Friday, March 16, 2018

The Dayton area jazz scene – March 2018 edition by Jim Woodford

More on the jazz scene in the general Dayton area seems to be in order. I recently heard from Jim Smith, jazz guitar player/teacher/master who has had probably the longest steady paying gig in recent memory at the Tipp City restaurant called the Coldwater Café. This gig is with bass player Vinnie Marshall whom I refer to as Vinnie on the skinny since he has the hard body, thin bass that sits on a tripod. They are starting their third year. Congratulations! Both excellent musicians and all musicians know that a paying gig is a very good thing. They do this every Friday and Saturday night from 7:00-9:30 and as an added bonus, Coldwater has been named one of the best 10 restaurants in Dayton (hmmmm, is Tipp City actually in Dayton?) Hats off to Jim and Vinnie!
The Jazz Central Jazz Jam is still going strong every Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. (until around 11:30) and Ismail Muhammad is bringing in occasional jazz combos on Thursday nights. I was reminded this week that Jason Swann plays in a jazz combo at the Paragon on some weekends and he has a combo downtown at Hannah’s (across from the Schuster) every Thursday night. The Paragon schedule is as follows:
3-18-18 [6:00-9:00]
3-24-18 [6:30-9:30]
4-6/13/20/27-18 [7:00-10:00]

I am primarily motivated to compose this current edition about the jazz scene in the Dayton area because recently I traveled to Cincinnati (OK, is Cincinnati the Dayton area or is Dayton the Cincinnati area? They are close enough together that travel is convenient in both directions) to the Greenwich jazz club where the B.J. Jansen Common Ground combo was performing, B.J. Jansen on bari-sax, Steve Turre on trombone, Eddie Brookshire on bass, Art Gore on drums, Duane Eubanks on trumpet & Marcus Persiani on piano. B.J. is from the area and was coming home to promote his Downbeat 2017 album of the year entitled Common Ground. It was quite a night of music (and food, B.J. has a classmate that owns a catering business and both times I have been there to hear him the food has been excellent).

B.J. Jansen and Eddie Brookshire on left -- Steve Turre and Art Gore on right

The combo assembled for the hometown performance was different than the combo that made the recording. Most of you know that is not all that unusual. Performers come into town and often use local musicians; in this case, you couldn’t have done much better than Eddie Brookshire (Dayton) and Art Gore (Cincinnati). B.J. usually hits the stage fashionably late and then plays a couple of hours straight through with no breaks. This night was no different. We heard cuts from the album, Stacey’s Place, Street Walk [as B.J. was quick to point out, street walk, not walker] and Angela’s Aggravation [which turned out that Angela was his sister and B.J. was the aggravation] and his tribute to Wilburt Longmire – long time cincy jazz guitar player who passed away in January 2017 – Bucket Full of Soul. Solos by NYC piano player Marcus Persiani were excellent, as were solos by Eddie Brookshire and Art Gore. The combo interacted and communicated quite well together. At one point there was some excellent trio work between B.J., Eddie and Art. B.J. kept the combo mixing it up! In fact, solos were good all the way round. While Delfeayo Marsalis is the trombone player on the album, Steve Turre filled in for him this night. And the final song of the night was the Mile Davis tune, All Blues, played on conch shells, yeah you heard me right, conch shells; five of them if I counted correctly. The shells were all different sizes and he hit every note as he switched around on those conch shells. It was quite an unexpected end to a great jazz music evening.

The combo assembled for the hometown performance was different than the combo that made the recording. Most of you know that is not all that unusual. Performers come into town and often use local musicians; in this case, you couldn’t have done much better than Eddie Brookshire (Dayton) and Art Gore (Cincinnati). B.J. usually hits the stage fashionably late and then plays a couple of hours straight through with no breaks. This night was no different. We heard cuts from the album, Stacey’s Place, Street Walk [as B.J. was quick to point out, street walk, not walker] and Angela’s Aggravation [which turned out that Angela was his sister and B.J. was the aggravation] and his tribute to Wilburt Longmire – long time cincy jazz guitar player who passed away in January 2017 – Bucket Full of Soul. Solos by NYC piano player Marcus Persiani were excellent, as were solos by Eddie Brookshire and Art Gore. The combo interacted and communicated quite well together. At one point there was some excellent trio work between B.J., Eddie and Art. B.J. kept the combo mixing it up! In fact, solos were good all the way round. While Delfeayo Marsalis is the trombone player on the album, Steve Turre filled in for him this night. And the final song of the night was the Mile Davis tune, All Blues, played on conch shells, yeah you heard me right, conch shells; five of them if I counted correctly. The shells were all different sizes and he hit every note as he switched around on those conch shells. It was quite an unexpected end to a great jazz music evening. 

One more addition, a word from Ron Gable (Jazz Advocate Emeritus), who tells me how pleased he is to have found a new music venue. The Milton Club at 640 Cosler Drive off Burkhardt in Dayton, a private club with a beautiful ballroom dance floor and outstanding kitchen, offers the following open to the public events:
     Every Monday the Kettering Banjo Society holds practice sessions from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.
     On the first Thursday of each month the Speakeasy Jazz Band plays traditional New Orleans (Dixieland) from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.
     On the third Thursday of each month the Generations Big Band plays the best of Count Basie, Stan Kenton, as well as hits of Frank Sinatra, Natalie Cole, Diane Schuur and Michael Buble with some pop and rock covers for good measure from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.
     On the fifth Thursday of each month the OLDKOOL Rock and Roll Band plays your favorites from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

Note: There is a $5 cover charge for the Thursday Band Events for the public.
(Free admission for Milton Club Members)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Jazz Scene 2017/2018 by Jim Woodford

      Many of you know that after 4 decades, the downtown Dayton jazz & blues iconic club, Gilly’s closed its doors on 12-31-17. This follows the heavyhearted news of the passing of the founder of Gilly’s, Jerry Gillotti. Very sad news for music fans in the Dayton area and beyond. Jerry, you will be missed. But as I lament Jerry’s passing I also have to point out that many spirits were lifted with the standing-room-only tribute to Jerry on 12-27-18 with all the musicians and all the music fans that showed up for Jerry’s Last Jam! They play the funeral dirge going to the graveyard in New Orleans but they play joyful, uplifting music on the way back. They do this for a reason obviously, life goes on and we celebrate that good things from a life well lived. Thank you Jerry for all that you did for the music scene in Dayton!
      With the joyful march back in the New Orleans funeral procession in mind I am going to take this opportunity to point out that the Dayton area is lucky enough to have other music venues that will hopefully help take away the pain of the closing of Gilly’s. Followers of the music scene in the Dayton area know that there is an ebb and flow of these music venues. A few years ago, Cincinnati musicians were commenting about how vibrant the jazz scene was in Dayton and now maybe that mantle has moved back down south but you can still hear jazz in the Dayton area. Bands play certain venues for a period of time and then those situations come to an end. The Generations Big Band was playing Friday nights at the Mandalay for quite a while as well as Jazz Central one Thursday a month. Both of those situations have changed and now it looks like The Generations Big Band will be playing at least once a month at the Milton Club in Dayton. Followers of the Jazz Central Big Band over the past 4 decades know that this band ebbs and flows as well. Early on it was made up of a bunch of hot young players who blew the roof off at Jazz Central but many of those players moved on to other opportunities, some out of the state entirely. The most recent iteration of the Jazz Central Big Band was managed by Linda Landis, trombone player of Columbus Jazz Orchestra fame but it was recently announced that they will be on indefinite hiatus. The Dayton Jazz Orchestra has also had their time at Jazz Central but most recently they are holding court at the Dog’s Breath Tavern in Kettering [just a few blocks from the Wilmington Pike/Whipp Road intersection] every third Tuesday of the month.
      I have mentioned Jazz Central a number of times thus far and there is a reason for that. Jazz Central has the longest running jazz jam in the Dayton area. I can tell you personally that there has been a Sunday night jazz jam there since I started attending in 2001. The thing about a jazz jam is that it is always different, it is always interesting and you never know what you are going to get and sometimes it is way beyond your expectations. I felt this way recently. Sunday night, 1-7-18 saw some of the same jazz jammers that show up most Sunday nights. I have been there when the stage is full of musicians playing just about every type of jazz instrument you can think of. But I have also been there when there was a core set of jazz jammers and while you may not get the wild and sometimes exciting swings that you get with a variety of jammers, when you have 5 or 6, they can get into a groove that is memorable. This was one of those nights, Kenny Baccus on Hammond organ, King Koeller on tenor sax, Ron Appleberry on bass, Craig Saunders on drums and Jeff Slinker on jazz guitar. You can see these fellows most Sunday nights at Jazz Central. There was a special guest this night, Berkeley College in Boston student Craig Jackson. Regular Jazz Central attendees pretty much saw Craig grow up on this stage right before their eyes and this night he came back to show us what else he has learned.

And what a night it was. Here are some of the songs that were played:
Softly As in a Morning Sunrise
Lullaby of Birdland
Blue Train
Tenor Madness
Scotch and Soda (this following a crowd request for some Zoot Sims)
Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
Take 5 (this after a crowd request for some Paul Desmond)
Let it Snow
All Blues
Autumn Leaves (another crowd request)

      King Koeller and Craig Jackson tore it up on Blue Train. I only regret that I was not recording. And when tenor sax player Craig Jackson switched to drums, he was challenged by the crowd request for Paul Desmond when they picked Take 5. It went surprisingly well even with the different time signatures. All-in-all, a very good night. If you weren’t there then you missed it. Jazz is alive and well in Dayton, Ohio. I do want to give a special shout out to Berkely & Avril and Leslie & Roger, DIE HARD jazz fans!
      Two final notes, Jason Swann emceed and played at least two Thursday night jazz jams at Jazz Central for most of 2017, and while he still jazz jams on Sunday nights, his talent has been drawn to Hannah’s in downtown Dayton on Thursday nights. Have been there myself, things are going quite well. Last and most certainly not least, there was a performance extraordinaire at Jazz Central on Thursday 12-28-17 which I missed because I was out of town. But because people cannot stop talking about it, making me feel even worse that I was out of town, I want to at least mention the players, Ismail Mohammad on drums, Mike Fageros on jazz guitar, Mark Smarelli on vibes and the dean of Dayton jazz bass guitar, Eddie Brookshire on bass. I have paid money to see Mike, Mark and Eddie at individual gigs and they were all on the same stage at once! Apparently if you weren’t there you really did miss one. The good news is that Ismail Mohammad is now organizing Thursday night jazz performances at Jazz Central so come on down. See you around the jazz scene. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Jerry's Last Jam

Dateline Wednesday December 27, 2017:
          Jerry's Last Jam at Gilly's

     Saxophone player extraordinaire, Hal Melia, was the host for Jerry Gillotti's last jam at Gilly's in honor of Jerry Gillotti. The club will close on December 31st this year.

     The first band to take the stage was Eddie Brookshire's Big Band. They were raucously received by the capacity crowd in attendance and Cliff Darrett on latin percussion and congas with Fenton Sparks on drums enhanced a rousing rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's  Manteca! These percussionists also had some help from Ismail Muhammad.
     The second tribute of the night was from the quartet of Randy Villars on piano, Hal Melia on tenor sax, Fenton Sparks on drums and Eddie Brookshire on bass. Also well received, the crowd heard some excellent solos as these veteran musicians demonstrated their ability to interact and musically communicate to the crowd's delight!

      Master of Ceremonies Hal Melia kept things moving along by bringing up on stage the first jam group of the evening. This group included vocalist Sandra Rutledge, Randy Villars on piano, Bill Dixon on trumpet, King Koeller on tenor sax, Vince Gillotti on tenor sax, Eddie Brookshire on bass , Hal Melia on flute and [ ? ] Mallott on drums. This jazz jam group really seemed to fire up the crowd even more.

     Next up was Dave Greer and his Classic Jazz Stompers; a Dayton area mainstay for several decades, this group always gives the impression that they play Dixieland jazz but jazz lovers quickly realize that there is a jazz musicianship that smoothly moves right into bop and provides a musical mixture that results in pure delight to listeners. As 89.5 FM WDPS radio show host often says, "There may be other bands out there somewhere that are just as good as the Jazz Stompers but there are none better!" This was the one band at the Jerry Gillotti tribute that does play a regular gig on the second Tuesday of the month at Jimmy's Ladder Eleven down on Brown Street.

     The second jazz jam group was brought to the stage next and included Gary Onady on trumpet, Jim Smith on guitar, Mike Koogan on trombone, Lee McKinney on drums, Hal Melia on tenor sax and various other sundry players (apologies to those not mentioned). It is worth noting that this group contained two trombones. Do not see that much around the Dayton area unless you are hearing a big band. This group kept the crowd pretty enthusiastic as well.

     Arguably the most fun group of the night was The Random Flashbacks Band led by Generations Big Band trombone player, Dustin Malone. You can learn more about this band on their Facebook page. They have a lot of fun on stage!

      The next band took quite a while to set up but this is a good time to point out that there was also a DJ set up at the club that played music at the appropriate times and who knew Jerry Gillotti well and played music that Jerry liked. Once the band was set up the crowd learned it was The Floyd Witherspoon Band with Touch! Touch as played Gillys in February for the past 25 years. This band was tough to beat for Gillys longevity. Many of you reading this are familiar with Touch as they have been around Dayton for a very long time. For those of you NOT familiar with Touch, they are four band members that do an excellent job of recreating the Motown sound, in particular the Temptations and the Four Tops. They brought the house down. Even though tables and chairs had been set up on the dance floor to accommodate the expected standing-room-only crowd, dancers were not deterred during this performance. You can find videos of this group on the internet by doing a search for "motown sound of touch web" - if you like Motown, you need to find them on the web.

      Jerry's brother Tom was brought to the stage to tell some club stories, of which he had too many to talk about them all, but he did talk about Richard Pryor coming to the club and delivering about a half hour performance because he liked the band he heard so well. Another story this reporter heard from trumpet player Gary Onady was that the year Wynton Marsalis won awards in both the classical and jazz genre, he actually heard Wynton, Branford and the Marsalis family matriarch Ellis at Gilly's for 6 bucks! Unfortunately (and disappointingly),  this reporter was unable to stay for the final jazz jam group of the evening, but there were two female vocalists, Dayton area jazz musician regulars Jason Swann on tenor sax (who also backed up Touch) and Grant "King" Koeller on tenor sax. Two jazz musicians who returned to the area were also in the band - unfortunately, facial recognition did not also result in remembering names. The trombone player attended Central State and actually once played an Australian instrument, the diggory do,  at Jazz Central and the bass player, first name Ian it seems, is now earning a living playing bass in New York City. Hats off to them for returning to the area to pay tribute to long time jazz and blues club owner Jerry Gillotti. The group also include various other jazz musicians (again, apologies to those not specifically mentioned in print). It was a night to remember.

