Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDE:

R.I.P. Joe Lee Wilson

One of my favorite jazz singers, and one all too little known, was Joe Lee Wilson. He performed here in August of 2003 at the Kentucky Center with the Spirit of Life Ensemble. I will quote from my October 2003 column: "A highlight was the brilliant singing of Joe Lee Wilson, a singer who to me is one of the very few (besides the late Leon Thomas) who can successfully combine a solid blues base with a Coltrane-like spiritual presence. He was especially enthralling in a piece which he said came to him in a dream and which drew upon his Native American as well his African American heritage."

RECENT CONCERTS

JAMEY AEBERSOLD'S SUMMER JAZZ WORKSHOP CONCERTS

The big news for July was the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop Concerts, which featured top local, regional and nationally known jazz musicians performing in the evenings. They all took place at University of Louisville's School of Music, Comstock Hall. Preliminarily, I would like to note these were free concerts, and some of the artists routinely gig in New York and elsewhere for $30 a set, three sets a night. The only night I could make the first week was Thursday, July 7. I caught the last of a group including Indianapolis-based Steve Allee on piano, with Jennifer Barnes singing "Close Enough for Love," noting her own love for singer and pianist Shirley Horn. Aebersold himself perked up the classic "Perdido" to close this segment. The night's final set was an all-star performance with saxophonists Eric Alexander (tenor) and Jim Snidero (alto), (both of whose new releases were reviewed here last month), bassist Rufus Reid (likewise), pianist David Hazeltine, trombonist Steve Davis, and Louisville's own Jonathan Higgins keeping the pulse on drums. Apart from the pitch of their horns, Alexander and Snidero have distinct styles, with Alexander tending more to legato lines while Snidero's were frequently more staccato. A highlight was the ensemble's take on the much-recorded (including by Alexander) "Estaté," with Alexander switching the time feel near the end to encourage audience participation through clapping.

The following week I attended Wednesday and Thursday, July 24-14. On Wednesday, "Autumn Leaves" was in progress as I arrived, performed by pianist Andy LaVerne (who acknowledged the influence of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett in his arrangement), David Kana on tenor, David Friesen on bass, and Steve Barnes on drums. They continued with "Sailing," a new piece by Friesen, which he dryly introduced as being "a standard 11-part composition." A LaVerne original, "Embrace," was up next, which reminded me a little of Horace Silver's "Peace." The band cooked on "Solar," claimed by Miles Davis but now commonly attributed to Chuck Wayne. Next up was an ensemble consisting of Jim Carroll on alto, Hunt Butler on tenor and flute, Scott Henderson on guitar, J. B. Dyas on electric bass and Ed Soph on drums. Carroll's ripping solo on the opening "Straight, No Chaser" caught the attention of many in the audience, myself included. Butler's flute was featured on the Bossa Nova "Triste," and all the musicians capped the set off with a take-no-prisoners romp through Charlie Parker's "Anthropology."

After a break, Dave Liebman led an ensemble with Steve Allee, Rufus Reid and Ed Soph through Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way," with his inventive soprano giving way to a solid piano solo. Liebman announced the next song as being a reharmonized version of Billy Strayhorn's "Daydream," this time a vehicle for Liebman's tenor and a delicate bass solo by Reid. Although Liebman can play "outside," here he chose to emphasize the classic ballad tradition of his horn. The lineup switched for "Invitation," with Andy LaVerne and Jason Tiemann coming in on piano and drums. Liebman's tenor solo was an interesting combination of longer and shorter lines. For Wayne Shorter's "Prince of Darkness," Tiemann's hand drumming added to the color, with Liebman returning to soprano. An elegant soprano/piano duet version of "Blue in Green" featured Dan Haerle. Allee returned, together with Soph, Tiemann, Reid, and additional bassist Tyrone Wheeler for an extended take on Trane's classic "India," opened by Liebman on wood flute. The musicians collectively evoked the spiritual side of John Coltrane to great effect.

The final night, Thursday the 14th, brought Snidero back with Allee, Wheeler and Tiemann, with a fast blues in progress when I arrived. A ballad, "One by One," from Snidero's new release Interface , was next, played with slow deliberation. On Sonny Rollins' barnburner "Oleo," Snidero walked to the side of the stage after his solo, a big grin on his face - he and the audience knew he had nailed it. Last up was the return of Eric Alexander, David Hazeltine and Steve Davis (bandmates in the collective One for All), aided and abetted by Rufus Reid and Jonathan Higgins. Bassist Sam Jones' "Seven Minds" was the lead-off tune, followed by an exquisitely performed "You Don't Know What Love Is"with all but Higgins soloing. They closed the night, and the series, with the fast hard bop of Cedar Walton's "Cedar's Blues," with Alexander's solo at times hinting of Coltrane and Rollins.

As I said last month, that these wonderful musicians play for free for two weeks of evening concerts is nothing short of a gift to us here. Jamey Aebersold and all the administrative staff and faculty members all deserve a standing ovation.

BOBBY FALK GROUP IN NEW ALBANY

Drummer Bobby Falk's current lineup includes Stacey Nash on electric and acoustic bass, Graeme Gardiner and Luke Barker on alto and tenor saxes respectively, John Arstingstall on guitar and Wade Honey on keyboards. The evening was warm but lovely, and the shell over the band gave a beautiful view of the Ohio River in the background. The first set seemed a bit uneven, although nonetheless enjoyable, with the band taking on a variety of songs including "Hit the Road, Jack," a Falk original "Jobim's Dream" and a jazzy rather then James Brown-inspired version of "Night Train." After a break, the early Police hit, "Message in a Bottle," hit a reggae groove, followed by Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne." Roy Hargrove's "Strasbourg/St. Denis" was the only jazz cover, with pieces from James Taylor, Michael McDonald and Dave Matthews in the set list. Falk's recent composition, "Spreading the Gospel," was a mid-tempo piece that seemed to owe more to jazz-rock than gospel, but was well-played and fun nonetheless. Falk always goes the extra mile to communicate with his audience, whether by clear song announcements or using more recognizable pieces for a non-jazz-specific gathering such as here.

ON THE HORIZON

RETURN TO FOREVER IV WITH ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA

Venerable fusion pioneers Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White are on the road again, with a revamped lineup of Return to Forever. In addition to the core trio, the band includes violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and guitarist Frank Gambale. Unfortunately, they will not be in Louisville, but do play these nearby venues: Murat Theatre at Old National Centre, Indianapolis, on Sunday, August 21, three days after a show at the PNC Pavilion in Cincinnati on Thursday the 18th. Zappa Plays Zappa opens both shows. For more details on the bans and tickets, go to www.chickcorea.com/concerts/rtf-iv-tour .

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 August 8. The Palma Project performs a matinee on Sunday, August 14th, from 2:30 - 4:30 PM. 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. Some special, road-trip-worthy shows are: Saturday, August 20, Indy Jazz Fest Band with Rob Dixon - sax, Steve Allee - piano, Cynthia Layne - vocals, Frank Smith - bass, Kenny Phelps - drums, Allison Horton - narration, Mark Buselli - trumpet; Friday, August 26 saxophonist Tim Warfield & the Unusual Suspects .

The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241-WISP), in August features lots of local and regional talent. 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. Listings unavailable at deadline time.

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: VINTAGE VAULT RELEASES

Stan Getz: The Complete Columbia Albums Collection (Sony Legacy, www.legacyrecordings.com) Sax great Stan Getz needs no introduction, his works having crossed over into popular culture with his early tenure as one of the famed "Four Brothers" in Woody Herman's Second Herd, and continuing through his Grammy-winning rendition of "Girl from Ipanema" in 1965. His jazz credentials remained solid throughout the decades. His work for Columbia, spanning 1972-79, has now been issued as an 8-disc box set, which spans the stylistic range from the searing fusion of Captain Marvel to the lush orchestrations of the little-known Forest Eyes soundtrack. Mainstream is well represented by The Master and his classic recording with Jimmie Rowles, alternately known as Stan Getz Presents Jimmie Rowles and The Peacocks . His collaboration with Joao Gilberto, The Best of Two Worlds, is a delightful continuation of the 1960s run of Bossa Nova albums. A bonus disc includes live recordings with Getz as a featured soloist with Woody Herman's New Thundering Herd (Carnegie Hall, 1976), a 1977 piece from Montreux, and the two songs previously released as part of Havana Jam 2 . Rounding out the collection are two late '70s albums, Another World and Children of the World . Taken as a whole, the collection encompasses virtually every style of jazz other than traditional and avant-garde. Getz's warm playing, of course, is the constant. Captain Marvel , in particular, should be more widely known, as Getz joins forces with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Airto Moreira and Tony Williams for a program of songs which presage the Return to Forever Light as a Feather album. On Another World , Getz incorporates electronic effects into many of the pieces, with the title track finding the saxophonist weaving a solo, echo-laden tapestry redolent of Terry Riley and some of John Surman's ECM works. However, this 2-LP-on-1-CD set also includes many straightahead pieces as well. Children of the World is a bit glossy and more pop oriented than the other albums. The only drawback to this box set is that the booklet, which includes complete personnel listings and recording dates, does not include the liner notes from the original albums, which are reproduced in tiny CD scale on the individual covers within the box.

Miles Davis: Live at Montreux Highlights 1973-1991 (Eagle Rock DVD, www.eaglerockent.com) Released as Highlights , this 2+ hour DVD could be subtitled Appetizer , as it makes fans hungry for the Definitive Montreux box set due later this year. The 1973 segment is an almost ½ hour tour de force of "Ife," with Dave Liebman's swirling sax rising above the layers of percussion and guitars. Miles returned to recording and touring in 1981, following time off to deal with health and personal issues. The next track is from 1984, a killing rendition of "Speak/That's What Happened," with John Scofield's guitar and Bob Berg's saxophone giving Miles' trumpet a run for the money. Of all people, David Sanborn fits in well in a guest spot on "Jean Pierre." The band personnel shifts over the course of the next few years, with Kenny Garrett taking over the saxophone duties, and "Foley" McCreary stepping to the front on lead bass. "Heavy Metal Prelude," from 1988, brings back memories of seeing Miles with this lineup, with a focus on the amazing percussionist Marilyn Mazur. As the disc draws to a close, Miles and Quincy Jones present music from the Gil Evans arrangements for Sketches of Spain, with a medley of "The Pan Piper" and "Solea." Although Miles' health was poor, he played his heart out on this touching look back. Those fans who want a good sampler, primarily from the Dark Prince's 1980s comeback, will relish this, while others may want to hold off to pick up Definitive when it is released.

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

1) Errata: Luthier and superb harmonica player Walter Lay tipped me off that my review last month of the Flecktones' Rocket Science misattributed "chromatic" harmonica to Howard Levy, when in fact he plays diatonic throughout the CD.

2) I am always interested in your comments. Contact me at mzkjr@yahoo.com.