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March 2012 Articles
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Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDE:

I. R.I.P. Reid Jahn

Saxophonist Reid Jahn left us all too soon. Guitarist Pat Lentz set up a memorial for him at Clifton's Pizza on Monday, February 3, which included many musicians and friends. Back around 1976 or so, I had the pleasure of playing with Reid, Kurt Bendl and, if memory serves, Carol St. Clair. Somewhere there are some rough cassettes of our music, and I will treasure the times I had the opportunity to make music with him.

II. R.I.P. Sam Rivers

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Sam Rivers passed away in December after a long and productive life. He was a major force in the New York loft scene of the 1970s and later moved to Florida. Somewhere circa 1974 he performed with his trio, consisting of himself, Dave Holland on bass, and Barry Altschul on drums, in a long-defunct club here on Main Street. There were maybe twice as many people in the audience as in the trio, yet I clearly remember how the musicians played their collective hearts out notwithstanding the lack of attendance.

RECENT CONCERTS

JANE MONHEIT AT THE CLIFTON CENTER

Singer Jane Monheit brought her artful mix of jazz and cabaret to the Clifton Center on Friday, January 27. Her trio consists of pianist Michael Kanan, bassist Neal Miner, and drummer (and husband) Rick Montalbano. Her repertoire is taken primarily from the Great American Songbook, as evidenced by her opening with "Old Devil Moon" and continuing with such songs as "There's a Small Hotel." She tackled the jazz canon more directly with her 90 MPH, spot-on version of "Twisted." She and Kanan hammed it up for "I Wish You Well," which followed his arrangement of "I Get Along Without You Very Well." The final song of the second set was a gorgeous rendition of "Some Other Time," followed by an encore of the rollicking "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead." Throughout the course of the two sets, her voice ranged from jazzy to theatrical, while her musicians were given enough freedom during the instrumental passages to show off their jazz chops without going over the top. Many of the songs came from her 2010 release, Home , her tenth album in as many years. Monheit commented favorably on the venue, and was gracious enough to join members and friends of the Louisville Jazz Society for an after-show meet 'n' greet.

LIONEL LOUEKE AT UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE

On Friday, February 3, Benin-born and Berklee-educated guitarist Lionel Loueke won over an audience at U of L's Comstock Hall with an engaging performance featuring his long-time bandmates, Massimo Biolcati on bass and Ferenc Nemeth on drums. They opened with their very fresh take on the standard "Skylark," from Loueke's CD Karibu .. Loueke's solo introduction led to ensemble playing which, in turn, opened up for a bass solo which built in intensity before resolving into gentle yet insistent trio work. Another album track, from Mwaliko , "Griot," naturally brought in some of the African influences, featuring Nemeth's staccato drumming and the leader's singing, which apparently was multiplied through an echo device, but still sounded natural rather than gimmicky. Another piece from Karibu , entitled "Seven Teens," was named for its 17-beat cycle, and led to Loueke in turn challenging Biolcati and Nemeth in duets, each of whom stood their ground admirably. Loueke continued his international brand of jazz over the course of several more songs, some featuring his vocal "clicking" accompaniment to his playing. For a well-deserved encore, they performed a song Loueke wrote for peace, entitled "No More War in this World," a fitting sentiment to close a night full of music from musicians from around the world.

ON THE HORIZON

LOUISVILLE JAZZ SOCIETY CONCERT SERIES: JAVA MEN AND MORE

The Louisville Jazz Society's monthly series took February off so as not to compete with the University of Louisville presentations of Lionel Loueke, Fabio Calazans, Eddie Gomez, and Lou Donaldson. At deadline time, three new shows have been announced, all on Sundays at the Rudyard Kipling: Java Men on March 11, the U of L Brazilian Ensemble for April 22, and Steve Crews May 20. More information at www.louisvillejazz.org.

BILL FRISELL AT THE CLIFTON CENTER

The eclectic jazz guitarist Bill Frisell comes back to Louisville on March 29 for a concert with his longstanding trio, featuring Kenny Wolleson on drums and Tony Scherr on bass, along with trumpeter Ron Miles, another frequent collaborator. Over the course of some three decades of recording, both as a leader and a sideman, he has produced dozens of albums, with music ranging from edgy fusion to Chet Atkins-flavored jazz, and more. The most recent, All We Are Saying (Savoy), is a tribute to John Lennon. This is a concert not to be missed by jazz fans and guitar lovers. More information on Frisell can be found at his website www.billfrisell.com. The Clifton Center is at the corner of Frankfort Avenue and Payne Streets; venue and ticket information is at www.cliftoncenter.org; or call 502-896-8480.

MICKEY HART AT HEADLINERS

Best known as part of the double drum team of the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart has been recording under his own name for four decades, now. His new band has been touring and recording, with the new CD, Mysterium Tremendum (on his own 360° Records), scheduled for release on April 10, which is the kickoff date for his tour, right here in Louisville at Headliners. Early reports of the new music are intriguing, and those interested may want to preview recent performances at the Live Music Archive, www.archive.org/details/etree (with approval of Mickey and his management).

NEW ORLEANS JAZZ AND HERITAGE FESTIVAL

Why is it that some Louisvillians are MIA during Derby Week? There's a contingent that loves the music, food and ambiance of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The dates are April 25-27, and May 3-6. I was at the very first as a Tulane student, when there were more performers than audience members (!), and have gone every year from 1980-2011 (except for 1999-2002, as my daughters were born in Oct '98). While there are lots of big name pop artists (Springsteen, Eagles, Beach Boys, Tom Petty, Foo Fighters . . . ), I always concentrate on the jazz, which this year includes Herbie Hancock , David Sanborn and Joey DeFrancesco , Cubano Be, Cubano Bop: Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Band feat. Terence Blanchard , Regina Carter's "Reverse Thread" and many local heroes, such as Astral Project, Ellis Marsalis, and on and on. Ticket information and detailed schedules are available at www.nojazzfest.com.

There is also music galore at night and during the "Daze Between." The best one-shot place to see what the venues are offering is www.jazzfestgrids.com, which is regularly updated as more clubs fill in their dates between now and Jazzfest. At this writing, some series have been announced, including "Boogalooin' at Jazzfest," sponsored by San Francisco's Boom Boom Room, all taking place at the Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street. An amazing array of artists will be featured from April 26-May 1, including the Stanton Moore Trio with Will Bernard; "Worship My Organ" featuring Marco Benevento, Robert Walter, Adam Deitch, Skerik; Dr. Lonnie Smith with Donald Harrison, Will Bernard, Herlin Riley, Wil Blades; and more: full schedule and tix at www.boomboomtickets.com/evlist.php?vstate=LA&events=search. A more rock and funk oriented series, mostly at the Republic, is the First Annual Nolafunk Jazzfest Series, with 7 Walkers, Anders Osborne, EOTO, Leftover Salmon, Los Lobos, Rebirth Brass Band, and more; info at http://www.nolafunk.com/nolafunk/nola.

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 will perform on Monday, March 19. 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; 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. Some road trips might be advised for trumpeter Ingrid Jensen on March 3; flutist Dave Valentin on March 4, Benny Golson with Steve Allee on March 10; and Chuck Loeb Plain N' Simple on March 24 (CD reviewed here last month) with more great shows in early April, including Fareed Haque with Tony Monaco on April 6-7, and the Joshua Redman/Brad Mehldau Duo on April 11.

The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, is now at 700 Race St. (513-241-WISP). Friday March 2 features the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey , with saxophonist Greg Abate on March 16-17, and saxophonist Ernie Krivda on the 30th. The rest of the month features 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 LEO and the Louisville Music News' monthly music listings, in print and online, www.louisvillemusicnews.net.

