Sunday, November 27, 2011

Local guitarist experiences personal jazz revival

Excerpt from Dayton Daily News Jazz Beat writer Adam Alonzo: 12:06 PM Saturday, November 26, 2011

James Murrell records new CD “old-school,” with no overdubs.

Recording jazz is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle, because musicians never play a piece the same way twice. A successful recording must capture the essence of a spontaneous performance that can never be repeated.
Pursuing that elusive goal, a quintet of local jazz men recently met for a late-night studio session. Guitarist James Murrell is producing a new CD with the help of Hal Melia (saxophones), Brian Cashwell (keyboard), John Toedtman (bass) and Erik Aylesworth (drums).
The musicians faced each other in a large circle, the floor cluttered by microphone cables and sheet music. “We recorded live, with no overdubs, all in one room,” Murrell said. “A completely old-school jazz recording.”
The session began with “Alive & Kickin’ ,” a lively jam written by Murrell. Soloists passed the melody around with a glance or a nod, pointing to their heads when it was time to return to the first theme. Melia bobbed up and down and raised his arms while others took their solos.
The title of the CD is “Jazz Tent Revival,” which describes Murrell’s personal journey as a musician. “I’ve been trying to promote myself as a cross-over artist into the pop-rock genre for the last couple years and in the process of doing so I’ve lost my way,” he said. “I realized that I’m not a pop artist-singer. I’m a jazz guitarist.”
The band then recorded “Simple Solution,” another Murrell original with a slow tempo and complex melody. Between takes they planned solos and transitions, and made minor changes to the score. “The last note in bar 28 should be an e-flat,” Murrell said, making a correction to his chart.
While some takes were clearly discards, others possessed that indefinable cohesion that makes them worthy of keeping and sharing. Due to the straightforward recording techniques used, “Simple Solution” was available on Murrell’s website less than 24 hours later.
The complete CD will be released Dec. 1 at Jazz Central, where Murrell and his band will perform selections from the disc. “It will be a revival of me playing jazz again,” he said.
Adam Alonzo is a contributing writer for the Dayton Daily News. He can be reached by email at
How to go
What: James Murrell’s CD-release party
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1
Where: Jazz Central, 2931 E. Third St., Dayton
Cost: $3
More info: (937) 254-8130 or www.jamesmurrell

Monday, November 21, 2011

Way too long but plenty of good jazz...

I knew that it had been a while since I had posted observations from the field, had no idea it had been over four months. No matter I guess, here is the latest - just heard Josh and Adrienne Hindmarsh down at Jazz Central, out on East Third and to say the least, they were fantastic - if you were not there you missed a great concert. Josh Hindmarsh has always been a tremendously talented jazz guitar player, ever since I heard him several years ago and he has gotten even better, hard to believe. Adrienne Hindmarsh plays B3 so well that Dayton area B3 players show up to hear her tear it up. She did not disappoint. They also pack as many songs into a set as possible, little chit chat, LOTS of music. They have three CDs out and the latest is entitled Blue Skies as a tribute to jazz standards, and what a tribute. They are joined by Columbus area drummer extraordinaire, Jim Rupp, excellent in his own right. They kept an appreciative crowd attentive all night long and whoopin' and hollerin' after many songs played. They did not do Route 66, a song on their Blue Skies CD but I saw them bring a packed house down at the Tuesday night jazz jam at Park Street Tavern in Columbus one night. The drummer who played with them was spot on all night, he never missed a beat. You would have thought he traveled around the World with them but no, just another fantastic Columbus drummer who goes by the name of The Governor. The trio was simply out of sight all night long. If you weren't there you missed a good one.

The very next night I was back at Jazz Central again for the weekly jazz jam, the place was crowded, the jazz was good and it sure seemed like a good time was had by all. Hats off to John Hampton Wagner, trumpet & emcee; Ron Applebury, bass; Kenny Baccus, B3 organ, Henry Miles Preston, drums; Cliff Darrett, latin percussion and congas; Jeff Slinker, guitar; Ahmad Abdullah, congas; a young trumpet player who's name escapes me but has been showing up on a fairly regular basis; Rodderick Wilson, trumpet; and sort of a guest artist who plays from time-to-time, Cameron Voorhees, who plays a fantastic jazz guitar and kept things lively all night. Thanks to Butch Stone for helping keep jazz going in the Dayton area at Jazz Central.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Jazz Club at Schwartz's Point in Cincinnati by Molly McArthur

What you may not know:
- On a commercial artery of Over-The-Rhine, you'll step into a jazz room evoking 1950's Paris - but lushly plopped into modern Cincy.
- Go on a Tuesday if you want dinner and an 8-piece jazz orchestra for $10.  A buffet spread is included in the price.
- Cash only; drinks run from $3 to $8. Pours are on the right side of generous - you'll get your money's worth.
- Park on Vine and enjoy the crowd on the sidewalk between music sets outside the club entrance.  Expect passers-by to ask: "Is there really a jazz club in there?"
- The answer: Step up from the street past its threshold, and you'll see a home of jazz that's the real deal.
How to get there:
- Anywhere in the city: head up
Vine St.
to 1901 Vine.
- From University of Cincinnati/Clifton/CUF/Mt. Auburn: roll down the hill 1.5 miles on Vine.
- From the West/North: Take I-75 South to the city/
7th Street
exit. Head into city, turn left on Vine.
- From the East/North: Take I-71 South to the Reading Rd. exit / Make a right at the Staples (you are now on Liberty St.). Turn right onto Vine.
1901 Vine St.
(at McMicken)
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 651-2236
What to expect if you go:
- It's casual and relaxing. The crowd is diverse and friendly - you'll meet in-the-know OTR residents, suburbanites, musicians, out-of-towners and foreign music fans; a very welcoming environment all around.
- Voted the "Best Hidden Hangout" in 2009 by voters for Cincinnati City Beat, it seats 35-40 in a peaceful, intimate bohemian decor.
- Reservations aren't necessary; most tables seat three (four in a pinch) but a couple of tables can seat eight.
- Call for scheduling info; Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays the club is always open, but will add Wednesday and Thursday gigs on an irregular basis- and these are excellent jazz impressions. - $5 cover on Fridays and Saturdays
Cool musical moments to catch:
- Kathy Wade, acclaimed vocalist on Friday nights, grooving into midpoint of her first set; - Tuesdays, the 9-piece Society Jazz Orchestra, kicking up the swing on Ellington charts; - Jazz cabaret on some Saturday nights, when capable audience members are invited to share the mic with silky smooth vocalist (and regular Saturday night performer) Pam Ross - and this reviewer has heard some amazing stuff from the club's musical audience (incl. duets with Ross) from such gems as NYC-bound CCM phenom Mia Gentile.
Relative Scorecard:
+4  major romantic date setting - intimate, genuine, and original - not contrived
+1  very friendly, unobtrusive wait staff
+1  food (Tuesdays) and generous drinks - free quality snacks at each table on any night
+3  for being the real deal; you'll know it within 10 minutes of the piano keys being struck
+2  relaxing - this quality of the club deserves a stand apart mention
+1  for providing a special table near back of club for overt conversation
-1  neighborhood awaiting OTR breakthrough happening elsewhere
-1  more billings needed to diversify musical offerings
-1  disconnected media message; more digital outreach available to be tapped in social media
The sign on the door under the green lantern lights says "Live Jazz", but the spirit of this place is "live" (the verb) jazz.  If you haven't visited before, throw out notions of stuffy exclusivity.  This is that genial Cincinnati attitude of note, and the proprietors bring an easy charm and certain care to creating an inviting place with some great music performance.  You'll go away understanding that jazz does really live there.  Upstairs and downstairs.

