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RIP Scott Henderson
Louisville guitarist Scott Henderson passed away at the young age of 53. His playing and teaching touched many, and several musicians at the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Workshop concerts offered tributes to him, both in words and music.
RIP Uncle Lionel
Lionel Batiste, a much-loved icon of New Orleans, recently passed away at the age of 80. Better known to many as "Uncle Lionel," he was the drummer for the Treme Brass Band. His image was featured on the 2010 Jazzfest Congo Square poster. At deadline time, his burial and funeral parade had been postponed due to heavy rains. By the time this appears, there will probably be footage on Youtube, which should be fascinating both for lovers of the traditions of New Orleans, as well as newcomers to the unique blend of sadness and joy which characterizes the jazz funeral.
Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop Faculty Concerts
The first two weeks of July are always amazing for local jazz aficionados. Jamey Aebersold has been presenting summer workshops for decades and presents nightly concerts by internationally known faculty members, this year including bassist Rufus Reid, drummer Ed Soph, guitarist Dave Stryker, saxophonists Dave Liebman, Eric Alexander and Jim Snidero, and many more. I was able to attend several nights over the two-week period. Each night's concert consisted of three ensembles, performing for some 45 minutes apiece. Merely reciting the names of each set's players would take a huge amount of space and time, so I will reluctantly decline to offer a "play-by-play" description. Without offense to the many superb players I saw, I would like to call out some of the personal highlights. Dave Stryker seemed ubiquitous, and dedicated "Body and Soul" on July 2 to the memory of Scott Henderson. On July 3, Dick Sisto, Rufus Reid, Steve Allee, and Ed Soph played a killer set, including Reid's lovely ballad "When She Smiles Upon Your Face."
On July 5, Mike Tracy, Craig Wagner, David Friesen, Dan Haerle (piano) and Jason Tiemann meshed well on a set that included Friesen's arrangement of "All Blues." They were followed by a series of duo performances, starting with the superb atmospheric guitar playing of Fred Hamilton performing an ECM-like rendition of Tom Harrell's "Moon Alley" with trumpeter Pat Harbison. Louisville native John Goldsby, excellent in many performances earlier in the series, joined Andy LaVerne for a new LaVerne composition, "Faith," followed by Aebersold himself, working out on a series of blues with Jonathan Higgins. That night closed with the dynamic lineup of saxophonists Eric Alexander and Jim Snidero, trombonist Steve Davis, and the trio of Allee, Tyrone Wheeler, and Higgins. They hit hard with the opening "Why Indianapolis, Why Not Indianapolis" by J.J. Johnson, and didn't let up.
The series closed with an amazing performance by Dave Liebman (who also commented on Scott Henderson's passing), joined by Reid, Soph, and, on different numbers, pianists Phil DeGreg, Haerle, and Allee. The 45th anniversary of John Coltrane's passing was Lieb's theme, and he reimagined "Bye Bye Blackbird" with freer rhythms, blew the blues away on "Village Blues" and gently interpreted "Naima" with only Haerle at his side. The climax was the reading of "Joy," from Trane's late period ("particularly of interest to me,"said Liebman), which ultimately segued into the opening movement of "A Love Supreme," "Acknowledgment." Thanks to Aebersold, and all the others involved, for making such world-class music available, for free no less, to the Louisville public.
Diana Krall At The Kentucky Center
To some in the jazz world, like some in the indie rock world, popular acceptance is inevitably equated with selling out. Thus, to some, pianist and singer Diana Krall must be just a hyped pop artist, or some such. I respectfully disagree. I have had the pleasure of seeing her perform back in 2004 at the Louisville Palace, and in 2008 (was it that long ago?) at Jazzfest. She played to a large audience at the Whitney Hall in the The Kentucky Center on Sunday, July 15, with a varied setlist that was heavy on the American Songbook ("I've Grown Accustomed to His Face" and "Cheek to Cheek," for example), but included pieces by the Beatles ("Come Together" with a "Hey Bulldog" tease at the end and the gorgeous "For No One"), and Bob Dylan ("Simple Twist of Fate") as well. She was joined by longtime bandmates Anthony Wilson on guitar, Robert Hurst on bass, (both of whom were with her here in '04), and more recent addition Karriem Riggins on drums. Looking at some setlists from other concerts on this tour, it's clear that in addition to her improvisational abilities, both vocally and on piano, Krall also likes to improvise her program choices from night to night. While many of the songs reappear, others differ from night to night. She delighted the audience here with a stride introduction to "'Deed I Do," and quoted "Sing, Sing Sing" into her moving rendition of Tom Waits' "Jockey Full of Bourbon." Wilson's guitar sang and cried, Hurst provided both foundation and melodic support, and Riggins displayed his mastery of both sticks and brushes. Kudos to the Kentucky Center for including jazz in its programming.
Tedeschi Trucks Band at Iroquois Amphitheater
After years of touring with their own bands, sometimes as co-bills, the husband and wife team of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi have formed an eleven-piece ensemble with a powerful, soulful sound. They played to a packed, if soggy house at the Iroquois Amphitheater on Thursday, July 19, following an evening of major storms. Between the stress of the weather and a glitch at the box office, once inside I decided to just keep my notebook in my pocket and enjoy the experience. And enjoy I did. Early on, the Lovin' Spoonful's "Darling Be Home Soon" was by turns soulful and, in Trucks' soloing, exotic. TTB nailed the Bobby "Blue" Bland classic "That Did It," with passionate vocals and guitar work by Tedeschi. Stevie Wonder's "Uptight" was a joyful romp. This was a superb concert by a band which just keeps getting better and better.
ON THE HORIZON
Zach Brock, Harry Pickens and Ben Sollee at the Kentucky Center
On August 18, the Kentucky Center presents a 25th Anniversary Governors School for the Arts Alumni Showcase, with violinist Zach Brock (GSA 1991), pianist Harry Pickens, cellist Ben Sollee, and more. There are events on the lobby before the 7:30 show time. Details are available at www.kentuckycenter.org/Events/25th-Anniversary-GSA-Alumni-Showcase/9260#tab-show-information-link. The box office phone numbers are 502-584-7777, 1-800-775-7777, and 502-562-0730 (TTY).
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, and is scheduled for August 20. Please contact the club for any post-deadline information.
New Listing : Decca Restaurant , (812 East Market Street, 502-749-8128, http://deccarestaurant.com) is now featuring jazz and other music. August jazz offerings include The Jazz Buzzards every Monday night, Fattlabb on August 3, and Charlie's Bird (jazz?) on August 4.
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; Squeeze-bot is back on Sundays, and you can 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. At (post-) deadline time, the August calendar still had lots of openings; the one national act I saw was the Hot Club of Detroit , on August 18.
The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, is now at 700 Race St. (513-241-WISP). August 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: PART 1, JAZZ FACTORY ENCORE
> Seeds from the Underground (Mack Avenue MAC1063)
More than four years after its closing, the Jazz Factory's homepage (http://www.jazzfactory.us) displays a picture of Kenny Garrett, who tore down the house when he played there. More recently, Garrett made the cover of the June DownBeat, in conjunction with the release of this new album. In some ways, it reminds me of his 2002 release, Happy People, with many of the songs being bright and accessible, without crossing over into fuzak. The leadoff track, "Boogety Boogety," is an example, with an upbeat feel and sax work that could be enjoyed by both jazz aficionados and, I believe, newcomers to the genre. Garrett digs deeper on the highly syncopated "Wiggins" (for Bill Wiggins, his high school band director), and approaches Coltrane-like intensity on "Haynes Here" (for Roy Haynes). His band is in fine form throughout, with Benito Gonzales on piano, Nat Reeves on bass, Ronald Bruner on drums, and Rudy Bird on percussion. Vocalist Nedelka Prescod adds wordless vocals to a few tracks, as well. Straightahead fans will especially be taken by the accented swinging of "Du-Wo-Mo" (for Duke Ellington, Woody Shaw and Thelonious Monk). "Welcome Earth Song" sounds like a tribute to Pharoah Sanders, with whom Garrett recorded Sketches of MD, with its life-affirming and uplifting global rhythms and vocal choruses. Throughout, the focus is simultaneously on Garrett as both a composer and improviser, and this may well land on several "best of" lists at the end of the year.
