Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDES:

I: TEN YEARS AND COUNTING

March 2003 marked my debut as the jazz columnist for Louisville Music News. That month also saw a separate piece reviewing the Dave Holland Quintet at the late, lamented UK Spotlight Jazz Series. The prior month was sort of a trial run, with an article about the 10th Annual U of L Jazz Week (now Fest). Thanks very much to LMN editor and publisher Paul Moffett, and thanks to those of you who read my writing, here and elsewhere.

II: STARTING TIME RANT

Big thanks to Uncle Slayton's for starting the John Cowan concert (see below) at a reasonable time. I actually, and unintentionally, missed the opening act, NewTown, a band from Lexington, which apparently started at 8:30, the announced show time (!). By the time I found the place (I hadn't been there before), Cowan had already taken the stage. By contrast, the following night, I went to hear Terrapin Flyer. The band didn't start until almost midnight. I pushed myself to stay until the end of the first set, 1:30 AM. Seriously, why should going out to hear live music turn into an endurance contest? I would have loved to have heard both sets, especially with Louisville saxophonist Myron Koch scheduled to sit in; apparently he did, but I was home long before that. And for what it's worth, this is not the grumbling of a grumpy old man (well, maybe it is); I remember back in the late '70s or early '80s going to hear NRBQ at a long-defunct club on Main Street, and requesting (and receiving) a refund when they weren't on by midnight. End of rant.

RECENT CONCERTS

John Cowan at Uncle Slayton's

It's been a long time since I last saw John Cowan, and it was good to catch up in the cozy environment of Uncle Slayton's on January 25. Cowan has trimmed his band down to a trio, with Jeff Autry on guitar and Shad Cobb on fiddle, providing a remarkably full sound in conjunction with Cowan's always amazing electric bass and singing. Neither I nor Cowan would claim that he is a jazz artist, but going back to his days with the groundbreaking New Grass Revival, improvisation has been part of his musical language. Indeed, early on he played "East Meets Wes," with a nod to Mr. Montgomery. His eclectic set included a medley of The Moody Blues' "Tuesday Morning" > Led Zeppelin's "Going To California" > Allen Toussaint's "On Your Way Down." He covered Dave Alvin's "King Of California" tastefully, followed by "Good Woman's Love," on which he set aside his bass and showed that he can still hit and hold the high notes. More traditional sounding fare included "Bristol Town," "Dark As a Dungeon," and a feature for John and Shad, "Black Blizzard." Cowan brought NewTown back for a rousing finale.

Terrapin Flyer at Diamonds

As noted above, Terrapin Flyer did not take the stage until almost midnight, January 26, following a pleasant but overly long set by progressive bluegrass band the Rumpke Mountain Boys. Special guests for this edition of Terrapin Flyer were organist Melvin Seals (from the Jerry Garcia Band) and guitarist Mark Karan (Ratdog). They warmed up themselves and the audience with "The Harder They Come," "Big River," and "Loser," before stretching out into a deep blues groove with guest Johnny Neel on keyboard for the classic "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl." Neel helped keep the energy level up for "Tore Up." Neel left and the band did the rousing gospel number "Brothers and Sisters." Following "West L.A. Fadeaway" and a soulful "Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," the musicians showed what they could do with a floating 26-minute "Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain." Throughout the first set, the soulful interplay of Seals and Karan yielded rich results. The show is available in its entirety (with the band's blessing) at http://archive.org/details/terrapinflyer2013-01-26.fob.KM140.flac24.

