RIP, Bo Diddley (1928-2008)
Obviously, Bo Diddley was not a jazz musician. Yet, he influenced so many artists with his driving guitar, relentless beat and infectious good nature, that his passing transcends any attempt at musical pigeonholing. Additionally, one could argue that the famed "Bo Diddley beat" was a Rock and Roll version of the clave, deemed by jazz drummers as diverse as Steve Smith and Winard Harper to constitute the essence of swing.
A 2-CD set, I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955-1958 (Hip-O Select/Universal), was released last September and contains not only most of his greatest hits, but rarely heard alternate versions of such standards as "Bo Diddley" and "I'm a Man." This is a set that fans will appreciate for its thoroughness and I, for one, can't wait for the follow-up. If you want a comprehensive "hits only" selection, the 20-song, single disc His Best (Chess/Universal) will serve your purpose well, as it forgoes the "complete" element of I'm a Man and includes music recorded into the 1960s.
The Louisville Jazz Society (LJS), a nonprofit organization on whose board I have served for several years, has been busy of late. The LJS was a sponsor of Bellarmine University's 22nd Annual Jazz Guitar Clinic and Concert (see review below). The LJS has awarded its annual scholarship for the upcoming 36th annual Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, scheduled this year for June 29 - July 11 at the University of Louisville. For more information on the Workshops, see below.
Also, on Monday, June 2, the LJS held a Wine and Jazz Appreciation Party at Felice Vineyards, located at 829 East Market Street, in the bustling arts district. Felice owner Jeff Tatman introduced several varieties of his wines to an appreciative audience. U of L Professor Jerry Tolson's Quintet, consisting of Dave Clark on sax, Ansyn Banks on trumpet, Natalie Boeyink on bass and Dwight Dozier on drums, provided the music. Tolson, leading the group on piano, opened with Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar," and followed it with "I'll Remember April." Tolson sang on the next two numbers, "Beautiful Friendship" and "The Nearness of You," adding to the variety of the evening. The next three pieces were Tolson originals, including "Smooth As Silk" from his CD. The classic "There Is No Greater Love" closed the night out on a hard driving, swinging note, with ample solo space for all.
You may find further information on the LJS, including membership applications and prior issues of the quarterly Newsletter, on the website: www.louisvillejazz.org.
Note: For the past few months, I have been holding back on some of the concert reviews from Jazz Factory performances as a small way to keep the memory of the club alive. The final two are presented below.
It was apparent from the first notes from the Larry Coryell Trio that they came to PLAY! Guitarist Coryell, with electric bassist Mark Egan and drummer Paul Wertico, tore into the opening "Good Citizen Swallow," (referring to bassist Steve Swallow, Coryell's old bandmate in the Gary Burton Quartet) with a vengeance. The title track from the trio's superb album "Tricycles," composed by Egan, was next and featured a beautiful solo during which Egan utilized the full register of his five-string instrument. Thelonious Monk's "Well, You Needn't" showed off the straightahead chops of the players, as Coryell's soloing incorporated quotes from Ellington ("C Jam Blues"), Gillespie ("Salt Peanuts") and others. Interestingly, he turned off his amp while comping for Egan's solo, while Wertico, a master of take-no-prisoners drumming, exercised restraint with a classic high hat swing motif. Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" went from delicate trio to bass solo to a cappella guitar fantasia. Coryell's "Dragon Gate" unleashed Wertico. The tempo dropped for Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here to Stay," played as a solo by Coryell on hollow body guitar and dedicated to his wife, Tracey. Egan and Wertico returned to the stage with her and they performed a fun medley of Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" and B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby." "Duke's Place" served as a break tune.
Another Monk tune, "Trinkle, Tinkle," opened the second set and featured the trio smoothly shifting tempos from medium to fast and back again. Coryell stated that one of his primary influences, Wes Montgomery, "was the first original guitarist in jazz since Charlie Christian," and then he, Egan and Wertico turned Montgomery's "Bumpin' on Sunset" into a slow funk dance groove. Again changing pace, Coryell switched to acoustic guitar for a swaying rendition of Luiz Bonfa's "Manha de Carnaval," during which he looked very happy and at ease. Mrs. Coryell returned to sing on the next two numbers, Bukka White's prison lament "How Long 'Til I Change My Clothes" and the spiritual "Wade in the Water." Egan was featured on Coryell's composition for his wife, simply titled "Tracey." A quick "Happy Birthday" for an audience member was suitably jovial. A Bill Evans ballad, "Very Early," was a lovely interlude and led to the closing "Spaces Revisited," an early Coryell piece which featured an introduction by Wertico. He began with mallets, then switched to using his bare ands and finally picked up his sticks again before being joined by Coryell and Egan. The leader peppered his solo with more musical quotations, ranging from "All Blues" to "Foxy Lady." The packed house rose to give a well-deserved standing ovation. Coryell and Wertico, together with organist Sam Yahel, have collaborated on Coryell's latest release, Impressions (Chesky SACD 337), reviewed elsewhere in this issue.
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.
