltrane composition ("Crescent," if memory serves; I forgot to write the title down at the time). The trio closed out the second set with a 90 MPH version of "If I Were a Bell," the beautifully played ballad "The Nearness of You," a recitation by Pickens of e. e. cummings' "I Carry Your Heart with Me," and a sterling performance of "I've Never Been in Love Before."
Pickens, Fitzgerald and Tiemann then left the stage, but the music continued with Doug Finke and the West Market Street Stompers, which included pianist Steve Crews among others. Finke and company regaled the audience with "Sweet Georgia Brown and "Ain't Misbehavin'," (with vocal by bassist Sonny Stephens), before the sit-ins became an almost song-by-song occurrence. Although I was drinking nothing stronger than iced tea so as to maximize my chances for surviving the last night blowout, from here on, things got a bit fuzzy. Guitarist Greg Walker plugged in; Todd Hildreth took over the piano bench; Craig Wagner took over from Walker; trumpeter Ansyn Banks soloed; Natalie Boeyink picked up the bass and a second-line version of "Caravan" was played. Pickens returned to the stage around 1:10 AM, performing "There Is No Greater Love" with Boeyink and Wagner; Tim Whalen joined on sax for "All Blues" and Horace Silver's "Song for my Father." Jennifer Lauletta sang "Once I Had a Secret Love," and young piano prodigy Noah Parker impressed the crowd. The kitchen's food supply having been depleted, a load of White Castle hamburgers was imported; I ate my first in probably a quarter of a century or more and resolved to wait that long before another. Pickens was performing a beautiful version of the standard "Misty" when I decided to bid my last farewell to the Jazz Factory. Dianne, Ken, the musicians, the kitchen and wait staff and the audience gave the club a proper wake.
Trombonist Eddie Clark debuted his new ensemble, the Louisville Jazz Collective, at the Comedy Caravan on Monday, June 16. He was joined by some of Louisville's best players, including saxophonists Hunt Butler and Dave Clark, trumpeters Ansyn Banks and Andy Milne, fellow trombonist Mike Smith, pianist Steve Crews, guitarist Scott Henderson, bassist Sonny Stephens and drummer Terry O'Mahoney. Clark proved to be an engaging frontman as well as an accomplished player. Over the course of two sets, he led his band through songs including classics such as Nat Adderley's "Work Song" and a tribute to Count Basie, "Bluesy Basie," which lived up to its name. Duke Ellington was honored with "A Ballad for the Duke," which featured Dave Clark's warm horn playing. Always a sucker for puns, I was amused at the title of piece by Jim Martin, "SUNY Triangle" (for the State University of New York, not the Sunni Triangle near Baghdad).
I must confess to losing my notes for the second set, so I can't really give further details. I remember with clarity, however, that the club was packed and the band played with a combination of high energy and spirit. While most of the repertoire remained within the mainstream of modern, post-bop jazz, there was one song which utilized funk rhythms and (I believe) some sort of synthesizer or sound processor to allow the leader's trombone to take on different dimensions. Comedy Caravan owner Tom Sobel must be commended for his ongoing work to bring jazz to Louisville in an environment which boasts a great sound system and for his respect for the artists and audiences.
The Comedy Caravan, 1250 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40204, 502-459-0022 www.comedycaravan.com, has long been a venue for quality musical acts. Prior to the opening of the Jazz Factory, jazz performers such as James Williams and Karin Allyson performed there. On Tuesday, August 5, there will be a great "3fer" with Squeezebot, Bobby Falk, and Fattlabb. This should be an exciting night of more adventurous music. The Don Krekel Orchestra performs the second Monday of each month, which falls on August 11. According to an e-mail received just before submitting my column, "half of the program will be given over to the music of Count Basie ... the other the music of Stan Kenton. Master trombonist Herb Bruce from Sarasota will be back augmenting the trombone section." In the words of owner Tom Sobel, the club seeks to become a "home for other Jazz Factory orphans." Contact the club for any post-deadline updates.
The 36th annual Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, took place this year from June 29 - July 11 at the University of Louisville. Aebersold always recruits a topnotch faculty and this year was no exception. There were free concerts by various faculty players on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings at U of L's Comstock hall; student concerts were held in both the Comstock and Bird recital halls on Friday afternoons. Also, the faculty members presented major concerts on Wednesday of each week, at Masterson's. Although I was only able to attend two performances the first week due to a family trip the second week, those two concerts provided many hours of superb music.
On Tuesday, July 1, the first set I caught featured saxophonists Mike Tracy, Tom Walsh and George Bouchard, guitarist Fred Hamilton, bassist Rich Armandi and drummer Colby Inzer. Tracy, whose influences include music from around the world, brought it all back home with a searing solo on the opening piece, a slow blues. Hamilton, from Texas, may just be the world's best unknown jazz guitarist. A steady fixture at many prior Aebersold camps, his soulful solo was capped by an expedition to more outside terrain. "What's New" was performed as an uptempo Latin number, in an arrangement Tracy said was originally written for Dexter Gordon by Slide Hampton. Next was a more modern piece composed by Hamilton at midnight the prior night and as yet untitled. It brought to mind music by Count's Rock Band (Larry Coryell and Steve Marcus) and Steve Khan, with a nod toward fusion. This ensemble closed with the standard "Seven Steps to Heaven."
