Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDE:

At this time of year, I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, filled with warmth and love and music

RECENT CONCERTS

Well, I am embarrassed. I have misplaced my notebook with my concert notes. Please tune in again for my writeup of jazz violinist Zach Brock at the Rudyard Kipling. For now, you can get more information on his new recording, The Magic Number, background material and more on his website, www.zachbrock.com.

SELECTED CLUB AND OTHER 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. The Don Krekel Orchestra performs The second Monday of each month, which falls on December 13. The West Market Street Stompers will delight lovers of traditional jazz every 4th Monday, December 27 this time. Please contact the club for any post-deadline information.

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

Bobby Falk Group @ Zanzabar

Drummer/composer Bobby Falk brings the latest version of his group to the Zanzabar, 2100 S. Preston Street, on Thursday, December 16.

The Nachbar (969 Charles Street, 502-637-4377, www.myspace.com/thenachbar), features Vamp (saxophonist Jacob Duncan, drummer Jason Tiemann and a revolving crew of bassists) every Wednesday, and was featuring Squeeze-bot on Sundays; check the club for updates or changes.

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. Through December, the focus is on regional acts including Steve Allee with Corey Christiansen (December 3).

In the days leading up to deadline, I was unable to access the website for The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241-WISP), so I can’t tell you anything about its December offerings. Unless there have been recent changes, Wednesdays remain the province of The Blue Wisp Big Band. For details and the full schedule, the website is: www.thebluewisp.com

The Redmoor, Mt. Lookout Square, 3187 Linwood Avenue, in Cincinnati, 513-871-6789, www.jazzincincy.com. As of deadline time, it appears that the venue is featuring local and regional music through December

Please sign up for updated local jazz listings: The Louisville Jazz Society has revamped its website (www.louisvillejazz.org), and 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.” 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).

EIGHTH NOTES

Phil DeGreg: Amazonas (Prevenient Music, www.phildegreg.com, www.cdbaby.com) Cincinnati-based pianist and composer Phil DeGreg is no stranger to Louisvillians. He has performed here many times over the years, and has been a member of the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Workshop faculty for almost thirty years. His new recording, Amazonas, combines Brazilian standards (such as Jobim’s “Double Rainbow”) with American ones (including “the Ellington/Tizol warhorse “Caravan), together with two originals by DeGreg himself, the lovely “The Gulf” and “The Inside Track,” taken at medium tempo. DeGreg shares the spotlight with his colleagues, Moises Alves on trumpet, Andre Vasconcellos on electric bass, Erivelton Silva on drums (with percussion overdubs by Stan Ginn). The title track, by João Donato, is bright and bouncy, while the closing Alec Winder composition, “Moon and Sand,” is given a fresh and lilting reading. DeGreg’s love of Brazilian music and his jazz background merge well in this album.

James Moody: 4B (IPO Recordings IPOC1017, www.iporecordings.com) Master saxophonist and flutist James Moody recently released 4B, a followup to last year’s 4A (reviewed here in October, 2009). At this writing, it has been revealed that this elder statesman has had pancreatic cancer since February, and that he decided not to receive any chemotherapy or radiation. Before discussing his recording, I hope you will all join me in sending positive thoughts and prayers his way. He is joined here, as he was on 4A, by the great pianist Kenny Barron, longtime bassist Todd Coolman and and drummer Lewis Nash. He stays with tenor here, bringing a fresh approach to the opening chestnut, “Take the A Train,” which Barron introduces with a slow, laidback solo before the ensemble shifts to midtempo. Perhaps the relaxed swing of “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” best epitomizes the class of these wonderful musicians. Mainstream small group jazz doesn’t get better than this.

Mike Mainieri: Crescent (NYC 6041, www.mikemainieri.com, www.nycrecords.com) Vibraphonist Mike Mainieri has embraced all styles of jazz over his many years, ranging from big band to fusion and more. Crescent is a two-disc set, on which Mainieri pays tribute to John Coltrane. Although released earlier this year, it was recorded in Germany in 2005. He is accompanied by saxophonist Charlie Mariano, who passed away last year, and bassist Dieter Ilg. The drummerless approach allows Mainieri to not only display his melodicism, but his strong rhythmic approach to his instrument. Mariano’s sometimes keening alto saxophone is deeply emotive, while Ilg provides more than just the bottom end. The set begins with the slow blues of “Mr. Syms,” and closes with an arrangement of “America.” In between, a gorgeous rendition of “Naima,” which closes out the first disc, is a standout. Mainieri’s liner notes reveal that Mariano urged him to release this recording; perhaps the only regret is that Mariano did not live to know his wish was fulfilled. The unusual instrumentation, sans drums, offers new insights to the compositions composed by, or otherwise associated with Trane.

Fusion from the German Vaults: Weather Report: Live in Hamburg, Germany 1971 (MVD HST001, www.mvdb2b.com) and Soft Machine: NDR Jazz Workshop - Hamburg Germany 1973 (Cuneiform Rune 305/306, www.cuneiformrecords.com) Apparently by coincidence, 2010 sees new releases by two of the leaders of fusion on film in Hamburg, Germany in the early 1970s. People who may not have started listening to Weather Report until the Jaco Pastorius era may find Live in Hamburg, Germany 1971 to represent a different band and style altogether. In fact, this was the lineup with co-founders Josef Zawinul, Wayne Shorter and (bassist) Miroslav Vitous, plus original drummer Alphonse Mouzon and then-new percussionist Dom Um Romao (replacing Airto Moreira). Rather than the slinky electronic funk which would later define, in part, the group’s style, this 1971 concert reveals the more abstract, free-form ethos of the early band. “Umbrellas” opens, with the group playing almost free over Mouzon’s backbeat. This segues into the Zawinul piece “Orange Lady,” signaled by a percussion interlude and Vitous switching from plucking his electric bass to playing arco double bass. Throughout the 49 minute performance, which flows like a suite, the group members are seen and heard paying close attention to one another. Most of the pieces are from Weather Report’s self-titled debut disc from the same year, although here played with more edgy intensity. Those familiar with Live in Tokyo (from January 1972, only 25% of which was released in the USA as side 2 of the second LP, I Sing the Body Electric) will find their bearings more readily here. This is challenging music and well worth the concentration necessary to follow.

Soft Machine’s NDR Jazz Workshop session is represented by a two-disc set, offering a CD and DVD of the same concert. By this time, keyboard player and composer Mike Ratledge was the only musician remaining from the original version of the band. He is perhaps one of the few jazz musicians overtly inspired by early Minimalist Terry Riley, as demonstrated on performances here such as “Link 1/Link 2.” Drummer Mike Marshall, multi-instrumentalist Karl Jenkins (horns and keyboards) and bassist Roy Babbington round out the May ’73 lineup, and they are occasionally joined by guest artists. Although both the DVD and CD are from the same show, the recordings differ slightly due to edits made. Interestingly, there is some bonus, audio-only material at the end of the DVD, including the return of bassist Hugh Hopper for a stretched-out (15:33) version of his “1983,” from his last album before leaving the group (Six). Fans of the band and the genre will appreciate the music here. Fusion fans who have yet to hear Soft Machine might be better starting with the classic Third, but certainly couldn’t go wrong immersing themselves in this release, especially considering the visual component

LOCAL JAZZ CONTACTS

With two twelve-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

MIKE TRACY: www.michaeltracy.com, michael.tracy@insightbb.com, saxophonist and teacher Mike Tracy

UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE JAZZ PROGRAM: www.jazz.louisville.edu

BOBBY FALK: www.myspace.com/bobbyfalk, 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.