Article by Jim Woodford
Photos by Sarah Woodford

Comment by Ron Gable on Jan. 1, 2018:

     My most memorable event at Gilly’s was the 2005 jazz advocate hurricane Katrina benefit concert; where Jerry Gillotti furnished the venue and many local jazz musicians furnished the entertainment. The Dayton Pizza Factory, Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers and others furnished food. The evening had a true New Orleans Jazz flavor provided by Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers from Dayton and Don Vappie of the Creole Jazz Serenaders from New Orleans who happened to be in town when Katrina hit. Gilly’s closing marks the end of an era for me and many other local music fans so now is the time to be thankful for Jerry’s gift of many memories of good times at Gilly’s.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2013 Chicago Jazz Festival (Aug. 29th through Sept. 1st)

2013 Chicago Jazz Festival (Aug. 29th through Sept. 1st) Story and photos by Greg Turner
Dear Ron:
In case you were wondering,  I did attend the Chicago Jazz Festival this year, and there was a major change in the festival to report. After its first 34 years in Grant Park, the major part of the festival moved 2 blocks north to Millennium Park with its main stage, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and its side stages, the Von Freeman Pavilion, the Jazz and Heritage Pavilion, and the Young Lions Pavilion.
 Also, after always staying within walking distance of the park, My wife Donna and I stayed near O’Hare airport and used the train to come downtown via the hotel shuttle. After one day of this we drove into town and found an inexpensive lot, We saved a little money, but we were only able to attend one side stage set, and that was cut short by an incoming thunderstorm. 

Musical elders gave us many bright moments at this year’s fest. Chicago saxophonist Geof Bradfield’s tribute to the late trombonist Melba Liston featured a guest appearance by frequent Liston employee pianist Randy Weston, still an imposing figure at 87. After 71 year old Wadada Leo Smith’s tribute to the Civil Rights Movement, Friday evening concluded with saxophonist/flautist Charles Lloyd. Celebrating his 75th year on the planet and backed by his current working band of young veterans, Lloyd showed that age hasn’t diminished his fire.

Sometimes even modernists like me like to hear some well played no frills straight ahead jazz, which is what 86 years old Jimmy Heath gave us with his quartet to open Sunday’s Pritzker performances. The great Chicago pianist Willie Pickens, still going strong at 82, guested with saxophonist Donald Harrison on 3 selections, including an amazing solo reconstruction of “Giant Steps”

Donald Harrison
For me the festival’s brightest moment was the electrifying performance of vocalist Gregory Porter. Having seen only part of his “Its Commonly Jazz” performance and having read that some consider him the next great male jazz singer, I was looking forward to seeing the whole set., Working with the same band he had in Cincinnati and singing selections from his 3 releases, Porter earned on of the loudest and longest ovations I’ve ever heard at the fest. His first 2 releases have already earned him Grammy nominations in jazz and R&B (!). I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Napoleon Maddox
Gregory Porter
Randy Weston
A pleasant surprise came from festival artist-in residence, drummer Hamid Drake. One of the members of his group Bindu, was Cincinnati native Napoleon Maddox, a member of the local group IsWhat?, adding his beatboxing and vocals to their hybrid of jazz improvisations over mostly reggae rhythms, another of the festival’s bright moments. Guess I should read the program…
I didn’t attend any After Fest events this year because I didn’t see any information about them. The Jazz Record Mart’s annual Sunday morning Brunch is always good, but it didn’t offer any surprises like in the past. But I had a great time like I always do and , as always, here are some photos for the readers.
Greg Turner 14 Oct 13 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Brad Goode really is!!!

It took me a couple of weeks from hearing to writing to posting concerning the Beavercreek Weekend of Jazz High School Jazz Band day and it was shortly after that when I was treated to an outstanding performance by Brad Goode at Jazz Central at 2931 East Third Street. So  time to make note. Brad was on a whirlwind midwestern tour which included two stops in Chicago, one in Cincinnati and one in Dayton (of which I know of anyway). Frankly I had forgotten just how good Brad is on the trumpet. Pretty much the entire first set, even the "we love to talk about jazz, the song and the individual performances during the performance" attendees were just sitting and marveling at the beautiful trumpet playing of Brad Goode. Words escape me. And Brad was accompanied by an all star cast of players. Dan Karlsberg on keyboards (you can hear him at The Blue Wisp in Cincy and surrounds), Phil Tipton (also a much sought after Cincy area musician) on drums and the co-star of the evening, Dayton's own Bill Burns, baritone sax player extraordinaire. They were accompanied by a bass player with which I was not familiar by the name of Tim Watson and he solidified the Quintet. The first set was simply out of this world! The music played and the musicianship exhibited on the stage was such that people got lost in the moment. If jazz can be ethereal, this performance rose to the occasion. I am quite certain that Brad Goode would be in his element with any jazz trumpet player in the entire world. He was that good. I did speak to him at break and unfortunately he was unable to play beside Scott Belk, now at the College Conservatory of Music in Cincy, because he was out of town doing his own thing. Too bad. I heard the two of them in Columbus once at a Tuesday night jazz jam at The Park Street Tavern which was quite memorable. Brad teaches out in Colorado now so who knows when Dayton will get the chance to hear him again but if you were there, you know of which I write. Get out and hear Brad Goode anytime you see he is in the area, wherever you may be when you read this.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Beavercreek Weekend of Jazz High School Jazz Band Day

Recently finished one of my favorite days of each year, The Weekend of Jazz High School Jazz Band Day at Beavercreek High School as part of their annual Weekend of Jazz. I do not see how there could possibly be a better high school jazz day in the whole United States. Doug McCullough and his minions just simply work miracles. Congratulations!! Seems like there are trends at each of these I attend and this year there were more female band members who also soloed, pretty much every band had a guitar player – some had two, the bari-sax was prominent this year and last but most certainly not least, there was clearly a revival of the clarinet this year. Hurray!

First up for the day was Kings Junior High School Jazz Band under the direction of Joe Polen. I have come to expect good things from Joe Polen over the years and this year was no exception but I do have a confession to make. I was unfortunately late upon arrival and missed their first selection, Lullaby of Birdland completely, and was only permitted to listen to their second selection, Bye Bye Blackbird from outside the concert hall doors. But their final presentation was Listen Here, an Eddie Harris composition with which I was not familiar which included a nice bari-sax solo, an interesting trade-off between tenor sax and alto sax and an accomplished guitar solo. And for my money, the keyboard work stood out throughout the entire song. Good job. Names included in the solo column were Adam Nunez, Sam Purkiss, Ethan Cain, Zach Groome and Gyasi Richardson but somebody other than me will have to match those names to the instruments played.

Next up was the Kettering Fairmont Jazz Ensemble II under the direction of Dayton Jazz Orchestra veteran and saxophonist extraordinaire, Dan Nicora. First up was A Minor Case of the Blues which had excellent big band volume [I mention this because not all high school big bands do] and there was a female double bass, female trombone solo, the piano & drums kept things going throughout [female drummer] and there was a particularly nice vibes solo. Next the band performed Milestones. This song seemed to be played with greater confidence and included a nice vibes solo, another female trombone solo and a notable French Horn solo; there had also been a switch to a male drummer and male electric bass. Then finally the band played 25 or 6 to 4, for all you Chicago fans out there [believe when they had this hit they were actually called the Chicago Transit Authority before being legally forced to change their name by the actual Chicago Transit Authority]. There was yet another drummer switch, which resulted in a great drum solo to finish out the song. The band displayed excellent ensemble work and mixed it up to include lots of solos including another French Horn solo, another vibes solo and just a good rendition overall. This band had two guitarists.

The third band of the day was the Lakota West Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Todd Hartman, who always brings bands that seem accomplished beyond their chronological years. The streak continued. He also had a piano player that got a last minute call due to illness, had no practice with the band so sight read all three selections, pretty impressive. The band kicked things off with a female vocalist, Julie Street, singing On The Street Where You Live. The song included a nice female tenor sax solo (I think by Juli Mickle). Next up was The Nearness of You which included a melodic and coherent tenor sax solo by Josh Costello and the double bass player continued to catch my ear with some fine bass work (provided by bass players Bennett Mylius and Jacob Davidson). Finally, the band played Moon Over Cuba, a Juan Tizol tune (probably more famously known for his compositions Caravan & Perdido with the Duke Ellington Band-he was also a valve trombone player) and I am happy to say that this song included two clarinetists and, as you might guess, a trombone solo (by Matt Boudin). This band also included two guitarists.

The next band displayed a big band sound throughout all three of their selections, the Xenia High School Jazz Band under the direction of Greg Sell. I later had an opportunity to speak with Greg Sell and learned that he is retired Air Force Band and as I have stated in other places, there are no bad musicians in the Air Force Band, certainly not the jazz band musicians. I know several personally and they are all fantastic. Plus Greg Sell continues a string of excellent band directors at Xenia starting some years ago with Ray Foster, including John Harner (who used to play lead trumpet for Stan Kenton and still plays with the Dayton Jazz Orchestra) and now Greg Sell. Wow, how do they do it? They kicked off their portion of the day with a pop song made popular by The Ides of March, Vehicle and with no pun intended, it was an excellent big band vehicle with a great big band sound. There was also a nice trombone solo by Adam McCoy. Next was Moonlight Serenade which featured Sean Smolinski on clarinet. It is nice to see the clarinet working its way back into big bands. The third selection was Birdland, a song which lends itself to being an ideal big band tune, and the Xenia High School Jazz Band knocked one out of the ballpark with this one. Great job! At a venue which normally entails three songs per band, Xenia played two more songs. The band did quite the noteworthy rendition of Shiny Stockings with a nice crisp trumpet solo by Luke Williams and then finished out their five song set with Herbie Hancock’s Cameleon. Brendan Orchard had a nice guitar solo and Andrew Blake played a nice bass trombone solo but the bari-sax helped carry the song, apologies for not getting the bari-sax players name.

The 5th band of the morning was Kettering Fairmont Jazz Ensemble I under the direction of Dan Nicora (accolades previously presented). The band played some adventurous choices of music beginning with Such Sweet Thunder, (a song I was only recently introduced to at the 2012 Miami Valley Band Camp by Scott Belk’s band camp group, the title track from a twelve part suite based upon the work of William Shakespeare) which has a very distinct sound which grabs your ear from the git go. Andy Kremer played a nice trumpet solo and James Johnson played a nice trombone solo also. Next up was Manteca which included numerous solos but another trombone solo and a Carlos Santanaesque guitar solo. The band did a great job on the final choice, Haitian Fight Song by Charles Mingus. The song kicked off with a spot on double bass intro by Sam Barton and Andy Kremer added another trumpet solo. There was also a nice alto sax solo and another nice guitar solo.

Up next was the Magsig Jazz Ensemble from Centerville under the direction of Tom Pompei. As usual, he brought a whole host of young eager jazz musicians. First up was a tune entitled Hefti’s Hideout [a tribute to Neal Hefti, who some say is simply one of the greatest jazz tune writers of our time. Neal wrote such great jazz charts as Li'l Darlin', The Kid From Red Bank (for Count Basie) and movie and television themes, like The Odd Couple and Batman] The band accomplished some nice ensemble work and the muted brass effects were particularly noteworthy. Next up was Nat Adderley’s Work Song which was a bit of a different arrangement with a trumpet solo by Max Miller and an alto sax solo by Collin Cutler. The Sesame Street Theme came next and was probably the best overall cohesive big band effort, nice job. This was followed by what Director Pompei called a contrast with Sesame Street, Frankenstein, written and made popular by The Edgar Winter group some years ago. This performance contained a guitar solo by Sam Huber and a bari-sax solo by Kyle Wenk and it had a great big band finish.

The 7th band of the day/morning was the Miami East High School Jazz Band from Casstown, Ohio under the direction of Jeffrey Smith. The band played some very nice nuances on their first selection, Stolen Moments, in which the drummer did a particularly nice job on the brushes and there was a nice bari-sax solo by Blake Garrett. Interestingly enough, this band also chose Such Sweet Thunder (the Duke Ellington tune based upon Shakespeare’s works previously noted) as one of their selections. There was a switch to a female drummer and solos included a trumpet solo and a valve trombone solo, soloists listed were Josh Niswonger and Brendan Speck. The final song was Blue Madness which was definitely up tempo and a nice big band selection which ended with a great big band finish.

The last band of my morning attendance before I forced time for some lunch was another Todd Hartman band, Lakota Eastside Jazz Ensemble. This group of students sounded like a working big band. Their first lengthy selection was a tune entitled Swangalang, a Bob Mintzer composition [Saxophonist Bob Mintzer is a twenty year member of the Grammy award winning Yellowjackets who also leads a Grammy winning Big Band, travels with his own Quartet, and plays with numerous bands globally. ] This selection gave band members lots of solo room and included a nice trombone solo, a sax soli, a tenor sax solo then a tempo change with a trumpet solo. There was also a rousing trombone duet tradeoff. Lots going on and very professionally played. Next up was a Thad Jones ballad, To You which included some very nice brush work on the drums and a fine trombone solo by Jacob Stegeman with some nice keyboard work too. The third and final selection was with vocalist Lauren Murphy on Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, she had some strong vocals with a great big band backup.

One of the facets of attending the Beavercreek Weekend of Jazz High School Jazz Day is that even if you are not in the auditorium to hear the bands live, you have access to those performances on a big screen TV out in the lunch room. How can you beat that? The Miamisburg Jazz Lab Band played their first two selections as I watched on the big TV screen. Unfortunately I could not hear the names of the songs the band played but when I did get in for the third selection I realized that the names of the songs were not announced at all and that the program indication of TBA for “Music, Composer (C), Arranger (A)” did not apply in this case and unfortunately I did not recognize the pieces played. I will say that the final song was an up tempo, pink panther theme-like tune with some great piano playing throughout. The names of the band members was at least listed.

Then came the home grown sound of the Beavercreek High School Jazz Ensemble 2 under the direction of Michael Bisig. This band stood out with band section related color coded ties and kicked things off with a lively tune entitled Libertango. Seemingly always trying something a little different (noted in years past), the song actually started off with the trumpet section down front to kick off the song followed by solos on trumpet, trombone, soprano sax, trumpet, trombone, trumpet, trombone, drums, percussion (actually a trade-off back and forth with drums and percussion) and then the entire band for a big band finish, nicely done! Next up was Bad Ol’ Blues which began as a slow tempo tune for the entire band and then picked up tempo for the piano solo followed by another string of solos, seemingly by all those band members that did not solo on the first song, which even included a clarinet solo, Bravo for member participation. The piano solo by Matt Ferree was of particular note. The final selection was introduced as a tune entitled Spud, to which a small voice behind me announced, “Spud? I like spuds!!” As good as the two previous songs had been, Spud contained the best drum solo of the three, thank you Steven Otto (and Taylor Goeman on auxiliary percussion), and also contained a vibes solo, bass solo and a big band drum finish.

The Centerville Jazz Ensemble 3 under the direction of Bill Burns was the next band of the day. Bill Burns is also an active member of The Dayton Jazz Orchestra and one of the best darn bari-sax players in the area. This band had a VERY big band sound. Three songs were listed but four songs were played and the first one up was Watermelon Man – let me say here that this song was not officially introduced (come on Bill, you are always good about announcing your songs wherever you play) but it sounded a lot like Watermelon Man by Herbie Hancock to me. Please, somebody correct me if I am wrong. It was a bit of a different arrangement with many solos and enjoyable trade-offs between the bass trombone and the bari-sax (hey, did I mention that Bill Burns is a bari-sax man?) The next selection was a nice big band arrangement entitled Ballad for David Gibbins. This was followed by Count Basie’s Jumpin’ at the Woodside which included some electric bass playing of note and a nice big band finish. The final tune was by the favorite sax player of Bill Burns, Roland Kirk, entitled A Sackful of Soul. Bill also announced that Roland Kirk is from Columbus, Ohio. The band did a nice job on this final number which contained another nice electric bass solo.