Jeff Coffin at U of L

Saxophonist Jeff Coffin's adventurous Mu'tet, known for danceable jazzy grooves with layers of electronics, played a virtually acoustic concert at the University of Louisville's Bird Hall on February 6, with only six-string bass guitarist Felix Pastorius (Jaco's son) plugged in. No "space trumpet," no loops, just good old-fashioned musicianship, with Bill Fanning on trumpet, Roy "Futureman" Wooten on drums (not his Synthaxe Drumitar), and Chris Walters on piano. I caught part of their workshop that afternoon, which included both performance and Q&A. "Albert's Blue Sky," for Albert Ayler, had a slow gospel feel, and was followed by the appropriately titled funky "Bubble Up." Coffin patiently discussed some saxophone technique issues before remarking on some of his influences, including three 1959 albums, Kind of Blue, Mingus Ah Um, and Giant Steps. They then played an Indian-influenced composition, "Mogador." More conversation ensued, with Coffin telling the audience how "melody comes first," and that he opens up his compositions to contributions from his bandmates. Futureman spoke of how "We are in a service industry, the music, ourselves, the audience," and went on to discuss how James Brown's drummers came from jazz backgrounds.

Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet

Photo By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet

Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet

Photo By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet

Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet

Photo By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet
Photos by Mike Tracy

That night, "Peace Now" opened the concert, with a Coltrane-like invocation and Elvin Jones-styled drumming from Futureman. "Tag" was uncompromising post-bop, and eventually led into "Al's Greens," based on a Joe Henderson composition. "The Mad Hatter Rides Again" opened up from an almost cartoon music opening into soulful soloing. "L'Esperance" had a mideastern feel, with Walters switching to accordion and Coffin to flute. The encore, "Move Your Rug," had the feel of New Orleans second line, although Walters' piano sounded more like Ray Charles than Professor Longhair. Throughout the evening, Coffin generously gave much of the spotlight to his bandmates. Pastorius' playing at times showed the influence of his father, although his stage presence owed more to Bill Wyman than Jaco. It was a real treat to hear Futureman return to his roots on the drumset. The latest releases are the 2-CD set, Live! and the current studio disc, Into the Air, and both showcase the band's customary combination of jazz chops and playful electronics.

ON THE HORIZON

Louisville Jazz Society Presents Luke McIntosh at the Rud

The Louisville Jazz Society took the month off in February to support the U of L Jazz Fest, but returns with its monthly series on Sunday, March 17 with Luke McIntosh and the Flexi-Sextet, featuring the bassist with Ansyn Banks trumpet, Samir Kambarov alto sax, Diego Lyra keys, Brandon Coleman guitar, and Bruno "Gafanhoto" Souza drums. McIntosh has recorded a live album at the Rud, and this should be an exciting evening. The Rudyard Kipling is at 422 W Oak Street, and showtime is 6:30.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

This year's Jazzfest happens from April 26 through May 5. Daily lineups and ticket information is available at http://www.nojazzfest.com. Among the top jazz artists this year are the Wayne Shorter Quartet, the Joshua Redman Quartet, the Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra, Dianne Reeves , The Cookers (Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, David Weiss, Craig Handy, George Cables, Cecil McBee, and Billy Hart), Stanley Clarke/George Duke Project , Preservation Hall Jazz Band , and that doesn't even scratch the surface of all the music, jazz and otherwise, being presented.

Jumpin' Jive To Benefit U of L School Music

The Friends of the U of L School of Music present the 4th Annual Jumpin' Jive, to raise funds for the School of Music. It will take place Sunday, March 24th, from 5-10 pm at the Henry Clay. There will be cocktails, a silent auction, a seated dinner, small group swing by Doug Finke, and music by John LaBarbera's student jazz band, plus dancing, retro dress, prizes, and raffles. For additional information and reservations, contact UofLFOSM@aol.com.

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 March 18. 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 not sure if this is still right, hard to find updated information, if any of you know how to get better info, drop me a line, please; 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 The Caswell Sisters CD Release party on Friday, March 1 (coincidentally, I am listening to their new album, Alive in the Singing Air, as I write this, and it's a delight, with singer Rachel and violinist Sara) February 8; saxophonist Tia Fuller (who was outstanding last spring in New Orleans with Terri Lynne Carrington's Mosaic Project) on March 8; Monika Herzig's annual celebration of Women's History Month, on March 15; The Wolff & Clark Expedition , with pianist Michael Wolff, drummer Mike Clark, and bassist Jeff Berlin, on March 23; and Jim Snidero with the Steve Allee Trio on March 29.

