Iconic is an appropriate tag for both drummer Joe Morello and Kentucky native son Augustus Owsley Stanley III. Of course, Morello is best known for his groundbreaking work with Dave Brubeck, soloing with ease on the then-rare 5/4 "Take Five." I like to think of him now as "trading 17s" with Ustad Allah Rakha. Owsley became known as a manufacturer of LSD before it was outlawed and was intimately involved with creating and preserving live music through his engineering work with the Grateful Dead.
Saxophonist Drew Miller presents what sounds like an intriguing night of music on Thursday, March 31 at the Zanzabar, 2100 S Preston St, Louisville, KY. Quoting from an e-mail from Miller: "Along with my experimental fusion group OK Kino, a new tentet called D'arkestra will be premiering some music written and arranged for this night. The group features Tim Whalen, Drew Miller, Kris Eans, Wade Honey, Zack Kennedy, Graeme Gardiner, Charles Rivera, Nick Beach, Nick Kuypers, and Dan Moore. It is an attempt to invoke our collective energies. Moments of clarity, as well as blurring, cacophonous soundscapes." Also, there will be And to top it off...we are inviting willing participants to take part in the music making process a jam session following the performance, and it is free. www.zanzabarlouisville.com/
The Metta Quintet will bring its fresh modern jazz to the Kentucky Country Day School Theater on April 8, in a concert co-sponsored by the U of L School of Music, the Louisville Jazz Society and KCD. The Metta Quintet, the innovative resident ensemble of Brooklyn-based JazzReach, is the inaugural jazz act for KCD. Perhaps its best known member is saxophonist Marcus Strickland, who performed here in Louisville at U of L's 2005 Jazz Week as part of Roy Haynes' ensemble. The other members are Mark Gross – saxophone, Helen Sung – Piano, Joshua Ginsburg – Bass, and Hans Schuman – Drums. More information on this fine group is available at www.jazzreach.org and www.sunnysiderecords.com/artist.php?id=273.
Noted percussionist and bandleader Cyro Baptista returns to the area with a performance at the Ogle Center on the campus of Indiana University Southeast (IUS), on Friday, April 8. He blew away the audience at the Kentucky Center in April of 2007, in a concert which I reviewed here in the June 2007 issue. To quote myself, the musicians took the stage "swirling fluorescent whirligigs before launching into a percussion assault, evoking images of Sun Ra jamming with the Rhythm Devils." Baptista's newest band is called Cyro Baptista and the Banquet of the Spirits. The just-released Caym: The Book Of Angels Volume 17 (www.tzadik.com) is a collaboration with producer/composer John Zorn featuring previously unrecorded compositions from Zorn's Masada Book Two. On first listen, it is a fascinating blend of styles which nonetheless manage to form a cohesive whole. More information is available at http://ius.edu/oglecenter/serieslist.cfm?series=Global Village, and www.cyrobaptista.com.
N'awlins' own Trombone Shorty brings his high energy second line funk to Headliners on Saturday, April 2. For additional information, check www.tromboneshorty.com and www.headlinerslouisville.com.
It's time to plan for the 2011 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, taking place Friday-Sunday, April 29-May 1, and Thursday-Sunday, May 5-7. The Ron Carter Trio with Mulgrew Miller and Russell Malone, Ahmad Jamahl, and the seemingly immortal Sonny Rollins are musicians who need no further verbiage from me. Other jazz highlights include Anat Cohen, Ivan Lins, Nicholas Payton, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and so many more. In addition, there are many high profile pop acts such as Arcade Fire and Bon Jovi. Full information at: http://www.nojazzfest.com.
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 April 11. The West Market Street Stompers will delight lovers of traditional jazz every 4th Monday, April 25 this time. A new addition to the jazz lineup is Edmonds Jazz Quartet, on the 1st Monday, April 4. 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.
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. April looks full of national talent to complement the local and regional artists, some worthy road trips from Louisville: Lynne Arriale Trio with Omer Avital on bass and oud, and Anthony Pinciotti on drums: Friday, April 8 ; Lee Ritenour: Wednesday, April 13; Lionel Loueke: Saturday, April 16; Danilo Perez: Wednesday, April 20; and the Benny Golson Quartet (presented by Indy Jazz Fest): Saturday, April 30. On a related note, Jazz Kitchen mainstay Bill Lancton will bring his guitar and group to Madison, Indiana on Friday and Saturday, April 8-9, for a presentation of "This is Jazz" sponsored by he Cultural Continuum of Madison, IN; details at www.culturalcontinuum.com and www.billlancton.com.
