Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDE:

The Fred Hersch Trio is at the Blue Wisp in Cincinnati on Monday and Tuesday, September 24-25, and the John Scofield Trio is in Indianapolis at the Jazz Kitchen the same two nights. So, why are neither of these topnotch ensembles coming to Louisville? Anybody up for a road trip, if I can make some childcare adjustments?

Also, RIP Chicago jazz saxophonist Von Freeman, who led a long and productive life.

RECENT CONCERTS

Jeremy Siskind House Concert

Trombonist Doug Finke and early jazz buff Shelley Finke opened their home to the Jeremy Siskind Trio on a toasty afternoon, Saturday July 28. Siskind is a pianist and composer, who recently released Finger-Songwriter on Brooklyn Jazz Underground, www.bjurecords.com.

Siskind performed with singer Nancy Harms and woodwind player Lucas Pino, enhancing the intimate environment with a performance to match. The trio opened with a song dedicated to jack Kerouac, "What Is that Feeling?" Most of the songs were orignals from the new CD, but Siskind also offered up his own arrangements of songs including "Moonlight in Vermont" ("as Debussy would do," he quipped) and Billy Joel's "All You Wanna Do Is Dance" (the concluding "bonus track" of the CD). Siskind's subtle yet intricate playing was enhanced by Pino's variety of sounds from his instruments, both of them offering support for the classic stylings of Harms. Siskind offered thanks to his hosts, both at the event and subsequently on his blog, http://mfasiskind.wordpress.com, expressing appreciation for an older musician such as Doug Finke to welcome a younger ensemble into their home. To that, I can only add "Amen."

Tim Whalen Quartet at the Rud

Sunday, August 12 was the second time that Tim Whalen's quartet gigged, but you wouldn't have known it from the playing, nor from the audience response. This was another in the Louisville Jazz Society series of concerts. Whalen led on sax, with Kris Eans on trumpet, Steve Snyder on the Hammond B-3 organ, and Jason Tiemann on drums. Arriving a bit after they started, the first full song I heard was Thad Jones' "Three in One," a swinger with a tricky line. "The Breakthrough" was next, a fast blues penned by Cedar Walton. I heard the influence of the great Larry Young in Snyder's playing, who acknowledged after the concert that he was a fan. This was exemplified in the second set opener, Woody Shaw's "Moontrane," originally on Young's classic Unity album. Eans hit hard, followed by Whalen. A special treat came during "What Is This Thing Called Love," during which Whalen graciously called up alto saxophonist Mark Kramer to sit in. Horace Silver's fast waltz "Pretty Eyes" was next, followed by a dedication from Whalen to the recently departed guitarist Scott Henderson, on ""Old Folks." Whalen and company closed with a hard-charging rendition of Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-a-ning," leaving many in the crowd to hope for not just an encore song, but for an encore performance down the road.

Duke Robillard at Jim Porter's

Duke Robillard brought his quartet and his tasty blues stylings to Jim Porter's on Friday, August 10. I don't know if my colleagues in the Kentuckiana Blues Society will cover this for LMN or not, so I will be brief. He started with his original and aptly titled "Jump the Blues For You," laying down a groove for spectators and dancers alike. T-Bone Walker's "You Don't Love Me" was a lesson in blues dynamics. And so it went, with the former Louisvillian applying his "less is more" approach to blues and jazz playing which included several tunes from his recent Wobble Walkin' disc, including the title track and "If I Had You." Thanks to the KBS for bringing this tasteful guitarist back to town.

Terrapin Flyer with Tom Constanten at Diamond Pub

Tom Constanten played keyboards with the Grateful Dead during their peak of intensity, 1968-70. He was the special guest of Terrapin Flyer, on August 9 the anniversary of Jerry Garcia's untimely death in 1995 at Diamond Pub Concert Hall, the site of the old Jillian's. The band also included guitarist John Zias, who clearly was inspired by, but not a clone of Garcia. Apparently Constanten has had some health issues, but when the group finally began a little after 11, he seemed right at home. The 80-minute first set included the relatively rare "Mountains of the Moon," a delicate piece, which transformed into a roiling jam which, in turn, led to the treat of an exploratory "Dark Star," the Dead's magnum opus. The band played with feeling and a spirit which evoked the good old days. As it was a work night, I left before the second set, but was glad to catch this band on a good night.

