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RIP, BELLARMINE JAZZ GUITAR CONCERTS AND WORKSHOPS
After 26 years of bringing some of the finest mainstream jazz guitarists to town for workshops and public concerts, Bellarmine has drawn the curtain on the Jazz Guitar Clinic and Concert series. Professor Jeff Sherman has retired, and with his retirement comes the end of the series. Over the years, Sherman brought a wide array of talent to town, including (to name but a few) Gene Bertoncini, Howard Alden, Jim Hall, Peter Bernstein, John Stowell, Roni Ben-Hur, and so many more. Legendary Louisville guitarist Jimmy Raney was featured, as well. Best wishes to Jeff Sherman as he continues to perform, and thanks for all the wonderful presentations over the years.
RIP, RAY MANZAREK
The Doors remain one of the most influential rock bands ever, more than four decades after the untimely demise of their iconic singer, Jim Morrison. We've now lost keyboard player Ray Manzarek to cancer, at the age of 74. His introduction to "Light My Fire," his use of keyboard to provide the bass parts, his bluesy swirls, all were integral to the sound of the Doors. His imaginative playing will be missed.
RIP, ED SHAUGHNESSY
Just a few minutes before submitting my column, I learned that drummer Ed Shaughnessy has passed away at the age of 84. Best known, perhaps, as the drummer for Doc Severinsen's band on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, he was a jazz drummer at heart.
Planet D Nonet at the Nachbar
The Planet D Nonet from Detroit made its first Louisville appearance on Friday, April 19 at the Nachbar. "PD9" is unusual in that its musical vision ranges from early swing through Sun Ra, with side trips into jump blues. The band has released several albums and EPs since forming in 2007, the most recent being Swingin' the D, on Detroit Music Factory (www.detroitmusicfactory.com). The Nachbar was full, with a mostly younger crowd digging such chestnuts as "Do Nothing till You Hear from Me," with Satchmo-styled vocalizing by trumpet player and co-leader James O'Donnell. More Ellingtonia was next, with a movement from "Such Sweet Thunder." The first set ended with the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian classic "Tootie Ma Is a Big Fine Thing," featuring co-leader RJ Spangler's march cadences together with singing and second-lining by trombonist John "T-Bone" Paxton The second set focused on the band's interpretations of pieces from the Arkestra, including "That's How I Feel" and "Where Pathways Meet" from 1978's Lanquidity. They followed with the classic "Fate in a Pleasant Mood' and "Call for All Demons, which is on the latest PD9 CD and, in concert, featured a long, blues-drenched guitar solo from Ralph Tope. All joined the chant on "They'll Come Back," with typically sci-fi lyrics from Mr. Ra: "They'll come back in ships of gold/ With wisdom never told/ A touch of myth-world's splendor/ Then they'll take back the others/ Who are not of earth's dimension . . . ." And how to follow that? Why, of course, with Louis Jordan's "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby," and a hard-driving "Things Ain't What They Used To Be." I was delighted by the unstated yet clear (to me at least) interconnection between the traditional forms of jazz and the avant-garde, held together by the top-notch musicianship of this band. The PD9 back catalogue is available at www.cdbaby.com/artist/PlanetDNonet, and a collaboration with John Sinclair at www.cdbaby.com/cd/johnsinclair2.
Liberation Prophecy CD Release Show at Headliners
Headliners usually features rock and pop bands, mostly SRO with only a few seats for early concert goers. The music and the room were very different for the CD release party by Louisville's genre-defying Liberation Prophecy (LP), on Thursday, May 9. Front of house was filled with chairs which, in turn, were filled with people who (like the rest of the audience) were respectful and appreciative of the evocative music. In fact, it seemed like every jazz artist in town who wasn't gigging showed up for this one. LP is led by saxophonist Jacob Duncan, and features many of Louisville's finest jazz players: Craig Wagner, guitar; Chris Fitzgerald, bass; Mike Hyman, drums; Chris Fortner, trombone; Kris Eans, trumpet; Steve Good, tenor sax and bass clarinet; Carly Johnson, vocals. However, it's the free spirit of jazz, not the standard "head/solo/head" format, that makes LP unique. The new album, Invisible House, is set for national release on June 11, and its focus is on the songs, not the solos. As Duncan said in my interview for LEO Weekly ( http://leoweekly.com/music/liberation-prophecy-loves-you), "[In concert] we are going to rip it up a lot more, more soloing, whatever happens in the moment . . .."