The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241-WISP), in addition to lots of local and regional talent, will feature not only Benny Golson, Saturday, April 2, but also two New Orleans modern jazz masters, saxophonist Donald Harrison on Thursday, April 7, and trumpeter Maurice Brown with saxophonist Derek Douget on Saturday, April 30. 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. April special concerts include: April 7: Trumpet Summit featuring Jeremy Pelt;April 17: Alex Bugnon; April 23: Wilbert Longmire; April 28: Monika Herzig Trio; all in addition to lots of local and regional talent.
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).
Bobby Sanabria and the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra: Tito Puente Masterworks LIVE!!! (www.jazzheads.com)
I was fortunate enough to see Tito Puente a few times over the years, after being introduced to his work by Santana in the early 1970s ("Oye Como Va" and "Para los Rumberos"). Master percussionist Bobby Sanabria has captured the fiery essence of "Maestro Puente" (per Sanabria's liner notes) on this hard driving new recording. Had the band not been designated as being from the Manhattan School of Music, I would not have realized that the musicians were not already professionals. The disc opens with "Elegua Changó," based on two of the divine spirits of the Santeria beliefs. While it has a waltz feel, it has multiple rhythmic lines performed by not only the percussionists, but by the reeds as well. Like several of the pieces here, it was reconstructed from recordings by Puente, as no written versions of the compositions were to be found. In an e-mail from Sanabria, he pointed out that "Maestro Puente in his heyday in the 50's did not utilize a full 5 piece saxophone section in his big band which would be 2 altos, 2 tenors, and a baritone, but rather 4 saxophones - 1 alto, 2 tenors, baritone. Since the big band you're hearing has a full 5 piece saxophone section, the arrangers I assigned had to take this into account and work the additional alto sax in thus making the harmonies between them sound even fatter and more sonorous than on Tito's original charts."
Listening to "Picadillo" is almost impossible without moving your body, The program continues with righteous playing on such classics as Sanabria's reworking of Puentes' arrangement of "Autumn Leaves," and the early hit "Ran Kan Kan." This recording is crisp and clear, and a fine addition to the Afro-Cuban masterworks left us by Tito Puente himself.
Lynne Arriale: Convergence (Motéma, www.motema.com)
Pianist Lynne Arriale was one of many artists to whom I was first introduced at the Jazz Factory; thanks Ken and Dianne! On Arriale's new recording, she is joined by Omer Avital on bass and oud, and Anthony Pinciotti on drums, who also appear with her this month at the Jazz Kitchen (see above). On some tracks, saxophonist Bill McHenry adds an additional musical voice. She opens with one of six original pieces, "Elements," driven by Pinciotti's aggressive, Tony Williams-esque drumming. The uptempo music continues with her "Here and Now," before moving into Arriale's new arrangement of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun," which in turn is followed by a slow trio rendition of Sting's "Sister Moon." Of the ballads here, the leader's "For Peace" is a personal favorite. While we Louisvillians wait for Arriale to return, we can enjoy this new document of her original approach to jazz piano.
Joe Lovano/Us Five: Bird Songs (www.bluenote.com)
Without hesitation, I can say that the performance of Joe Lovano's Us Five was one of the drop dead amazing highlights of the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. With drummers Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela, the rhythms and counter-rhythms were propulsive, while James Weidman's piano playing was spot on and wunderkind Esperanza Spalding's bass playing was both rhythmic and melodic. Following on the critical and fan success of 2009's Folk Art, Bird Songs presents an uncompromising and thoroughly modern take on the Charlie Parker canon. Lovano begins with a relatively lesser known piece, "Passport," which blazes. "Donna Lee" begins as a ballad before picking up the tempo for the solos. "Moose the Mooche" is played as a stop-time blues. The only Lovano original is his tribute entitled "Birdyard." While other Parker tributes sometimes take painstaking steps to echo Bird's then-new approaches to playing, here Lovano and company epitomize the search and innovation embraced by Bird.
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 email@example.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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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: 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.