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 www.jazzadvocate.com.  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.