This proved true. The second song of the set, whose title I didn't catch, featured a lengthy, rousing trombone solo, which led into a heavy riff-powered by a slammin' Hyman. "Wish I May,' with Greta Smith's lyrics sung by Johnson, was a good example of the "rip it up" attitude. Begun gently, with subtle guitar, bass and drums backing the vocal, it turned the corner and became a high energy, intense platform for solos, winding down into a Duncan/Fitzgerald duet. The album's title track was a short instrumental, followed by Johnson's singing Will Oldham's lyrics to the sweet "Let's Not Pretend." "Death from Above" featured the organized chaos of the three horn players over a heavy beat. "The Lazy Mist," with lyrics by Joe Manning, was played with only guitar, bass and alto, capturing the rapt attention of the audience. Two more songs and the evening was over, all too soon. Liberation Prophecy showed a superb sense of dynamics, keeping the music varied yet cohesive. The new record was funded through Kickstarter, on a page dubbed "Liberation Prophecy: WORLD DOMINATION." Given the rousing hometown reception, publicity through Fully Altered Media (which in my experience gives strong support to the artists it promotes), upcoming gigs in NYC and elsewhere, "world domination" may actually be in sight.
ON THE HORIZON
Bumper Jacksons at Haymarket Whiskey Bar
The Bumper Jacksons, a Washington, DC band, consist of Jess Eliot Myhre (clarinet, washboard, vocals, ukulele, kazoo) and Chris Ousley (guitar, banjo, ukulele, vocals, mouth horn). They play old-timey music, ranging stylistically from early blues to early jazz and mountain music. They perform at Haymarket Whiskey Bar, 331 E. Market Street, 502-442-0523 on Sunday, June 2, at 7:00 p.m. ($5), in support of their album Big Horn Mama. Local old time band Trappers Keepers will open up the night at 7:00 p.m..
Marbin at the Hideaway Saloon
Fans of funk and fusion will enjoy the Chicago-based band Marbin, when it returns to Louisville on June 16 at the Hideaway Saloon, 1607 Bardstown Rd., 502-485-0114. I caught the second set of what was a virtual stealth gig at Zazoo's in March and really enjoyed the band. The members are Dani Rabin (guitar), Danny Markovich (sax), Justyn Lawrence (drums) and Jae Gentile (bass). Marbin's most recent release is Last Chapter Of Dreaming, on MoonJune Records, a fiercely independent label specializing in fusion and prog (http://moonjune.com).
Louisville Jazz Society Presents Chris Fitzgerald and Friends at the Rud
The Louisville Jazz Society, on whose Board I have served for many years, now, presents bassist extraordinaire Chris Fitzgerald, along with some of Louisville's top jazz musicians, all of whom Chris is proud to number among his friends. They are David Klingman – Clarinet, Jacob Duncan – Saxes, Craig Wagner – Guitar, Todd Hildreth – Piano, and Mike Hyman – Drums. At deadline time, the show time was not finalized, but it will be 5:30 or 6:30 on Sunday, June 23. The Rudyard Kipling is in Old Louisville, at 422 W. Oak Street, phone 502-636-1311. Based on past experience, the kitchen will be open for the first hour or so.
2013 Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops at the University of Louisville
Classes with top jazz artists, hanging with like-minded fellow students, Jamey Aebersold does it again. And for all of us, not just the students, there are nightly concerts featuring some of the top jazz players in the country, for FREE! June 30-July 5, and July 7-12. More info at http://workshops.jazzbooks.com. Just a few of the well-known guest faculty members (subject to change) include bassists Rufus Reid, Lynn Seaton, David Friesen; drummer Ed Soph; guitarist Dave Stryker; pianists Steve Allee, Phil DeGreg, Andy LaVerne, David Hazeltine; saxophonists Eric Alexander, Jim Snidero; and far too many more musicians.
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 June 17. 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 the funky, LA-based Orgone , June 12; founding P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell on June 21; and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band on June 24.
The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, is now at 700 Race St. (513-241-WISP). A road trip might be advised for June 21-21: Stanley Jordan . 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.
