Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDE:

RIP: ABBEY LINCOLN, FRED ANDERSON, HERMAN LEONARD, RICHIE HAYWARD, "CATFISH" COLLINS

It's been a sad summer for music lovers, both within and outside the jazz world. Herewith, a few comments on some recently departed figures.

Abbey Lincoln was a unique and powerful singer in the world of jazz. Known for her musical relationship with, and marriage to Max Roach in the 1960s, Lincoln combined a rich voice with a deep commitment to social justice. She performed a splendid concert at the Kentucky Center some 25 or more years ago, to an unduly small, but quite appreciative audience.

Fred Anderson was a tenor saxophonist long associated with the Chicago-based AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). In addition to his playing and composing, for many years he operated the Velvet Lounge in Chicago, where he promoted the music of others as well as himself.

Herman Leonard not only was a noted photographer of jazz icons, but many of his pictures themselves became iconic. Who can forget the rich black and white photo of a young Dexter Gordon, sax in hand, looking dreamily upward exhaling a veritable cloud of smoke?

Little Feat drummer and co-founder Richie Hayward, diagnosed with liver cancer last year, passed away from pneumonia while awaiting a liver transplant. I have a special fondness for him, as he was one of my earliest interview subjects for Louisville Music News, back in the summer of 2004.

Not long after George Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic lost its rhythm guitarist Garry Shider to cancer, the P-Funk Gang also lost Bootsy Collins' brother, Phelps "Catfish" Collins. Catfish came up with Bootsy in James Brown's phenomenal J.B.'s, joined P-Funk, and played in his brother's Bootsy's Rubber Band.

ON THE HORIZON

DR. MICHAEL WHITE LABOR DAY WEEKEND

New Orleans clarinetist Dr. Michael White returns with his ensemble to Louisville for performances Labor Day Weekend. He performs for WFPK (FM 91.9; www.wfpk.org) at noon on Friday, September 3 for "Live Lunch." He performs at WorldFest that evening at 7:30, and at Adath Jeshurun on Saturday, September 4. Dr. White will be here to help raise money for post-BP relief. His concert here not long after Katrina in 2005 was superb. He has the rare ability to not only play traditional New Orleans jazz superbly, but also to compose new music in the classic style without sounding like a mere copycat. His label is Basin Street Records, a great independent New Orleans company (www.basinstreetrecords.com), Dr. White's site is www.myspace.com/drmichaelwhiteofficial, the synagogue's site is www.adathjeshurun.com, and info on WorldFest may be found at www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroParks/specialevents/WorldFest.

JAZZ AT WORLDFEST 2010

Friday and Saturday, September 3-4, the City of Louisville presents WorldFest on the Belvedere. Music, food, crafts and more from around the world are available. Admission is free, but, of course, food and souvenirs are not. The full schedule is available at www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroParks/specialevents/WorldFest/Schedule.htm. My own, subjective, jazz and jazz-related picks are: Friday - Dr. Michael White (see above) and Swing 39; Saturday - Ut Gret featuring Ruric Amari, and Diego Palma Band. There are far more acts than can be listed here, so do check out the site.

INDY JAZZ FEST

The Indy Jazz Fest for 2010 includes club dates (see Jazz Kitchen listings below), a concert on September 17 by Dee Dee Bridgewater (To Billie with Love - A Celebration of Lady Day, a great performance which I caught at N'awlins Jazzfest) at the Madam Walker Theater, and a day-long concert on Saturday September 18 with "smooth jazz" musician Najee, singer Al Jarreau, the dynamic guitarist Mike Stern, and New Orleans singer Charmaine Neville. Regrettably, Friday night and Saturday are Yom Kippur, so Jewish jazz fans will miss out. Full details at www.indyjazzfest.net.

PAT METHENY: THE ORCHESTRION PROJECT AT THE BROWN THEATRE

Pat Metheny continues to challenge himself and his audience with new projects. The Orchestrion Project finds Metheny fronting a band composed of himself and . . . himself. "Orchestrion" refers to a collection of percussion instruments mechanically triggered by Metheny. The concert is Saturday, October 2, at the Brown Theatre. Ticket information at www.kentuckycenter.org.

RECENT CONCERTS

FATTLABB AT QDOBA

I caught the funky fusion group FattLabb for the first time in far too long on a sultry Saturday night (July 24) at the Qdoba on the corner of Bardstown Road and Eastern Parkway. The lineup these days features the McDaniel Brothers, Pat on bass, and Tony on trumpet; guitarists Stephen Couch (mostly slide) and Joshua Jacob, and drummer for the night, Jerry Harshaw, who usually lays it down with the Walnut Street Blues Band. My timing was off, and I missed the first set; Tony told me later that they were still getting things together, and that the second set was superior. I'll take his word on it, because the second set turned the already hot night even hotter. Their cover of Miles Davis' "Jean Pierre," with intertwining guitar and trumpet lines, showed how much music can be made from a simple motif. Crouch took the first solo, with a swampy vibe, followed by Tony's soulful trumpet, and Jacob's more jamband/jazzy sounding guitar solo leading into a down'n'dirty bass solo with echoes of Jaco and Stanley. The original "Funky Licks" reminded me of the Average White Band and the J.B.'s. They closed with "Don't Stop the Music," an apt sentiment. This had a very danceable groove. For more information on this fine Louisville band, the websites are www.fattlabb.net, and www.myspace.com/fattlabb. Some performance videos have been uploaded to www.freevideosite.org/fattlabb.

JAMEY AEBERSOLD WITH EVERETT GREENE IN NEW ALBANY

One of the things I like about jazz is that it is not just a cut-and-paste style of music, but rather like a welcoming big tent which can accommodate variations from traditional New Orleans to avant-garde. After enjoying FattLabb's funky electric set a week earlier, the following Saturday I went to hear the great mainstream playing of Jamey Aebersold's Quartet, with Steve Allee on piano, Tyrone Wheeler on bass and Jonathan Higgins on drums. They were joined by vocalist Everett Greene, of Indianapolis, whose deep voice and style and voice were somewhat reminiscent of Joe Williams. I came late, and the first piece I heard was a beautiful rendition of "The Nearness of You," with just Aebersold and Greene. "In a Mellow Tone" brought all the players on stage for a loping rendition of Duke Ellington's classic. "In the Evening" was straightforward blues, which brought audience members to the front of the stage for some spirited dancing. Two songs which I associate with instrumental jazz were sung evocatively by Greene, "On Green Dolphin Street" and "Old Folks." An untitled Aebersold blues followed, with an uptempo shuffle accented by some stop-time breaks. A late set highlight was Allee's gorgeous solo rendition of "The Very Thought of You," followed by the ensemble's spirited take on "There Will Never Be Another You." The setting was delightful and so was the music.

HERBIE HANCOCK AT THE BROWN THEATRE

Herbie Hancock's concert on Sunday, August 15, at the Brown Theatre was, simply, one of the finest concerts I have heard here in some time. His killer band included Vinnie Colaiuta, drums; Greg Phillinganes, second keyboard and vocals; Pino Palladino, bass; Lionel Loueke, guitar; and Kristina Train, vocals. The tour is in support of Hancock's new release The Imagine Project, which leans toward sophisticated pop with jazz sensibilities. Jazz was the order of the day, however, in live performance. Colaiuta nailed Mike Clark's patented drum pattern on the introduction to the opener, "Actual Proof," before the band members joined him and he made the song his own. A lengthy discourse by Hancock followed, during which he discussed the need for peace through collaboration, the theme of The Imagine Project. "Imagine" was next, with the leader's solo piano providing an eloquent bed for Train's vocal; when the other musicians joined in, the tempo went from ballad to fast and funky. Hancock's electronic keyboard work in the beginning of "Watermelon Man" had a Stevie Wonder/Rufus vibe. Strapping on a keyboard, he challenged Palladino, who responded with spunk, a grin, and some amazing bass playing. Next, Hancock turned his attention to Loueke, again feeding his bandmate lines for quick responses. Train returned for an impassioned reading of Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up," followed by a slow, breathtaking version of Joni Mitchell's "Court and Spark." As she and the other band members left the stage, Hancock began a long, elegant, spare, and at times haunting piano solo. They returned for quick romps through "'Round Midnight" and other pieces including "Cantaloupe Island." A brief intermission followed, after which there was a short second set (the first set was just shy of an hour and a half). A medley of "Tamatant Tilay/Exodus" (Bob Marley's song, not the movie theme) included the music of Tiniwaren and vocals from Los Lobos, taken from the new album. "The Times They Are A' Changin'" featured Train on violin and vocal, in a medley with Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" (originally inspired by Dylan). Phillinganes' vocal seemed to channel the sound and spirit of Cooke. "Space Captain," which features Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks on the album, became a showcase for Loueke, while Colaiuta turned the rhythm from funk to second-line without batting an eyelash. The encore of "Chameleon" brought the crowd at the Brown to its feet for some exuberant dancing and a lengthy round of applause. Hancock is celebrating his 70th birthday this year, but he played with all the joy and enthusiasm of on half his age. Bravo! I had the opportunity to interview Hancock for LEO, and if you missed the print version, you can find it online at http://leoweekly.com/music/ivory-tower.

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 September 13. Bobby Falk's "Night of Jazz," is on hiatus. The West Market Street Stompers will delight lovers of traditional jazz every 4th Monday, beginning August 23, and September 27. No other jazz bookings were planned as of deadline time, so please contact the club for any post-deadline shows.

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.

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. Some road trip-worthy shows: Friday, September 3: Vocalist Rene Marie; Monday, September 13: singer/guitarist Raul Midón*; Tuesday, September 14: The Preservation Hall Jazz Band*; Wednesday September 15: Nina Simone's singing daughter, whose stage name is Simone*. (* Presented by Indy Jazz Fest).

The September schedule for The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241-WISP), includes: Friday, September 3: trumpeter Brad Goode; Thursday, September 16: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey; Friday-Saturday, September 17-18 : saxophonist Greg Abate; Sunday, September 19: trombonist Curtis Fuller. 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. Some road trip-worthy shows include: pianist Bill Cunliffe on September 9th; drummer/composer Norman Connors; and a great non-jazz concert on September 30, legendary singer/guitarist David Bromberg.

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

The Stryker/Slagle Band: Keeper (Panorama Records, www.davestryker.com, www.steveslagle.com) Guitarist Dave Stryker has been featured for several years during Jamey Aebersold's Summer Jazz Workshops here in Louisville. In addition to a prolific recording and performing career of his own, he has long partnered with his friend, saxophonist Steve Slagle, in the Stryker/Slagle Band. This new release, recorded in January of this year, features the return of bassist Jay Anderson (who also engineered the disc at his own studio) and drummer Victor Lewis. With the exception of Thelonious Monk's ballad, "Ruby My Dear" (a Slagle showcase), all the tunes are by one or the other of the leaders. The title track, which opens the CD, finds the band soaring over a deceptively simple riff. "Bailout," which follows, is fast-paced, yet trance-like. "Came to Believe," which follows "Ruby," is another example of how the leaders weave their solos through the playing of each other, all the while not merely supported by Anderson and Lewis, but propelled by them. For some reason, I have long had a soft spot for guitar/sax/bass/drums ensembles, and with that said, this is an excellent addition to the too-brief catalogue of such quartets.

LOCAL JAZZ CONTACTS

With two eleven-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.