Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDES:

Last month I noted the impending closure of the Jazz Factory here. The website, www.jazzfactory.us, will remain active for an undetermined time. Its homepage features an alphabetical list of all the performers who played there, as well as an obituary which I prepared at the request of Jazz Factory proprietorsKen Shapero and Dianne Aprile.

Jazz will continue to be performed at other outlets, but it will take more time and energy than before to keep up with who is playing where. The Comedy Caravan, in the Midcity Mall, hosted concerts for the Louisville Jazz Society before the opening of the Jazz Factory and continued to present occasional musical offerings over the past five years. Its proprietor, Tom Sobel, has expressed an interest in adding more jazz, as well as other music, to the club. To coin a phrase, stay tuned.

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. 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. There is still time to apply.

RECENT CONCERTS AND EVENTS

JAZZ IN LOUISVILLE EXHIBIT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE

"Reflection: Jazz in Louisville," opened on April 6 and will continue through May 30 at the Ekstrom Library on University of Louisville's Belknap Campus. This exhibit includes local history, narratives, biographies and photos of performers. An online auction of jazz-themed art was held to support WFPK's Instrumental Partners (instruments for low income youth with musical interests).

Saxophonist Mike Tracy, who is a U of L Professor and Director of U of L's Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies Program, provided music for the reception on, Wednesday, April 16. Accompanied by Pat Lentz on guitar and Tyrone Wheeler on bass, he performed a selection of jazz standards which fit the ambiance perfectly. The exhibit itself contained plaques with pictures, information and some personal comments regarding Louisville jazz figures such as Helen Humes. It would be great if this exhibit could be an annual event. Artists such as Lionel Hampton, for example, could be included and there might even be some sort of tie-in to other events in Louisville. For now, this exhibit is both entertaining and informative and I highly recommend checking it out while there is still time.

Note: As mentioned last month, because of the closure of the Jazz Factory at the end of March, 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.

FRANK VIGNOLA AND ZACH BROCK GROUPS AT THE JAZZ FACTORY

We were in a state of blissful ignorance, not knowing of the impending closure of the Jazz Factory, when treated to back-to-back concerts on Thursday, March 6, by The Frank Vignola Rhythm Machine and on Friday, March 7, by The Zach Brock Quintet with Grazyna Auguscik. Both artists deserve more space than I have time to give them this month.

Frank Vignolais a guitarist with both chops and a sense of humor. Previously here as part of the "Frank and Joe Show," his current ensemble included guitarist Vinny Raniolo, bassist Pete Coco, percussionist Rich Zukor and young violinist Aaron Weinstein. The humor element was evident early on, as a "gypsy jazz" piece reminiscent of the Hot Club of France veered around the corner and morphed into "Stairway to Heaven." Zappa's "Lemme Take You to the Beach" was in good company with Gershwin's "Fascinating Rhythm." Many of the tunes are found on Vignola's new release Kong Man (VMD 016), featuring the same lineup except for the substitution of mandolinist Josh Pinkham for violinist Weinstein. It, too, mixes "Hot Club" with contemporary influences and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

I have been a fan and supporter of violinist Zach Brock since I first heard him almost five years ago. His group this time consisted of New York keyboard player Sam Barsh, who has been a member of Zach Brock and the Coffee Achievers, guitarist John McLean, bassist Matt Ulery and drummer Jon Deitemeier, who were all with Brock in September 2007; and Chicago jazz singer Grazyna Auguscik. The opener was Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies," featuring Auguscik's arrangement and processed vocals and served notice that this singer was not just "one more jazz singer."

Many of the songs in both sets were composed by the late Polish modern jazz violinist Zbigniew Seifert. Brock and Erin Harper have been working on a documentary film on this under-recognized artist. These included "City of Spring" and "Man of the Light" in the first set and "Passion" in the second set. Barsh, a colorful and frequently exotic player, reminded us of just how great a straightahead pianist he can be on Bud Powell's "Wail." Ulery and Deitemeier are an excellent team and they both play with a great sense of dynamics coupled with inventiveness. Auguscik's haunting vocal on Jimmy Webb's "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress," accompanied only by McLean's subtly distorted guitar, closed the second set with dramatic understatement. Throughout both sets, Brock was more than generous in featuring the musicians in his band. In fact, with the exception of Barsh, this ensemble plays Chicago as Auguscik's band. Brock was typically brilliant when he did solo, blending the best of several styles of playing to form his own musical identity and statement.