EIGHTH NOTES

Marcus Strickland:

Marcus Strickland: Triumph of the Heavy Volume 1 & 2 (Strick Muzic SMK 005-6, www.MarcusStrickland.com)

Saxophonist Marcus Strickland has made at least two appearances here in Louisville, at U of L's 2005 Jazz Week as part of Roy Haynes' ensemble, and this past April as a member of METTA QUINTET. On this, his most recent outing as a leader, he utilizes the talents of his twin brother E.J. Strickland on drums, along with bassist Ben Williams and pianist David Bryant on Volume (Disc) 1, a studio recording, with only E.J. and Williams on Volume (Disc) 2, a live outing. On each disc, all the songs are originals by the leader, except for Karriem Riggins' Virgo" on I and Jaco Pastorius' Portrait of Tracy" on II. The quartet outings are generally shorter pieces, which tend to showcase composition over improvisation. "Lilt" opens Disc I in an upbeat manner which is exploratory but not too far out. Rolling drums and lyrical soprano evoke the title of the song "Dawn." With the pared-down trio work on Disc II, there is more room for stretching out, as exemplified in "Gaudi." Especially on the second disc, there is a frequent use of backbeat drumming which nonetheless sounds more "jazzy" than "funky." Strickland seems to enjoy composing and playing along the musical edge where mainstream modern and avant-garde meet, providing music that is challenging without the propensity to lose the listener.

Grateful Dead

Dave's Picks Vol. 1, The Mosque, Richmond, VA 5/25/77 (R2-529201, www.dead.net)

This 3-CD set marks the beginning of the Dead's new archival series, "Dave's Picks" (for David Lemieux, the successor to vault-keeper Dick Latvala). This series is limited to 12,000 numbered copies, and at deadline (no pun intended) time, there were 700 copies left. This is a 3-CD set from the much-loved Spring 1977 tour, with crisp recording and excellent playing. Even the first set, frequently a warm-up for the band and audience, contains gems such as opening with an almost 11-minute "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo," and a very pretty interpretation of the traditional Scottish ballad "Peggy-O." The second set covers two discs, and contains such improvisational vehicles as "Scarlet Begonias" flowing effortlessly into "Fire on the Mountain." The real treat is the extravaganza on disc 3, with a fadeup from the drum duet (ending disc 2) into a 15-minute "The Other One" which finds its way into the tale of the down-and outer in "Wharf Rat," and rolls back in to a reprise of "The Other One" and on into "The Wheel." Two Chuck Berry rockers bring the energy level back up. What I find especially intriguing is that by this time in their career, the jamming on "The Other One," with its rolling drum patterns, was frequently cut short; by the end of their career, what had once stretched easily into intense 20 or 30 minute workouts was so truncated that it was like a radio edit. Here they revert to the energy and enthusiasm of their early days, and in so doing turn the first entry of the new series into a keeper.

Wes Montgomery

Echoes of Indiana Avenue (Resonance HCD-2011, www.resonancerecords.org)

This may well be the first single-CD "box set" I have seen. This album is a compilation of previously unreleased recordings from the guitar master, predating his emergence as a recording artist in 1959. The CD comes with a 24-page booklet, with historical photos and a wealth of information in a readable font (not always the case these days). Essays and appreciations include writings by such notables as producer Michael Cuscuna, writers Dan Morgenstern, Dr. David Baker, and Bill Milkowski, an appreciation by Pat Martino, and reminiscences by brother Monk Montgomery. The music itself, of course, is superb, albeit some of the recording quality is not fully professional. There are both studio and club recordings, which show Montgomery's early mastery of jazz an tunes such as "Round Midnight," with slow and moody organ backing, and the following piano/bass-backed "Straight, No Chaser." A personal favorite is the final track, an original blues improvisation simply entitled "After Hours Blues." Here Montgomery gets down for an appreciative audience, with no frills playing that digs deeper and deeper with each chorus. The release of this album is a labor of love, and should be appreciated by all jazz lovers, especially guitarists.

Marilyn Mazur

Celestial Circle (ECM 2228, www.ecmrecords.com)

While one might expect lots of rhythmic workouts on a percussionist-led date, Miles Davis alumna Marilyn Mazur takes a far different approach on her new recording. She is joined by pianist John Taylor, vocalist Josefine Cronholm, and bassist Anders Jormin for a series of compositions which are subtle and ethereal rather than in your face. It should be noted that this is a working group, not a just-for-recording ensemble. Mazur's array of drums, cymbals, chimes and more are used to create moods rather than to set up dance beats. Her fellow musicians play and sing with spare economy, leaving the listener to be embraced by the music. This is an album of subtle beauty.

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

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

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