Dave Douglas Quintet:
Time Travel (www.greenleaf.com)
Following trumpeter Douglas' moving album for his late mother, Be Still, which featured an almost folk music feel and vocals, Douglas returns with a quintet recording that is a cousin, stylistically, to the Miles Davis "Second Great Quintet of the mid-1960s." Jon Irabagon (saxophone), Matt Mitchell (piano), Linda Oh (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums) are tight, matching musical wits with Douglas on a series of seven new compositions. The title track, indeed, "time travels" with rhythms that seem to break up and reconstitute themselves, with solos ranging from post-bop to virtually free. "Law of Historical Memory" is slow and deliberate, while the following "Beware of Doug" has a hard-swinging, upbeat Art Blakey feel. The fast-paced "Garden State" builds to a climax which, in turn, leads to an inventive solo by Oh. In short, Time Travel is yet another triumph for the sometimes chameleonic Douglas, who breathes fresh life into the concept of the classic quintet lineup. Douglas, in celebration of his 50th birthday, has announced plans to tour all 50 states; at deadline time, there was no word of a Kentucky date, but let's hope that will work out.
Miguel Zenón & the Rhythm Collective:
Oye!!! Live in Puerto Rico (Miel Music)
Saxophonist Miguel Zenón's Ryhthm Collective includes Tony Escapa on drums, Aldemar Valentín on electric bass, and Reinaldo de Jesús on percussion, all from Puerto Rico, and playing live in a club there. They play mostly original compositions, although their take on the nominal title cut, Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va," is such that it is almost like a new piece. The overall sound is surprisingly full, considering the sparse instrumentation. The drummers mesh well, the electric bass is rich, and Zenón's alto sears throughout.
Lay Down My Heart, Blues & Ballads Volume 1 (Motéma MTM-121, www.motema.com)
Vibraphonist Joe Locke has assembled a superb group of musicians for this new release: Ryan Cohan on piano, David Finck on bass, and up-and-coming Jaimeo Brown on drums. Locke has chosen an eclectic program of songs, beginning with his funky interpretation of the classic "Ain't No Sunshine," on which Cohan's piano feels like it would fit in a church setting. "Broken Toy," one of two originals, is a midtempo waltz, with Locke's ringing vibes creating an ethereal feeling. Other songs span the decades, from the comparatively recent"I Can't Make You Love Me," rendered with deep feeling, to the 85-year-old "Makin' Whoopee," imbued with a winking blues touch. Locke's liner notes allude to his desire to provide musical respite with this album, and I believe he does so, emphasizing musicality rather than push-the-edges soloing.
Soft Machine Legacy:
Burden of Proof (MoonJune MJR052, http://moonjune.com)
From its beginnings in the Canterbury prog scene in the 1960s, Soft Machine quickly evolved into a fusion group that I long thought of as a British Weather Report. Various alumni carry the banner forward, as on this new release by guitarist John Etheridge, saxophonist/flutist/electric pianist Theo Travis, drummer John Marshall and bassist Roy Babbington. The band incorporates a variety of influences, from Terry Riley to blues to early King Crimson, alongside their clear jazz grounding. The title track opens the disc with spacey keyboards, followed by an ominous bass line which leads the band into a very modern sounding swing. "Voyage Beyond Seven" moves into abstract territory, followed by a gentle guitar interlude, "Kitto." "Pie Chart" is an updated take-'em-off raunchy blues, followed by a drum interlude and then "Kings & Queens," with flute floating atop the other instruments. While it may seem from the description of the first half of the disc that there is so much variety that it couldn't possibly hold together, the truth is that the band's skillful interaction is such that the disc actually presents a unified vision. "Black and Crimson" is sinuous, "The Pump Room" and "Green Cubes" are more rock-oriented, while the closing "They Landed on a Hill" is a subtle, atmospheric guitar and keyboard duet. The Soft Machine Legacy pays homage stylistically to the band which inspired it, without turning itself into simply a tribute band.
Miles of Blu (Random Act Records, www.randomactrecords.com)
Tony Adamo raps/orates original poetry over soulful grooves featuring former Headhunter drummer Mike Clark, who produced the album. Adamo presents a tribute to James Brown ("JB"), contemplates the state of the world (America R We Free?"), and brings in Tower of Power's "Doc" Kupka for a fun remake of ToP's "What Is Hip?." He claims credit on each track for "Hipspokenword," and the press release states "Others, like Gil Scott-Heron, Mark Murphy and legions of rappers, have recognized the power of the almighty Word. Some have been hip, some sung, some said, but none have the musical import and impact of Tony Adamo's artistry." I can see how he could claim kinship with these and other artists, but fail to see how he could possibly have more impact. Check out Amiri Baraka's "Africa Revisited" on Billy Harper's 2009 Blueprints of Jazz, for example. Adamo is a talented wordsmith and vocalist, but tries too hard to convince that he is blazing a new trail.
LOCAL JAZZ CONTACTS
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 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.
1) I am always interested in your comments. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.