I had some wonderful Jazz Nights Out last week that heated up the cold winter season. On Wednesday, January 13th, I saw the Dr. Mark Lomax Trio perform Blues People at the Garden Theater. A capacity crowd gathered into the performance space and became what felt like a temporary community for an intimate, one-of-a-kind experience. Each of the seven movements of Lomax’s composition flowed seamlessly into the next, resulting in a continuous hour of powerful music. While much of the performance could be categorized as improvised free jazz, there were elements of many styles that created moments that many music fans could appreciate, like passages of post-bop, funk, and gospel.
Lomax opened the piece with a gradually building solo, including some melodic mallet work. Tenor saxophonist Eddie Bayard came in with a wistful sound, but soon began to blow with his considerable might. Pianist Dr. William Menefield’s entrance started with a tropical strut that then swiftly mutated to contemplation and then rhythmic pulsing. Moods and themes came and went throughout the work, including quotes of the spiritual “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child” and Lomax’s own #BLACKLIVESMATTER – the resonating, uncomfortable moment that juxtaposes the majesty of “America the Beautiful” with harsh, noisy blowing from Bayard. Despite the heaviness of the work, the trio often exhibited a contagious joy, especially Lomax, both during his own playing and in his recognition of (and amazement from) his colleague’s talents. Lomax’s effort here was awe-inspiring – at this point I can only urge that you catch his premiere performance of Blues in August, also part of the year-long August Wilson festival, back at the Garden Theater on August 17th.
On Saturday the 16th, I finally had the opportunity to catch a concert in the Jazz Brew Concert Series. This installment at Whitehall Yearling High School was a double bill of two fantastic quartets, grouped into the “Classic Straight-Ahead Jazz” subgenre of the series. First up was the Linda Dachtyl Quartet. Their seven-song set started with three songs from Dachtyl’s 2015 album A Late One, and continued with selections from her first two albums and tributes to mentors Hank Marr and Gene Walker. Opening tune “Bucket Full of Soul,” which honors organist Trudy Pitts, featured great solos from the ensemble, including some bluesy picking from guest guitarist Chaz Mechenbier. The crowd loved the band’s classy take on standard “Satin Doll,” powered by a full-toned solo from tenor saxophonist Mark Donovan and some sustained organ magic from Dachtyl. An encore of the Marr classic “Greasy Spoon” was also well-received, and drummer Cary Dachtyl led the way on a gospel-charged double-time romp to the conclusion.
The second half of the show was held down by the James Gaiters Quartet. This rare lineup of Gaiters’ band tore through a choice selection of post-bop and soul jazz classics. Opener “Cryin’ Blues,” by Eddie Harris, set the tone early on, with excellent solo work including some simmering stanzas from trumpeter Lee Savory. Savory blew equally hot and heavy on Juan Tizol’s “Caravan,” which found tenor saxophonist Bryan Olsheski doing some high speed cooking and Gaiters wrapping up with a slow-building feat of drumming strength. Organist Chris Brown was featured on Benny Golson’s “Whisper Not,” opening with a sanctified and room-filling unaccompanied passage and returning to solo after the stately head of the tune. The night ended with Freddie Hubbard’s “Gibraltar,” putting the two-horn attack up front over Gaiters’ skittering rhythm. It was a great night of classic jazz, giving me tangible proof of the great value that the Jazz Brew Concert Series is providing, not to mention its purpose of raising funds for the launch of Columbus’ new 24-hour jazz radio station, Jazz 98.5 FM. The series returns to Whitehall HS on Saturday, January 23rd at 8pm with a “Smooth/Urban Contemporary/Jazz Fusion” themed triple-bill of Urban Jazz Coalition, Broadstreet Lineup, and the Tim Dvorkin Trio.
Shows To See This Week
Thursday, January 21st (8pm – 11pm): Anna & The Consequences at Notes. Playing “jazzy torch blues at its best,” the trio of vocalist Anna Paolucci, vocalist/bassist Dan Sagraves, and drummer Rick Soriano returns to Notes with a special guest. They will be joined by 14 year-old Chloe Tussing on guitar and vocals, who has played with the band previously and has wowed with talent beyond her years. I saw a bit of the band’s Christmas show at Notes, and I can tell you that a hip and swingin’ good time is guaranteed. Tickets are a mere $5 at the door.
Friday, January 22nd (10pm – midnight): Carl Sally & Friends at Natalie’s. A local legend of world-class renown, tenor saxophonist Carl Sally and his group return to Natalie’s for another exhibition of top-notch soulful jazz. Having toured the world, performed and recorded with many bands and outfits including Chuck Berry, The Everly Brothers and Machito, Central Ohio is lucky to have Sally in town post-retirement for occasional performances. Tickets are available here.
Wednesday, January 27th (8pm – 11pm): Rorschach Trio at Brothers Drake. As saxophonist and bandleader Brian Lang told me in his recent interview, the Quartet version of the band recently released a new live recording, Hallelujah Live. Culled from recent live shows at Brothers Drake, these nine tracks are a warm and accessible invitation to the outfit’s deft hand with pop material not often associated with jazz performance. Usually featured here on soprano sax, Lang leads the way on tunes in a variety of moods and descriptions, opening with the title track, where the band gives the Leonard Cohen piece a light yet passionate treatment. “Sweet Child of Mine” is an entertaining caper, with pianist Dean Marcellana and Lang working in perfect tandem. The Game of Thrones theme retains the mystery and majesty of the original, with Marcellana’s swirling keys paving the way. Lang turns to tenor for the band’s version of bossa nova standard “Triste,” which renders it gently playful but with an occasional surprising harder edge. The band will be selling the CD at this free Jazz Wednesday show, which will be a pared-down intimate trio appearance by Lang, Marcellana, and bassist Will Strickler.
Have a great week! Here’s a video of Sally in action: