The Hot Times Kate Schulte Tribute returns next month for its sixth annual installment of community-oriented jazz performances featuring world-renowned musical talent. This year’s tribute includes five events in venues around Columbus September 6th through 10th. Making his Tribute debut this year is baritone saxophonist James Carter, highly regarded by critics and fans as one of the world’s finest on his instrument, with an extensive catalog of albums as a leader and a choice resume of high-profile collaborations. Legendary tenor saxophonist (and Kate Schulte Foundation Artist in Residence Emeritus) Kidd Jordan returns to the Tribute for his sixth year, and pianist D.D. Jackson will also return. Columbus’ The JazzPoetry Ensemble serves as the “house” band for the Tribute, with a new single in tow, and vocalist Debra James Tucker and local youth arts program TRANSIT ARTS will contribute to several of the shows. See below for full schedule details. I spoke with organizer and JazzPoetry Ensemble founder Michael Vander Does about the Tribute last week, a few days after the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, about this year’s Tribute. Keep reading to learn more, along with video.
Michael Vander Does: This year’s tribute is going to be a lot more on point on the “Art For Justice” motto. We’re going to be performing music and poetry that directly addresses [recent events], which we’d already planned. There’s a line in one of the poems about “Bannon is plannin’ and someone will die.” The events of the last weekend have put a much finer focus on what we’re doing and how we’re going to present it. We’re featuring “We Are Not Going Away,” which is a new piece by The JazzPoetry Ensemble, and the music is going to be different than in the past. It’s going to be a lot more concise, it’s going to have a lot more form, so that people can grab onto it, because the message is going to be so important. “We Are Not Going Away” is the message, and we’re going to perform things like “Fables of Faubus” with new lyrics. We’re going to do “Strange Fruit” with Debra James Tucker singing it, based very loosely on a James Carter arrangement. We’re going to do some standards like “Song of the Underground Railroad,” “Freedom Jazz Dance,” and other programmatically appropriate tunes.
In times like these, it’s important to use those kinds of forms to give people something to grab onto, to get them to the meaning. That’s why we’re going there. It’s very exciting. Last year we did the collaboration with TRANSIT ARTS, and it was a wonderful spur-of-the-moment improvisation. Some of the stuff they did brought tears to peoples’ eyes. This year, they actually have the music to work with ahead of time. I have visited with them and we’ve talked about the themes – what they’re doing is just stunning. They’re going to perform with us again at the Hot Times Festival [along with Thursday’s concert]. It’s really fun working with these young people on these things.
I’m very excited about this. And we have fabulous people coming. James Carter is coming because Hamiet Bluiett asked him to do it. Both of them have shaped this year’s performance. Bluiett has analyzed last year’s performance and said, “Hey, that first night, everybody just got out control…” [laughs]. Then he made some suggestions about how to approach it this year. Then when I talked with James about what he would like to play, he was the one who called “Fables of Faubus” and “Strange Fruit.” That helped shape the setlists for this year’s tribute. James is into it, and we’re really looking forward to working with him.
D.D. Jackson is coming back. We’re planning on playing a tune of D.D.’s called “DFT,” a response to the new administration. I don’t know if you’ve seen what he’s doing lately, but he’s all over the place – with the Roots, David Murray, and his music for kids’ TV. He’s very excited to be coming here.
Kidd Jordan is also coming back. Now that he’s retired, they want him to play all over the place, and he’s actually starting to have to choose. Last year he had a rare New Orleans gig, and there were people parked down the street and waiting outside the door! He’s starting to get his due [laughs]. He gives Columbus some credit for that. “Having some place where they always have you back, that makes people look at you!” He loves coming here.
The band [JazzPoetry Ensemble] has written several new tunes. The tune “We Are Not Going Away” is HOT. It’s really hot, it’s really different for us. We’re releasing it as a single because it’s so timely. It’s four very tight choruses! We’re usually much more open-ended. But [the single] has a little bit of everything. It’s jazz, it’s Americana, it’s hip-hop, it’s soul, it’s blues, it’s structures and all those kinds of things. It’s a hybrid of so much of our American music and I grandiosely call it “an Anthem for a New America.”
What’s happening in our country right now is so strange and predictable. That’s where all of our creative energy is focusing right now.
Details from the Kate Schulte Foundation:
The schedule for the Hot Times Kate Schulte Tribute is finally complete. Jazz giants James Carter, Kidd Jordan, and D.D. Jackson will join Columbus artists The Jazz Poetry Ensemble (Michael Vander Does, Roger Hines, Roger Myers, Brett Burleson, Laura Kolb), Debra James Tucker, and the youth and master artists of TRANSIT ARTS in four concerts and a workshop during September. The 5-day jazz series will start with an intimate performance at Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza on Wednesday, September 6, and culminate in a free outdoor performance at the Hot Times Community Art and Music Festival on Sunday afternoon, September 10. In between there will be an outdoor performance with TRANSIT ARTS at the English Center for Art and Community, a workshop at Capital University, and a show at venerable jazz dive Dick’s Den.
The events in Charlottesville and around the country intensify the meaning of our motto: “Art 4 Justice”. This year’s theme is “We Are Not Going Away” and the message is preserving our hard-fought-for rights and working for a new age of social justice in America. The programs will feature standards like Fables For Faubus, Song of the Underground Railroad, Freedom Jazz Dance, and Strange Fruit and originals that focus on equal rights and equal justice.
The complete schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, September 6, 8:00 pm
James Carter, D.D. Jackson, Kidd Jordan with Debra James Tucker and The JazzPoetry Ensemble
Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza, 5601 N High St.
Give What You Feel donation, recommended donation $25 or more.
Benefit for the Kate Schulte Foundation. ASL interpreter.
Tickets available here and at Natalie’s (614-436-2625).
Thursday, September 7, 6:00 pm
James Carter, D.D. Jackson, Kidd Jordan with Debra James Tucker and The JazzPoetry Ensemble: Collaboration with TRANSIT ARTS
English Center for Art and Community, 1251 Bryden Rd, Free.
Friday, September 8, 1:00 pm
James Carter, D.D. Jackson, Kidd Jordan with The JazzPoetry Ensemble
Capital University, Huntington Hall, Free
Friday, September 8, 9:00 pm
James Carter, D.D. Jackson, Kidd Jordan with The JazzPoetry Ensemble
Dick’s Den, 2417 N High St, $5 at the door.
Other Columbus jazz greats expected.
Sunday, September 10, 3:45 pm
James Carter, D.D. Jackson, Kidd Jordan with Debra James Tucker, TRANSIT ARTS and The JazzPoetry Ensemble
Hot Times Community Art and Music Festival, 240 Parsons Ave, Free.
For more information, visit our website at http://www.kateschultefoundation or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
TRANSIT ARTS is a program of the Central Community House. The Kate Schulte Tribute is presented with the support of the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the City of Columbus, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Gittes Law Group.