Happy Holidays! Before I get into a roundup of your jazz options for the Christmas weekend and the last week of 2016, I want to mention my favorite local jazz albums of the year. 2016 was another strong year for recorded jazz by some of the area’s finest musicians. My personal favorites out of this strong crop included, in roughly chronological order: Tim Dvorkin Trio: Live at Brothers Drake, Safety Squad: Self-titled, Radarhill: Any Given Day, The Jazz Poetry Ensemble: Motherless Acoustivore, Alex Schrock Trio: Punk Jazz, and Lisa Bella Donna: Looking Out, Looking On. I know there are new projects in the works, so I’m looking forward to more excellent albums in 2017! Please remember that JazzColumbus aims to review as many jazz albums by Central Ohio musicians/groups as possible, so please contact us if you are releasing a new project. Come back next week for a rundown of my favorite live shows of the year!
Christmas Weekend Live Jazz Guide
Friday, December 23rd: Kick off your holiday weekend with live jazz and a great meal at one of three dependable sites for top-notch dinner jazz. Pianist Dave Powers entertains at Hyde Park Arlington at 6:30pm, saxophonist Andrew Waters shares delightful smooth jazz at Vittoria Ristorante in Powell at 7pm, and the timeless musicianship of the Dave DeWitt TRio is on display at Black Point in the Short North Cap at 7:30pm. Also at 7:30pm is Todd Stoll’s Annual “Red Hot Holiday Stomp” at Bungalow Jazz, as Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra founder and current Vice President of Education at Jazz at Lincoln Center Stoll returns home for his immensely popular holiday jazz gathering.
At 8pm, get in a swingin’ workout at the Emerald City Swing Orchestra’s last monthly dance party appearance of 2016 at Emerald City Ballroom in Dublin – This event is cancelled. The NiNi Love JazzySide quintet plays their jazzy interpretations of popular tunes at a Christmas party at On The Rocks Bar and Grill in Dublin at 9:30pm. Drummer James Gaiters’ Watu Utungo collective, which brings together Afro-Pop, Soul Jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop, and Gospel sounds will feature vocalists Janeen Holmes and Christina Myles for a holiday-themed show at Natalie’s at 10pm, which is also about when guitarist Paul Brown will lead a group at Dick’s Den.
Christmas Eve (Saturday, December 24th): As usual, the local jazz schedule quiets down for Christmas Eve, but there are two great jazz options that we know of. At 9:30pm, revered veteran vocalist Louise Salvador will be accompanied by pianist Bob J. Mills for a festive and relaxed get-together. And around 10pm, an “Irreverent Christmas Eve” with the Trans-Genderian Orchestra will get underway at Dick’s Den. Jim Garee, Jim Maneri, Phil Maneri, Jim Castoe and Joe Ong, as “Father Zero,” will provide cheeky Christmas-themed entertainment in a program that will resemble what Jim Maneri slated for his Christmas Eve show during his 2014 residency at Dick’s (scroll down).
Christmas Day (Sunday, December 25th): Dick’s Den is the place for the only actual jazz show (that we know of) on Christmas Day. Bassist Roger Hines will be joined by fellow local luminaries Randy Mather, Stan Smith, and Wally Mitchel for “A Joe Diamond Christmas Party” starting around 9pm. Hines told me that since his traditional appearance is the “celebration after the celebration,” and a chance for jazz fans and friends to unwind after holiday parties, the band will NOT play Christmas music. Instead, they will pay homage to legendary saxophonist Diamond, who helped get jazz going at Dick’s 35+ years ago, by playing selections from his songbook. Should be a great way to relax after family time! Also, the (mostly) jazz musicians that comprise local funk, soul, rock and more supergroup Hoo Doo Soul Band will play a very special version of their weekly gig at Rumba Cafe at 10pm.
Holiday Week Jazz Guide
Live jazz is readily available during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve (if you haven’t already, it’s time to start NYE planning NOW). Most regular weekly gigs are taking place this week to the best of our knowledge, but check our calendar and call ahead to the venue to be sure. The Refectory offers great holiday jazz Monday through Wednesday, but space may no longer be available – call 614-451-9774 for availability and reservations. Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra’s weekly show at Clintonville Woman’s Club on Monday at 7:30pm features a bursting list of guests: NYC tenor saxophonist Mark Lopeman, trombonist and Cleveland Jazz Orchestra artistic director Paul Ferguson, and Cleveland drummer Chaz Baker.
On Wednesday, bassist Steve Perakis leads a trio at Brothers Drake’s Jazz Wednesday starting at 8pm that also includes guitarist Brett Allen and drummer Shane Willis, who sounded great when I saw him at another recent Jazz Wednesday. Also Wednesday, stalwart local vocalist Lisa Clark and her all-star band offer “A Tribute to Billie Holiday” at Natalie’s at 9pm. Thursday boasts two reunions of talented recent alumni from the area’s finest college jazz departments. The Wes Perry Quartet plays Brothers Drake at 8pm, where saxophonist and CSU Long Beach grad student Perry will be joined by old OSU classmates Robert Mason (keys), John Allen (bass), and Willie Barthel (drums) to play “a mix of some old standards and some originals.” At 9pm, the “WakeFold 4+2tet” will play some of their favorite tunes at Kafe Kerouac, just north of the OSU campus. The band will be comprised of Capital alums Danny Bauer (keys), Zakk Jones (guitar), Matthiessen Nisch Quan (drums), and Will Strickler (bass), bringing together their Wake Fold student quartet, with additional assistance from Justin Dickson (saxes) and David Fletcher (trombone).
Have a great week and wonderful holidays! Get a taste of Watu Utungo from their recent Backstage at the Lincoln appearance: