Happy Holidays jazz fans! I hope everyone gets time this week and next to relax with family and friends and enjoy the season. And remember – if you need an escape from family time, there is still plenty of jazz going on over the holidays! See my suggestions below and stay tuned this week for our New Year’s Eve Jazz roundup with info on the best places to swing in the New Year.
Some Jazz Nights Out
Thursday the 19th was my birthday. Among other gatherings with friends and family, I managed to celebrate with some jazz as well. On Wednesday, I met up with friends at Brothers Drake to catch bassist Ben Johnson‘s quartet at the final Jazz Wednesday of 2013, as previewed here. Unfortunately, I only heard the last few songs of the first set. Fortunately, I got a solid taste of an exciting new band. The first couple tunes I heard were reminiscent of jazz trio Bad Plus plus guitar, with guitarist Aaron Quinn adding flavor to the somewhat ambient modern piano trio sound. The last tune I heard was more of a waltz, with drummer Ryan Jewell adding some nice touches that functioned as part of the song, not decoration on top. I hope the group keeps playing, as I think this could be the start of something great.
On our way north from Brothers Drake, we stopped at Rumba Cafe to hear a bit of La Charanga Tres. This is a recently revived Cuban jazz project led by Kris Keith, of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra and Hoo Doo Soul Band, among many other projects, on flute. This five-piece version of the band also included Steve Perakis (of Honk Wail & Moan) filling in on bass, as well as Keith’s Hoo Doo cohorts Mark Henderson (percussion) and Chris Young (keyboards). I understand that Erin Gilliland (violin) arrived from another gig after we left. We did hear some fine Cuban material, including a tribute to Columbus band Yumbambe’s nights at the old Columbus Music Hall. Keith’s role as a music educator was on full display, as he was very interested in teaching the audience about Cuban and other Latin jazz. They have played a few shows at Rumba recently, so I hope to get a chance to hear more of their music (especially with Gilliland) soon.
Thursday night: I still had a hankering for jazz after my birthday get-together ended, so I walked down to Dicks Den to catch a bit of the storied Paul Brown. The guitarist was accompanied by Calypso T (of Apocalypso, not sure of his real name) on steel drums, Nathan Smith on bass, and Maxwell Button on drums, which was a stellar lineup. The material veered between Brown’s fusion originals and standards like “Look of Love.” The atmosphere was very festive, as I saw a number of other Columbus musicians enjoying the music. A great finale to another birthday.
Shows To See This Week
Wednesday, December 25th: Roger Hines at Dick’s Den. Bassist Hines keeps alive the Dick’s tradition of quality jazz entertainment on holiday nights. A relaxing place to continue your celebrations with friends while also hearing great music.
Friday, December 27th: Wally Mitchel at Dick’s Den. Drummer Mitchel, the “Eastside Kid” of Columbus jazz lore, plays a set for the holidays with his younger group. They definitely smoked when I saw them around Thanksgiving, so this is highly recommended.
Monday, December 30th: Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra at Clintonville Woman’s Club. The legendary Columbus jazz big band plays its final weekly gig of 2013. There are no guests listed for this evening, but I’m sure the Orchestra will cook to end the year.
That’s it for me for 2013! Thanks for reading the column, and look for big things in 2014. See you next year!