EIGHTH NOTES: PART 2, OTHER NEW RELEASES
Sleeper (ECM 2290/91, www.ecmrecords.com
"Sleeper" is defined at dictionary.com as "something or someone that becomes unexpectedly successful or important after a period of being unnoticed [or] ignored . . .." While pianist Jarrett does not meet that definition by any stretch of the imagination, this unexpected new archival release certainly does. This two-disc set, recorded in Tokyo in 1979, features the so-called "European Quartet" of Jan Garbarek on saxophones and flute, Palle Danielsson on bass, and Jon Christensen on drums. The opening track on Disc I, "Personal Mountains," is an upbeat and uplifting 21-minute piece which, despite its length, seems to go by before you realize it. The other two pieces on the first disc, "Innocence" and "So Tender," demonstrate the lyrical side of Jarrett and company. "Oasis" opens Disc II, whose beginning section sounds like Jarrett or Christensen may be using a kalimba, with Garbarek's wood flute sounding primeval. It unwinds over the course of 28 minutes, creating a mood of exploration, with Garbarek's keening saxophone leading to an intense piano solo. Three more pieces, "Chant of the Soil," "Prism" and "New Dance" complete the concert. With Jarrett's recordings over the past few decades being primarily solo or trio, it's wonderful to hear him engaged with another lead voice. This sounds fresh and engaging, and leads one to hope for more archival releases from the label which won the 2012 DownBeat Critics' Poll (to which I was honored to contribute for the first time).
The Eleventh Hour (Sunnyide SSC 1304)
Johnathan Blake is a drummer and composer, whose core band here consists of Jaleel Shaw and Mark Turner on saxophones, Kevin Hays on electric and acoustic piano, and Ben Street on bass, with guest appearances by Tom Harrell (for whom Blake has played for several years) on trumpet and flugelhorn, Grégoire Maret on harmonica, Robert Glasper on acoustic and electric piano, and Tim Warfield on sax. The title track begins the album with the sound of a scratchy 78, before switching to a clean and contemporary sound with electric piano, horns, and Maret's harmonica. Like most of the 10 pieces, it's a Blake original, followed by another, "Rio's Dream," which stretches out in modern mainstream style. Randy Newman's "Dexter's Tune" slows the pace, before Blake's "Time to Kill" ratchets up the intensity. The rest of the disc maintains the balance between mainstream and progressive, with Blake leading from the drum set without overpowering his colleagues. Blake is a name to track, and this album marks an auspicious beginning as a leader.
Live at Art Lugoff's Top of the Gate (Resonance HCD 2012)
This new two-CD set was recorded live on October 23, 1968, by Resonance founder and President George Klabin, then a 22- year-old engineer who hosted a jazz program on Columbia University's radio station. It documents two sets by the then-new lineup of Evans with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell, both of whom contribute essays to the extensive booklet included. When I think of Evans, I often conjure the image of a dreamy, wispy and wistful player. Here, Evans' playing is frequently more hard-charging, as on the uptempo version of "Autumn Leaves." The listener can compare and contrast the improvisational differences on "Emily," Yesterdays," and "'Round midnight," each of which appears on each set. Resonance has maintained the high production values demonstrated on the Wes Montgomery release, Echoes of Indiana Avenue (reviewed here in March), and has added an important new release to the Bill Evans catalog.
Jimi Plays Berkeley (Sony Legacy, www.legacyrecordings.com)
There's a soft spot in my heart for this DVD and companion CD release. I still remember paying big bucks at the old Karma Records for an import of the vinyl soundtrack to this concert and have picked up various expanded reissues over the years. The latest reissue offers a Blu-ray option, and, whether standard or Blu-ray, 15 additional minutes of previously unissued material. So, caveat emptor, if you have a prior release of the DVD, you will need to decide whether to spring for this edition's new footage. Regardless, this film and companion CD offer compelling music from a pivotal time in Hendrix's all-too-brief career. While he plays with the audience with some acrobatic guitar playing, he is revealed as the far more serious musician he truly was, especially on extended takes of "Hear My Train A-Comin'" and "Machine Gun." Interpolated into the concert footage are scenes outside the theater, as well as scenes from the protests on the streets in Berkeley during this tumultuous time. Great music, from a great artist, nothing else to add, really.
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.