On the first floor of a peculiar wedge-shaped building with a partial cobblestone facade, up
Vine St.
from the city center and bearing a large building clock heralding its name, legendary Cincinnati pianist Ed Moss hosts a special jazz scene in a comfortable room skirted with hanging Turkish rugs and paintings.  Velvet drapery and triangle-shaped tables provide harbor; the bar is one appropriated from the original Blue Wisp location.  At the piano bench is a barely-disguised musical perfectionist who has attracted around him a set of substantial players to lean on and several decades of orchestral composition and piano jazz performance.  Welcome to his living room.  Moss resides upstairs and opens the door to us on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. (Call ahead for info on special seasonal Wednesday and Thursday nights, as well as Friday happy hour events.)

It's a just-right ambiance for listening and relaxing, and springs from many years of private jazz gatherings held in the same building.  That heritage carries with it a few
local myths, new and old, worth consideration.  No, you would have to work extra hard to actually get 'shushed' at your table.  (On the other hand, if you are trying to be the
look-at-me person at your table in this intimate space, you will succeed.)  No, sets do not last upwards of 100 minutes. (In attending several nights over 3 months, this reviewer found 40-50 minutes to be the consistent mark.)  Yes, poured drinks really are stiff.  Yes, many of the newest OTR residents - that involved professional set - are walking several blocks to spend an evening there.  (Are the two previous statements related?)  This reviewer met lots of them ... around 30 of them ... or was it 50??  Good drinks ease the soul but challenge the memory.

But the music: here you also will find accomplished artists - musicians with something to say. Kathy Wade (Fridays) stuns the audience (and sometimes, Ed Moss, too) into holding their own breath to hear her wind down a quiet melody with sustained pitch perfection.  She is always a vibrant and exciting performer.  Wade deems these peaceful caps to her work week as her "therapy", and certainly when her muse is on full blast, you'll be serenaded to the same conclusion for your week, too.  Her singing has been welcomed in several corners of the globe, and it's a delight for Cincinnati to be able to catch Wade most Fridays here.  It's not the Kennedy Center (she's performed there, too) but who would complain when you and just 30 other people can hear this at a handshake's distance in front of you?

Saturday evenings brings Pam Ross to the front, a longtime accompaniment to Moss' circle of music making.  Pam Ross is a tight jazz vocalist with an intent and smooth style, who can trade off with Moss in brief dictum to establish the exact touch she wants on a given tune in terms of style and moment, evidence of their long musical partnership.  She also possesses a demeanor which can fool one into feeling she might be quite demure; but then will punch through with creative humor projected towards the audience as she gets warmed into the night's performance.  On some Saturday 'jazz cabaret' nights, visiting singers are welcomed to share the mic with her.  (And here we admit to sad eyes for the briefest flash of time when the visual spotlight switches momentarily away from the beautiful Ross, but she graciously shares her stage, guiding along song and performer with sure countenance, and sometimes in shining duets with the guest performer.)

Both Friday and Saturday nights see other talented instrumentalists join on to accent the rhythm laid down by Moss or to highlight the melody line.  Longtime Cincinnati woodwind player Gene Marquis often provides gorgeous accompaniment on soprano sax, with particularly strong ballad work by him.

Tuesday nights at Schwartz's Point are not quite like any other jazz experience to be found in the tri-state area.  At 7:30 the crowd will start arriving to partake of a spread of delicious food that Ed Moss conjures.  No potato chips here.  Fragrant lamb meatballs, various dolmadakia, or a rich pasta is likely to be your first guidepost along a lengthy spread lined with other entrees, savory vegetable treatments, meaty soups, salad, and decent breads and desserts.  There is a $10 cover on Tuesdays but that will get you food all night long and the bop of the Society Jazz Orchestra (SJO) until midnight.  This 8-piece band charms you (and sometimes charges you up) with charts by Moss and standards by big band greats.  This ensemble often sounds very good and on occasion they are simply fantastic.  Moss' compositions blend complex bridges with plenty of room for long solo works by a cadre of experienced performers.  The man at the piano is obviously intent on a certain perfection of sound, but he lets loose to direct the group more by persuasion than precision.  That's also a tribute to just how long Moss' SJO has been at it - since 1978.

Recent off-cycle engagements [Wednesday nights in October 2011] included the Mike Wade Quartet, featuring this brilliant trumpeter and Melvin Broach on drums.  This was tight, expressive, and impressive jazz - the small environment of Schwartz's Point lends to a genuine sync between audience and performer - and encourages the soloist to 'Say It Now' when the tune turns their direction.  Mike Wade is a great example of special offerings that Schwartz's Point can consider in potentially expanding the scene.  Another lies up the street at CCM, which has been turning out some boggling young jazz artists of late, deep talents with their own entourage about town. 

Jazz at Schwartz's Point, like any establishment, can look for opportunities to improve the experience.  A list of critiques, though, would flirt with the border of being trite.  Tuesday orchestra performances for the dinner set should get started promptly at 8:30.  A microphone/stage equipment foible might be present on this week but should not be found the next week.  Outreach to the Internet audience should be more vigorous - one can find on the Net many trails of smart phone users who, no doubt stunned when they have first entered the place, snap away photos of the unique lamps and of the scene inside the club and who try to "check in" on FaceBook during their visit, but there is no central place yet for this kind of synergy with attendees. 

Also, the delicious mixed free snacks present on any night at each table should include more of the cheddar-covered pretzel bits.  This reviewer really likes the cheddar-covered pretzel bits.  Yes, that's how somewhat unserious one can be in finding fault with the delight that is Schwartz's Point.  The club is an uber-relaxing spot to enjoy quality jazz, and as one couple attending told me recently, referring to the club's ownership, "It's sort of their spot, but it's really our spot, too.  We felt that way the very first time we came here."  The bet is that once you have tried it, you'll feel the same, and you'll go back to feel it again.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Molly McArthur posted on my Wall on 8/10/2011

     "A super pleasant treat for Dayton on Tuesdays ... next seven Tuesdays 8-11PM (Aug & Sep) at The Fox 2/Silver Fox club in Dayton. I stepped in to hear the Wade Baker Trio on their first evening of this run and was amazed - I couldn't pull myself away and closed the place down. This is a GREAT sounding 3-piece and each of the players are mighty skilled. Wade Baker has every touch perfected on his horn with some beautiful compositions and many standards. Surprise guest Grant 'King' Koeller on sax swung the second set with the group with mellow sounds. But the rhythm section here comprised of Keigo Hirakawa on keyboard and Eric Hergenroether on drums was simply amazing and elevated the trio to unexpected coolness. Both were on fire keeping it lively and fast paced - the crowd was noticeably awed. Why not jazz on a Tuesday? And why not Dayton? These are younger players with drive!"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Temptations to Touch

Was talked into attending a recent free performance at The Fraze. Although misunderstanding some of the rules and regulations concerning who sits where or gets into the concert venue at all, the insistence and persistence of my wife coupled with my Jazz Advocate connections and a Fraze employee who could make a decision on the spot, we got into the venue and sitting with friends as had originally been expected. Business cards are wonderful [thank you Ron Gable]. The opening act was a Dayton area Temptations Cover Band called Touch and they are aptly named because they did touch the audience and got the crowd fired up. Another fine example of musical talent (and there are many) right here in the Dayton area.

