Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDE :

R.I.P. My Father, Martin Z. Kasdan, Sr. (1921 - 2012)

I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful father, who lived to be 91 and had the opportunity to see my daughters become B'not Mitzvah last year. He was a Cardinals fan, going back to his playing basketball for U of L before he enlisted in World War II. He was the sports fan, I the music lover, yet we found many opportunities to join one another to share our passions. I joined him for many a basketball game, including once when I was able to set up a television interview in the locker room for him as he suited up for an "Old Timers' Game" at half-time. He drove me and my friend Bob Simon to see the Grateful Dead on October 30, 1971 in Cincinnati, and joined me for concerts by Sly & the Family Stone, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Brubeck. He will always live in the hearts of our family and friends.

RECENT CONCERTS

Mike Dillon and Marco Benevento at Headliners

Mike Dillon, member of the Dead Kenny G's, Garage a Trois and more, led his own hard-charging band through a frenetic set at Headliners on Thursday, September 27, opening for the Marco Benevento Trio. He had Carly Meyers on trombone and Moog Taurus Pedals, Adam Gertner on drums, and Cliff Hines on guitar, bass and keys. Mikey D held it down with vibes, percussion (including tabla) and lead vocals and raps, with the others contributing. The energy was nonstop, with frantic dancing (onstage and off), and songs like "Your Mother Was My Teacher" and more, straddling the sonic fences of Fred Wesley's JB's and Frank Zappa's bands. Benevento joined for a song near the end of the set. Regrettably I could not stay for Benevento's performance with his own band. Both artists have new albums on the Royal Potato Family label, http://royalpotatofamily.com: Dillon's Urn and Benevento's TigerFace.

Victor Wooten at Diamond Pub and Music Hall

It goes without saying that bassist Victor Wooten has built a solid fanbase here, between his performances with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and his own bands. He packed the house at the Diamond Pub and Music Hall (the old Jillian's site) on Thursday, September 27, with a seven-piece band of virtuoso musicians, including multiple bassists (Steve Bailey among them), two drummers, and vocalist Krystal Peterson. The material included some in-the-groove extended covers such as "Tell Me Something Good" and an Aretha Franklin medley based around her "House that Jack Built." Much of the repertoire came from Wooten's two new, simultaneously released CDs, Words and Tones and Sword and Stone, which include mostly the same songs with different arrangements and a focus on vocals on the former and instrumentals on the latter. He and drummer JD Blair had great fun on "What Did He Say?" Throughout the two hours, the band members came and went, switching instruments and goading one another into inspired flights of funky improvisation.

Zakir Hussain and Rakesh Chaurasia at the Kentucky Center

As I wrote here last month, this was a concert that, while not jazz, would have appealed to jazz lovers due to the improvisation and superlative musicianship of the artists. Zakir Hussain is widely considered to be the leading tabla player today, although he would deny it with characteristic humility. He is a master musician who has played tabla with everyone from Mickey Hart to Ravi Shankar to John McLaughlin to Charles Lloyd to Béla Fleck, to name but a few. He introduced the audience at the Bomhard Theater to a younger musician, Rakesh Chaurasia, who plays the bamboo flute known as the bansuri, and is the nephew and student of the bansuri artist Hariprasad Chaurasia. They began with a raga in 9 beats, composed for an evening setting. The opening segment, known as the alap, was played as a 15-minute solo by Chaurasia. Hussain then joined him, and there was a series of exchanges between the two. Hussain's fingers caressed his drums, playing with subtlety and melodicism. The second piece of the evening was also a raga, this one in 16 beats ("teental"), and led to a section of konnakol (think of it as scatting, Indian style), which in turn led to Hussain entertaining the audience with storytelling and explanations of his craft woven together with good humor and superb playing. We have been fortunate to have him here three times over the past few years, and in a brief backstage conversation, he expressed the hope that he might return.

