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Is J#$% a 4-letter Word?
Can one say (shh) "jazz" in polite company? I have been following the controversy over Nicholas Payton's blogging about how "jazz" as a term is, at best, outmoded. As he states, "I am not dissing an art form. I am dissing the name, Jazz." Recently, I have watched an interview with Gary Bartz, who also has problems with the j-word, and noticed in Marcus Strickland's recent e-mail to his list that he states: " Triumph of the Heavy, Vol. 1& 2 [reviewed here last month] receives very good ink in J***Times, Downbeat, J*** Magazine, to name a few!" Are any of you out there following this? What do you think?
UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE JAZZ FEST
My comments on this great lineup of concerts, featuring Fábio Calazans Sextet, U of L's Brazilian Ensemble, legendary bassist Eddie Gomez, U of L Jazz Ensemble I, directed by John La Barbera, and Lou Donaldson is scheduled for a forthcoming edition of DownBeat . I will just mention that all three nights were great, and kudos to all those at U of L who made it happen.
JAVA MEN REUNION AT THE RUDYARD KIPLING
The venerable Rudyard Kipling in Old Louisville was unexpectedly packed for a 20th Anniversary reunion of the original lineup of the Java Men: Todd Hildreth on keyboard, Craig Wagner on guitar, and Ray Rizzo on drums, produced by the Louisville Jazz Society. In fact, the large turnout was so unexpected that some food items ran out, and there was a staff shortage. This is not a swipe at the Rud, but a positive note that jazz, even on a Sunday evening, can bring out lots of folks. Guitarist Brandon Coleman, a fellow LJS board member, opened with his trio, including his University of Louisville colleagues Luke McIntosh - acoustic bass, and Bruno "Gafanhoto" Souza - drums. Regrettably, rounding up my daughters to come with me made me a little late, and I missed all but the last tune, "The Way You Look Tonight." Fortunately, Coleman recorded the concert and has put it up for free (or freewill donation) download (lossy mp3 or CD quality FLAC) at http://brandoncoleman.bandcamp.com/album/magic-live-at-the-rudyard-kipling.
The Java Men kicked off with the Eddie Arnold via Ray Charles classic, "You Don't Know Me," and didn't let up. "Cellophane Mary," a funky midtempo piece, gave Wagner the chance to wow the audience with this tasteful shredding (not an oxymoron). The midtempo waltz "Big Ben" was followed by a Wagner ballad, "The Only Peace I Know." The tango "Hip Like Me" was up next, leaving one to wonder where Hildreth's accordion was. I didn't catch the title of the subsequent song, but it had a jaunty, danceable groove, seemingly inspired by the sounds of both Carnaval and Highlife, held down by Rizzo. As it was a school night, we had to leave then, but most of the crowd was able to remain for this all-too-rare combination of hometown heroes.
ON THE HORIZON
On Sunday, April 1, the Friends of the U of L School of Music present their Jumpin' Jive fundraiser. Admission includes silent auction, dinner, dancing to the Jumpin' Jive Orchestra composed of students from our Jazz Studies program conducted by John La Barbera. Henry Clay Building, 604 S. Third St., 4th Floor Beaux Arts Ballroom. Lower price admission for after-dinner dance only. RSVP 502-896-0330 or UofLFOSM@aol.com. Further details at: http://us4.campaign-archive1.com/?u=e08310f56f96b920be6d8b132&id=9e948fae94&e=38dc462310
RED BARAAT AT THE KENTUCKY CENTER
Regrettably, at least as of deadline time, there has been very little publicity about this concert. Red Baraat is self-described as the "first and only dhol 'n' brass band in North America, melding the infectious North Indian rhythm Bhangra with brass funk and expressing the human spirit through improvisation and a powerful live sound. Led by dholi Sunny Jain, Red Baraat is comprised of dhol (double-sided, barrel-shaped North Indian drum slung over one shoulder), drumset, percussion, sousaphone, and five horns . . .." They were a big hit at the 2011 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and rightly so. Their sound might be described as a blend of Indian popular music, New Orleans second-line, and a even what sounds like a touch of Klezmer. More information on this exciting band is available at their website, www.redbaraat.com, where samples of their music are available. A downloadable live show, in mp3, lossless FLAC, and other formats, is available inexpensively through the site. The Louisville performance is at the Kentucky Center, Bomhard Theater, on Thursday, April 12. More ticket information may be found at www.kentuckycenter.org, or by calling 502-584-7777, 502-562-0730 (TTY) or, if you're outside Louisville, 1-800-775-7777.
LOUISVILLE JAZZ SOCIETY CONCERT SERIES NEW SHOWS
The Louisville Jazz Society's monthly series continues with the U of L Brazilian Ensemble on April 22, and the Steve Crews Quartet on May 20. Both concerts are at the Rudyard Kipling, 422 W. Oak Street, 502-636-1311, and begin at 6:30, with doors open at 5:30, and a cover of only $5.00. More information at www.louisvillejazz.org.
