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September 2009 Articles
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Issue: September 2009
Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.


I: RIP, Les Paul and Rashied Ali

Les Paul, the famed guitarist, inventor and father of the solid body electric guitar passed away at the age of 94. He was playing weekly in New York's Iridium club until shortly before his death. Tributes abound on the web, and I will simply note that I regret never having had the opportunity to see him in performance.

Drummer Rashied Ali, best known for his work in John Coltrane's later ensembles, also passed away in August, at the age of 74. His spirited and adventurous drumming can be heard to great advantage on albums such as Coltrane's Live at the Village Vanguard Again, and the Coltrane/Ali duet album Interstellar Space.


'Nuff said.



The weather couldn't have been better for the New Albany Jazz Festival, held on Friday, July 31. Viewing the West Market Street Stompers onstage with the backdrop of the Ohio River, seemingly turned into lava by the setting sun, was almost surreal. The crowd included families, couples, and music lovers of all types. The Stompers had the crowd eating out of their collective hands with traditional jazz tunes, including a romping "St. James Infirmary Blues," complete with mugging vocals by leader and trombonist Doug Finke. The sun was down by the time saxophonist Jamey Aebersold's quartet took the stage. Pianist Steve Allee, bassist Tyrone Wheeler and drummer Jonathan Higgins turned in a set of modern jazz classics, including Miles Davis' "Four," preceded by Aebersold's mini-history of how Miles Davis had appropriated the song from another composer. I came away from the concert less concerned about setlist and other such details than in the overall presentation of the event. It was simply superb, and many thanks to all who helped put this together. May 2010 see a return of this wonderful concert.



The Indy Jazz Fest is now under new management and will take place in September instead of June, as has been the tradition. The lineup is spectacular. For further details, the website is www.indyjazzfest.net. The following takes place at the Lawn at White River State Park in the downtown area. Saturday September 26: Branford Marsalis, Soulive, Poncho Sanchez, Derrick Gardner and the Jazz Prophets, Bill Lancton Coalition, Brandon Meeks, Clifford Ratliff featuring Melvin Rhyne, Frank Glover and Kilho, IPS All-City Jazz Band. Sunday September 27: Marcus Miller, Kurt Elling, Steve Allee Big Band, Pharez Whitted, Hana-neel, Fort Wayne Snider High School Band, Ben Davis High School Band, Sarah Scharbrough, Gregg Bacon, Cynthia Layne.

Indoor events are scheduled in various venues around Indianapolis, as follows. Saturday, September 19: Joshua Redman Trio at Clowes Memorial Hall; Tuesday, September 22, Charlie Hunter, Garaj Mahal, Twin Cats at the Vogue Nightclub; also Tuesday, September 22: Mark Buselli CD Release Concert with The Buselli - Wallarab Jazz Orchestra at the Jazz Kitchen; yet another concert on Tuesday, September 22 will be Astral Project in Bloomington; Wednesday, September 23: Claudia Acuña at the Jazz Kitchen; Friday, September 25: Freddie Hubbard Tribute Presented by Dr. David Baker, featuring James Spaulding, Nicholas Payton, Randy Brecker, Derrick Gardner, Pharez ted Rufus Reid, Steve Allee, Rob Dixon, Donald Edwards and Vincent Gardner at the Madame Walker Theater.


This year's Big Rock Jazz Festival will take place at, of course, Big Rock Park in Cherokee Park. This year will focus on Louisville artists Robbie Bartlett, West Market Street Stompers, and Eddie Clark and the Louisville Jazz Collective. The time has been changed, and it will be from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, October 4. The Louisville Jazz Society is among the many sponsors. More information will be available at the website: www.louisvillejazz.org.


Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer have collaborated on a new recording, The Melody of Rhythm, which blends Indian Classical music, Western Classical music, and American roots music into a sound of their own. They are coming to the Brown Theatre to perform selections from this CD on Friday, October 9, 2009. More information is available at www.kentuckycenter.org.


Famed pianist Kenny Barron will present a solo recital at the University of Louisville on Sunday, October 25. More details will be presented next month, and should be available soon at www.louisville.edu/music


The Comedy Caravan, 1250 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40204, 502-459-0022 www.comedycaravan.com, has long been a venue for quality musical acts. After a year of presenting "Jazz Factory Orphan Series," the jazz will now be featured as "Jazz at the Caravan." According to club owner Tom Sobel, this name change will become part of a broader series of musical presentations, such as "Americana at the Caravan," Blues at the Caravan, and so forth. Bobby Falk is taking August off from his monthly "Night of Jazz" series at the club. The Don Krekel Orchestra performs the second Monday of each month, which falls on September 14. The band is soliciting requests for songs, via e-mail: krekelm@insightbb.com. There will also be some historic videos shown on the big screen. No other jazz bookings were planned as of deadline time, so please contact the club for any post-deadline shows.