Next up was the fabulous Temptations (although with only one original member still touring with the band), but before they took the stage I noticed that there was an orchestra set up in the one corner of the stage. As I looked I began to realize that I recognized one or two of the guys, sure enough, there was trumpet player extraordinaire John Harner and the incomparable trombone player, and big band director from Columbus, Ohio - Vaughn Weister. John Harner used to play lead trumpet for one of the most widely recognized and greatly appreciated big bands in the country, the Stan Kenton band. But wait, who else do I see? Trumpet master Reg Richwine, baritone sax magician Bill Burns and is that Bill Dixon? Bill is an excellent trumpet player that jazz fans in the Dayton area do not hear enough. Suddenly a light bulb comes on in my head and I realize that these are all the Dayton Jazz Orchestra veteran musicians that were not at Harrigan's South the night before because they were no doubt getting ready for this HUGE gig! There was one exception, sax player Hal Melia had led the DJO at Harrigan's the night before and there he was sitting in the band getting ready to back the Temptations. There were a couple I did not recognize and through Bill Burns, Dan Nicora has been kind enough to provide those names to me, Scott Rogers on trombone and Adam Uhlenhake on alto sax. The rest of the band was completed with DJO vets, Jeff Spurlock on tenor sax and the aforementioned Dan Nicora, also on tenor sax. If I have said it once, I have said it a million times [OK, I've told you a million times, don't exaggerate!], Dan Nicora is a sax player we do not hear often enough as a soloist with the DJO. So here I am a big jazz fan, and a DJO fan to boot, and I am being treated to some Temptations backed by a smaller version of the Dayton Jazz Orchestra. Wow! And let me tell you, they made the Temptations look and sound good. The were especially effective towards the end of the show when solos were called for. If memory serves me correctly, Hal Melia was the first on his feet, blowin' a solo that fit the Temps perfectly. Dan Nicora was next in line and his solo kept the crowd on its feet. Jeff Spurlock took the final solo and the crowd was going crazy. Of course it was the Temps that everybody came to see but I can assure you the trumpets, trombones, saxophones and saxophone solos of the big band veterans that helped keep the crowd whipped up into a frenzy. Oh What a Night! [which was also a blue eyed soul tune with which the group Touch ended their set, giving props to Frankie Vally and Four Seasons].

One final note, you might call it last but definitely not least. I mentioned the DJO at Harrigan's South the night before. Let me tell you, the wowed they crowd all night long. Most I spoke with felt that it was possibly the BEST night of Big Band music since DJO started playing down at Harrigan's earlier this year. Half the band was substitute musicians (and now we know why) but the sound was not diminished in the least. In fact, it was quite a night for Big Band music and DJO in general. Thanks to Hal Melia for leading that band to greater and greater heights and special thanks to Jim Leslie for driving that band all night long. You may not see the Temps again around here for some time (and maybe you don't even care) but DJO is at Harrigan's South the first Thursday of each month. Come on down. If you've not been down, you are missing some great music.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Women in Jazz & Jazz Central After Party

The last hour is always the best! The Jazz Central Jazz Jam was cookin' last night and the last hour was jazz at its finest. The Jazz Central Jazz Jam stage was blessed by the presence of jazz guitarist Mike Fageros, a pilot who flies into Dayton from time-to-time and always catches the Sunday night jam. He has also been featured in previous Jazz Central Performances. The last one which they are STILL talking about! Rodderick Wilson was amazing the crowd on trumpet and flugle horn, he was joined by a sax "trio" of Larry Smith (as), King Koeller (ts) and Chuck Wade (ts). All can wail in their own right but King Koeller is always a crowd favorite. Cliff Darrett was on latin percussion and congas, house drummer Greg Webster, spelled by Craig (Mr. Clean) and Ishmael Mohammed, Ron Applebury on bass, Kenny Baccus on B3 and John Hampton Wagner on trumpet and vocals. There was a guest bass player as well, my apologies for not catching his name. This group of jazz musicians played some fantastic jazz in that last hour of the jazz jam last night. Work Song, Song for My Father and St. Thomas come to mind but it was all highlighted by the cool jazz guitar play of Mike Fageros. Always good to see Mike walk through the door. The Women in Jazz after party really seemed to enjoy the show.

Speaking of Women in Jazz, it started off rainy but turned into a beautiful day! The Jazz Central Band backed Beverly Jackson and Audrey Whitaker (which I heard from several sources went really well); Elizabeth Hayes was backed by an all star band which included Grant Koeller (ts), Reg Richwine (t) & Chris Berg (b) - I did manage to catch the last few minutes of this performance, Reg and Grant ("King") were crowd favorites, then April Aloisio, up from Cincinnati, with her Cincinnati Musicians, Phil Burkhead being a keyboard player you can sometimes hear around the Dayton area and she looked and sounded like a million bucks (as one attendee exclaimed), Patricia Berg was up next backed by husband Chris Berg on bass, Grant Koeller (again), Tim Berens (one of my favorite guitar players in the area), Brian Cashwell on keyboards (hear him every Monday night at Brios at The Greene - along with Chris Berg) and a drummer who's name I did not catch (my apologies) - caught the very beginning of Sandra Rutledge (apologies to a fellow Jazz Advocate Board Member) and then had to leave before I was able to hear B3 player Linda Dachtyl, out of Columbus, or Dayton's own Brenda Flowers and former Dayton resident Teresa Hunt (believe she calls Arizona her home now) - it was a beautiful day, a great crowd, lots of food and plenty of jazz in Women in Jazz. Keep it up Dayton!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Miami Valley Jazz Camp - Wow!!

Recently managed to get myself to the mid-week performance of the 2011 Miami Valley Jazz Camp, an annual event. Perhaps some of you know that I do a radio show on WDPS FM at 89.5 for the Dayton Public Schools. The show airs at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesdays. You can pick it up on your radios but you can also pick it up at on the internet where the station broadcasts 24/7. I mention this because I had announced on my show numerous times that the Wednesday evening performance would be at Stubbs Park in Centerville as has been the case every year for as far back as I cannot remember. As part of my "reach out and touch someone" jazz music tendencies I had traded e-mails with Dayton Jazz Orchestra (DJO) drummer Jim Leslie and he noted that the performance was at Fairmont High School. Say what? Had I lost my mind - told station listeners to be at Stubbs Park but this was incorrect? - what the heck - long story long, I called Stubbs Park folks in Centerville and they told me it was not at Stubbs Park - "When did that happen?" - "About and hour ago." I requested they add the Fairmont High School address to the sign that was going to be put up at the park and then wondered how else to get the word out. Suddenly realized that WDPS Station Coordinator, Chris Hartley (a.k.a. Hippie) was doing a live broadcast right now. Called him and asked him to get the word out over the air, "hot off the press" kind of stuff that stations love, and he did get the word out in his remaining half hour on the air. About that time I got an e-mail from Mr. Jazz Advocate himself, Ron Gable, that the Miami Valley Jazz Camp had contacted him about the weather related venue change and that he was getting to word out to all his subscribers. All of this seemed to work because the auditorium was pretty darn full by the end of the performance. Yea!

Now back to the performance, and what a performance it was. Things kicked off with a big band of Miami Valley Jazz Campers under the tutelege of Scott Belk - for those of you who do now know Scott Belk (if you do NOT know him you need to get to one of his concerts down at CCM in Cincinnati, for your own sake), he is a wonderful trumpet player and a great conductor and the band played together like they had been practicing for quite some time, when in reality it had only been three days. Ya gotta love jazz musicians! Great job Scott Belk!

The DJO was up next and what a lineup; Josh Adkins (as/ts), Dan Nicora (ts), Rick Johnson (ts/soprano sax), Hal Melia (as/soprano sax) and Bill Burns (bari-sax); Rick Simerly (tb), Vaughn Weister (tb), Todd Couch (tb) & Denny Seifert (bass trombone); Reg Richwine (t), John Harner (t), Scott Belck (t) & Bill Johnson (t); Chris Berg (b),Phil DeGreg (p) & Jim Leslie (d). The band was hitting on all cylinders! The music was great, song selection equal to the task at hand and special guest, Robyn Eubanks on trombone was eye (ear?) poppingly technically proficient. He made some sounds come out of that trombone bell that I don't think I had ever heard before.

During the DJO break they brought out a brass band conducted by trombone player extraordinaire Rick Simerly. They presented some very difficult music very well. Great job guys. Then the DJO was toned down to more of a combo arrangement, Phil DeGreg on piano, Chris Berg on bass, Slammin' Sammy K on drums, Hal Melia on alto sax, Jim Smith on guitar with special guest, Robyn Eubanks on trombone. Eubanks & Melia played some notable duets. A musically enjoyable different twist on the evening for sure. But to end the evening they brought all the DJO out once again. I could go on and on about just about every member of the band but will just note a couple tunes; Slammin' Sammy K hit a drum solo that was out of the park (later learned this was suggested by usual DJO drummer Jim Leslie) - it was a real crowd pleaser. Bill Burns worked his usual magic with a bari-sax solo on a Big Phat Band (Gordon Goodwin) reworking of Sweet Georgia Brown, Swingin' for the Fences AND, last but not least, Rick Simerly & Vaughn Weister played a fantastic trombone duet that was lots of fun for everybody. All-in-all, a great night of music. The musical teachers and mentors in this area, along with special guests such as Rick Simerly and Slammin' Sammy K do a marvelous job with the jazz students in the area that are fortunate enough to attend this camp. Keep up the good work!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dayton Jazz Orchestra 1st Thursday of each month

The first Thursday of June, 2011 found the Dayton Jazz Orchestra (DJO) at Harrigan's South again, holding forth in another rendition of their big band magic. Missing the last two months, this visit was particularly satisfying AND they outdid themselves. What a great night!

