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Over the past few months I have joined some friends from the Louisville Jazz Society to see Mike Tracy with Pat Lentz and Tyrone Wheeler at the Seelbach, "Rolling [Trom]Bones" at Wick's Pizza (Goose Creek), and "Vamp" (Jacob Duncan, Jason Tiemann and guest Chris Fitzgerald) at the Nachbar. Each time I enjoyed the music and fellowship. However, although I took my notebook with me thinking I would review the performances, I ended up taking no notes for the first two shows, and only sketchy ones for the final one. I have been pondering the different listening experiences for jazz as background music for socializing and jazz in a concert or dedicated music club setting. I applaud the restaurants and bars that feature not just live jazz, but live music. This is an important measure of support for our local musicians. I wonder if it might be possible to schedule a listeners night, maybe even once a month, at some of these venues, where talking during performances is discouraged. At present, and please tell me if I am missing something, it seems that the only club where listening to jazz is the focus (for two nights a month, at least) is the Comedy Caravan. What are your thoughts?
ON THE HORIZON
UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE JAZZ FEST AND MORE
What was once titled "Jazz Week" at the University of Louisville is now "Jazz Fest," which features a slightly shortened "week" toward the end of February (as traditional), together with other events. It opens on Tuesday, February 23, with a special presentation of a One Woman Show entitled "Render Me My Song: African-American Women Writers From Slavery to the Present," featuring musician/actress Sandi Russell. International Night, featuring Brazilian pianist Renato Vasconcellos and the Russian Open World Jazz Ensemble, is Wednesday, February 24. The following night is Adjudicator's Night, featuring Jarrad Harris – alto saxophone, Steve Thomas – trumpet, Frank Sumares – piano, and Thurman Barker – drums. Throughout the day on Friday the 26th and Saturday the 27th, there will be workshops.
The Friday night concert will feature trumpeter Valery Ponomarev with Jazz Ensemble I, directed by John La Barbera, and the Faculty Jazz Trio. Ponomarev came to the USA in 1973 from Russia, and joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in 1976. On Saturday night, saxophonist Houston Person will perform with Jazz Ensemble I and the Faculty Jazz Combo. Sunday night, February 28, is rightly billed as a Jazz Master Concert, with the legendary Belgian harmonica player Toots Thielemans performing with his longtime musical associate, pianist Kenny Werner. Thielemans' composition "Bluesette" has become a jazz standard.
All concerts take place at the Comstock Concert Hall, School of Music, except for the opening night, which will be in Bird Hall at the School of Music. More information is available at www.louisville.edu/music/jazz; or call 502-852-6907 for tickets.
"ELLA" AT ACTORS THEATRE OF LOUISVILLE
From January 26 through February 20, Actors Theatre of Louisville will present "Ella," about the iconic singer Ella Fitzgerald. This will be a musical presentation with biographical information. Discounted student tickets are available with the purchase of adult tickets. More information is available at www.actorstheatre.org/play_ella.htm. ATL is located at 316 West Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202; phone (502) 584-1205.
2010 NEW ORLEANS JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVAL
Post-Katrina, some people questioned the appropriateness of relaunching the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival the following spring. While pared down, it became a foundation for some of the recovery of the beleaguered city. Fast forward to 2010, and the lineup is one of the most amazing in many years. The first weekend, Friday April 23 - Sunday April 25), includes jazz artists Joe Lovano's Us Five, Donald Harrison, Terence Blanchard, The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong featuring Wycliffe Gordon, James Andrews, and Victor Goines, to name but a handful. A few of the many non-jazz artists of note are Simon & Garfunkel, the Allman Brothers Band, My Morning Jacket, Dr. John, Sam Bush, reggae greats Steel Pulse, Baaba Maal, and King Sunny Ade & His African Beats. Weekend Two (Thursday April 29 - Sunday May 2) has for jazz fans the Stanley Clarke Band with Hiromi, the Wayne Shorter Quartet, Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, Jeff Beck (arguably rock), Marcus Miller, Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Septet, Nicholas Payton, Astral Project and more. A few highlights among the non-jazz acts include Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Pearl Jam, B.B. King, and many more. The complete lineup, ticket information and more is at www.nojazzfest.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 performs the second Monday of each month, which falls on February 8. Bobby Falk presents his monthly "Night of Jazz" on the following Monday, February 15. No other jazz bookings were planned as of deadline time, so please contact the club for any post-deadline shows.
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, 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.
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 West Market Street Stompers continue their weekly gig at Bearno's By The Bridge, 131 W. Main St., on Fridays, from 5:30 – 7:00 PM. An added enticement, per their Newsletter, is a dance floor.
Jazzyblu is located in the basement of the Glassworks, 815 West Market St., the homepage is www.jazzyblu.com. Attempts to sign up for e-mail updates for their listings have thus far been unsuccessful, so you might try the site or you can call at 502-992-3243 for information.
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. One trip-worthy show is organist Tony Monaco on Saturday, February 20.
The February schedule for The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241-WISP), includes: Friday, February 26 - the Matt Wilson Quartet and Saturday, February 27: Jazz Violinist Christian Howes. 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).
Mike Longo: Float Like a Butterfly and Sting Like a Bee (Consolidated Artists Productions, CAP 1006 and CAP 1018; www.jazzbeat.com) Pianist Mike Longo came to prominence playing with Dizzy Gillespie for many years, and has produced a number of albums under his own name over the decades. Float was released in 2007, and features Longo with bassist Paul West and drummer Jimmy Wormworth. Sting came out late in 2009, and finds the pianist in the company of bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Lewis Nash. Longo's brief notes to each album pay homage to Oscar Peterson and Dizzy; except for the titles of the discs themselves, there is no reference to Louisville's own Muhammad Ali. Stylistically, he is not as ornate as Peterson. On Float, in particular, he leans toward a more graceful delivery, gently swinging on tunes such as "Girl of My Dreams" and "Dancing in the Dark." Sting is, as the title suggests, a bit more assertive. He covers not only such standards as "Love for Sale" and a "West Side Story Medley" (dedicated to Peterson), but more modern pieces including two by Wayne Shorter, "Speak No Evil" and the lesser known "Dance Cadaverous." Both discs should appeal to piano trio enthusiasts. More significantly, they should help raise Longo's profile as a leader, a status he has deserved for a long time.
Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio: Reflections (Word of Mouth Music WOM0002, www.wommusic.com) Mention "Standards Trio" to any jazz fan, and the immediate association is to the long-lasting trio of Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. However, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel now mines the same territory. Rosenwinkel, better known for his edgy original works, here takes on the jazz and American Songbook canon with restraint and beauty. Bassist Eric Revis and drummer Eric Harland are more than a "rhythm section" here. The title track, a Thelonious Monk composition, sets the tone for this CD. The leader's solo intro gives way to mellow trio interplay, and Revis is given a solo spotlight. Rosenwinkel interprets another Monk piece, "Ask Me Now," with verve. The only original is "East Coast Love Affair," which fits in with the other pieces so well that it seems like an undiscovered older standard. Two compositions by Wayne Shorter are included, "Fall" and the lovely bossa nova "Ana Maria." The disc closes with romantic versions of "More than You Know" and You've Changed." Fans of Rosenwinkel will enjoy this disc as a means to explore a different side to his playing, while lovers of mainstream jazz guitar will find much to admire here as well.
Love: Love Lost (Sundazed SC 11207; www.sundazed.com) Love, for whom the Doors were a regular opening act on Sunset Strip, produced the classic and surreal Forever Changes in 1968, preceded by the folk-punk self-titled first album, and the jazzy second LP, Da Capo. Major personnel changes after Forever Changes found leader Arthur Lee moving to a hard rock sound, perhaps best exemplified on Four Sail, Love's final Elektra album. Out Here and False Start, on Blue Thumb, followed. Little known to all but the most ardent admirers until now, in 1971 Love recorded an unreleased album for Columbia, finally released as Love Lost. Aside from Lee, bassist Frank Fayad was the only holdover from the most recent edition of the band. Craig Tarwater played lead guitar and Don Poncher was the drummer. Most of the tracks are in the same rock vein as Out Here. There are several acoustic demos which provide a sense of balance and variety in the overall sound. Of these, my favorite is the wistful "For a Day." The CD is marred by the inclusion of not one, but two versions of the racist and sexist "Good & Evil." The closing medley of Lee's "Trippin' and Slippin" and Jimi Hendrix's "Ezy Rider" let Tarwater unwind. Beginners should start with Forever Changes, while longtime fans of the band will want to add this to their collection, as there are far too few Arthur Lee/Love releases.
Jerry Garcia Band (JGB): Let It Rock (Rhino JGCD-0010, www.rhino.com) After a long lapse in releases from the Jerry Garcia archives, apparently due to legal issues with his estate, Let It Rock showcases an early version of the JGB at the Keystone in Berkeley in November, 1975. Pianist Nicky Hopkins, who did sessions with the Rolling Stones and joined Quicksilver Messenger Service, provides both support for and instrumental challenges to Garcia. Garcia's longtime bassist, John Kahn, and Elvis Presley's drummer, Ron Tutt, provide not only rhythmic underpinning, but also contribute to the sense of musical adventure. The Chuck Berry title track is taken at a loping pace. Blues is the order of the day on "Tore Up Over You," "It's Too Late" and "Ain't No Use." Among the many highlights is an emotionally sung version of Allen Toussaint's "I'll Take a Melody," which features interwoven soloing by Garcia and Hopkins. Hopkins' "Lady Sleeps" is a solo piano piece with heavy gospel inflections. The band displays an uncanny mastery of dynamics in the almost 19-minute version of the Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together." Closing is another Hopkins song, "Edward, the Mad Shirt Grinder" (originally from his Quicksilver stint). Again, the band moves as one during the tempo changes, with intense soloing. In short, this is a worthy addition to the Jerry Garcia legacy. The cover pays homage to the classic 1968 album Super Session.
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