Poet and singer Gil Scott-Heron left us all too soon, at a prematurely old 62. While perhaps best known for "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," Scott-Heron had an abiding love of jazz, as displayed in his uplifting "Lady Day and John Coltrane."
Trumpeter Snooky Young, who came up in the bands of Jimmie Lunceford and Count Basie, among others, passed away in May at the age of 92. We here in Louisville were fortunate to have had the chance to hear him this past October, in concert at the University of Louisville. May we all be so fortunate as to still have the opportunity to continue doing what we love in our 90s.
"The Big Man," as Bruce Springsteen referred to his friend and saxophonist, Clarence Clemons, passed away from complications following a stroke in June. His infectious playing and high energy will be missed.
New Orleans' powerhouse funk'n'roll band Galactic had a packed house dancing well past midnight on Friday, June 17. Los Angeles-based Orgone warmed up, and won many new fans with their soulful performance. Orgone follows a long line of West Coast ensembles such as Tower of Power and Sly and the Family Stone in mixing heavy backbeats with powerful instrumental workouts, with a female vocalist on some tunes. Galactic's lineup of guitarist Jeff Raines, keyboard player Rich Vogel, bassist Robert Mercurio, saxophonist/harmonica player Ben Ellman and drummer Stanton Moore was augmented by tour guests Corey Henry on trombone, from Rebirth Brass Band, and Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover. With Glover, the band reached deep into soul music history for great covers of Swamp Dogg's "Total Destruction to Your Mind" and Lee Dorsey's "Night People" (composed by Allen Toussaint). On originals such as "Boe Money" and "Heart of Steel" (both from 2010's Ya-Ka-May ), the band simply burned. Henry led the band for a call-and-response jam with the audience on the Mardi Gras anthem "Hoo Nah Nay." The only thing missing was a big pot of fresh gumbo.
Whether you are a music student or a non-playing jazz lover, the big news for July is the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, which include top local, regional and nationally known jazz musicians both teaching and performing for the public in the evenings. Due to the closing of Masterson's, the Wednesday night concert series has been folded into the Monday-Thursday presentations at the University of Louisville's School of Music, Comstock Hall at 7:30 PM, free and open to the public. According to the information posted at the website, www.summerjazzworkshops.com, the musicians are stellar. Because of the large (60+) influx of artists, I can only include a few here. Among the nationally known are: bassists Rufus Reid, Lynn Seaton and David Friesen; drummer Ed Soph; guitarists Dave Stryker, Corey Christiansen and Steve Erquiaga; pianists Steve Allee, Phil DeGreg, David Hazeltine, Andy LaVerne and Harry Pickens; saxophonists Dave Liebman (second week only), Eric Alexander, Jerry Coker, Jim Snidero and Tim Armacost; and more. As you know if you follow jazz, these are artists who routinely play New York, Chicago, around the country and, indeed, the world. That they play for free in the evening concerts is nothing short of a gift to us here. By the time this issue hits the streets, the Workshops will be about to begin. In addition to specialty clinics on other dates, the main Workshops take place July 3-8, and July 10-15. Rufus Reid , Eric Alexander and Jim Snidero all have new CDS out, about which more later. Also, free and open to the public is the jazz CD, DVD and book sale room, in the U of L Music School Room LL65.
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 July 11. Although the Comedy Caravan's website, as of deadline time, showed the West Market Street Stompers on July 25, the band announced in a June 21 e-mail from the band indicated that the June 27 show would be the band's last, at least here. Be sure to contact the club for updates and revisions.
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. According to a Facebook post from Heine Brothers Coffee, July will include lots of Aebersold Jazz Workshop artists, including Corey Christiansen, July 1; Dave Stryker and Lynn Seaton, July 2; Rufus Reid, Steve Allee and Ed Soph, July 8; Eric Alexander, David Hazeltine, and Ed Soph, July 9; and trombonist Steve Davis, July 15.
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: Corey Christiansen, July 8, and our own Ansyn Banks' CD release party, July 30.
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 many of the Aebersold Workshop artists: July 2 - Guitarist Corey Christiansen; July 8-9: Eric Alexander/Steve Davis/Frank Smith/Jason Tiemann . 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. At deadline time, national shows were not available for July.
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).