ON THE HORIZON

LIBERATION PROPHECY AT THE 930 LISTENING ROOM

On Friday, May 9, The 930 Listening Room features an all-ages show by Liberation Prophecy and Grammy-nominated fiddler Casey Driessen and The Colorfools. Liberation Prophecy, led by saxophonist/composer Jacob Duncan, includes some of Louisville's top players, including Todd Hildreth, Sonny Stephens and Jason Tiemann. As I wrote here in September 2007, reviewing Liberation Prophecy's performance at the Jazz Factory on July 20, 2007, this ensemble might be likened to a "Carla Bley meets Frank Zappa and Charles Mingus" little big band. Casey Driessen, with whom I am not familiar, is described in the pres release as "one of the fastest-rising sidemen on the bluegrass circuit, . . . and a fast and inventive fiddler." The 930 Listening Room is at 930 Mary St., Louisville, KY 40204 and details are available at

www.the930.org.

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. The featured artists this year are Gene Bertoncini and Paul Bollenback. Bertoncini has visited before and is a superb exponent of mainstream jazz guitar. Bollenback is perhaps best known for his many performances and recordings with organist Joey DeFrancesco. There will be a concert in Cralle Theater on the Bellarmine Campus June 9th at 7:30 p.m., showcasing these fine musicians, together with Bellarmine Professor Jeff Sherman. For more information, visit http://home.insightbb.com/~rush/Bellarmine.

INDY JAZZ FEST

As it has for several years, now, the Indy Jazz Fest will take place on Father's Day Weekend, Friday June 13 through Sunday, June 15. A few of the featured artists are: Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band, Freddie Hubbard, Ramsey Lewis and Paquito D'Rivera. For details: go to www.indyjazzfest.net.

SELECTED CLUB LISTINGS

The Comedy Caravan, 1250 Bardstown Road in the Midcity Mall, 459-0022, www.comedycaravan.com, has announced that the Don Krekel Orchestra will perform the second Monday of each month, beginning on May 12. In the words of owner Tom Sobel, it seeks to become a "home for other Jazz Factory orphans." Contact the club for post-deadline updates.

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 Speakeasy, in New Albany, opened last summer and prior bookings have included Jamey Aebersold, David Hazeltine, Chuck Mahronic, Craig Wagner, Tim Whalen, Dick Sisto and more. Owner Bradley Tharp is a trumpeter and leads a house big band that plays every Wednesday. For more information and May listings: 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 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. May shows which you might think worthy of a road trip include:Joey DeFrancesco on Saturday, May 10; Chicago Afrobeat Project on Friday, May 16; Saturday May 17 is the Gust Spenos CD Release Party for Swing Theory; the leader is a physician who plays tenor sax and his band for this date includes trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and Chicago alto saxist Eric Schneider, among others. Larry Coryell, who gave a stunning performance at the jazz Factory during its final week, returns to the region for a gig on Friday, May 23; he will be accompanied by Paul Wertico (his drummer here) and bassist Larry Gray, both of whom recorded The Power Trio: Live in Chicago, with Coryell. June brings guitarist Nels Cline (off from his day job with Wilco) on Wednesday the 4th; Lynne Arriale on Saturday June 7; and the Deep Blue Organ Trio, with guitarist Bobby Broom, organist Chris Foreman and drummer Greg Rockingham, on Friday and Saturday, June 27-28.

The May schedule for The Blue WispJazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241-WISP), includes a special guest appearance on May 7 by Steve Turre, the trombonist in the Saturday Night Live Band and former member of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's Vibration Society. Turre, also known for playing conch shells, will lead the Blue Wisp Big Band with his arrangements; he will also perform the following night. On May 15, drummer and composer Bob Moses and his Chicago Quartet (Moses was the drummer on one of my very first jazz records, Gary Burton In Concert); and on May 24, from New York, the Adam Kolker Quartet . Wednesdays remain the province of the Blue Wisp Big Band. For further information, the website is 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.