Craig Tweddell at the Rudyard Kipling: Guest Review by Brandon Coleman

Note: Brandon Coleman is a guitarist and grad student at the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies Program at the University of Louisville School of Music. Big thanks to Brandon for covering this since I couldn't make it. Check out his music at http://brandoncoleman.bandcamp.com. Craig Tweddell's website is www.craigtweddell.com.

Louisville trumpeter Craig Tweddell brought his sextet to The Rudyard Kipling on Sunday, October 14 as part of the Louisville Jazz Society's monthly concert series. The group featured some of the areas best young jazz musicians; Craig Tweddell on trumpet, Graeme Gardiner on tenor saxophone, Matt Yarborough on trombone, Kendall Carter on piano, Jenna Mattingly on bass and Zack Kennedy on the drums. With a repertoire steeped in the tradition of Blue Note-era hard bop, their set brought to mind the sound of the classic Jazz Messengers recordings. Featuring fiery solos and classic arrangements on tunes such as Wayne Shorter's "Back Stage Sally" and Tina Brook's "Open Sesame", this concert was an exciting look into the hard-driving jazz of the 60's. I was fortunate enough to record the entire concert, so look forward to hearing this performance as Craig releases it.

ON THE HORIZON

JANE BUNNETT AT THE CLIFTON CENTER

Canadian Soprano saxophonist and flutist Jane Bunnett will bring her "Cuban Rhapsody Tour" to the Clifton Center, on Saturday, November 17; ticket information at www.cliftoncenter.org. She brings with her Hilario Duran on piano and special guest percussionist Candido . This should be an amazing night of music; Bunnett wowed audiences in Louisville when she previously appeared at the Jazz Factory.

MERF BENEFIT WITH JAZZ

I was honored to have been asked to assist MERF with planning a jazz concert. If you are not familiar with MERF, it is a Louisville nonprofit organization, officially titled the Musician's Emergency Resource Foundation . It assists musicians with, as the name suggests, emergency problems. The website is www.merfbenefit.org, for additional information. The concert will be Sunday, November 18, at Diamond Pub and Music Hall, 630 Barret Avenue (formerly Jillian's and, before that, The Brewery). A mere $70 donation will get you in to see the following great artists, all of whom are donating their time and talent to this event. Note: Doors open at 4 p.m. The lineup as follows : 5-5:45 Jeff Sherman, 6-6:45 Walker & Kays , 7-7:45 Pete Peterson ; 8-8:45 The Fred Bogert Band with Larry Abrams; 9-10 Harry Pickens.

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 has been performing the third Monday of each month, but for November, it will be the second Monday, November 12. Please contact the club for any post-deadline information.

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; check the club for updates or changes. The club also has a Facebook page with occasional updates.

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. A road trip might be advised for Tuck & Patti , 11/23-24.

The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, is now at 700 Race St. (513-241-WISP). November features lots of good local and regional talent, plus Saxophonist Jim Snidero is in Friday-Saturday, 11/16-17 Wednesdays remain the province of The Blue Wisp Big Band. For details and the full schedule, the website is: www.thebluewisp.com.

Please sign up for updated local jazz listings : The Louisville Jazz Society provides weekly e-mail updates for local jazz happenings. Be sure to sign up for the e-mail "Louisville Jazz Society's Jazz Insider" at www.louisvillejazz.org. 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 print and online, www.louisvillemusicnews.net.

EIGHTH NOTES

The Joe La Barbera Quintet

Silver Streams (Jazz Compass JC1021, www.jazzcompass.com)

Joe is the drummer of the La Barbera clan and leads a superb group of musicians on his latest outing: Bill Cunliffe on piano, Tom Warrington on bass, Clay Jenkins on trumpet, and Bob Sheppard on tenor and soprano saxes, all mainstays of this group for two decades. The overall sound of the quintet is mainstream modern, but there's much more going on than simple homage to the tradition. Cunliffe's opening "Afluencia" moves from invocational to post bop, while the leader's only composition, "Monkey Tree," breaks up the rhythms to great effect. Steve Swallow's "Bite Your Grandmother" moves toward more outside, while Scott LaFaro's "Jade Visions" offers ample opportunity to come back to earth for lovely ballad playing. The title track, another Cunliffe composition, seems to reference the strong hard bop of Horace Silver. Alan Pasqua's "Grace" gives Cunliffe the opportunity to shine on another ballad, while the closing "E.J.'s Blues" (by Elvin Jones) opens up for solos by all but the bassist in what sounds like something from the Blue Note heyday. This is solid and fresh music.

Chick Corea and Gary Burton:

Hot House (Concord CJA–33363, www.concordmusicgroup.com)

It's hard to believe, but it's been 40 years since Chick Corea and Gary Burton's groundbreaking Crystal Silence, a duet recording of original compositions that sounds as fresh today as when it was first released. Their latest collaboration, Hot House, takes the opposite tack, with Corea's piano and Burton's vibes dancing together on interpretations of nine songs by other composers, ranging from Lennon/McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" to Monk's "Light Blue." These now veteran artists relish the opportunity to reunite, and their fresh readings of their chosen tunes reveal that they still have the spark. They are past masters at supporting one another intuitively, with Dave Brubeck's "Strange Meadow Lark" being an excellent example. Their delicate interaction on Bill Evans' "Time Remembered" shimmers with quiet beauty, while Tadd Dameron's title track is a happy romp through a bebop classic. They close with a "sneak preview" of their next project, a duet with a string quartet, in the charming and appropriately titled Corea original "Mozart Goes Dancing." Stay tuned.

Jeff Coffin & The Mu'tet:

Into the Air (www.jeffcoffin.com/music)

Jeff Coffin & The Mu'tet: Into the Air www.jeffcoffin.com/music) This latest studio album from saxophonist Jeff Coffin is yet further proof of his soul and versatility, which have led to featured bandmember status with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and the Dave Matthews Band. He is joined by drummer Jeff Sipe, bassist Felix Pastorius, keyboardist and flutist Kofi Burbridge, and trumpeter Bill Fanning, plus guest guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke on two songs. They open with "A Half Sleep," imbuing it with a deep Gospel feel. "U Don't Say" and "Lucky 13" follow, the first with a classic classic soul/R&B vibe, the latter with a modern funk. "8 Bit Goggles" seems like a tribute to Eddie Harris, reminding this listener of "Cold Duck Time." The variety and the groove continue with "Low Spark," which brings to mind an extraterrestrial belly dancer. Closing song "Beautiful Flower" is a gorgeous meditation, calling to mind Pharoah Sanders and John Coltrane. By mentioning the other artists, I do not mean to imply that Coffin is a copycat. He is an original, who has absorbed his roots, and delights in expanding on and modernizing them. This is a joyful album, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Roni Ben-hur & Santi Debriano:

Our Thing(Motéma MTM-95, www.motema.com)

Guitarist Roni Ben-Hur, bassist Santi Debriano, together with drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, comprise a mini-UN of international backgrounds and influences, and show how to incorporate diversity into jazz in this warm and natural recording. Most of the songs are by one of the trio, but they begin with a subtle Latin take on Monk's "Green Chimneys." Da Fonseca is busy yet subtle at the same time. Ben-Hur's soloing is accented by his colleagues, and he then drops back for restrained comping during Debriano's solo, while they all lay out for Da Fonseca's melodic solo. This opening number sets the tone for the album, with the artists playing with respect for one another and, most importantly, for the music. Moods range from the haunting "Milonga For Mami" to the emotionally and rhythmically upbeat closing song, Irving Berlin's "Let's face the Music and Dance." The liner notes refer to the frequent collaborations between the players, and this album makes one hope they will continue to work together for a long time to come.

LOCAL JAZZ CONTACTS

With two fourteen-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) I am always interested in your comments. Contact me at mzkjr@yahoo.com.