The Bobby Falk Group will be playingSeptember 5 at Qdoba Patio at Eastern Parkway and Bardstown Road; September 9 at the Riverbend Winery; September 12 at the Original Highlands Festival; September 17 at the Louisville Speakeasy at Carly Rae's, 103 W Oak Street; further September and October dates may vbe found on Bobby's website (see LOCAL JAZZ CONTACTS, below).

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, (ww.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.

Jockamo's Pizza Pub (corner of Goss Avenue and Krieger Street, 502-637-5406) now has jazz every Thursday night with guitarist Craig Wagner, drummer Jason Tiemann, and others.

The Skybar @ Saints, (131 Breckenridge Lane, 502-648-4500) will feature the Speakeasy Jazz Orchestra plays for listeners and dancers every other Wednesday in September, on September 2, 16 and 30. Free dance lessons are given at 7:30 p.m., and the bands plays from 8:30 to 11.

The West Market Street Stompers continue their weekly gig at Bearno's By The Bridge, 131 W. Main St., on Fridays, from 5:30 - 7 p.m.. An added enticement, per their Newsletter, is a dance floor.

A new club has opened in the basement of the Glassworks, 815 West Market St. Called Jazzyblu, the homepage is www.jazzyblu.com. No telephone was listed. Through September, it will feature Walker and Kays on Thursdays, Jerry Tolson on Fridays, Maestro J and The Jazzyblu Triad on Saturdays, and Doug Finke on Sundays.

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. You may want to consider a road trip for Chuchito Valdes on September 12. Other guest artist listings for September were not available by deadline time.

The September schedule for The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241-WISP), includes: Sachal Vasandani Quartet CD release concert on September 5, Saxophonist Greg Abate on September 18; our own Ron Jones September 19; Pianist Eldar on September 22; and Bobby Broom Trio on October 3. 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 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).

Also, Jacob Duncan has initiated a series of local jazz updates. You may contact him at jacobduncan@me.com to be added to his e-mail list.

New Release by Louisville Artist David Tench: In a Mellow Tone

Louisville guitarist Dave Tench has just independently released In a Mellow Tone. The Duke Ellington title song aptly describes both the music and the warm sound of Tench's acoustic guitar. Five of the twelve tracks have subtle percussion by Paul Turner, and the closing "Out of Nowhere" features Dave's son Adrick. The songs are all jazz and American Songbook standards. Tench commented by phone that jazz players consider him a thumbpicker, and thumbpickers consider him a jazz guitarist. I consider those to be distinctions without a difference, as this recording shows him to be a thoughtful stylist. The opening "Blue Skies" is laidback, and is followed by a quiet and reflective solo reading of "For All We Know." With the addition of bass and harmonica, Tench's version of "Summertime" is sultry, and his take on "On the Sunny Side of the Street" exudes the warmth of the title. At this wring, the only way to pick up this CD is from Dave. He frequently joins the Friday Night Jam Sessions held by the Kentucky Thumb Pickers Club from 7 to 9 pm at the Clifton Baptist Church, at the corner of Frankfort and Bellaire Avenues. You may also e-mail him at davetench@insightbb.com. The organization's website is www.thumbpickers.org. Dave frequently volunteers at Louisville Jazz Society events, so keep an eye out for him at those as well.

Babatunde Lea: UMBO WETI: A Tribute To Leon Thomas

Leon Thomas sang for a period with Count Basie, but came to prominence with Pharoah Sanders, co-creating "The Creator Has a Master Plan." He recorded several albums as a leader, and performed with Santana on the visionary spiritual jazz albums Welcome and Lotus. His voice was rich and deep, and he utilized an African form of yodeling as an alternative to traditional scat singing. Tribute albums such as this can be tricky - too closely recreating the sound of the honoree can be pointless, and going too far afield leaves the tribute concept aside However, San Francisco area drummer Babatunde Lea has achieved a rare blend of tribute and creativity with this 2-CD set ((Motéma MTM-25) honoring Thomas. Recorded live at Yoshi's in Oakland, California, Lea's band features Dwight Trible (vocals), Ernie Watts (tenor sax), Gary Brown (bass), and Patrice Rushen (piano). Trible has clearly been influenced by Thomas, yet he is his own man. The songs range from the roaring John Lee Hooker romp "Boom Boom" to such Thomas classics as "Creator . . ." and "Prince of Peace" (originally "Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah Hum Allah"). Where Thomas created his own lyrics to John Coltrane's "Cousin Mary," the version here utilizes those by Jon Hendricks. The second disc closes with a beautiful version of Horace Silver's "Song for My Father," with alternate lyrics by Ellen May Shashoyan. Throughout the 100+ minutes on these discs, the band stretches out with vigor and taste. I can imagine Thomas looking down and saying "Amen, brothers and sister."


With two ten-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


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.


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

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