As noted above, several of the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops faculty members have new releases. Before getting to them is my review of the new Pat Metheny release.
Pat Metheny: What's It All About (Nonesuch www.nonesuch.com) Following Orchestrion , Pat Metheny's one-man-band project, one might have expected a Pat Metheny Group or Trio album to follow. One would have been wrong. This new release finds the guitarist playing solo acoustic guitar, primarily his baritone, on ten covers dating primarily from the early 1960s to the early 1970s. Metheny opens with a delicate 42-string guitar version of Simon and Garfunkel's breakthrough hit, "The Sound of Silence." The Association's "Cherish" and Dionne Warwick's "Alfie" follow, with the mellow mood broken when Metheny turns the Chantays' classic "Pipeline" into acoustic surf music - and it works! "Garota de Ipanema," made famous in the States by Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto as "Girl from Ipanema," is transformed from bossa nova to a slow, spectral rumination. It takes a talent such as Metheny's to take the Carpenters' "Rainy Days and Mondays" from whitebread pop to melodic jazz. Henry Mancini's "Slow Hot Wind" is exquisitely crafted, paving the way for a buoyant reading of the Stylistics "Betcha By Golly Wow" (a quite different version than Grant Green's). The disc closes with the Beatles' "And I Love Her." In less sophisticated hands, this project could have sunk into elevator music territory. Thankfully, Metheny's taste and talent is such that this CD is a worthy successor to his prior solo outing, 2003's One Quiet Night.
Rufus Reid & Out Front: Hues of a Different Blue (Motéma Music, www.motema.com) Bassist Rufus Reid turns out yet another stunning performance on his latest collaboration with Indianapolis-based pianist Steve Allee and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca. They are joined on different tracks by trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, guitarist Toninho Horta and saxophonists Bobby Watson and JD Allen. Throughout the recording, Reid's bass is an independent musical voice, not simply "the bottom." The trio swings mercilessly through the opening original, "It's the Nights I Like." Allee's "Candango" is a fast-paced song, with Da Fonseca's chattering drums emphasizing the Brazilian roots of the piece. The entire ensemble is heard to good advantage on Reid's samba-inspired "When She Smiles Upon Your Face." Horta's "Francisca" showcases his lovely acoustic guitar and yearning voice in duet with the leader. Watson's alto makes a fine foil for Reid on their duo version of the classic "These Foolish Things." "Lower Burellian Bicycle Loop" is, as Reid states in his liner notes, "a clever tune" which showcases the up-and-coming Allen's tenor work. Reid's tribute to the late Hank Jones, "The Eloquent One," is full of warmth, allowing Hendrix's flugelhorn to shine. Da Fonseca's "Manhattan Style" evokes the hustle bustle of the big city. The remaining pieces pay further testament to the versatility of Reid and his fellow musicians.
Eric Alexander: Don't Follow the Crowd (HighNote, www.jazzdepot.com)
Jim Snidero : Interface (Savant, www.jazzdepot.com)
Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and alto saxophonist Jim Snidero have been among the standout performers at the Aebersold Jazz Workshops for many years, now. Their new releases were recorded just a month apart, in November and December of 2010, respectively. On Don't Follow the Crowd Alexander is joined on his new release by musicians with whom he has played for a long time, now, and their cohesion shows. Pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Joe Farnsworth can swing hard on pieces such as the fast-paced original, "Nomor Senterbress," which opens the disc, yet know how to lay back and play with subtlety on ballads like the beautiful "She's Out of My Life." Alexander's playing is always on the money, with a warm sound. Mabern shines on the bouncy "Footsteps," The film classic "Charade" is played with feeling by Alexander and friends, in a midtempo waltz arrangement. In short, Alexander has turned out another solid album of mainstream modern jazz. His colleague, Jim Snidero , eschews the piano in favor of guitar by Paul Bollenback on Interface, which also features bassist Paul Gill and drummer McClenty Hunter. All the compositions are by the leader, and range from the speedy romp of the title track to a bluesy ballad, "After the Pain." Bollenback's work ranges from almost psychedelic on "Fall Out" to warm acoustic accompaniment on pieces such as the bossa nova "Apertivo." Snidero explores the melodic and rhythmic challenges he sets for himself with confidence, never falling into a rut.
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 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.