The twelfth band of the day was another Todd Hartman group, Lakota East 2 O’Clock Jazz Band who kicked things off with Harlem Airshaft. Interestingly enough, this was another tune with which I was not familiar until the 2012 Miami Valley Summer Band Camp and I believe it too was introduced to me by a band directed by Scott Belk – Director of Music at the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, another Duke Ellington composition. For this song they brought trumpet player Nick Dobrozsi down front for a solo along with Mary Casto on clarinet. Once again, let’s hear it for the clarinet. Next selection included Meredith Cutler on vocals singing The Girl from Ipanema (actually I believe she sang the boy from Ipanema). She was backed very well by the big band and to her imminent credit, she sang the second half of the song in Portuguese. Then finally the band played Greetings and Salutations by Thad Jones (clearly Todd Hartman likes Thad Jones but then what is not to like, eh? AND from such a talented family, Thad Jones on trumpet, Elvin Jones on drums & Hank Jones on piano). This song included great ensemble work by both the trombone section and the saxophones followed by a trumpet solo, alto sax solo, trombone solo, guitar solo, trumpet solo and excellent drum work throughout. The guitar solo was particularly of note.

Centerville Jazz Ensemble 2 under the direction of Mike Voytek was the next band. They kicked off their set with what some Dayton area jazz fans call The Jazz Central theme song, Cold Duck Time, a memorable Eddie Harris composition. Originally a combo piece, this worked surprisingly well for a big band. The band played with a definite big band sound and included 2 tenor sax solos. The drums were notable throughout. Next was a Sammy Nestico tune entitled Smack Dab in the Middle which had a big band sound from the very first note plus contained a 9 sax soli. [ Nestico is a prolific composer, best know for his work with the Basie Band and The U.S. Air Force Band, for which an award has been named, for a competition calling for unpublished works for jazz ensemble. ] The final selection was the Joe Zawinul jazz classic, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, three songs, three notable composers. This final song contained an alto sax battle between Curtis Magee and Jon Evans with very nice drums throughout.

Joe Polen returned to the stage with the Kings High School Jazz Band which kicked off their appearance with the Miles Davis tune Solar. The band was understated but still managed a big band sound. Up next was Sugar Blues, recorded by Chive McCoy in the 30s and for something completely different, Tom Lehn came down front and played 30s style muted trumpet. Quite effective and interesting. There was also a nice sax soli. The last tune was a Freddie Hubbard tune entitled Sky Dive. We heard from Andrew “Taco” Smith on flugle horn and I would also note that there was a female drummer who definitely helped make the song work as well as it did.

The fifteenth band of the day was the Centerville Jazz Ensemble 1 under the direction of Josh Baker. The first selection was Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night In Tunisia with a nice bare-sax kick off and I might add, a very big band sound. The song also included a trumpet solo, right down front and some nice trombone and tenor sax solo work. The drums fit the song quite well and there was a big band finish. Listed soloists were Alex Kruzel, Emma Shibley & Covey Emmert. Next up was a bit of a surprise, the third vocalist of the day, Meredith Eckle, sang a very emotional version of Gershwin’s The Man I Love. I might go so far as to say it was a riveting rendition. The song was made even that much more effective with a beautiful trumpet solo by Katie Buttram. Then a very big band sound on the Paul Desmond/Dave Brubeck classic, Take Five. Greg Knapp played the part of Paul Desmond on alto sax. This may have been the big band song of the day. The band concluded with another Gillespie classic, Salt Peanuts. When the song was introduced, the small voice behind me once again was heard to Salt Peanuts!? The song was played in the true “staccato” style of the song with another alto sax solo from Greg Knapp (this time apparently playing the part of Charlie Parker) and the band ended with a rousing chorus, Salt Peanuts, Salt Peanuts! [As the story goes, Dizzy took his developing bop sound to the West Coast and there were complaints about no lyrics, to which his response was to add the now infamous, Salt Peanuts, Salt Peanuts!]

Next up was what might be called a surprise entry, a jazz combo. Listed as under the direction of Todd Hartman, Todd Hartman actually sat behind me during the performance. It was a group of ten Lakota High School students who played their own head arrangements of three existing jazz tunes. The band consisted of percussion, trombone, 2 tenor sax, 2 alto sax, trumpet, piano, drums, bass & guitar. This was clearly the most interesting part of the day. Their first selection was Nat Adderley’s Work Song and there was plenty of room for solos. They sounded like a working combo and if they are not getting out there to play in clubs, they should get out there. Next up was Summertime with Curtis Holtgrefe and Jack Lambert switching to clarinets. Yes I said clarinets and played very well. There was also an excellent piano solo. The final selection was a Roy Hargrove tune entitled Starsbourg St. Denis and the performance of this tune put me in mind of bands like Chase, Chicago and The Jazz Messengers in the presentation and the trumpet solo was particularly noteworthy, but truthfully, all three selections were very well done.

The Miamisburg Star City Jazz Band was the next band under the direction of Stephen Aylward. None of the chosen pieces of the band were listed in the program and none of them were introduced during the performance but if my jazz ear was working properly, the first one was Now’s the Time and the last one was Stevie Wonders’ Higher Ground (OK , that wasn’t really a jazz ear) and I did not recognize the one in the middle. Now’s the Time included a female trumpet solo, followed by solos on tenor sax, trombone, bari-sax, guitar and trumpet. There was some nice ensemble work as well with a big band finish. The second song did contain a noteworthy guitar solo. Higher Ground lent itself quite well to a big band interpretation and it was a good big band performance with a big band finish.

Up next was the Troy High School Jazz Band under the direction of Katherine McIntosh. Katherine not only stands out as the only female jazz band director but she always seems to do a good job with her musicians. This year she also played piano on the first selection, Chicago. It was a nice big band selection and an understated big band sound was accomplished. Next up was Bye Bye Blackbird with Scott Grigsby doing a nice solo on trumpet. The intro to the next tune made me sit up and listen, I thought I was playing Birth of the Cool and Miles Davis had just kicked off Boplicity. I mean wow! What a great job! Michael Starcher soloed on bari-sax and Anthony Duvault on trumpet. The final selection was I Get a Kick out of You which had some good punctuations and another notable trumpet solo by Anthony Duvault but what really helped make the performance was the drummer, Jack Alexander, was spot on throughout. Nice job.

The final band of The Weekend of Jazz High School Band day is always Beavercreek High School jazz 1 under the direction of Doug McCullough, the Master Mind of The Weekend of Jazz. Some might refer to this band as the red tie band. The first selection was Sammy Nestico’s The Heat’s On (see Centerville Jazz Ensemble 2 for more on Sammy Nestico) which was a nice big band interpretation. Listed soloists were Matthew Brenner and Jarrod Manguiat. Critical Mass was performed next which was an interesting funk flavored piece with a noteworthy alto sax solo and a nice bari-sax solo. It was certainly a great big band piece. The third song in a four song set was Back Burner which was introduced as a shuffle tune and it contained some nice ensemble work. The song also included a noteworthy trumpet and trombone solo. The listed soloists were Jarrod Manguiat, Emily Hoskins, Morgan Slone & Matt Dexter. The final selection of the day was the Ray Noble classic, Cherokee. A good big band ending to a good big band day.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jazz Central has memorable performance!!

Secret! Kept? January 5, 2013 at Jazz Central
Last night at Jazz Central resulted in some highly enjoyable jazz performances, collectively and individually. The brainchild of Ismail Muhammad, "Secret! Kept?" consisted of Jason Jordan (bass), Cliff Darrett (latin percussion and congas), Cameron Voorhees (guitar), Clarence Slaughter (tenor sax), Mark Smarelli (vibes), John Hampton Wagner (vocals and flugle horn) and Ismail Muhammad (drums). If there was even a miniscule complaint from the crowd, it might have been that the gig did not get off to full steam until about a half hour after the posted start time but I can tell you that nobody was leaving once things got started!! It has been about a year since Clarence Slaughter (who cut his jazz teeth at Jazz Central starting when he was around 12 years of age) and since that time he has recorded with Trombone Shorty on his release entitled "Backatown" and calling New Orleans home he has toured with numerous groups (I heard Ireland as a destination a couple of times) and soon will be leaving to tour again with the Hot 8 Brass Band. Welcome home Clarence. He was good when he left the area, now he is even better.

The Slaughter Brothers
Mark Smarelli is a vibes player extraordinaire, he is generally only available to play at Jazz Central when there is a school Holiday on a Monday but lucky us, last night was a Saturday and believe me, he did not disappoint. Cameron Voorhees is an outstanding guitar player who is currently playing with The Air Force Band and their jazz counterpart, The Night Hawks. No one walks away from a Voorhees performance disappointed unless it would be because he did not take more solos. He had the crowd going last night. Cliff Darrett, John Hampton Wagner and Ismail Muhammad are Sunday Night Jazz Central Jazz Jam regulars and last night they strutted their musical abilities once again. There were even a couple of guest artists, William Patrick Slaughter on trumpet (a.k.a Little Pops) and The  G-Man, a blues singer who was part of the celebration and dedication of last nights performance to Cornelius Johnson (an original drummer with The Robert Ward Band and The Ohio Untouchables which ultimately led to the Ohio Players) and Greg Wood (long time Jazz Central Drummer who passed away a few years ago). Two empty chairs down front were staged in their honor. I could walk you through each tune played but I will note that the entire band kept the place happy the first set, especially with songs like Mr. Magic and All Blues. The second set seemed to feature Voorhees on guitar and Smarelli on vibes with such songs as Poinciana & Breezin' and everybody was pleasantly surprised with the bands rendition of Friends and Strangers. For those of you who read this today, you can catch the Slaughter Brothers again tonight at the 1-6-13 Sunday Night Jazz Jam. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Chicago Jazz Festival

2012 Chicago Jazz Festival Review
article and photos by Greg Turner

Dear Ron;

In case you were wondering, I did not go to the Detroit Jazz Festival this year even though I was asked several times. With their larger budget and “more-big-names” booking policy. Detroit’s has become the most anticipated Labor Day Weekend jazz festival for area music fans. But having attended every Chicago Jazz Festival except one since 1985 my heart still belongs to the Windy City and its active jazz and improvised music scene.

Friday evening at Millenium Park began with a late addition, a tribute to Chicago tenor saxophonist Von Freeman, who died in August. Von’s son, saxophonist Chico Freeman,  an old favorite of mine,  was one of the musicians who played the tribute, but not knowing about it, I arrived at the park just as the last note sounded. In a bizarre end to the evening the legendary drummer Roy Haynes, still working regularly at 87, spent too much of his 90 minute set tap dancing, talking to the audience, and letting audience members speak on mike, instead of driving his band of 20-and-30-somethings. Guess he was pacing himself.

Saturday at Grant Park began for me with memorable performances from the groups of young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and another veteran drummer, Billy Hart, playing originals from their latest releases on Blue Note and ECM respectively. Akinmusire is one to watch, possessing impressive technique, an aggressive attack, and excellent interplay with his saxophonist, Walter Smith III. Through his his relentless drive and impeccable touch..Hart once again proved himself as one of the best living practicioners of the drumset. I don’t remember any particular songs that vocalist Dianne Reeves sang, a couple of them seemed to be  conversations with the audience, but so powerful was her voice and so commanding was her stage presence, it provided a joyous conclusion to a great day of music.. 
Sunday began early at the annual breakfast at Jazz Record Mart, with pastries, coffee and sounds from a group of Delmark recording artists led by saxophonists Ernest Dawkins and Ira Sullivan. Energized by such physical and spiritual “food”, I walked to Grant Park for the first Festival set of the day from the Milton Suggs Philosophy. Suggs, a Chicago vocalist, and several members of his group have actually visited our area via the Loft Society. His “philosophy’ is to write and perform his own lyrics to  jazz classics by artists such as Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, and Benny Golson, and it worked. The rest of Sunday afternoon I went from stage to state trying to check out a little bit of everything and wore myself out, although I did enjoy what I caught from the groups of former Chicagoans Jeff Newell and Tito Carillo.

Sunday’s headliner was  New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint, playing music from his Bright Mississipi project. With such a title plus guest musicians clarinetist Don Byron and guitarist Marc Ribot. I was expecting to hear a Monk tribute, but they played a variety of music, including several of the R&B hits that Touissant played on or produced and more Ellington than Monk. Toussant is not a jazz pianist per se, but he can seemingly play anything and play it well.

Despite their limited budget, The Jazz Institute of Chicago and city Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events do a great job of programming this festival. I hope they can keep doing what they are doing. And, as always, here are some pictures…

Greg Turner

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Eddie Brookshire Quintet +1 & JD Allen

Saturday night found me finding the time to pop on down to Gilly's in downtown Dayton to catch the Eddie Brookshire Quintet, always enjoyable. Turned out it was also Eddie's birthday. Happy Birthday Eddie! He was joined by the usual cast of characters, Jack Novotny on saxophone, Gary Onady on trumpet, Fenton Sparks on drums, Kega Harikawa (sp?) on piano and Barry Ward as guest trumpet player. They kicked off with the first song off their recording entitled Surrendered Life, an Eddie Brookshire original. It was the hard driving bebop I have come to expect from the Quintet and it was just what I needed. At the end of the first set Eddie's wife, Brenda Flowers was invited up to sing a couple and she sang/scatted one of Eddie's favorites, My Funny Valentine. Keep up the good work fellows! I then moved on up the street a couple of blocks until I was across from The Victory Theater downtown to catch JD Allen on tenor sax playing at D'Lish. I was pleasantly surprised to find that his bass player was accomplished Cincinnati bass player Jim Anderson. What a treat! JD was also accompanied by a recent CCM graduate on drums, Jeff Merrott. I listened to their first set before calling it a night. A couple of tunes that I remember from that set were It Could Happen to You and Friday the 13th, a Thelonious Monk tune. I had tried to arrange a phone interview with JD for my WDPS, 89.5 FM radio show, BeBop and More which broadcasts on Wednesdays at 1:00 (and then again on Saturday nights at 7:00 on but logistics and short timing intervened. I did plug the gig on my show so hopefully that did some good but it was a pretty good crowd that night and the performances were enjoyable. As I say on my show, get out there and support live jazz!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Jazz Central Does it Again!!!

My favorite place on a Sunday night is Jazz Central out on East Third Street, just a few blocks out of downtown Dayton. I have been going there for over a decade and there are not many Sunday Night Jazz Jams that I have missed. Sunday night, 8-12-12 was one for the books. Walked through the door and the first person I saw was Dale Carpenter, trumpet player extraordinaire! I am thinking all right, this is beginning to shape up to be a special night. Dale has not been available to come down in quite some time. Walk in to sit down and who is spread out on stage but Mark Smarelli, a vibraphonist from Springfield who just lights the place up with his solos. He has not been there for many months. The excitement is building! Sit Down and who is also there, being greeted by all the regulars in the place but WDPS Modern Big Band Host Conrad Jessee, currently on hiatus from his show due to health issues, but apparently well enough to get down to Jazz Central now and again. Things had just barely started to warm up when who darkened the door ( I say this because he is large enough to block the light from one room to the next, larger than life one might say) but Mike Teckenbrock. Arguably the best flugel horn player in the Dayton area. Now I am thinking that the night is really gong to be special and let me tell you, it really was. A core group of the usual Sunday Night Jazz Jammers were there, Kenny Baccus on B3, Greg Webster on drums, Jeff Slinker on guitar and of course John Hampton Wagner on trumpet, vocals and general master of ceremonies duty. Dale Carpenter lit things up first, Mark Smarelli kept it lit and finally Mike Teckenbrock joined in to burn the house down. What a great night of music, then when Wagner, Carpenter and Teckenbrock joined forces it was simply over the top. If you weren't there, believe me, you missed it.