Participants were Josh Adkins (ts), Grant Kohler (ts), Rick Johnson (soprano sax, etc.), Jeff Spurlock (as) & Brad Morgan (bari-sax) - a word about Brad, Brad is a big guy with a big sound and when I spoke with him he told me he had studied under Bill Burns at Centerville and was now studying under Hal Melia - all I can say is wow! If he is meeting their standards, no wonder he has such a big sound. Bill Burns did come in for the second set as he had a previous engagement which precluded his participation in the first set but that did give us a chance to hear Brad Morgan. Thanks Bill.

Tom Billings played trombone as did Vaugn Weister (who has his own Big Band that plays in Columbus every Monday night), Todd Couch and Denny Seifert. And speaking of big bass sounds, Denny Seifert plays bass trombone with the best. Al Parr was on trumpet as was John Harner (John was formerly lead trumpet for the Stan Kenton Band), Bill Dixon and Jay Halpin (of the U.S. Air Force Big Band Jazz contingent, The Night Hawks) - by the way, The Night Hawks will be playing at the Jazz and Peace Festival at Stubbs Park this Summer on July 9th - come on down and enjoy the music. Rounding out the band with the rhythm section was one of my favorite drummers, Jim Leslie, with Vinnie Marshall on the mini-electric bass (Vinnie on the skinny as I like to say) and Jeff Black on piano. The music was excellent and the food and drink was enjoyable too. If you like Big Band music, Harrigan's South (just around the corner from the intersection of OH 725 & Lyons Road in Centerville) on the first Thursday of each month is the place to be.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jazz Advocate's plunge into "Social Networking"

I received the following from on of my readers:

I, for one, am disappointed about the newsletter soon going through Facebook  only.  I don't feel comfortable with the "social networking" so won't be opening a Facebook page at all. I'll miss the info but fully understand your situation and need for ease and convenience. Hope to see you around at DJO, and esp summer concerts at Riverscape.  Thanks for all your time and work to keep jazz alive in our area.

My reply:

I understand what you are saying and I have had a few similar comments on this subject.  I have two big problems with continuing the newsletters with Constant Contact.  One is the cost but more important is trying to format our publication on their server.  I came to the conclusion that I had to change so from now on all newsletters will be posted on our website at  Having made this decision, it leaves the challenge of sending out the word that a new edition has been posted to 2,000 people.  In reality there are several options available and I have four or five months left on our contract with Constant Contact in which to work them out.  The following are several options that I’m looking at:

  1. – Continue with Constant Contact and use it just to send out notice of new newsletters.   This means we spend $300 to $400 a year just to say hey we’ve posted a newsletter.  Of course if we continue this service, it could be used for occasional news release sending’s.  In addition, if cut the size of our mail list to under 500 (we are presently paying the under 2500 rate), our cost would be cut in half.  This option is still on the table.
  2. – Use Facebook postings to notify local jazz fans about our new postings.  The supposed great wave that everybody is riding has its own challenges.  You create a Jazz Advocate in Dayton, Cincinnati & Columbus Facebook page, which we have done.  Then you try to get all of you readers to go there and “Like” the page so they will receive our notice on their News Feed page.  This is going to take some time to develop, maybe longer then my remaining contract with Constant Contact.  While Facebook may be useful for miscellaneous jazz notes, I’m getting the feeling it may not be great for notice of newsletters.
  3. – Use Twitter messages to notify local jazz fans about our newsletter postings.  It’s starting to look like this may be a better way to go.  The messages are short and simple but allow a link to our newsletter to be included.  I have Rosemary set up on Twitter just to follow Jazz Advocate, that way she only receives our postings without a bunch of clutter.  It is a real simple to set up and is a non-obtrusive way to go for those who don’t want the "social networking" hassle.
  4. – Send direct emails to notify fans of new newsletters being posted on our website.  For those opposed to "social networking," we could create a special mail list and send the notices out separately.  There is a limit as most Internet Service Providers hold you to around 100 email addresses per message.
  5. – A combination of all of the above.  Chances are this will be the way we will go – a lot of extra work but what else can I do?
In summary you probably didn’t want all of this but I will be publishing it for the rest of our readers.  In the meantime I have added you to a special (inactive for now) mail list that I will use for those who like you don’t want to get into Facebook and all of the rest.  Hopefully it will be less the a hundred names.  When the time comes I will send newsletter notice out using all the way we have decided to go with, so rest assured you will be kept in the loop.

Thanks for the input.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beavercreek Jazz Festival all day long.....

The following post is more like a magazine or newspaper article due to the length but when you get the opportunity and pleasure of hearing as many area school jazz bands as I did, made possible by Beavercreek City Schools, they deserve all the space they can get.

On Saturday, 3-5-11, I attended the 11th annual weekend of jazz festival at Beavercreek High School. I like to catch as much as I can of the all day area schools jazz band performances on Weekend of Jazz Saturday. I have been there several times, I have missed some because it slipped by me, etc. but this year I vowed to attend it from start to finish, which I did. The Wayne High School Jazz Band opened up the Saturday festival at 8:00 a.m. – his students had to be at the high school at 6:15 a.m. to make the gig. The band is directed by Josh Boyer and they played five tunes – for first time readers, each band has a half hour to perform, there is a professional reviewer/adjudicator who makes recorded comments during their performance then provides feedback to the band for roughly another 30 minutes immediately after the performance.

Wayne kicked off the show with Area 51 which was up tempo (a nice way to kick off an early morning performance) with some nice brass ensembles. There was also a bari-sax solo which you do not hear that much (but more on this as the day progresses). Secret Love was next with some memorable trombone ensemble work with four out of five trombonists taking a solo. The band then played something soft and easy, Autumn Mist, with a nice flugle horn lead played by Caitlin Badertscher. The band showed their versatility with a swinging bluesy tune entitled Got Blues? This time some nice trumpet ensemble work with Mike Pierce soloing on alto sax. The band finished with the theme from the cartoon movie The Incredibles which was very nicely done, with congas and a talented female keyboard player. I later overheard one of the reviewers making positive comments about the lead trombone player for Wayne. They kicked things off just right.

Next up was the Springfield High School Wildcat Jazz Band directed by Brad Dragics. They kicked off their performance ambitiously with Lester Leaps In, a jazz classic if there ever was one. It picked up steam as the song progressed. The next tune was latin oriented entitled El Chupacabra (apparently a mythical goat blood sucking monster) with a double bass intro and Chris Leonard on trombone and Katherine Beard on alto sax traded fours. Next was a Gordon Goodwin tune entitled Act Your Age with some real nice sax ensemble work, more from C. Leonard on trombone but this time Lucy Timko on alto sax. The Director was clearly enthusiastic about the band and their last choice was introduced as a band favorite, Joe Zawinul’s Birdland. The Band made this song come alive.

The Centerville High School Jazz Combo One was up next, under the direction of Bill Burns, on of my favorite baritone sax players. The first tune was Autumn Returns (a tribute to Johnny Mercer) and though there were only 10 musicians they sounded just like a big band should. [Interestingly enough there were no trumpet players, about which I later learned they were all doing Big Band gigs with other Centerville Bands.] There was some nice soprano sax (and you do not hear me say THAT very often, although Bill Burns is someone I do like to listen to on soprano sax). There were also congas and a bari-sax solo. Next up was the Miles Davis jazz standard, Solar. There was some entertaining solos on piano, bari-sax, soprano sax and drums. Then came a Tito Puento tune entitled Ran Kan Kan which was very enthusiastically done with a notable guitar solo, good stuff. The final song was based upon a well known Passover tune and was entitled Elihahu Hanavi with some nice double bass work and ear catching snare work by the drummer. There were also solos on trombone and alto sax. I'm not sure if Bill Burns is more entertaining to watch as a musician or a band leader but it is fun either way. Way to go Bill!

