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May 2013 Articles
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Issue: May 2013
Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.


Would someone please ask Joe Btfsplk to go visit elsewhere? He's worn out his welcome at my house. Thanks.


Afro-Cuban All Stars at the Clifton Center

I was not only excited to see this wonderful band recently, but excited that there was a large and enthusiastic audience with whom I could share the experience. A 15-piece band took the stage, playing with fire and passion. While the music came through clearly, it was occasionally difficult to catch the names of the songs. On the opening piece, the muted trumpet solo embraced swing as well as Afro-Cuban phrasing. The second song featured romantic flourishes from the pianist. Leader Juan de Marcos joined other vocalists on some of the numbers, and they frequently came offstage to perform with the audience. It took a while for a few brave souls to begin dancing, but others soon followed their example, sparking the band to even greater heights. Virtually all the crowd was dancing by the time the classic "Dun Dun Banza" was over. A full 80-minute set was followed by not one, but two lengthy encores, totaling an additional half-hour of music. "El Cuarto de Tula (House of Tula)"and "Misericordia (Misery) were exhilarating. In my interview with de Marcos (LEO Weekly, http://leoweekly.com/music/funky-afro-cuban-hot-sauce), he said "I hope that, after the gig, people are happier than before. We hope the people are going to have fun, and we, as well, are going to have fun." That was clearly the outcome, as audience and musicians alike were grinning ear to ear.

Marco Benevento at Zazoo's

Marco Benevento brought his "hot-rodded" (with effects) piano and longtime bandmates bassist Dave Dreiwitz and drummer Andy Borger back to Louisville for a lively concert at Zazoo's, in St. Matthews, on Friday, April 5. They played a solid two-hour set, featuring mostly material from the 2012 album TigerFace, on Benevento's own Royal Potato Family label. Dreiwitz really tore things up with his slide electric bass intro to "Escape Horse." One of the few mellow segments of the night was an interpretation of My Morning Jacket's "Golden," on which Benevento played lots of almost unexpectedly lovely solo piano. The band took turns wearing a tiger mask during "Limbs of a Pine," a single from TigerFace, during which Benevento embraced the technology he had added to his piano, causing the keys to shimmer and sparkle. Benevento has a jazz background, but his focus has been more on songwriting the past few years. While the beats were mostly funk or rock, the stretched-out versions of the songs throughout the night clearly displayed Benevento's jazz roots.

Javon Jackson at University of Louisville

Saxophonist Javon Jackson is one of those musicians who play so well that you wonder why they're not better known. Jackson came up through Art Blakey and has toured with such still vibrant elders as Jimmy Cobb and Les McCann. He did a series of workshops at the University of Louisville in April, and played a concert to an appreciative audience at Comstock Hall at U of L on Thursday, April 4. He was joined by faculty members Jim Connerley on piano, Chris Fitzgerald on bass, and Jason Tiemann on drums. They opened with a Wayne Shorter composition from Shorter's days with Blakey, "One by One." A Latin, upbeat take on Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes" was next. "TJ" was an uptempo waltz dedicated to Jackson's father, who exposed the saxophonist to jazz at an early age. Connerley channeled McCoy Tyner in a solo introduction to Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing." In addition to creative soloing, Jackson vamped to the drum solo, adding an extra dimension to it. Jackson has recently released two CDs independently, and "My One and Only Love" from Celebrating John Coltrane, was next, with Fitzgerald beautifully playing space, not just notes, during his solo. On "Freddie Freeloader," also from the same album, Jackson's soloing moved toward the edgier, outside playing. The last song of the night, "My Shining Hour," was also from the Coltrane recording, played briskly and intensely by Jackson and the trio. Jackson's website is http://javonjackson.com, where you can read more about him and find links to purchase Celebrating John Coltrane and Lucky 13. Lucky 13 features Lexington native Les McCann on three tracks, including a new version of the classic ""Compared to What."

Louisville Jazz Society Presents Dick Sisto/Steve Allee Quartet at the Clifton Center

The Louisville Jazz Society continued its monthly series of concerts on Sunday, April 7 with the Dick Sisto/Steve Allee Quartet, featuring bassist Jeremy Allen and drummer Jason Tiemann. There is a new album in the works, and many of the tunes were previews of the recording. Special mention should be made of the setting. The musicians and audience were all on stage, with semicircular rows of chairs at the back of the stage, and the musicians performing facing the audience from only a few feet away. They opened with pianist Allee's "Conversation with Bill," based on a dream he had of speaking with Bill Evans. Next up was a bluesy original by vibist Sisto, inspired by Charles Mingus. Over the course of two hours of music, there was a sense that the intimate surroundings evoked special feelings from the musicians, as soloist gave way to soloist, with Tiemann playing with subtlety and restraint, and Allen providing not just the bottom, but an additional melodic voice. It was interesting to watch Sisto as he switched from two to four mallets and back again during the course of several songs, including his "No Time Like Now." He added a touch of humor to the evening by introducing his waltz, "Don't Know," by explaining that the title reflected that he didn't know what to name the piece. According to John Harris, of the Clifton Center, there will be further concerts featuring the quartet, honoring various jazz composers in the upcoming season. Stay tuned.



Guitarist Brandon Coleman just earned his graduate degree from the University of Louisville School of Music, and is preparing to record a new album. He and his quartet, consisting of Diego Lyra on piano, Luke McIntosh on bass and Bruno "Gafanhoto" Souza on drums, will perform original works on April 30, 7:30 p.m., at Tim Faulkner Gallery, 943 Franklin St., Louisville, KY 40206, 502- 851-2380. The concert is free, but Coleman is requesting donations to fund his recording. He told me in an e-mail that "For donations, we are accepting any amount at the door. With a sign-in sheet, a donation gets your name put in the liner notes and a free digital copy of the album before it officially releases!"


From the press release: "The Clifton Center, located at 2117 Payne Street, will host the Mike Tracy Brazilian Ensemble in its Eifler Theater as part of the MINI of Louisville LIVE concert series on Sunday, April 28th at 7:00 p.m. The ensemble will perform pieces from Mike Tracy's sixth recording Surfboard. Having been to Brazil many times, he has grown to love the spirit of the music, with its different rhythms and expressive melodies. Members of the ensemble include Michael Tracy on tenor and soprano saxophone, Diego Lyra Medieros on piano, Brandon Coleman on guitar, Luke McIntosh on bass, and Lourenço Vasconcellos and Bruno "Gafanhoto" Souza on drums/percussion." My LEO Weekly article on Tracy and the recording of Surfboard is at http://leoweekly.com/music/b-sides-71.


Tracy's group returns May 5, 3:00 p.m. (the day after Derby), for a concert at the Iroquois Amphitheater. Mike Tracy's Brazilian group preceded by the University of Louisville student Brazilian group. You can't beat the price, even if your nag didn't come in; it's free with a suggested $5 donation to the Amphitheater


There's still time for the second, long weekend, of Jazzfest, Thursday May 2 through Sunday May 5. Daily lineups and ticket information is available at http://www.nojazzfest.com. Among the top jazz artists this year are the Wayne Shorter Quartet, The Cookers (Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, David Weiss, Craig Handy, George Cables, Cecil McBee, and Billy Hart), S tanley Clarke/George Duke Project, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and that doesn't even scratch the surface of all the music, jazz and otherwise, being presented.

During the evenings, and in the "daze between" the weekends, there is a massive amount of music being offered in clubs and elsewhere. The best resource for checking who is playing where and when is at http://www.jazzfestgrids.com. Snug Harbor is a jazz club comparable to, say, Chicago's Jazz Showcase or Louisville's Jazz Factory (RIP). Its lineup includes (at deadline time) Delfeayo Marsalis and Dr. Lonnie Smith. A San Francisco club, the Boom Boom Room, will present "Boogalooin' @ Jazzfest 2013 at the Blue Nile on Frenchman Street. Frequinox, featuring Donald Harrison, Will Bernard, Stanton Moore, Robert Walter, and Robert Mercurio plays April 29, and Dr. Lonnie Smith, Donald Harrison, Will Bernard, Herlin Riley, and Wil Blades on April 30,. Ticket info for this series is at www.boomboomtickets.com.


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 May 20. 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 - not sure if this is still right, hard to find updated information, if any of you know how to get better info, drop me a line, please; 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. A road trip might be advised for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz featuring Antonio Hart, May 24.

The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, is now at 700 Race St. (513-241-WISP). A road trip might be advised forMay 2: Drummer Jeff Hamilton and Depaul University Jazz Ensemble; May 10: D'Arkestra; May 17: Jamey Aebersold Quartet. 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.


Tommy Flanagan and Jaki Byard:

The Magic of 2 (Resonance HCD-2013, www.resonancerecords.org)

This is another in a series of what I think of as single-CD box sets from Resonance, featuring multiple essays (including one on the music by Renee Rosness and Bill Charlap, and another on influences on younger musicians by Howard Mandel) many photographs bound in a mini-box. This delightful recording of pianists Flanagan and Byard is aptly titled, as these two keyboard giants play just under an hour's worth of music, recorded at the legendary San Francisco club, Keystone Korner. The recording quality, digitized from cassette (!) is clear and clean; indeed, it is almost like listening to a recital in someone's living room. They play mostly standards, from the romping Charlie Parker tune "Scrapple from the Apple" to the closing workout on Miles Davis' "The Theme." Three Billy Strayhorn compositions are exquisitely performed by Flanagan alone, "Something To Live For," "All Day Long," and the classic "Chelsea Bridge." Byard's solo pieces draw from a wider range, including Stevie Wonder's gorgeous "Send One Your Love (interpolating "Giant Steps")," Chuck Mangione's "Land of Make Believe" and an earlier piece, "Sunday." This is supposed the second in a series of previously unreleased concerts from this club, and I look forward to the ones to follow.

Eric Hofbauer:

American Grace. (Creative Nation Music, http://creativenationmusic.com, www.erichofbauer.com)

Eric Hofbauer is a Boston-based guitarist. His new album comes packaged in what looks like the cover of an old journal, and indeed, the 19 pieces of solo guitar create the effect of a musical journey, in which Hofbauer ranges from the early jazz of "West End Blues" to an intriguing version of the Beatles' "Dear Prudence," which opens with the sound of scratchy vinyl. He slashes and burns through a buzzing bottleneck arrangement of Blind Willie Johnson's "God Moves on the Water." There are several pieces which are brief, acting as interludes. Ten of the songs are originals, and Hofbauer's interpretations of other artists' songs have a strong original feeling to them. In addition to influences from various jazz guitarists on the songs, there is sometimes the feel of John Fahey. Boston musician Garrison Fewell, with whom Hofbauer has collaborated on other projects, writes extensive liner notes, adding dimension to the music presented.

The Caswell Sisters Featuring Fred Hersch:

Alive in the Singing Air (Turtle Ridge Records, www.caswellsisters.com)

Bloomington natives Rachel Caswell, vocals, and Sara Caswell, violin, are joined by piano great Fred Hersch (who also produced the album), bassist Jeremy Allen and drummer Bryson Kern for a refreshing change of pace for jazz vocal albums. The repertoire ranges from Hersch's "Song of Life" (lyrics by Norma Winstone) to the chestnut "Sweet Lorraine." The Caswells breathe new life into the older pieces and invest the new material with an airy freshness. Rachel's voice is clear and she slips seemingly effortlessly from lyrics to scat, while Sara's violin is like a second voice on the album. This is, quite simply, one of my favorite recordings featuring jazz vocals to come along in quite a while.

The Craig Taborn Trio

Chants (ECM, www.ecmrecords.com)

The album title fits, as pianist Taborn and longtime associates Gerald Cleaver on drums and Thomas Morgan on bass build song after song from insistent patterns that are frequently chant-like. The musicians certainly solo, as this is a jazz record, after all, yet what is striking is how supportive they are of one another. Many passages move not so much from solo to solo, but from a focus on one instrument or the other. "In Chant," for example, is a delicate exploration, with drums coming in and out of the playing of the others. The closing track, "Speak the name," is insistent, with pulsating drums and bass carrying on with an almost deceptively simple piano figure. All the compositions are originals by Taborn, yet I suspect that Morgan and Cleaver add their own ideas to the songs in more than just support roles. This is not "just another piano trio" album, it is a forceful exploration of the roles of the instruments.


With two fourteen-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


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.


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

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