Zach Brock, Harry Pickens And Ben Sollee At The Kentucky Center

These superb artists, Kentucky natives Zach Brock and Ben Sollee (violin and cello) , and now Louisvillian Harry Pickens (piano) enthralled the audience at the Kentucky Center's Bomhard Theater on August 18 for the 25th Anniversary of the Governor's School for the Arts. Brock is a 1991 alumnus, and Pickens and Sollee teach there. Please go online, www.louisvillemusicnews.net, for a complete review.

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ON THE HORIZON

TYLER PARK JAZZ SERIES

The expanded 2012 Tyler Park Jazz Series features a variety of top local artists, for the low price of … free! All concerts are from 4 to 6 p.m. The schedule: 9/9 - Jamey Aebersold Jazz Quartet ; 9/16 - Walker & Kays ; 9/23 - Mike Tracy Brazilian Ensemble ; 9/30 University of Louisville Jazz Ensemble I, John La Barbera director . The Comfy Cow will be selling ice cream and donating a portion of the proceeds back to the Jazz Festival. The Louisville Jazz Society will be there, with a special opportunity to win a box set of the most recent Jazz Icons release. This is a wonderful opportunity to hear great music in a gorgeous urban park.

VICTOR WOOTEN AT DIAMOND PUB CONCERT HALL

Bassist extraordinaire Victor Wooten returns to Louisville leading his own band, on September 27, at the old Jillian's, now the Diamond Pub and Music Hall at 630 Barret Avenue, http://diamondpubandbilliards.com/highlands. People are still raving about his spring appearance with the reunited Flecktones, and he has wowed audiences here on his own in years past.

MARCO BENEVENTO and the MIKE DILLON BAND AT HEADLINERS

Marco Benevento, the experimental keyboard player, is no stranger to Louisville, having appeared here over the years with the Benevento/Russo Duo and on his own. He is touring in support of his new release TigerFace (http://royalpotatofamily.com) and will perform at Headliners, 1386 Lexington Rd., http://headlinerslouisville.com, on September 27. Opening will be his partner in Garage a Trois, the amazing marimba/tabla/drum player Mike Dillon. Having seen both perform several times over the years, mostly during Jazzfest in New Orleans, I can say that they bring intriguing perspective and serious talent to what is sometimes called "punk jazz."

INDY JAZZ FEST

The 2012 Indy Jazz Fest, a short hike up I-65 for us here in Louisville, features night concerts at various venues, and a weekend of outdoor shows at Opti Park, 67th & College Avenue. Monday, September 10: Aaron Diehl Quartet , The Jazz Kitchen; Tuesday, September 11: The Latin Tinge featuring Chuchito Valdes + Pavel & Direct Contact , Landmark Center; Wednesday, September 12 : Cheryl Bentyne (Manhattan Transfer) & Mark Winkler , The Cabaret at The Columbia Club; Thursday, September 13: The Indy Jazz Band Tribute to Slide Hampton , Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center • University of Indianapolis; Friday, September 14, Slide Hampton w/ The Steve Allee Big Band , The Jazz Kitchen. OUTDOOR SHOWS: Saturday, September 15: Stanley Clarke / George Duke, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, and Robert Glasper Experiment , Opti Park; Sunday, September 16: A Smooth Jazz Tribute to Chuck Workman: Brian Culbertson, Gerald Albright, Brian Simpson (Dave Koz' musical director) featuring Maysa (Incognito) 3:30p, Opti Park . Details at: http://indyjazzfest.net .

