JazzColumbus Weekly – April 17, 2014

First up this week is some sad news I recently discovered. I’d like to say RIP to Lee Brown, who died on February 13th at the age of 82. As you can see from his obituary, he left behind a broad, multifaceted legacy from his long tenure as a philosophy professor at OSU and his many writing projects. However, I knew of him as the writer of Jazz Notes, his regular column on local jazz that ran for 15 years in the Other Paper. I always enjoyed his column, and it kept me informed when I was first getting into jazz, both overall and locally. Jazz Notes was the primary inspiration for me to start writing this column, so thank you, Lee, for your years of dedication to jazz in Central Ohio.

Some Jazz Nights Out

On Tuesday, April 8th, my friend Rick and I made it to Natalie’s for Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola. I had been anticipating this show for months, and I was not disappointed. It was a sold out Tuesday night show, so apparently I was not the only one excited. The duo played two sets, mixing their two albums-worth of originals with covers of all origins and stripes. We had fun trying to figure out what each song was. With Hunter’s current use of a clean, friendly guitar tone and the slight country twang of most every tune, every song sounded familiar, like it could be a rendition of a 60-year old standard, even if it was a new creation of the duo. They opened with a trio of Hank Williams songs and tossed in a trio of Cars tunes in the second set. I also heard my second jazz cover of a recent pop hit this year when, with Hunter’s intro of “This one is for the ladies,” they put their own spin on Lorde’s “Royals.” The combination of Hunter’s groaning passion for the music and the obvious cohesiveness of the two players combined for tight material that was also loose and expressive.

On Friday the 12th, I stopped in at Dicks Den to hear local veterans Nova Madrugada. When I arrived around 10:45, I looked on stage and was surprised to find a group of young musicians. As Nova Madrugada bassist Roger Hines later announced, I was seeing a group of Capital music students get a taste of the “real world,” as Hines put it. I heard some fine renditions of Mingus and Monk tunes. For the second set, the main lineup of Hines, woodwind player Michael Cox, guitarist Stan Smith, conga player Ron Hope, and drummer Ryan Jewell took the stage. This was my first time seeing the group, or at least the first in a long time, and I was impressed. These were the sights and sounds of five master musicians playing beloved music with emotion and passion. The material was a blend of Brazilian music, jazz fusion, and more traditional jazz that felt organic. All of the players were featured on extended solos, and the set often had the feel of an organic, spiritual jam session. It was a great kickoff to my weekend.

Shows To See This Week

Thursday, April 17th: Pete Mills 5-tet presents Sweet Shadow Live at Natalie’s. Before taking a break for the summer, Mills’ Side One Series takes on Sweet Shadow, the saxophonist’s own recent release. The program will also feature some compositions by bassist Andy Woodson. This month’s addition to the quartet is guitarist Josh Hill (DW6, Birdshack, many others).

Friday, April 18th: Jim Maneri & Friends at Dick’s Den. Longtime Columbus jazz musician, educator, and WCBE radio host Maneri returns from Florida for a couple gigs this weekend. The pianist will play in a quartet with saxophonist Randy Mather, bassist Derek DiCenzo, and drummer Aaron Scott, and I would bet on hearing their take on “Mr. Magic.” The Jim Maneri Trio (same lineup, but without Mather) will play Saturday at Hyde Park.

Sunday, April 20th: Insane Jazz Posse at Dick’s Den. This quartet of local jazz standouts will be celebrating the holidays (4/20 a bit more than Easter, with Earth Day a distant third) by “getting weird all over your favorite 90’s pop tunes, with a few original tunes as well.” Bassist Ben Johnson, saxophonist Alex Burgoyne, guitarist Aaron Quinn, and drummer Ryan Jewell will provide some irreverent fun to end the weekend, and will then keep the party going on Wednesday at Brothers Drake.

Have a jazzy week!

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