Bellarmine University's 22nd Annual Jazz Guitar Clinic and Concert took place on Monday and Tuesday, June 9-10, with a marvelous concert that Monday night. The featured artists this year were Gene Bertoncini and Paul Bollenback. The Cralle Theater on the Bellarmine Campus had a much larger audience than I can remember seeing. It began with Bellarmine Professor and Clinic organizer Jeff Sherman joining Bertoncini and Bollenback for some stunning trio work, accompanied by bassist Tyrone Wheeler and drummer Paul Culligan, including "Besame Mucho." Sherman followed with two tunes, including a blues by Jerome Richardson. Bertoncini closed the first set, charming the audience with both his warm classical guitar and his wit. "East of the Sun" was a tribute to George Shearing and his guitarist (and Bertoncini's teacher), Chuck Wayne. Bertoncini soloed on Jobim's "Ohla Maria," and brought Wheeler and Culligan back for "Pensativa." He closed with an endearing vocal on a little known Marilyn and Alan Bergman song, which included the line "A love like that will keep us safe and warm."
Following a brief intermission, all the performers came out for an uptempo version of the Fats Waller classic, "Jitterbug Waltz." Bollenback then fronted the trio, beginning his segment with a song with a "Malagueña" feel. The standard "Emily, from his latest CD Invocation (Elefant Dreams ED 4550), was next and was followed by a barnburner of a take on another standard, "Alone Together." The encore allowed Wheeler to switch to his six-string electric bass for a funky update on "Air Mail Special." As an aside, after seeing and hearing Bollenback with organist Joey DeFrancesco over the years, it was a pleasure to watch him stretch out in a different context.
The 36th annual Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, will take place this year from June 29 - July 11 at the University of Louisville. Aebersold always recruits a topnotch faculty and this year is no exception. Although faculty and performer listings are subject to change, this year includes, among others: Piano: Phil DeGreg, Steve Allee, Andy LaVerne, Todd Hildreth, Harry Pickens, David Hazeltine (Week 1); Bass: Lynn Seaton, Rufus Reid, Tyrone Wheeler, David Friesen, Bill Moring, John Goldsby, Chris Fitzgerald; Drums: Steve Davis, Jonathan Higgins, Ed Soph, Colby Inzer, Jason Tiemann; Guitar: Steve Erquiaga, Fred Hamilton, Craig Wagner*, Scott Henderson, Dave Stryker, Pat Lentz; Trumpet: Jim Rotondi, Pat Harbison, Anysn Banks*; Saxophone: James Moody, Mike Tracy, Antonio Hart, Jerry Coker, Gary Campbell, Jack Wilkins, Tim Armacost, Jim Snidero, Gene Walker, Ralph Bowen (Week 2), Jerry Tolson, Don Braden (Week 1); Flute: Hunt Butler; Trombone: Steve Davis, Rick Simerly; Cello: David Baker; Violin: Sara Caswell; Vibes: Dick Sisto; Vocal: Jennifer Barnes (Week 1). (*Masterson's concert appearances only)
There are free concerts by various faculty players at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings at U of L's Comstock hall; student concerts will be held in both the Comstock and Bird recital halls on both Fridays beginning at 1 p.m.. Each year the faculty members also present two major concerts on Wednesday of each week, at 8 p.m. at Masterson's, 1830 South Third Street, (502) 636-2511. At this writing, the tentative lineup for the first week islikely to be along the following lines: Jim Rotondi, David Hazeltine, Steve Davis (trombone) with a sax player, an organ group with Don Braden, Gene Walker and Jennifer Barnes (vocal) and guitar; the James Moody quartet; and then Rotondi, Davis, Hazeltine, plus sax, bass and drums.
For more information on the Workshops and concerts: www.summerjazzworkshops.com
Medeski Martin and Wood (MMW) will make a rare Louisville appearance at theKentucky Center's Bomhard Theater on Friday, July 18, at 9 p.m.. Comprised of keyboard player John Medeski, bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin, the trio has been attracting a mixed audience of jazz and jamband fans since they began in 1991. I saw MMW most recently back in May of 2007 at a late night performance at the Howlin' Wolf club in New Orleans during Jazzfest. They incorporated everything from funk to freeform over the course of almost three hours. According to the MMW website, www.mmw.net, "Medeski Martin and Wood are planning 3 tours, plus 3 albums in 2008. Each tour and subsequent album will consist of all NEW MUSIC. The plan: Write > Tour > Record > Repeat." For ticket information, call the Kentucky Center Box Office at 584-7777, toll free at (800) 775-7777 or (502) 562-0730 (TTY), or surf to www.kentuckycenter.org.
SELECTED CLUB LISTINGS
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 July 14. In the words of owner Tom Sobel, it seeks to become a "home for other Jazz Factory orphans." At deadline time, the following show was tentatively set: West Market Street Stompers performing a Tribute to Rosemary Clooney on Monday, July 21. 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. Although July 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. Although details were not available by deadline time, there is a strong likelihood that many of the Aebersold Jazz Workshop faculty members will be joining Sisto. According to an e-mail from pianist Steve Allee, "I'll be playing at the Seelbach on Friday, July 4th, with Rufus Reid, bass, Ed Soph, drums and Dick Sisto."
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. July shows which you might think worthy of a road trip include: Friday, July 18: organist Melvin Rhyne and saxophonist Rob Dixon CD release party for their new album Reinvention; Saturday, July 19: the New York Voices; Sunday, July 20: Charlie Hunter Trio, featuring Erik Deutsch on keyboards and Tony Mason on drums; Friday and Saturday, July 25-26: the Derrick Gardner Octet; and Friday, August 1: the Steve Allee Big Band.
The schedule for The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241-WISP), includes singer Annie Sellick on July 18-19 and trombonist Robin Eubanks on August 28.> 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).
I am always interested in your comments. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.