Merry Christmas, jazz fans! Before I get into the full holiday swing of running down my jazz picks for Christmas weekend, I did have a couple great Jazz Nights Out last week. On Wednesday the 17th, I caught the first set of the Alex Schrock Trio at the final Brothers Drake Jazz Wednesday show of 2014. Guitarist Schrock, bassist Chad Greenwald, and drummer Nathan Parker played a couple standards, but mostly Schrock originals, some of which he recorded back in September for an upcoming release – the subtle, cohesive grooves I heard surely made for a great recording.
“Limitless,” which Schrock described as the “centerpiece” of the forthcoming album, displayed the breadth of his influences as a composer. While the opening of the tune maintained the earthy jazz sound heard elsewhere in the set, the song then segued into a section with a strong progressive-rock feel, as Schrock and Greenwald played in unison, and then it incorporated gypsy jazz and other rock flavors. Schrock’s guitar glided and soared on many of the tunes, including a version of Wayne Shorter’s “Black Nile” and “Mikarei Bijin,” an older original that jammed hard before an abrupt ending. Can’t wait to hear the new album!
On Thursday the 18th, I celebrated my Friday birthday by seeing the Jimmy Smith Tribute at Dicks Den. Part of drummer Maxwell Button’s monthly tribute series, the trio featured two well-chosen titans of local (and global) organ jazz: organist Tony Monaco and guitarist Derek DiCenzo. While I didn’t take notes this time, I can say that the group powered through a mix of Smith standards and Christmas tunes with soulful style. The highlight for me was their take on “Root Down,” my personal favorite Smith song, that melted the walls with its grooves.
Christmas Week Live Jazz Guide:
Christmas Eve (Wednesday, December 24th): Per usual, Dick’s Den is your one and only source for live jazz on actual holidays. At 9:30pm, pianist Jim Maneri will play his last public Columbus gig before returning to the road/sea in the new year. His Christmas Eve party, which is also the finale of his December residency, will delve into many secular/Dick’s holiday traditions – more details available here.
Christmas (Thursday, December 25th): The yuletide party continues at Dick’s, as a band led by bassist Roger Hines will provide ample holiday cheer and musicianship starting around 10pm.
Friday, December 26th: Now that most of the stress of the holiday season has passed (hopefully), there are a handful of ways to let loose on Friday. If you’re looking for enjoyable exercise, the Swing’s The Thing Big Band will be playing their monthly swing dance party at Emerald City Ballroom (Dublin), starting at 8pm. For holiday cheer in a club setting, you have two excellent options: Either Phil Clark & THE SOUL‘s mix of holiday favorites and soul standards at Natalie’s or fusion supergroup FLIPPO’s festive soul-jazz at Dick’s Den, both starting at 10pm.
Saturday, December 27th: Your first chance for jazz on Saturday is the weekly Gene Walker Memorial Jam at Zanzibar Brews, starting at 5pm. Saturday offers some of the best options for a great meal with your jazz for the weekend, as The Refectory presents some joyful tunes from Derek DiCenzo at 6pm, while the Dave DeWitt TRio (DeWitt on piano, Aaron Scott on drums, and Chris Berg subbing for DiCenzo on bass) entertains at nearby Hyde Park starting at 7pm. It will also be a great night for club jazz, as the modern-tinged hard-bop sounds of drummer James Gaiters and his Quartet will fill Dick’s Den, while jazz-funk masters fo/mo/deep will groove Natalie’s, both starting at 10pm.
Sunday, December 28th: Entertain (or escape?) the family with three great jazz brunch choices, including veteran trio Birdshack at The Crest in Clintonville, the Erik Augis Trio at 3rd & Hollywood in Grandview (both starting at 11:30am), or the Stan Smith/Taylor DeVault guitar duo at Natalie’s (starting at noon). If you’re still going strong Sunday night, catch legendary local drummer Wally Mitchel and his stalwart ensemble at Dick’s Den, starting around 9pm.
Have a great holiday week! See you next week for a bit of a 2014 wrapup and the lowdown on your NYE 2015 jazz options.