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, and is scheduled for September 17. Please contact the club for any post-deadline information.

New Listing: Decca Restaurant , (812 East Market Street, 502-749-8128, http://deccarestaurant.com) is now featuring jazz and other music. September listings were sparse as of deadline time, so check the site or call for updates: Fattlabb on September 7.

T he 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. 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. National acts include 9/8: Bobby Broom Trio ; Indy Jazz Fest event s, see above; 9/24-25: John Scofield Trio with Steve Swallow & Bill Stewart .

The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, is now at 700 Race St. (513-241-WISP). September concerts worthy of a possible road trip: 9/7 Pete Mills Quartet ; 9/8 Greg Abate Quartet ; 9/24-25 Fred Hersch Trio ; 9/27-29 Midpoint Music Festival (artist information hard to find), and 9/30: Marbin (early) and BangTower (late); all in addition to 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.

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 i and the Louisville Music News' monthly music listings, in print and online, www.louisvillemusicnews.net.

EIGHTH NOTES: FOCUS ON FUSION

Weather Report

The Complete Columbia Albums 1971-1975 (Sony Legacy, www.legacyrecordings.com)

For many, Weather Report pre-Jaco Pastorius was a prelude. This new 7-CD box set goes far in dispelling that misconception. In addition to the studio albums, Sony Legacy has finally released, for the first time in the USA, the 2-disc Live in Tokyo, previously available back in the '70s as an expensive 2-LP import, and more recently as a 2-CD import. Here are the early principals, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, and bassist Miroslav Vitous, with Eric Gravatt on drums and Dom Um Romão on percussion, weaving their way through four lengthy medleys of early material, and an extended (18-minute) take on Zawinul's "Orange Lady," from the first, self-titled album recorded and released in 1971. The later funkiness was not yet the focus; this was the post-Miles Davis "We always solo and we never solo" aesthetic espoused by Zawinul on the back of their debut. Some of the live pieces were excerpted for side 2 of I Sing the Body Electric, the second LP, but are presented here as played. Zawinul, in particular, seemed to want to move the band away from the stratospheric improvisations and collective freedom, as became evident on "Boogie Woogie Waltz," the opener for the third studio album, Sweetnighter. By the time the 1974 album, Mysterious Traveler, was released, Vitus was first supplemented by, and later replaced by electric bassist Alphonso Johnson. Synthesizer work by Zawinul increasingly became a dominant sound, culminating in the final album of this set, Tale Spinnin'. The ability to listen to the evolution of this band, before the 1977 hit "Birdland," is an absolute delight, and marks the steady trend toward the funky fusion of the latter-era Weather Report. Informative liner notes by Bill Milkowski, and a handful of bonus tracks scattered over the discs, round out this superlative set.

Allan Holdsworth:

Hard Hat Area (1993) and None Too Soon (1996) (MoonJune Records, www.moonjune.com)

Fans of fusion and prog owe a debt to Leonardo Pavkovic, whose label MoonJune (named for the epic Soft Machine song "Moon in June") continues to release new works, as well as reissues such as these two from guitarist Allan Holdsworth. This English musician came to the attention of many in the States during his brief tenure with the New Tony Williams Lifetime. The byword of his style is legato, and on the 1993 album, the synth textures from keyboardist Steve Hunt serve as a bed for Holdsworth's sustained work on an all-original program; bassist Skuli Sverrison and drummer Gary Husband round out the crew. None Too Soon is a rarity in Holdsworth's catalog, as it features his very original takes on classic material such as Coltrane's "Countdown," a decidedly updated version of Django Reinhardt's "Nuages," and more, rounded out by two pieces from his keyboard player, Gordon Beck. Gary Willis, bass, and Kirk Covington, drums, complement the virtual co-leaders of this session well. Holdsworth is still very decidedly in electric mode, notwithstanding the choice of music written for acoustic players.

LOCAL JAZZ CONTACTS

With two thirteen-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.