LAURENCE HOBGOOD TRIO WITH ERNIE WATTS AT KCD APRIL 7: PREVIEW AND INTERVIEW
The Louisville Jazz Society is delighted to announce that pianist Laurence Hobgood will be bringing his trio, with special guest Ernie Watts, to the Kentucky Country Day School for one night only, Saturday April 7. Hobgood is best known as the longtime pianist and arranger for Kurt Elling, and has recorded several albums under his own name. Watts' career includes soundtracks, sophisticated pop/rock with Steely Dan and Frank Zappa, and jazz with Charlie Haden's Quartet West, as well as on his own. They will be joined by bassist Matthew Rybicki and drummer Jared Schonig. Tickets at www.kcd.org/theater
Hobgood was excited to talk about his upcoming tour. MK: "Talk to us about your approach to leading your own group, because a lot of people see you as Kurt Elling's sideman." LH: "What I've been chiefly known for with Kurt is my arranging, and I've been composing my own music for a very long time. We won't be playing all original music, but that will be the emphasis. In working with Kurt, and even starting before, one of the things that's important to figure out is a sense of really great programming. Having had 16 years of touring all over the world with Kurt, and to be a part of the solving of that puzzle again and again with him, we've learned how to program a show so that time just sort of flies by." He said that they have achieved that to such an effect that sometimes people have asked why they played such a short show when in fact they had done a full hour and a half."
He added, "We feel we're telling stories with music, that's what makes it meaningful, not just a bunch of notes flying around. The way we interact as an ensemble pulls an audience into the story."
MK: "You have quite a history going back with Ernie Watts, can you tell us about that?" LH: "Our first international touring, in 1995, we (Kurt Elling and our band) were in Nice, France in 1995, . . . and by and large nobody had heard of us." Although he said the group was not treated well by some then, "we found ourselves sharing a shuttle with Ernie Watts. It was so pronounced how beautiful and open Ernie was." Over the years, their relationship developed in to a friendship, and "when it came time to launch the Dedicated To You project (Elling's Grammy-winning 2009 tribute to the famed John Coltrane/Johnny Hartman collaboration), we wanted to have an 'elder statesman,' and we contacted Ernie and he was really up for it." Now, "every time I play with Ernie, it's a revelation anew . . . he's just absolutely, jaw-droppingly amazing, what comes out of his horn."
Hobgood said that among the original pieces which he plans to play is "Prayer for Mr. Davis," a requiem for Miles Davis to which Elling added lyrics. "The newest piece is one which I'm just putting the finishing touches on, for my brother, who had a debilitating stroke last November. Not surprisingly, an emotional event spurs painters to paint and poets to write poetry, and musicians to write new songs."
Throughout the course of his interview, Hobgood returned to the theme of planning a set with care. Louisville audiences will be fortunate to be able to take this journey with Hobgood and his group
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). Also, he has 10 free songs to download from the Smithsonian Folkways Mickey Hart Collection (including Mickey, Babatunde Olatunji, the Gyuto Monks Tantric Choir, and more) - go to www.MickeyHart.net/download
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 (Bruce 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 featuring 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; added since last month's column: Allen Stone, Karl Denson, Luther Dickinson, Hairy Apes BMX, 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 has been performing the third Monday of each month, but at deadline time, this was not listed at the club's site, so please check it out as it gets updated; if the tradition continues, it will be April 16. 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 the Fareed Haque/Tony Monaco Trio on April 6-7; Laurence Hobgood Trio Featuring Ernie Watts on April 9; the Joshua Redman/Brad Mehldau Duo on April 11; and Red Baraat on April 14.
The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, is now at 700 Race St. (513-241-WISP). Animation featuring Bob Belden performs April 6-7. 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.
John Scofield: A Moment's Peace (Emarcy , www.emarcy.com )
MSMW (Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood): In Case the World Changes Its Mind (Indirecto Records, www.mmw.com)
John Scofield is an artist who continues to stay fresh by engaging in new projects, in different styles, while retaining his signature sound. These two new releases provide further proof of his versatility. On A Moment's Peace , the guitarist is joined by Larry Goldings (organ and piano), Scott Colley (bass) and Brian Blade (drums), for a set of five originals and seven interpretations of other composers' songs. The title suggests the low key approach, with Sco and company beginning with the delicate "Simply Put" and following that with the Beatles' "I Will," with Goldings providing subtle organ accompaniment. A special treat is the probing exploration of Abbey Lincoln's "Throw It Away." On Billy Eckstine's classic "I Want to Talk About You," the band's gorgeous rendition builds in intensity, finding release in an a cappella guitar coda, calling to mind John Coltrane's renditions. Among the originals, "Mood Returns" has a knotty piano solo with subtle drums, and "Already September" is a lovely ballad.
In contrast, In Case the World Changes Its Mind is a burning live 2-CD set, featuring almost two hours of jamming, mostly on pieces previously recorded in the studio by this lineup. "A Go Go," the title track of their first collaboration, is a funky invitation to dance. The slow and spooky "Deadzy" is up next, which is followed by a fast blues shuffle, "What Now.""Tootie Ma Is a Big Fine Thing" is loose-limbed N'awlins funk. "Cachaca" gives bassist Chris Wood a chance to shine. Most of the songs are long, yet remain more focused than some of MMW's explorations on their own. In short, John Medeski's keys, Billy Martin's drums and percussion, and Wood's electric and acoustic bass join forces with one of our preeminent guitarists for a memorable outing.
Santana: Greatest Hits Live At Montreux 2011 (Eagle Rock DVD, www.eagle-rock.com)
This is a 2-DVD set of the Santana Band at last summer's Montreux Jazz Festival. Carlos Santana has been a frequent draw at this annual event, both fronting his namesake band and in other projects. As expected from the title of this offering, classics such as Santana's medley of Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman"> Gabor Szabo's "Gypsy Queen"> Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va" are here, as well as "Evil Ways," which segues into the first movement of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" ("Acknowledgment"). More recent favorites, including ""Smooth" are here as well. For jazz fans, though, there may well be more interest in the invocational opening "Spark of the Divine," the solid Latin groove of "Foo Foo" and the classic "Europa," coupled here with "I Want You." Over the course of more than two and a half hours, Carlos generously features the members of his large ensemble, plus his wife Cindy Blackman Santana on several songs, including a long duet with longtime bassist Benny Rietveld. Just as many jazz instrumentalists like to quote from other songs in their solos, so too does Santana, weaving strains of "Third Stone from the Sun" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" into BMW>GQ and "Into the Night," respectively. Listen for "Blues March" during the closing band intros. All in all, this concert shows Santana the man and the band as a bearer of the musical torch. For more jazz-oriented Santana DVDs, I recommend Carlos Santana & Wayne Shorter - Live at Montreux (1988) and Santana: Hymns For Peace - Live at Montreux 2004 (2007), the latter of which features lengthy guest appearances by Shorter, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and others.
Donald Harrison/Ron Carter/Billy Cobham: This Is Jazz (HalfNote 4550)
The title may be a tad presumptuous, but the music here is great. New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison, elder statesman Ron Carter on bass, and legendary drummer Billy Cobham turn in a solid performance of originals and standards on this live 2011 performance from New York's Blue Note. Cobham shows he can rein in the groundbreaking fusion-style drumming which made him an integral part of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, even showing his chops on brushes on the opening "Cut & Paste." "MSRP" is a Monk-ish blues, which swings hard. Carter is the sole player on a beautiful rendition of "You Are My Sunshine," which serves as an introduction to "Seven Steps to Heaven." They take their time on their lovely rendition of the gorgeous classic "I Can't Get Started," before turning New York into New Orleans with the second-line strut of Harrison's strutting "Treme Swagger." The musicians make the spare trio setting sound full through their interplay.
Stanley Clarke: The Complete 1970s Epic Albums Collection (Sony Legacy, www.legacyrecordings.com)
Forty years on, it's sometimes hard to remember that Stanley Clarke burst on the recording scene as a young virtuoso, recording alongside Pharaoh Sanders and Gato Barbieri, before beginning to become known as part of Chick Corea's newly formed Return to Forever. This 6-album, 7-disc collection, chronicles Clarke's rise as a leader. The earlier albums span influences ranging from Corea's to big band, always with an emphasis on Clarke's proficient skills on both acoustic and electric bass. Perhaps his best known album, School Days, is great fun, with the title track a fusion classic. I Wanna Play for You remains an oddity, with its mix of studio and live tracks. While the later albums in the box show a move toward the R&B and pop he would soon embrace (before returning to his roots), the Live 1976-1977 disc serves as a way to end the period in fine form. He puts the fun back in funky with his amazing runs on "School Days," Lopsy Lu," and more, while showing that he could play with gentle assurance on "Quiet Afternoon" (which always reminded me of Maria Muldaur's "Midnight at the Oasis"). "Bass Folk Song No. 3" and "Desert Song" (with guest John McLaughlin) illustrate how, in the midst of an onslaught of electric slamming, Clarke could bow and pluck the acoustic bass with warmth and melodic grace. As with the other sets in this series, there is a booklet with complete personnel listings, and each CD is in a cardboard reproduction of the original album cover.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org, guitarist Jeff Sherman;
RON JONES: www.ronjonesquartet.com, email@example.com, saxophonist Ron Jones;
STEVE CREWS: www.jazzcrews.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, pianist Steve Crews.
1) I am always interested in your comments. Contact me at email@example.com.