overzealous jazz fan correction

Egg on my face! Guess I've heard too much great jazz by too many talented musicians to keep them all straight all the time. I must make some corrections to what I wrote about the Josh Adkin Quntet that opened for George Benson at the Fraze on 8-11-12. Yes Melvin Broach was the drummer but no doubt both he and Eddie Brookshire would be surprised by the fact I linked the two together in The Eddie Brookshire Quintet. Fenton Sparks is the excellent drummer who plays with The Eddie Brookshire Quintet. Melvin Broach is longtime drummer par excellance' associated with The Broach Approach, along with Mike Wade. And last but not least, while Eddie Bayard is an outstanding sax player from Cincinnati and always worth the trip, it is former Cincy sax player Stacy Dillard that is taking New York by storm. Just check it out on Google/You Tube. In fact, you can check out all these wonderful jazz musicians on Google and You Tube. I still wish I had been there to hear the opening act for George Benson.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mystery band opens for George Benson

Hopefully some of you caught the George Benson performance last night (Saturday, 8-11-12) at The Fraze Pavilion. And if you DID, then you may have wondered who the band was that opened the evening. I have it from a musician who was on that stage in that band that it was a last minute rush around, as the original opening act was stuck in an airport somewhere, and local jazz saxophonist Dan Nicora (of Dayton Jazz Orchestra fame) got the harried call. He was out of town as well, more phone calls ensued and the man to the rescue was Dayton's own Josh Adkin who pulled together the all star cast of Eddie Brookshire [of Eddie Brookshire Big Band and Eddie Brookshire Quintet fame], Melvin Broach [fantastic drummer, currently of Eddie Brookshire Quintet fame as well], Mike Wade [one of the best trumpet players in Cincinnati and who just recently played with New York sensation and former Cincy resident Eddie Bayard, plus he blows on one of my favorite Jazz recordings, The Jazz Circle] and even Khalid Moss came down from the mountain top. I am sorry I missed that performance, BUT, Josh Adkin hustled down to Jazz Central out on East Third to join saxophone player extraordinaire Gene Walker and the two of them had a great time. The audience enjoyed them as well. It was a highlight of the evening. Rumor had that George Benson himself might stop down to reconnect with long time friend Gene Walker but that was not in the cards. But thanks to Josh for help make the evening even more special than it had been up to that time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jazz Central Article by Khalid Moss

By Khalid Moss:
     Jazz Central is living up to its name. It is truly the nucleus for jazz in the city of Dayton. That mantle used to belong to Gilly’s nightclub where, for many years, jazz was the centerpiece, the “piece de resistance.”  But times change and with the winnowing down of the overall jazz scene in general, Jazz Central is the only place in Dayton where musicians can jam and patrons can listen to live jazz and blues on a consistent basis.
     Jazz Central fulfills the vision of Charles “Butch” Stone, an entrepreneur, jazz advocate and, lately, jazz DJ with a one-hour slot on the Dayton City Schools radio station, WDPS.
     “When I bought the building it wasn’t a jazz club,” Stone recalled.  “It was just a
building. I said this would be a good place for a jazz club. My first artist was a blues guy,
Piney Brown.”  “Piney was known in Dayton but actually he had a top ten record in the nation,” Stone said.  “Actually Piney helped construct that stage he performed on.  He was also instrumental in bringing my first jazz guy, (vibraphonist) Johnny Lytle. Johnny, in turn, introduced me to a lot of people who eventually played the club.
     Throughout the years, Jazz Central has been well-stocked with notable musicians
such as “Brother” Jack McDuff, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Albert Collins, Rusty
Bryant, Hank Marr and many others.  “I had to stop Rusty from talking and get him to playing when he was here,”  Stone said. “This was in the heyday of jazz when jazz was kickin.”  I had calls from all kinds of folks; some I stayed away from because you can’t just jump out there like that.”  Stone, a huge man with shaved head and a deep, sonorous voice, bemoaned the decline of jazz in the city.
     “Jazz is not king anymore,” he said. “But we still draw good. We have jazz, we have smooth jazz, we have promotional groups that come in once a month and also the Dayton Blues Society uses our place. They really pack it out.”
     Currently ensconced at Jazz Central every Sunday is a house band consisting of Kenny Baccus on organ and Greg Webster on drums.  The host and MC is John Hampton
Wagner, who sings and plays trumpet. Wagner described a typical night at Jazz Central’s Sunday night jam session.
     “Usually, on a typical night, me and Kenny and (conga drummer) Cliff Darrett will do a couple of songs and then we invite people to sit in,” Wagner said.  “Usually someone will pass a note to me to let me know who is out there and what instrument they play.
     “People usually check in with me to sit in. It’s not proper etiquette to just walk in and play.  We had one kid from UD who just walked in, pulled out his horn and started blowing.  He had no regard for protocol. He just started blowing.  I had to holler at him. I had to cool him out.  Another time some gal came in and said she wanted to sing. I asked her what song and she said ‘I’m just gonna scat.’ Afterward she asked me ‘How did I
do?’ I gave her three words of advice: Learn a song!”
     For Stone, the biggest job now is to get the word out about his club, which is clustered in a residential area of East Dayton -not considered a prime location for a jazz venue.
     “I believe a lot of people know about the club,” Stone explained. “But you have to  give them what they want.  If it’s not what they want, then…. Take for instance Saturday night (In March 2012). We were packed.  If you’re giving them what they want, they will come out.  But there are definitely obstacles to being a minority business.  Sometimes my ice just ain’t cold enough (chuckles).  My mother told me that! She said don’t look down. Keep going forward.”
The one thing Stone said he valued most during his trek through the iffy business of jazz is loyalty.
     “John Hampton Wagner has been with me almost fifteen years,” he said. “He’s always
there.  He’s a very loyal guy.  I’ve seen a lot of them who thought they were going somewhere but never did.  You see a lot of that.  I would have to say that (organist) Lincoln Berry is the most loyal entertainer that I’ve ever encountered.  He never wavered. He eventually moved to Minnesota but he still comes back here once a year to play. He packs them in.”
     Stone’s radio program, called Jazz Beat, is broadcast on WDPS-FM, Mondays at one
     “At the station, they call me the Iceman,” Stone said. “I forget who put that on me.  But it stuck.”
     Iceman, business man, jazz man; Butch Stone is in it for the long haul.  Jazz Central is located at 2931 East Third Street. For show schedule and details visit:

Contact DCP freelance writer Khalid Moss at

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The jazz band camp as promised!

The band camp finale kicked off with four jazz drummers [Drum Mania] under the direction of Slammin' Sammy K (and Jim Leslie during the camp). Sarah Dabe, Kelly Edsall, Evan Danielson and a drummer to be named in the next jazz drummer trade, played some coordinated drum beats/riffs and got the crowd going. Next up was the Bill Burns Big Band (THE Band) playing A Sackful of Soul by Roland Kirk and Memphis Underground by Herbie Mann. Bill Burns was off earning his keep so Hal Melia directed the band and they sounded like the week had paid off. Next was the Dan Nicora & Hal Melia Big Band [Jazz Dispenser, a.k.a. Jaz -re Pez- Dispenser]. This group played Freddie Freeloader by Miles Davis, Blue Bossa by Kenny Dorham & Moanin' by Bobby Timmons - my vote for outstanding soloist was Owen Berg on guitar. He is a 7th grader. Then came a band that called themselves the Groove Dispenser under the direction of Alyssa Mehnert (not Maynard) and they played Impression by John Coltrane, St. Thomas by Sonny Rollins and Cold Duck Time by Eddie Harris, all three very credibly performed. Last but not least, the jazz band campers were getting more experienced and the music was sounding more sophisticated, The Big Band Theory under the direction of Scott Belck played Things Ain't What They Used to Be, Such Sweet Thunder by Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn - an excellent choice, and Spain by Chic Corea which was very well done (and got the crowd involved in the hand clapping sequences). Natalie Semsel gets my vote for soloist of the night on clarinet in Things Ain't What They Used to Be. Andy Kemer was also impressive on his trumpet solo on Such Sweet Thunder. I have not been able to catch the band camp finale for several years and this one was worth catching. Keep up the good work campers and you band camp instructors. Great job!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Jim "jazz guitar" Smith & band camp finale!