The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, is now at 700 Race St. (513-241-WISP). A road trip might be advised for March 1, guitarists Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo ; saxophonist JD Allen on March 5; saxophonist/flutist Greg Abate on March 8-9; The Wolff & Clark Expedition on March 22. 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

ONLINE REVIEW: Jack DeJohnette: Special Edition Box Set

Charles Lloyd/Jason Moran

Hagar's Song (ECM 2266, www.ecmrecords.com)

Charles Lloyd continues to experiment with different lineups, here choosing to record an album of duets with his current pianist, Jason Moran. The first six songs and the final three are, with one exception, interpretations of jazz and pop standards, including a delicate performance of Billy Strayhorn's "Pretty Girl," also known as "Star Crossed Lovers." The duo remain in Ellington territory with "Mood Indigo," featuring saxophone embellishments over a straightforward read of the classic. After three more pieces, the five-part "Hagar Suite" begins. As there are no liner notes, I will quote from the ECM website: "The centerpiece of the set is the title suite composed by Lloyd and dedicated to his great-great-grandmother, who was taken from her home in south Mississippi at age 10 and sold to a slave-owner in Tennessee. 'When I learned the story of her life it moved me very deeply,' says Lloyd. 'The suite mirrors the stages of her life; loss of family, loneliness and the unknown, dreams, sorrow, and songs to her newborn children.'" Indeed, the first four movements, even without the backstory, clearly represent a winding journey, tinged with sadness and yearning. The third and fourth movements, ominous in tone, flow into one another, with tambourine accents. There seems to be resolution in the closing "Hagar's Lullaby." The album concludes with Earl Hines' "Rosetta," a happy contrast to the suite, and two ballads, "I Shall Be Released" (dedicated by Lloyd to Levon Helm) and The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows." It's clear as Lloyd approaches 75 (on March 15) that he continues to explore his art and passion, not resting on his laurels. A box set of his first five albums for ECM, collectively entitled Quartets, is scheduled for release in April, and documents Lloyd's artistry from 1989 through 1996.

Jimi Hendrix : People, Hell & Angels (Columbia/Legacy, www.legacyrecordings.com, www.jimihendrix.com)

After the release of Valleys of Neptune and West Coast Seattle Boy, the Hendrix fan might well view another album of previously unreleased material with a certain cynicism. However, People, Hell & Angels does provide a series of audio snapshots of the creative arc Hendrix was pursuing in the studio following his breakup of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. While it boasts twelve unreleased recordings, many are songs familiar to the fan, although in different versions. One of the more interesting is the opening "Earth Blues," featuring Hendrix with just Billy Cox and Buddy Miles. The lesser known "Somewhere" is next, with Miles and Stephen Stills on bass. Two more staples of the live repertoire follow, "Hear My Train A Comin'" and "Bleeding Heart," which demonstrate how Hendrix enlarged the language of the blues. What comes next is more unique, "Soul Food," a fast-paced, funky tune featuring saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood. Skipping over alternate versions of other well-known pieces, another unusual piece is "Mojo Man," with the Ghetto Fighters, Albert and Arthur Allen. In short, there is plenty of intriguing music here.

Mark Kleinhaut & Neil Lamb

Jones Street (www.invisiblemusic.com)

I have only been to Savannah, Georgia, once and spent all too little time there. This album of guitar duets was recorded there during 2010 and 2011, during vacations by Kleinhaut and Lamb. All the tunes are originals; indeed, according to Bill Milkowski's liner notes, they were distilled from many hours of casual recordings. They evoke the warmth and genteel nature of Savannah, beginning with the upbeat opener, "City Market." "Trickster" lives up to its name, with tricky syncopations. "Guitar Bar" is laidback and bluesy, while "Twilight Garden," has a somewhat eerie feel, apparently inspired by Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. This is a recording that is like a conversation, in music rather than words, between two old friends, and will be savored by fans of guitar jazz.

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.