Centerville was followed by a band that almost always plays above their chronological ages, The Lakota West Jazz Ensemble. Directed by Todd Hartman the band started off with The Wiggle Walk, a Benny Carter tune. Once again they sounded just like a professional big band with some swingin’ piano work and some great solos on tenor sax and trumpet. Next up was Birks Works, a Dizzie Gillespie tune with some vibes, double bass and congas all nicely done. There were also extensive solos on tenor sax and trumpet. Max Greenberg was on piano, Ian Hamilton was on tenor sax and playing the part of Dizzy Gillespie was Eric Lechliter. The band brought on a vocalist to sing In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. She was a strong vocalist and there was some nice trumpet work to accompany her. They ended with one of my favorite songs, Moanin’ by Charles Mingus and of course there was a bari-sax solo but it was a really good solo played by a female saxophonist. In addition there were some really nice trombone solos with some ear catching double bass work. One of the trumpeters got so caught up in the song that he fell off the riser. You know who you are. The song was played the way it is supposed to sound.

Miami East High School Jazz Band was up next. Under the direction of Jeffrey Smith the band started with Eye on the Prize, played at a little slower tempo than the movie theme song, it had some nice brass ensemble work and an electric bass solo. Next was an ambitious Blue Rondo a la Turk which was nicely done, tempo changes and all and contained a notable guitar solo. Following the Dave Brubeck tune they played Juan Tizol’s Perdido, another ambitious undertaking. It was an interesting rendition with some nice drum work by their female drummer. The last tune was not listed on the program, Vehicle, made famous by The Ides of March back in the 60s. It was clearly the bands best effort with a well played guitar and piano solo and the two trombones nailed the song right on the head.

Next on the schedule was the Lebanon Junior High School but the high school took the spot and the junior high was on later. Under the direction of David Iannelli they kicked things off with a Lennie Niehous tune, Almost Like Being in Love which included some great trumpet ensemble work. He introduced the next tune, Belly Roll, a Quincy Jones & Sammy Nestico tune as a Count Basie song. Rachel Spencer played a nice trumpet solo and there were also some nice vibes. The last song up was Miami Spice which was clearly the best tune for the band and Brandon Evans had a great guitar solo. I overheard one of the reviewers comment that it was nice to hear a drummer that did more than just keep a beat.

The Kings Junior High School Jazz Band was up next. The band is directed by Joe Polen and I will say this right up front. I shake my head in amazement at how many of these high school big bands sound like professional big bands, but in the case of Joe Polen, I have come to expect shaking my head and wondering how a junior high band can sound so good. They kicked things off with a very professionally performed rendition of Henry Mancini’s Peter Gunn Theme. Next up was What a Wonderful World, made ubiquitously famous by Louis Armstrong, again, nicely done. Then they jumped into an ambitious venture no matter what band you are, Sing, Sing, Sing – written by New Orleans native Loius Prima and made Icon-like famous by the Benny Goodman Orchestra with Gene Krupa at the drums. The “mighty might” Halley Frye played the drums like she was born to them with a bari-sax solo by Ben Baker. It was pretty exciting with some good vibes and congas work also.

Next up was a band that proved to be a real crowd favorite before it was all said and done, the Lakota Eastside Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Todd Hartman. They had a very ambitious/aggressive song selection and it was hard to figure out which tune they were playing but I believe it went like this, Harlem Airshaft, Rumpus in Richmond, Jump for Joy, then one not on the program – Rocks in my Bed, Jack the Bear, Ko-Ko and finally Braggin’ In Brass – but you really can’t take my word for it, this is just an educated guess by someone who was there. Harlem Airshaft made one think to themselves, “There is no way that is a high school big band!” There was a fine trumpet solo by Michael Dudley on the Duke Ellington tune and some creative trombone muting. Another Ellington tune, Rumpus in Richmond was up next and contained some nice work by a female double bass player. Then came a vocalist on Jump for Joy followed by Rocks in My Bed – she was a strong vocalist and seemed to have a feel for the music and a presence beyond her years. There was a nice tenor sax lead accompaniment on Rocks in my Bed and a very nice piano solo by yet another female member of the band. There were many trumpet solos on Ko-Ko and personnel changes throughout the various performances. Braggin’ in Brass was their last tune which included a clarinet solo, something you don’t hear much of these days with other female members of the band stepping up with bari-sax and a double bass solo. The last song had the crowd on their feet and they received extended applause.

The Beavercreek Bands had a big concert night a few days before on Thursday night but due to a previous commitment on my part I was unable to attend the concert. My loss I am quite sure but the first Beavercreek band on this day was Beavercreek High School Jazz Two under the direction of Michael Bisig (whom I heard play sax and flute a little bit later in a faculty performance). The first song was Valero which had a nice flute solo, a challenging drum solo and some excellent trumpet ensemble work. Next up was Not Really the Blues arranged by Sammy Nestico with some great trombone and trumpet ensemble work and they even had a tuba adding to the sound. The last tune was Abracadabra and was introduced as an “awesome tune that I really like.” The band rose to the occasion and there was a great guitar solo and nice congas work. I will say something about the attire of the band, top row of trumpets – white ties, middle row of trombones – blue ties, bottom row of saxophones – multi-colored ties and the rhythm section appeared to wear no ties at all. Style all the way around.

Deer Park High School was up next, directed by Joe Vetter, who also played piano on In a Mellow Tone. The order of songs played was not in the same order as the program which was initially confusing as the first tune, American Patrol by Glenn Miller, was not even in the program. This was followed by In a Mellow Tone and Lizzie Schradin did some nice drum work on this one. Next up was Nardis by Miles Davis but apparently one of the more well known versions of the tune is by Bill Evans [which I have now discovered is on one of the three recordings produced right before the death of bass player Scott Lafaro, figures I have the other two – both excellent recordings by the way]. Director Vetter played piano here again too and acknowledged the difficulty of directing a group while being the piano player as well. The final tune was entitled Survival Skills and the band really stepped up on this one. They had a great big band sound with Lizzie Schradin again leading the way on drums, Adam Dryer showing some great potential on alto sax and a bari-sax solo. A lot of fun.

Now we finally had the opportunity to hear The Lebanon Junior High School Band under the direction of David Iannelli. He also recognized the contributions of his student teacher as well but I did not get his name, my apologies. The first tune was a Neal Hefti tune entitled Splanky. Cassie Park provided some nice piano shadow work quoting the band a few times and then doing some nice solo piano work as well. Following this was a tune called Drama for your Mama which featured a Jessie Slaughter trumpet solo and some nice big band drum work by James Short. Have a little story to tell here. While squeezing in a few minutes for lunch I sat in front of one of the outside stage monitors and up came two young percussionists which I thought I recognized as Lebanon Jr. Hi students and one of them looked up at the screen and enthusiastically exclaimed, “There’s the drum set that I will be playing soon!” We engaged in a brief conversation and then he took off. Later I was impressed with his big band style drumming, which I mentioned above but did not get his name. Following the performance I ran into someone in the hallway with a Lebanon jacket on and inquired as to the name of the second drummer. He told me he sure did know his name, it was his son. Well what dya know? Small world. I told him he sure did some nice big band drum work. I’m glad we ran into each other. The final song was the Duke Ellington classic, C Jam Blues. This song contained some nice trombone and sax ensemble work with Eric Hutchinson doing a nice trombone solo. There was also a sax soli and I got to hear yet another bari-sax solo. I am telling you, it was the day of the baritone sax and vibraphones.

