Up first this week is news of a busy upcoming slate of jazz education-focused events under the umbrella of the Jazz Arts Group, including the return of a heralded Columbus Youth Jazz Program product! On Saturday, February 24th from 9am to 4:30pm is the annual Columbus City Schools JazzFest at the Lincoln Theatre. The festival’s new central location should be an elegant setting for this free event that assembles Columbus schools’ up-and-coming musicians, with guest appearances from The OSU Jazz Ensemble (and more!) and instruction from Jazz Arts Group musicians. More details and schedule here. On Sunday, February 25th from 3 to 5pm is the annual Swing Sunday performance by all Columbus Youth Jazz Program ensembles at the Clintonville Woman’s Club. See four great young bands and benefit the Program’s scholarships and special events with the modest admission fee – tickets and more details here. And on Tuesday, February 27th from 6 to 8pm, St. Charles Preparatory School’s My Brother’s Keeper program presents a Black History and Culture Series event featuring a performance by pianist Aaron Diehl, a St. Charles alum that is now “one of the most sought after jazz virtuosos,” in the School’s Walter Commons at 2010 E. Broad Street. More details and free registration here. Keep reading for a live review and previews of more great live jazz this week.
A Jazz Night Out
I had a short but lovely evening when I saw the first half of the Sam Blakeslee Quintet Album Release Show at the Clintonville Woman’s Club on Thursday the 15th. Trombonist Blakeslee presented an extremely balanced first set of album tunes, new compositions and evergreen standards joined by Ohio all-stars Brandon Coleman (guitar), Kip Reed (bass) and Anthony Taddeo (drums/percussion). The set opened with Selective Coverage opener “Going Back,” where Blakeslee’s glowing tone that then mixed with Coleman’s clean sound set the bar high on a tune that seemed to present a modern interpretation of cool jazz and other classic styles. The set included a world premiere of Blakeslee’s “Escaping Shadows,” referencing his mission to move beyond the influence of his favorite records, a tune with a darker tint that upped the energy on the chorus with help from Reed’s rumbling bass line and featured a diverse group of solos from Coleman, Blakeslee and Taddeo. Along with a timeless stroll on “East Of The Sun And West Of The Moon,” the quartet effortlessly tackled “Jeannine,” an Adderley brothers favorite, with Blakeslee leading with a broad melody and a cooking solo over the driving rhythm section. It was wonderful to see Blakeslee back in his hometown in a great listening room – hope to get the chance again soon!
Shows To See This Week
Saturday, February 24th (10pm – 2am): Alex Schrock Trio at Dick’s Den. Guitarist Schrock and his trio, with Bradley Mellen on bass and Nathan Parker on drums, will “awaken from winter hibernation” on Saturday at “The One and Only” to get back in the groove for a busy upcoming schedule. Expect a wide variety of material – Schrock says he is “Looking forward to debuting some new music for this group.” Cover is only $5 for a relaxed night of forward-looking guitar jazz.
Tuesday, February 27th (8 – 10pm): Debra James Tucker: “Soul of a Queen: The Times and Music of Aretha Franklin” at Natalie’s. One of Columbus’ finest vocalists has prepared a special tribute to one of the all-time greats for the penultimate show of the 2018 Black History Month series at Natalie’s. With a talented backing band of David Swank (keyboards), Reggie Jackson (drums), and Roger Hines (bass) and back-up vocals from her longtime collaborators Tia Harris and Vicki Saunders, Tucker will surely educate and entertain with a jazzy view on the legendary music of “The Queen of Soul.” Tickets and more details are available here.
Wednesday, February 28th (7 – 8pm): Phil @ Filament: Phil Maneri & L.A. Jenkins at Filament at The Vanderelli Room. This Franklinton performance space continues to gain steam with a new weekly series that promises to present veteran bassist Maneri in a variety of improvisational settings. More details from Maneri here:
Each Wednesday 7-8 at Filament in The Vanderelli Room join Phil Maneri and an ever changing palette of guests for explorations in musical improvisation. Every week the cast of players and instruments will change, only the room remains consistent. There may be structure there may not. Each session the rules will be decided by the players. Although not a jam session, we encourage conversation with the ensemble in the pauses between musical sections for reflection, criticism, challenges or other responses. Pay as you can at the door. $5-$10 suggested if possible. But we’d rather you come than avoid for lack of funds. February 28th’s guest is L.A. Jenkins. We have worked off and on as a duo doing free improv since the late 80s when the monthly short north gallery hops had just begun. Perfect guest for me to kickoff this weekly series.
Have a great week! Check out videos from Schrock and Maneri, along with an Aretha playlist from Tucker: