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RIP Ben Ingram
Louisville bassist Ben Ingram passed away on October 13th. Guitarist Jeff Sherman, who worked with Ingram for many years, wrote the following for this column and its readers: "Ben Ingram passed away and the Louisville jazz community lost one of its stalwarts, and I lost a dear friend. Ben learned his trade as a jazz bassist the way craftsmen have been learning for centuries, simply playing thousands of gigs in a variety of settings. I know that I am a better musician for having played next to him for 35 years and that Louisville mourns its loss. Thanks, Ben.............‘it's been a ball'." And thanks, Jeff, for allowing us to share this.
RIP King Solomon Burke
"Cry to Me," "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" "If You Need Me," and "Got to Get You Off My Mind," are just some of the late soul singer's classic sides, which influenced everyone from Wilson Pickett to the Rolling Stones. As part of my coverage of the 4 Indianapolis Jazz Fest, in the July 4 issue of Louisville Music News, I wrote about Solomon Burke's outstanding performance there, which I offer as my eulogy. The url is: http://www.louisvillemusicnews.net/webmanager/index.php?WEB_CAT_ID=50&storyid=2927&headline=Jazzin'&issueid=185
RIP T Lavitz
T Lavitz, solo artist and keyboard player for Jazz Is Dead, was perhaps best known for his work with the Dixie Dregs, died in his sleep recently. The Dregs, to me, were always a "southern-fried Mahavishnu," and Lavitz, although not a founding member, added musical energy to the band's recordings and concerts.
ON THE HORIZON
THE RETURN OF ZACH BROCK
Violinist extraordinaire Zach Brock has a homecoming of sorts when he returns for a long-overdue Louisville performance at the Rudyard Kipling on Wednesday, November 3. He is touring in support of his forthcoming trio CD, the Magic Number. The recording will be officially released until January, but in a recent e-mail, Brock said he hoped he would have copies soon. He is scheduled to play that afternoon on at 3 p.m. on WFPK, FM 91.9, and at 8 p.m. at the Rud, located in Old Louisville at 422 W Oak St. A native Lexingtonian, Brock has honed his craft in Chicago and, more recently, New York. In addition to leading his own groups over the years, he has performed with such stalwarts as Stanley Clarke, Frank Vignola's Hot Club, and the Mahavishnu Project. For more information on the recording, and background material on Brock, see his website, www.zachbrock.com.
LOUISVILLE JAZZ SOCIETY ANNUAL MEETING
Last month I reported that the Louisville Jazz Society was planning its annual open meeting for all members, and was to feature pianist Harry Pickens. Plans have changed, however. As of deadline time, the meeting is scheduled for Sunday, November 7, and may include a discussion led by Grammy-nominated John La Barbera. Sign up for the LJS-sponsored e-mail event listing, the Jazz Insider for more information about this event and local jazz happenings. The LJS website is www.louisvillejazz.org. I am proud to serve on the Board, and am currently vice-president of the LJS, which offers support to events including the Big Rock Jazz Festival, the Bellarmine Jazz Guitar Workshops, and a scholarship to the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Camp.
HIROMI at IUS
Jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara has attracted a growing number of fans through her work with giants such as Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke, as well as her series of releases under her own name, as simply Hiromi, on Telarc. Her appearance with Clarke at the 2010 New Orleans Jazzfest was a highlight, and her playing on his new release, the Stanley Clarke Band (Telarc) (reviewed here last month), shows her virtuosity in styles ranging from straightahead to fusion. Her own latest release is Place to Be, her first unaccompanied solo outing. She drew heavily on material from this album in an excellent concert Saturday, September 25, at the Paul W. Ogle Cultural and Community Center at Indiana University Southeast. Hiromi is a very energetic performer and captivated the audience throughout her 90-minute set. I arrived a few minutes late, and the performance was underway with a piece replete with foot-stomping and plucking the piano strings. Next was "Green Tea Farm," a graceful ballad dedicated to her grandparents, which evoked images of tea ceremonies. "Desert on the Moon" flowed like a mini-suite. She dedicated "The Tom and Jerry Show," to Kyle [last name?], who booked her for three gigs in Indiana including this one. The song tempos ranged from fast to hyper-fast, with an appropriate touch of levity, considering the title. Her rendition of Pachelbel's "Canon" utilized bars or sticks over some of the strings, simulating a harpsichord. Her last piece was a suite from the new CD, "Viva! Vegas" with movements entitled "Show City, Show Girl," "Daytime In Las Vegas" and "The Gambler." Her encore was the title track, "Place To Be," which she explained referred to her touring life and her feeling that "on stage with you is the place to be." Indeed, the place to be this night was at Hiromi's concert.
PAT METHENY: THE ORCHESTRION PROJECT AT THE BROWN THEATRE
Pat Metheny brought his Orchestrion Project to the Brown Theatre on Saturday, October 2. "Orchestrion" refers to a collection of instruments mechanically triggered by Metheny. As he did in his most recent prior Louisville appearance, with his trio in 7, he began with solo acoustic guitar pieces, including, as he put it, "a hodgepodge of older tunes." A gorgeous "The Sound of Water" included koto-like effects from his harp guitar. "Unity Village," from his first solo outing, Bright Size Life (with quotes from "So What" and the beginning utilization of the percussive aspects of the Orchestrion) led to the unveiling of the actual collection of instruments behind the curtains. Visually, it was reminiscent of the Lonesome Pine Special backdrop, only all the instruments were connected and playable. He played most of the "Orchestrion Suite," found on his 2010 Nonesuch CD (Orchestrion, of course). His trademark playing was, as always (at least in my experience), superb. As he engaged the various components of the robot orchestra, though, I found myself getting visually distracted by all the busyness behind Metheny. A special treat, though, followed the suite; a bluesy, rockin' duet between the guitar he held and a guitar mounted behind him. He closed with several improvisations, including one inspired by Ornette Coleman. Metheny deserved the two ovations given him, at the end of his hour-and-a-half set, and following his encore.
MIKE TRACY QUINTET AT BIG ROCK JAZZ FEST
Big Rock Park, in Cherokee Park, was the place to be for music lovers on Sunday, October 3. My daughters and I love to go there to hike and take in the surroundings. For jazz and blues fans, this is where, from 2-7 p.m. The Highlands-Douglass Neighborhood Association, the Louisville Jazz Society and other organizations bring you this free event, now in its eleventh year. By the time I herded the cats, errr..., make that got my daughters and their friend to the site, we unfortunately missed Steve Crews' Black Cat Band (traditional New Orleans jazz). We were regrouping to leave as the Walnut Street Blues Band closed the day with its mixture of straight blues and soul music. Thus, I am focusing here on the performance of Mike Tracy's Quintet, featuring guitarist Craig Wagner, pianist Todd Hildreth, bassist Doug Elmore and drummer Mike Hyman, as the young ladies hiked and marveled at the mostly dry creek bed. Many of the songs played are featured on his new CD, Wingspan, which I reviewed in the current Louisville Jazz Society Newsletter (www.louisvillejazz.org). If you can't find the disc locally, check Mike's site (www.michaeltracy.com) and that of the label (www.seabreezejazz.com). An uptempo "Sweet and Lovely" helped warm the crowd on this chilly day. A lilting song by Brazilian composer and arranger Moacir Santos, "April Child," was next. Staying in Latin mode, Tracy and crew next offered "Recado Bossa Nova," a piece Tracy noted as popularized by Hank Mobley. Three more from Wingspan were next, a 5/4 arrangement by Davide Logiri of the classic "Freddie Freeloader," Anderson Pessoa's "Samba for Tracy" and another Logiri composition, "Emanuela's Trouble." True to the advance billing as featuring Brazilian music, Tracy closed with "Viva O Rio de Janeiro," by Hermeto Pascoal. There was an encore performance, of sorts, the following Sunday at Tyler Park, co-sponsored by the Tyler Park Neighborhood Association and the Louisville Jazz Society. the quintet members were all given lots of solo space during both concerts. LJS President Matt Grossman's Vintage Piano Works provided an acoustic piano for Hildreth at Tyler Park, which was a special treat.
CHRISTIAN HOWES AT THE COMEDY CARAVAN
A special concert at the Comedy Caravan with jazz violinist Christian Howes took place on Tuesday, October 12. Aside from my October column, there was very little advance publicity for this, which led to the unfortunate result that there was only a small audience, including myself and my daughters. As it was a school night, we could not stay for the entire performance. We did enjoy Howes and his colleagues, Cedric Easton on drums and Hamilton Hardin on keys. Most of the songs we heard were not announced, so pardon the lack of titles. Howes introduced a very funky number by playing his instrument almost as if it were a guitar, and in fact switched to electric bass for the keyboard solo (which he did for several other numbers as well). A soulful ballad was next, followed by a dazzling display by Howes on a mid-tempo funk piece, during which he not only switched to electric bass, but took a solo on it as well. We left after a ballad, with appreciation to the management and staff of the Comedy Caravan for making this possible. Howes' new CD is Out of the Blue, on Resonance (www.resonancerecords.com). It features guest guitarist Robben Ford, organist Bobby Floyd and others. He also will play the Blue Wisp on Saturday, October 30.
SELECTED CLUB AND OTHER LISTINGS
The Comedy Caravan, 1250 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40204, 502-45922 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 November 8. The West Market Street Stompers will delight lovers of traditional jazz every 4th Monday, November 22 this time. Please contact the club for any post-deadline information.
The Seelbach Jazz Bar, ( S. Fourth Street, 502-585-3), 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.