Next up was the Kings High School Jazz Band under the direction of Joe Polen and they opened with Come Fly With Me, a Sammy Cahn tune made famous by Frank Sinatra. The band sounded smooth, accomplished and tight with some nice trombone and trumpet ensemble work. Next was Little Sunflower, a Freddie Hubbard tune with some really nice piano work by Charlie Bobel Fonner. The last tune had an interesting title, The Defibrillator, which kicked off with a baritone sax solo and then had some really nice trombone work by Maggie Vetter, overall a real big band sound. I later overheard a reviewer comment positively about the lead trombone player.

Next was the Lakota East 8 O’clock Jazz Band under the direction of Todd Hartman. Once again and in the vernacular of today’s youth, OMG, this band did not sound like a high school jazz band! They kicked off their portion of the afternoon with Have You Met Myrone? There was some nice double bass work plus solos by female members of the band on drums and piano. Next was Over the Rainbow by one of my favorite composers, Harold Arlen, and as you might expect they did have a female vocalist on this one. This was followed by a very big band version of Take the “A” Train, written by Billy Strayhorn and made hugely famous by the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Once again, Rachel Harris on drums kept things moving plus there were nice sax solis and a notable trumpet solo. RU Chicken was next, apparently from the Kris Berg chicken series. There was good ensemble work all the way around and a nice trumpet solo. The song also contained a Carlos Santana-like guitar solo and yet another bari-sax solo.

The Troy High School Jazz II group was up next under the direction of Shawn Snider. They kicked things off with a song entitled Hog-Squealin’, Rip-Snortin’, Belly-achin’ Blues, a very sound big band performance with a nice trumpet solo. Next was midnight Mambo. This song contained congas and a very respectable guitar solo, overall a good big band effort. The last tune was entitled Bop! and was clearly the bands best effort with yet another bari-sax. It was the day of the bari-sax for sure.

Fairfield Union High School Falcon Jazz Ensemble from Lancaster was up next, under the direction of Rob Falvo they kicked things off with one of the favorites songs from the Jazz Central Jazz Jam every Sunday night out on East Third, Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay. Having heard this song many times I can say it was a credible rendition. The electric bass nailed the bass line and two bari-sax players definitely had the flavor of the song. Next was a vocalist on a song made fairly famous by Peggy Lee, among others, Black Coffee. This may have been the surprise of the day for me, between the vocalist, who engaged the audience when she came on the stage, and the alto sax player they played a very emotionally laden version of a great song. I am going to guess by the information provided in the program that the vocalist’s name was Hannah Bickers. Up next was another Gordon Goodwin tune entitled Count Bubba very credibly done. The last song was a Steely Dan tune entitled Peg. Zach Winegard provided a notable tenor sax solo.

Then came the Magsig Middle School Jazz Ensemble of Centerville, a 35 piece big band under the direction of Tom Pompei, former big band drummer for The Dayton Jazz Orchestra. If I was going to give a best big band sound award for the day I would have to give this band very serious consideration. With 35 members they definitely had a big band sound but they also played very well. I think what I found most interesting is that eh band displayed the subtleties possible with a big band as well. The first tune was Basic Basie with an excellent female piano player who definitely had the Count Basie feel, not always that easy to find. I believe her name was Emma Shibley. The drummer was Ankhti Shemsu. The next tune was another Gordin Goodwin tune entitled The Jazz Police. This tune had a particularly noteworthy drummer with a definite big band sound, which I learned later from Tom Pompei was Caleb Lee. While the trombones carried the day there was an excellent flute solo as well. Last was Comin’ At Ya! and the band once again had a very big band sound. I had to put my eyes on wide angle to take in the entire 35 piece big band and judging by the length of applause from the audience they were a crowd favorite too. I would also note that there were at least two vibraphones on this last tune, possibly three, it was difficult to see behind the band but what a great job they did. Congratulations to a very big junior high band and congratulations to Tom Pompei and the job he is obviously doing with these young musicians. [and of course being an excellent drummer himself I am not surprised to find that he has good drummers with this band]

The next to the last high school band was the Troy High School Jazz One group under the direction of Kathy McIntosh. The last two times I have heard her bands they have done a very good job and this band did well also. First song was out of order from the program and it was at first confusing. I believe the first song was Una Mas by Kenny Dorham. Some nice congas work was included here. I believe the next tune was The Southeast Sixstep which probably had the most unusual intro for the day, a verse of sax section hand clapping kicked the song off and then the trombones carried the day with a rousing rendition and then hand clapping finished the song as well. I refer readers to “UnSquare Dance” by Dave Brubeck for a comparison. The last song I knew to be Agua De Beber and it was a solid big band performance. I cannot say that I have ever heard a big band version of that particular song before, very interesting.

The final band of the day was the Beavercreek High School Jazz One group under the direction of Doug McCullough. While I have heard Doug McCullough play drums with big bands in the past, Wright State University comes to mind, I also heard him play at the faculty performance earlier in the day. The band started off with a Duke Ellington classic, Caravan. It is interesting to note that a lone, extended drum solo brought the band slowly onto the stage. The crowd loved it and it went right in to Caravan. Johnny Kipp did a great job on that drum solo intro. The next tune was Another Shuffle which really had a big band sound. A Sideward Glance was the third song with a soprano sax lead solo by Ken Norman. This one bordered on smooth jazz. Then finally the band stretched out on Take the ‘A’ Train, and as previously noted, the song was written by Bill Strayhorn [born in Dayton I might add] and made famous by the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Nick Shuman did a nice job first with a muted trumpet and then later with an unmated trumpet.

Last for the day, but most certainly not least, was the Air Force Band of Flight jazz combo known as the Night Hawks. The leader of this band was Cameron Vorhees on guitar and one of the tenor sax players was Grant Koeller, both of which make routine appearances out on East Third at the jam sessions on Sunday night at Jazz Central. On electric bass was Jonathan Levy, drums was Darren Raybourne, I believe the other tenor sax player was Tyler Selden and on trumpet was Jay Halpin (whom I had just heard on Thursday at Harrigan’s South with the Dayton Jazz Orchestra). Their vocalist, who brought the crowd to their feet, was Felita Rowe. I did not make note of all the songs they played. They made what they were doing look so easy and all were accomplished musicians. Their drummer had written a tune with a number of different time signatures that was pretty exciting for the jazz aficionados in the crowd and every solo was a good one but the vocalist, in tandem with the guitar, did a version of Surrey With the Fringe on Top (from the Broadway play Oklahoma for any of you young people reading this), that was fast, fast, fast and brought the crowd to their feet. In the end, a particularly non-jazz tune, but very patriotic (from one of the Rocky Movies) and made famous by Mr. Funk himself, James Brown – who has a couple of jazz albums floating around out there by the way (with Cincinnati jazz musicians) – Living in America, Huh! The crowd simply loved what the band was doing and really let them know it. A great ending to a great day.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gable’s Travelogue 03-04-2011 Sinclair Jazz

    This was an evening of real variety and versatility ranging from traditional to original big band jazz.  This was an evening when Miles Osland came to our town.  Osland is an educator, recording and performing artist, author, arranger and composer.  Impressive credentials for sure but take it from one who was in the audience at Sinclair’s Blair Hall last Friday night, he has the uncanny ability to bring out the best in the players around him on some of the most difficult and diversified charts while keeping the audience into it with outstanding entertainment.
     I have to tell you Miles wasn’t the only one on that stage:
The director was Bruce Jordan, - saxophones by Chad Moniaci, Nick Hess, Mike Burns, John Fedrick and Ed Ewing – trumpets by Reg Richwine, Brian West, Dick Fox, Jan Hare and Andrew Aldstadt – Trombones by Linda Landis, Hal Harris, Phillip Erskine and Todd Couch – Piano by Jeff Black – Bass by Eddie Brookshire – Percussion by Mike Uchic.  There were nineteen performers in all, counting Miles on saxophones and flute; all up to the challenge and all having a great time in the process.
     An amazing evening; such a rhythm section, such solos, such a song list and such arrangements but the most amazing thing of all these are free concerts.  They’re held in an auditorium that’s comfortable and has great acoustics.  The concerts are short and sweet, usually two sets of five or six numbers.  The next one will be on Friday, April 29 in building 2 off  Fourth Street in Downtown Dayton with plenty of close free parking.