I did see a few of you there tonight at the Miami Valley Jazz Band Camp grand finale. It is always enjoyable to see how the new generation of jazz musicians and jazz fans are doing. But first I must make a correction to my Stubbs Park Wednesday evening performance comments. As I walked into the auditorium tonight, one of the first people that I saw in the audience was jazz guitar aficionado Jim Smith. Jim was also in the audience last night at the DJO performance BUT he was also in the final performances by the smaller group of band camp teachers, playing his usual wonderful guitar. Somehow I omitted his name, even have it written down in my notes, but as soon as he offered me a seat and I sat down beside him a HUGE light bulb came on in my mind - oops, I left Jim Smith off the performance list. My apologies Jim and thank you for your hospitality and the conversation this evening. Glad to hear that the jazz program at Central State is alive and well. There will be more on the Jazz Camp finale to follow...

2012 Jazz camp & DJO

The Miami Valley Jazz Camp and The Dayton Jazz Orchestra are doing their thing again this year. And Thanks to Jim Leslie, jazz drummer extraordinaire, I was there Wednesday night to hear it. Called Jim about another matter, Jim mentioned Wednesday night, I took the bait and ran with it - what a night. The evening kicked off with a group of band campers that were testing their chops and demonstrating what they had been working on all week. They were well received by the crowd, a pretty sizable crowd too, given the 90 degree temperatures. The jazz camp teacher version of the DJO was Brian Cashwell on piano (you can find him most Monday nights at Brio's ... with the trio), Dan Nicora (ts), Jeff Spurlock (as), Hal Melia (as), Josh Adkin (as) and Bill Burns (bari-sax). The second row consisted of either Jim Leslie or Slammin' Sammy K on drums, Tom Billing (trombone), Vaughn Weister (trombone), Alyssa Maynard (trombone) & Todd Couch (trombone). Third row was made up of Chris Berg (b) [another of the trio at Brio's], Brian West (t), Dave Halpin (t), Bill Dixon (t) & Al Parr(t)..... an all start cast for sure. Since moderator, jokester, musician and jazz enthusiast Hal Melia was so great about announcing each tune I will let you in on what you missed if you were not in attendance; Begin the Begine featuring Scott Belck and Josh Adkin (oh yeah, neglected to mention that Scott Belck wowed the crowd as well with some great solos), Nancy with the Laughing Face featuring Dan Nicora, Emily featuring Vaughn Weister, Sweet Georgia Brown featuring the entire band doing some great ensemble work with some room for Al Parr, Bill Burns and Jeff Spurlock to stretch out on some solos, Time After Time featuring Alyssa Maynard and Chris Berg, Where or When featuring Bill Burns on bari-sax and then finally Stella by Starlight featuring Hal Melia on alto sax. The crowd was thrilled throughout with the usual memorable performances. But that was not all - then we were treated to some small group interpretations featuring Jim Leslie on drums, Chris Berg on bass, Brian Cashwell on piano, Alyssa Maynard on trombone, Hal Melia on alto sax and flute & Scott Belck on trumpet. Sammy K jumped in for a song as well. The group played an Alyssa Maynard arrangement entitled Blue Freeze then a Scott Belck composition entitled Pot Kettle Black and ended with Hal Melia on flute playing Its You or No One. A great night of music and band camp finale is Friday night, hey, that's tonight - see you there!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Who is Eddie Brookshire?

From Jack Novotny: "Through the grace and interest of Jerry Giloti, proprietor of "Gilly's" Jazz Club in Dayton, OH he has helped "The Eddie Brookshire Quintet" gain exposure in becoming a regional voice. The ensemble plays regularly in Pittsburgh, PA and has had visits in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Lexington."

How long have I known Eddie Brookshire?
     My memory is not what it once was and I really can't say, all I know is he has always been there during the years I've been doing Jazz Advocate.  I have seen Eddie perform with many groups, ranging from Rick Evans' Masters of Jazz to the Sinclair College Jazz Ensemble.  I have seen the Eddie Brookshire Big Band, featuring wife Brenda Flowers at numerous locations including Gilly's and RiverScape.  These days you'll be most likely to see him with his quintet, which after going through some changes on piano and drums, has developed into one of the great groups from Dayton.
The Eddie Brookshire Quintes performs the Grand Opening
at the Thompson House in Newport, Ky

     Eddie was born in Carthage, Miss. and moved to Dayton Ohio at age 6. Originally a Clarinet player, while in the US Army taught himself Electric Bass, first toured and recorded with Piney Brown's Blues Band, then with the Coasters. He formed the fusion band The Casual Society, and soon joined Rusty Bryant, recording Friday Night Funk with him in 1970. After Acoustic Bass studies with Larry Gales, he joined James Newton's jazz group. Later, he attended Central State University and organized the University's Big band, and played in award wining jazz combos and Ethnic Ensembles in addition to numerous musicianship awards at jazz festivals. Eddie, listed in Who's Who in colleges, attended Northern Ill. for grad studies in World Music, where he studied bass with Larry Grey and Steel Drums with Cliff Alexis. He was a member of the Down Beat award winning symphonic orchestra, won more musicianship awards and ran jazz combos for the university.
     Throughout and upon completing college he traveled with Vibe player Johnny Lytle and backed up Little Jimmy Scott, worked in the bands of Elvin Jones, Norris Turney, Booty Wood, Sandra Reeves- Phillips, Buddy Webb, Cal Collins, Pherez Whitted, Karl Allen, Little Johnny Taylor, Lowell Folson, Bill Holman, Bob Curnow, Maria Schneider, Claude Williams, Snokie Young, Von Freeman, Jimmy Wilkins, Earl Warren, John Carter, Billy Harper, Benny Maupin, Jimmy Owens, Nathan Davis, Woody Shaw, Slide Hampton, Gerri Allen, Jay McShan, Roy Ayers, Wilbert Longmire, David Fathead Newman and Azar Lawrence. Eddie is a former Member of Kishwaukee Comm. Symphony Orchestra, present member of AAJC-IAJE Big Band, listed in The United States Achievement Academy College Directory (86-87), NAFEO award for excellent performance (Acoustic Bass) recipient of The Presser Foundation Award (Academic 1986-87). He currently teaches at Sinclair Comm. College, (Bass, Improv, and Jazz Combo) and the University of Dayton, (Bass, Jazz Combos). 
     He is a Member of A.F.M. Union 101-473 Executive Board, and along with his Quintet he also leads The Eddie Brookshire Big Band.

Riverscape MetroPark  2012 Music Series:
Saturday, June 2           Eddie Brookshire Quintet - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Saturday, June 9           Cla've Son - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Saturday, July 7            Dave Greer's Classic Jazz Stompers - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Saturday, July 14          Tropicoso - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Saturday, August 4       Deron Bell Jazz Band    - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Saturday, August 11     Son del Caribe - 7:30 to 9:30pm

Riverscape MetroPark  2012 Big Band Series:
Thursday, July 5           Hal Harris Orchestra -  7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, July 12         Dayton Jazz Orchestra - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, July 19         Tom Daugherty - Tommy Dorsey Tribute - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, July 26         Dayton Swing Era Big Band - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, August 2       Joe Aceto and his Orchestra - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, August 9       Pam Noah and Her Big Band - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, August 16     Jack Garrett & the Syndicate Orchestra - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, August 23     Bob Gray Orchestra - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, August 30     Kim Kelly Orchestra - 7:30 to 9:30pm