Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Jazz Central Jazz Jam

Three things: the last hour is the best, you never know what is going to happen and Holidays bring returning jazz jammers. I have said for many years that even if you have other things you need to tend to on Sunday night, 11:00 to Midnight at Jazz Central is still worth the trip. You never know who is going to show up and what musical magic can happen, and often does. But one rule that I even forget about is the Holiday rule. Musicians originally from the area come home for the Holidays. Last night we were blessed with the presence of a musician who started playing there even before he could drive and now he has graduated college and is attending graduate school on Memphis, Keith Moore - Keith always had a distinct style and now he plays even stronger and more confident. It was quite the treat. And another jazz jammer who has moved back into the area after being down in Atlanta for some time is trombonist Todd Bridges. He teaches in the area now and does not always feel he can come down on Sunday nights but no school Monday meant jazz jam on Sunday night. He has some serious chops and trombone players are so rare at the Jazz Central Jazz Jam. Then, to top things off, guitar player extraordinaire Cameron Vorhees showed up to play, and I do mean play! We heard some great solos. The usual jazz jam cast and crew was down to bare bones, John Hampton Wagner, trumpet and vocals, Ron Applebury on bass guitar, Greg Webster on drums (relieved a couple times by "Craig" and Henry Miles Preston) and of course Kenny Baccus on B3 organ but all four carrying the weight of the jazz jam as usual, and it was a good night for a jazz jam.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Spinoza's and The Blue Wisp

Thanks to Mr. Jazz Advocate himself, Ron Gable, I was able to catch the first set by Brian Cashwell and Mike Teckenbrock at Spinoza's recently. Both Brian and Teck are worth going to see so to have them both on the same stage was a treat. One song I inquired about was Black Orpheus, a song I never seem to be able to recognize - what a beautiful solo by Brian Cashwell on keyboards and Mike Teckenbrock on flugle horn. This was also one of long time jazz aficionado, Don Henke's, favorite tunes. You may be gone Don but you are certainly not forgotten. This was followed by the song Yesterdays which was very nicely done. Teck played flugle horn on this one so elegantly. It is always an enjoyable experience to hear these guys and they closed out that first set with Oh Christmas Tree. A great closer. Both musicians played off each other as if they had rehearsed the song over and over. Sorry I could only stay for one set.

Then I was lucky enough to be able to go down to the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati the very next night and catch The Blue Wisp Big Band. Their performance always leaves us shaking our heads and asking ourselves why we don't get down there more often. They are just outstanding. We heard outstanding solos by Hank Mountner on trumpet, Kim Pensyl on trumpet, Joe Gaudio on tenor sax, Paul Pillar on trombone, Steve Schmidt on piano and many others. Of course, the Big Band that has been together now going into their 32nd year is held together and driven by Jon Von Ohlen, former drummer for Stan Kenton, and someone Don Henke once called the best big band drummer in the world. He sure makes it look easy. And I want to give a special shout out to Larry Dixon on baritone sax and Mike Sharfe on bass for stirring the crowd up with one of my favorites, Paging Betty, written by Larry Dixon in honor of Betty Page. A fantastic night of big band music. The place was packed and as Jon Von Ohlen told the crowd, the best audience is a big audience that is listening, and everybody was. I encourage you to visit the Blue Wisp on Wednesday night and catch The Blue Wisp Big Band yourself. It is a treat.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rick Evans, The Masters of Jazz & more

Saturday night I was lucky enough to get finished with my Christmas tree hunting and related activities in time to catch some of the celebration get together for crooner Rick Evans and his Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to Rick! Rick was backed by The Masters of Jazz, the inimitable Jim Smith on guitar, Vinnie on the skinny [Vinny Marshal on bass] and the flugle horn player extraordinaire, Mike Teckenbrock. Rick was also joined by guest vocalist Beverly Jackson - geez, haven't heard her in months and get to hear her twice within just a couple of weeks. All-in-all, very enjoyable.

The first Thursday of this month of December, 2010 I was also able to catch the Dayton Jazz Orchestra (DJO) at Harrigan's South in Centerville. It is always a good night if you get to hear DJO as they are quite the accomplished big band jazz group. Naturally the players change slightly from performance to performance but that never seems to hurt their sound. It was a fun night, got to take my granddaughter for part of it, heard some great Christmas carols and former Stan Kenton trumpet player John Harner played one of the sweetest solos I have ever heard. DJO & Big Band aficianado Bob Young agreed with me that it was a perfect solo. Thank you John Harner and thank you DJO.

While I was glad to catch DJO just a few minutes from my house, I unfortunately missed other accomplished musicians down in the Cincy area at the Redmoor where arguably my favorite bass player, Mike Sharfe, joined piano player Steve Alee. Mike called Steve a
great artist and an amazing piano player as he lamented the all to often "very dismal turnouts" - so I hope their turnout was a good one. Speaking of missing a desirable gig, somehow I managed to miss the Eddie Brookshire Quintet when they recently performed at The Liquid Room, a new jazz venue just East of 48 on 725 in Centerville. My apologies Eddie, hope the gig lived up to expectations. well, that's it for now. Hope to see some of you around town at the live jazz performances. We may have lost the Crown Plaza but we have gained The Liquid Room, Harrigan's South, and hopefully Carvers, now hosting the displaced Shawn Stanley Trio (who can lay down some pretty good jazz licks). May have to start calling OH 725 between Yankee Trace and OH 48 the new jazz corridor.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Special Performances at Jazz Central

I attend the Sunday night jazz jam at Jazz Central out on East Third in Dayton just about every Sunday night. The jam starts around 8:30 and goes to around Midnight. Frankly, I try not to write about Jazz Central all that much or I would be posting something just about every week but this past week saw Adrienne Hindmarsh on B3 organ with husband Josh Hindmarsh, accompanied by Henry Miles Preston on drums as they faced off with Jazz Central Jazz Jam B3 organist Kenny Baccus with Greg Webster on drums. John Hampton Wagner was master of ceremony and got to sing and play pocket trumpet a little bit. I will take this opportunity to sing the praises of Josh and Adrienne. If you missed it I am sorry you did. You can sample their music by picking up a copy of their newest recording, Blue Skies, which I believe is available at CD Baby. It was a great night of music.

The very next night I did not get to the jazz jam until the last hour. I got there just in time to see Serious Young Musician prodigies Craig Hill on Tenor Saxophone and Tyrone Martin on alto saxophone and Coran Henley on drums. Any one of them can play and with all three on the bandstand it was almost overwhelming, AND, Cameron Vorhees has returned from his goodwill trip to the southern hemisphere to play his usual wonderful jazz guitar. These guest musicians were ably accompanied by the usual cast of characters, Kenny Baccus on B3, Cliff Darrett on latin percussions, Ahmed Muhammad on congas, John Hampton Wagner on trumpet and vocals and Roderick Wilson on trumpet. We were even blessed by the presence of Beverly Jackson who had not graced the stage in over a year. A memorable last hour for sure.