Friday, February 25, 2011

From the Gable's Travelogue

On Wednesday, February 16 Rosemary, I and our friend Barbra Dooley went to see Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers at Alex’s on 725.  I’m please to say it looks like they have found a new haunt.  After a long stint at the top of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, their new dig appears to be a wonderful fit.  Alex’s is a true supper club with good food, outstanding service and a large beautiful dance floor – what more could a Trad-jazz band ask for?  As they say for those who know, no explanation is necessary but for those of you who have not had the pleasure of knowing the Stompers I offer a bit of their own website verbiage:

“Here is a territory band from Dayton, Ohio which is magnetized by the moment in the late 1920's and early 1930's when classic jazz evolved into small band swing. The fluidity and polyphony of the front line remained intact, while the driving rhythm of the banjo and tuba was lightened by the substitution of guitar and string bass. Unhampered by the horn sections and written arrangements of the big band jazz that captured the years from the dawn of the depression through the denouement of World War II, the music left lead players free to explore their individual creativity with the support of a "modern" rhythm section. It looked backward with an affectionate smile, and forward with an appreciative glance.

After amassing and absorbing the wonderful music of the giants of jazz and the schools and styles of New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Kansas City and San Francisco, the aficionados who used to be affectionately termed "mouldie fygges" would scour the second hand stores for recordings from the "territories" -- those areas of lighter population density where under-recorded and under-appreciated bands often established their own sound and local traditions. Dayton, the home of the Wright Brothers and Dunbar, has been as fertile and inventive in music as it has been in technology and poetry. As inheritors of its territorial approach to traditional jazz, the Classic Jazz Stompers have enjoyed almost two decades of pleasurably fanning the flames of that tradition.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

They say “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” we’ll see.  Now I’m confronted with this “Social Networking” thing.  First I ignore it but then, next thing people I know want to be friends on Facebook, or Linkedin and since they are my friends of course I agree.  This keeps going on and on until one day I notice I have close to two hundred friends on Facebook that I don’t know what to do with.  Next, many of the organizations who’s meetings I attend are also talking about social networking and conducting workshops.  So I found out at the last seminar the definition of social networking is simply a conversation between two people.  Well now this has been the core element of Jazz Advocate from the beginning, so the old dog doesn’t have to learn a new trick, just another software program or two - this also has been going on since the advent of computers.  Where they rope you in on new technology is the productivity it offers.  I first started with publishing a website on this new Internet thing.  Next I began emailing newsletters out to over 5,000 supposed readers.  After a while the ISPs stopped allowing bulk emails and I had to go to an online emailing service (Constant Contact), at an additional cost.  I found composing newsletters on their server had a number of formatting issues so I now post my newsletters on our website, where I can have better control the formatting and then send out announcements using the Constant Contact email service.  The announcements include the list of subjects covered and a link to the website.  It’s now my understanding we (you and I) can set up Facebook to post my newsletter announcements on your news feed.  This simple act of networking will allow me to eliminate Constant Contact and let Jazz Advocate use that money for other jazz promotions.  I have about five months left on my current contract with Constant Contact in which to get Facebook set up.  I have created a Facebook page called Jazz Advocate in Dayton, Cincinnati & Columbus, which I will be using to post newsletter announcement.  The thing you need to do is find the page and click “Like” this page if you desire to receive our announcements.  Those not wanting to be on Facebook will be able to get the newsletters directly on our website but will have to check on a regular basis without the usual email notice.  I will say I’m finding Facebook easier to use than traditional email.  Rosemary has found it a better way to keep up with distant grandkids and their pictures. I’m not giving up on email or websites but at the same time I have no fear of this “Social Networking” thing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Blue Wisp Wed/Thurs

Believe I mentioned that it has been a hectic month for me, little time to get out and hear live jazz as I like to. Missed the DJO at Harrigan's South (heard it was great, including Fenton Sparks on drums) and I missed guitarist Tim Berens performing in Centerville, good music close to home and the added benefit of little cost involved. But Wednesday, 2-16-11, I and two other jazz lovers made our way down to the Blue Wisp to catch The Blue Wisp Big Band. They played some tunes that were just killer, even with about five new faces in the band. The last song was a fantastic send off enticing those in attendance to come back again soon.

But I really write at this time because I had to work late in Cincinnati the very next day, Thursday night. I had spoken with far out jazz drummer Ron Enyard at the Big Band gig and he had invited me back. I got finished early and ended my evening with Ron Enyard on drums, Dan Karlzberg on keyboards and Dan Drees on saxophone. Ron Enyard has an uncanny sense of timing no matter what he is saying on the drums, I love to hear the piano playing of Dan Karlzberg and I had actually completely lost touch with Dan Drees whom I first heard at the Old Pacchia's in Dayton. He knew his way around a tenor saxophone then and I enjoyed him again this night. Heck, it was like old home week for me. The set I heard they played Star Eyes, Surrey with the Fringe on Top and they closed out with a John Coltrane tune entitled Bessie's Blues, very enjoyable. But the surprise of the evening was a reincarnation of Chet Baker on vocals. I will admit that I will take a reincarnation of Chet Baker on trumpet over a reincarnation of Chet Baker on vocals but David Tarbell, who doubled as the bar tender, made me take a double take when he launched into a version of "I Should Care." I just kept shaking my head in amazement. It was actually a little eerie, the similarity in the voice was almost scary. He also sang "Getting Sentimental Over You" and "It Could Happen to me." I still shake my head in wonder. If you like Chet Baker vocals then get down to The Blue Wisp on Thursday nights and catch the singing bar tender, David Tarbell. You too will shake your head in wonder.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kenny Baccus

As I was walking away from my computer I realized that I had omitted the name of the person playing the instrument that owner Butch Stone considers the foundation of Jazz Central, the B3 Organ. Mastered for 30 years by Lincoln Berry [ who by the way will be playing there again April 9th along with Adrienne Hindmarsh on B3 and her husband Josh Hindmarsh on guitar] and is currently played by Kenny Baccus. Though I missed the gig myself, it is my understanding that the Baccus Brothers packed the place the night before, on 2-12-11. A lot of talent on one stage. Congratulations.

Gary Onady originals & Jazz Central does it again

After posting my Eddie Brookshire at Gilly's comments I heard from trumpeter, flugle horn player Gary Onady. I am glad I did because now I know the actual names of his original compositions instead of just what I thought I heard. I quote from Gary as follows:

The name of the tunes I wrote were: Rena's Dream (written for my youngest daughter Rena); Hailey's Here (written for my granddaughter the day she was born). I was writing it with the inspiration of Lee Morgan and Kenny Durham, and was to call it Kenny and Lee, but then my wife came into the room and said, Gary we have to go to the hospital, Hailey's Here, and that is how the song got its name... Sorry Kenny and Lee).