The Jazz Kitchen (5377 N College Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220; phone: 317-253-4; www.thejazzkitchen.com), presents nightly offerings of local and regional jazz; check the website for the full schedule and updates. Of special note is the ensemble of drummer Ignacio Berroa, on Friday, November 12:
The November schedule for the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241-WISP), includes: Saturday, October 30: violinist Christian Howes; Thursday, November 4: violinist Zach Brock (see above for details on his Louisville performance); Friday, November 5: guitarist Gene Bertoncini with Phil Degreg; and, for the curious, Sunday, November 7 Peter Tork (yes, the former Monkee) and Shoe Suede Blues $15. Also coming: Friday, November 12 and Sunday the 14th: trombonist Jon Fedchock, with drummer Jeff Hamilton and his trio November 13. Frank Vignola's excellent guitar work is featured on the 23rd, and guitarist Roni Ben-Hur November 27. Wednesdays remain the province of the Blue Wisp Big Band. For details and the full schedule, the website is: www.thebluewisp.com.
The Redmoor, Mt. Lookout Square, 3187 Linwood Avenue, in Cincinnati, 513-871-6789, www.jazzincincy.com. A road trip-worthy show is guitarist Wilbert Longmire on November 11.
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).
EIGHTH NOTES: NEW FROM THE ARCHIVES
While the heading may be oxymoronic, it describes the following releases.
Miles Davis - Bitches Brew 40th Anniversary Legacy Edition (Sony/Columbia) This two-LP set broke the burgeoning field of fusion, or jazz-rock, out of the closet. I have gone through two vinyl copies, the original CD release, an expanded CD release, and splurged on the Complete Bitches Brew box set. What this new edition offers are previously unreleased takes of "Spanish Key" and "John McLaughlin" together with single edits of three songs. Most importantly, there is a third disc, a DVD of Miles in Copenhagen in 1969, with a blistering performance by a lineup with Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. They weave through 69 minutes of songs from the not-yet-released album, as well as startling takes on older pieces such as "Agitation" and "I Fall in Love Too Easily." the camera work is superb, and show how Miles, with a nod or glance, and a brief musical "code," could direct his band from one piece into the next. As the 3-disc set is modestly priced, even those with prior releases may wish to consider picking this up for the DVD. A high priced "Collector's Edition" includes the tree "Legacy" edition discs, audiophile vinyl pressings of the original material, extra art and notes and, most significantly, a CD of Miles live at Tanglewood in 1970. I can only hope that Tanglewood will find its way to release in a more accessible way, unencumbered by the expensive extras.
The Grateful Dead - Road Trips Vol. 3, No. 4: Penn State/Cornell ‘80 and Formerly the Warlocks Box Set (www.deadnet.com) This new pair of releases bookends the 1980s. The Penn State and Cornell material was recorded May 6 and 7, 1980, while the "Warlocks" covers the now legendary October 8-9, 1989 performances in Hampton, Virginia. The lineup remained stable during this decade, but the sound became, for lack of a better term, thicker. The drummers in played more in sync with each other, with fewer fills and accents (excluding the percussion "Rhythm Devils" segments), while Garcia's voice was noticeably changing to that of a prematurely old man. The 1980 release is a 3-CD set, with Disc I being an amalgamated "first set" culled from the two concerts, while the second set from each night is presented virtually complete on the second and third discs. In a way, this was still the late 70s Dead, despite the addition of keyboardist/vocalist Brent Mydland. Their band stretches out on older material such as "He's Gone>The Other One," as well as relatively newer material such as "Shakedown Street" and "Terrapin Station." the band seems confident as it navigates the twists and turns from song to song. By 1989, much of the spark was missing. However, for the Hampton shows, they played incognito under their original name, the Warlocks," in an attempt to minimize hassles from the local powers-that-be based on unruly fan behavior in prior years. This time, in addition to then-current material, the Dead went back to the well, thrilling the crowd with a stunning sequence of "Playing in the Band" into "Uncle John's Band" into a 19-minute "Dark Star(!)." In an era when many jams were cut short, the boys in the band proved they could still, as the lyrics to "Stella Blue" go, "Dust off those rusty strings just one more time/Gonna make em shine." Other standouts in this 6-disc box include the return of a closing "Morning Dew" and "We Bid You Goodnight." From my perspective, as one who "got on the bus" here in Louisville at Bellarmine in 1968, the Warlocks set is a welcome addition to the discography, shining new light on pieces from the early days.
LOCAL JAZZ CONTACTS
With two twelve-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 email@example.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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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: email@example.com, guitarist Jeff Sherman;
RON JONES: www.ronjonesquartet.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, saxophonist Ron Jones;
STEVE CREWS: www.jazzcrews.com, email@example.com, pianist Steve Crews.
I am always interested in your comments. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.