Jazz giant James Moody led the next group, featuring Indianapolis pianist Steve Allee, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Ed Soph. Moody and company played an intriguingly varied set. They began with Tadd Dameron's "Good Bait," during which Moody, now 83, showed he was full of power and inspiration. Next up was "Con Alma" (introduced by Moody as having been written by his "father," Dizzy Gillespie). Reid opened this song with a beautiful arco solo before the other players joined for a spirited reading of this bop standard, which found Moody smiling from ear to ear during Allee's solo. It was followed by a rendition of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," which Moody made his own. "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" featured elegant brushwork by Soph. Sonny Stitt's "Eternal Triangle" and a brief version of Sonny Rollins' "Saint Thomas" closed the set.
The following night, at Masterson's, Moody led off the evening with a completely different group and a completely different repertoire. Where the prior night's concert was a magnificent example of straightahead and modern jazz, this performance seemed to rely more on audience-pleasing numbers which might be characterized as "Moody's Greatest Hits." Bobby Floyd on organ, Fred Hamilton on guitar and Steve Barnes on drums all seemed to relish the opportunity to back Moody in this set. Opening with "Take the 'A' Train," Moody then charmed the crowd with "Bennie's from Heaven," his tongue-in-cheek remake of the classic "Pennies from Heaven." "Lover Man" offered the audience the opportunity to hear the ensemble on a classic ballad, during which Hamilton snuck in a double-time section during his solo. "I'm in the Nude for Love" offered another humorous reimagining of a standard, going so far as to include a rap ending. A fast bop piece closed the set, earning the performers a standing ovation.
Up next were saxophonists Jim Snidero (alto) and Gary Campbell (tenor), trumpeter Jim Rotondi, trombonist Steve Davis, pianist Andy LaVerne, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Ed Soph. They opened with a sophisticated modern original by Campbell, entitled "On Earth." LaVerne contributed his arrangements of two classics, "Solar" and "Cantaloupe Island," which combined the familiarity of these melodies with fresh interpretations. Sandwiched between these was a Rotondi original, which I believe was titled "Another Beer, Please." This ensemble sparkled and showed how well these world class jazz musicians could perform not only standards, but new material with, presumably, a minimum of rehearsal time.
I had intended to stay for just a song or two of the last group, comprised of hometown hero Don Braden (tenor), the re-emerging alto great Antonio Hart, guitarist Steve Erquiaga, bassist bill Moring and "the other Steve Davis," the fabulous drummer who has performed here many times over the years, including appearances with the Aebersold faculty and the Lynne Arriale Trio. The collective force of this lineup was too much for me to resist and I ended up staying out past my bedtime. It was worth it, however. Their opening rendition of "Invitation" earned them a standing ovation and they kept up the high level of performance through a ballad medley and an overdrive version of "My Secret Love" which led to anther well-deserved ovation. Thanks again to Jamey Aebersold, his staff and all the brilliant musicians for continuing to demonstrate how the art of jazz is best experienced in a live setting.
The Comedy Caravan, 1250 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40204, 502-459-0022 www.comedycaravan.com, has long been a venue for quality musical acts. Prior to the opening of the Jazz Factory, jazz performers such as James Williams and Karin Allyson performed there. The Don Krekel Orchestra performs the second Monday of each month, which falls on August 11. According to an e-mail received just before submitting my column, "half of the program will be given over to the music of Count Basie ... the other the music of Stan Kenton. Master trombonist Herb Bruce from Sarasota will be back augmenting the trombone section." In the words of owner Tom Sobel, the club seeks to become a "home for other Jazz Factory orphans." Contact the club for any post-deadline updates.
The Speakeasy, in New Albany, opened last summer and prior bookings have included Jamey Aebersold, David Hazeltine, Chuck Marohnic, Craig Wagner, Tim Whalen, Dick Sisto and more. Monthly listings were unavailable by deadline time; you can obtain 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 performances are Friday and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to midnight. On August 1-2, there will be a special show by Indianapolis-based tenor saxophonist Rob Dixon. All Other Weekends in August will feature Dick Sisto, Tyrone Wheeler and Mike Hyman.
The West Market Street Stompers have announced that they will have a weekly gig through the summer at Bearno's By The Bridge, 131 W. Main St., on Fridays, from 5:30 - 7 p.m.. An added enticement, per their Newsletter, is a dance floor.
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. August shows which you might think worthy of a road trip include: Friday, August 1: the Steve Allee Big Band; Wednesday, August 27, Godfathers of Groove; and Saturday, August 30, Garaj Mahal (why won't somebody book this great band here??!!).
The schedule for The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241‑WISP), includesTrombonist Robin Eubanks' Trio, Thursday August 28 and Saxophonist Ted Nash's Quartet, Monday Sept 1. Wednesdays remain the province of the Blue Wisp Big Band. The website is: www.thebluewisp.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, it is both impossible for me to try to provide complete listings 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).
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: email@example.com, guitarist Jeff Sherman;
RON JONES: www.ronjonesquartet.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, saxophonist Ron Jones;
STEVE CREWS: www.jazzcrews.com, email@example.com, pianist Steve Crews.
I am always interested in your comments. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.