Now on to Jazz Central. I have mentioned before that I try not to write about Jazz Central too much because I go there just about every Sunday night from 8:30 to Midnight but Sunday night was special. To quote M.C., singer and trumpet player extraordinaire (not to mention a mighty fine flugle horn too), John Hampton Wagner, "two of the best tenor sax players in the Dayton area" played back and forth Sunday night, Chuck Wade (whom I am most familiar with as part of the Sinclair College Jazz Band) and King Kohler (who is part of the Air Force Band of Flight) - These two knocked the ball right out of the park on Tenor Madness - thank you John for suggesting the tune - it was truly magical. They kept things jumping all night long but they hit another home run on Mr. Magic later in the evening. They were more than ably assisted by Joseph Glenn on steel drums, Wagner on trumpet/flugle horn, Ron Applebury on electric bass, Greg Webster on drums, Cliff Darrett on congas and latin percussion, Ahmed Abdullah on congas and Mike Pilkenton on alto sax. We also heard from Ishmael Muhammad and "Craig" on drums. It was a night for the books. Thank you Butch Stone for keeping Jazz Central a place where jazz can be experienced.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Finally got out to hear some live jazz again on 2-11-11 at Gilly's - in fact, hadn't been there in a while either. Snow, ice, frigid cold, all can take their toll. Some jazz events even got postponed/canceled. Adding to all of that in my case is teaching a four hour class three nights a week but last night I finally made it out again. Heard a group I have written about before and try to catch every time I can, The Eddie Brookshire Quintet, now made up of the original core trio, Eddie Brookshire on bass, Jack Novotny on tenor sax, soprano sax & flute and Gary Onady on trumpet and flugel horn. Two newer members who seem to now be permanent members are Fenton Sparks on drums and Keigo Hirakawa on piano - you can check them all out at the band website; - I was running out of steam last night as the evening wore on at my house but I forced myself out the door and down to Gilly's - am I glad I did. The band was clicking on all cylinders. It has been a while since I have heard a Bebop oriented band that listened to each other so well and played together so well, playing off each other like they had practiced a million times. It was quite a treat.

As you no doubt can tell by my slow start, I got there about mid-way through their scheduled performance. It must have been near perfect timing for the set because they played for at least an hour after I got there before taking a break. The first tune I heard was blues, unfortunately I did not catch the entire name of the song. As they say in some circles these days, it was all good. A group near perfectly melded in purpose. The next tune was entitled Myth of the Poseidon, which I believe was written by Keigo Hirakawa. I have always loved the way that Gary & Jack do their ensemble work and this tune was what I would call frantic Bebop. It went a little over the edge for me but that is one thing you can count on out of The Eddie Brookshire Quintet, they are going to take you right to the ragged edge a few times a night and you just have to hold on for ride. This was followed up with a jazz standard, thought not heard that often, If I were a Bell. The Quintet played perfectly on this one. Eddie talked his wife Brenda Flowers into coming up to sing My Funny Valentine and I must say I really enjoyed her scatting on this tune. Next up was another original, I believe by Gary Onady entitled Winter Dreams. It actually put me in mind of Minor Blues from their CD "Bass Notes - The Heart Beat of Jazz" - a song I love. There was a break in there somewhere but they later played a really memorable version of Cedar Walton's Bolivia. It is hard to go wrong with Cedar Walton tunes. The bass solo was intriguing. This was followed by another Gary Onady original, the name of which I did not catch and there was a particularly good bass solo, everybody was cookin' and Fenton Sparks tore it up on the drums.

I thought they were ending the evening with a Kenny Burrell tune, added to their book thanks to sweet talking Brenda Flowers from a previous gig with the great guitarist Kenny Burrell. Thank you Brenda. It was a beautifully played and interplayed song, especially Jack Novotny on flute and Gary Onady on flugle horn, but I was sitting there thinking that as beautifully played as it was, it was a bit anticlimactic to what they had played previously for a final song. But I anticipated incorrectly, even with the Twelve o'clock hour knocking on the door the Quintet played one final tune of the night. Once again the band Bebopped their way excellently through the final tune, the bass solo and drum solo of particular note, in fact, the drum solo was fantastic. If you haven't heard The Eddie Brookshire Quintet you are in for a treat and if you weren't there last night, you REALLY missed it. Thank goodness I made myself head down to Gilly's. Thank you Jerry Gilloti.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The third rule, The Slaughter Brothers, Grammy nomination & Jazz Alley

[The third rule & The Slaughter Brothers] - All I can say is Wow! Last night at Jazz Central was one to remember. The third rule was in full swing, a Holiday on Monday brought out Todd Bridges, a killer trombone player; Mark Smarelli, an unbelievable vibes player; and M.C. John Hampton Wagner's wife (no wait, she was part of the audience) - then to top it all off, fresh from a Grammy nominated recording and N'awlins was Clarence Slaughter (the Grammy nominated recording is Backatown with Trombone Shorty) and his "little" brother William Patrick Slaughter (who now has a regular gig up in Cleveland - for the uninitiated, Patrick is affectionately know as "Little Pops") - the two of them just brought the house down, especially on a very rapid rendition of Straight No Chaser. We also were blessed with the presence of Cameron Voorhees on guitar and last night he was on fire. From Clarence to Patrick to Mark to Cameron, the solos just kept cookin' on Straight No Chaser. Did I mention Todd Bridges on trombone? That cat can play! Seriously, the whole place was electric all night long. Owner Butch Stone and I just kept shaking our heads at the music coming from the bandstand area. Kenny Baccus did some serious cookin' as well on the B3 organ and Greg Webster never missed a beat on drums. Cliff Darrett was his usual creative self on latin percussions and Rodderick Wilson was lighting things up on trumpet. Whew! John Hampton Wagner kept the party going with some very fitting solos and his usual great vocals. It was just an incredible night. But wait, I'm not finished. Kenny Baccus' brother Roger was in from California and he played B3 during the usual break time. Things ratched up a notch because Roger came to play. He was joined by Fenton Sparks on drums and Fenton Sparks not only came to play but was having more fun than anyone else and believe me, everyone else was having lots of fun. Between Roger on B3, Fenton on Drums and Cameron on guitar, their level of music on a tune called Pepperdine Drive (no doubt Pepperdine in California) brought all the musicians back up from break and then things really lit up. As we always say on nights like this, "Isn't anybody recording this stuff?" Pure enjoyment. Just about forgot, we even had a steel drum player last night. I've been going to Jazz Central for over ten years and I never remember a steel drum player. Kraig Brock from Central State University wowed the crowd and gave the song St. Thomas an authenticity heretofore not experienced at Jazz Central. Frankly, it was good to see some Central State jazz musicians back down at Jazz Central. That has not been a regular occurrence since Mario Abney took off for New Orleans some years ago. And last but most certainly not least, guest drummers Ishmael Mohamed and Henry Miles Preston added to the mix as they always do when the join the jazz jam. What a night!

I want to make a special comment about the Grammy nominated recording, Backatown. Some years ago when Clarence Slaughter was still in high school, he played with the Dayton area Serious Young Musicians. The band, which included previously mentioned Mario Abney, opened for the touring Motown back up band often called collectively The Funk Brothers. I wrote about this then, heck, you might even be able to locate my write up in the Jazz Advocate Jazz Talk archives if you looked hard enough, but I saw Clarence Slaughter bring a packed house at The Fraze Pavilion to their feet! I've always said over 2,000 people but I just did a quick Google check and it was probably over 4000 people. He brought the house down! What a performance. I just want to extend a special congratulations to Dayton's own Clarence Slaughter for his participation in a Grammy nominated recording. Clarence, you deserve it.

Last but most assuredly not least, there is no way around it any more. There is a new Jazz Alley in the Dayton area. It is Ohio 725 starting at Alex's Supper Club on Monarch Drive just east of Alex Road where Dave Greer and the Classic Jazz Stompers play every Wednesday night, past the Dayton Mall to Carver's Restaurant just east of Yankee Trace/675 where The Shawn Stanley Trio is playing every Friday night, to just around the corner from the intersection of Lyons Road & 725 to Harrigan's South where DJO holds forth on the first Thursday of every month to just a block or so down the road (but before you get to Ohio 48) to The Liquid Room which has jazz every Thursday night. So Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night jazz lovers can hear jazz somewhere on 725 between Miamisburg and OH 48 in Centerville. Hats off to the new Jazz Alley! [OK, technically The Shawn Stanley Trio does not play a lot of jazz abut they are a very talented group and when they DO play jazz, they really have the chops.]

One final note (not indicated in the header for this blog entry), I just heard some excellent jazz at Spinoza's out at the Mall at Fairfield Commons. Tim Berens and Frank Proto (who has a bass older than the United States) laid down some memorable music. Everything was clicking and they were even better than usual and that is saying a lot. Apparently the duo is doing a performance at the Taft Theater in Cincinnati sometime in March. They played a world premier of one of their compositions and we were all glad we were there to have that experience. Thanks Glen for having jazz at Spinoza's.