I had a wonderful Jazz Night Out when I saw the Matt Wilson Quartet JAG Presents 7pm show on the 19th at Notes. Drummer Wilson and his world-class band of Martin Wind on bass, Jeff Lederer on saxes and clarinet, and Kirk Knuffke on cornet put on an awe-inspiring show for the large, enthusiastic crowd, which included many area schoolchildren. The set opened with Gene Ammons’ “The One Before This,” a loose and boisterous romp with feisty solos from the group. Butch Warren’s “Barack Obama,” which the quartet recorded on the Gathering Call album, was well-timed and well-received, as one of the more subdued pieces of the set was highlighted by a melodic opening duet by the front line. The sheer amount of styles, eras, and moods covered in 90 minutes was breathtaking, ranging from a new take on a Sidney Bechet swing tune to an interpretation of the Carl Sandburg poem “Choose” (which found the entire band singing in places!) to the Indian-inspired “Raga” to a humorous statement on men’s fashion trends called “Man Bun.” While the quartet was a well-honed unit, the individual creativity on display was also very impressive, as Wilson’s solos saw his laser-like focus on one cymbal, then his deconstruction of the kit mid-song next. I can’t insist strongly enough that you see this band when you get the chance!
Shows To See This Week
Saturday, January 28th (10pm – 2am): Stan & Breeze Smith + at Dick’s Den. After spending time recently in the area, Los Angeles-based percussionist Breeze Smith is teaming up with his locally-based brother Stan for a pair of shows before he leaves town. Saturday’s show, which has a $5 cover, features the brothers with Michael Cox, Lisa Bella Donna, Phil Maneri, Shane Willis, KT Ramsey and last set appearances by Steve Perakis and Antoine Clark. A similar band takes the stage on Friday, February 3rd from 9pm to midnight at Brothers Drake when the Smiths are joined by Bella Donna, Willis and Perakis. Stan provided some insights into both shows:
Both nights will primarily feature my music. KT Ramsey will be singing a few numbers at the Dick’s Den Show but all instrumentals will be my compositions which are designed to be group improvisations on a theme. The theme may be melodic, harmonic, rhythmic or some combinations but the option of group improvisation is always there for each member of the group. For me, how each musician of an ensemble presents their unique depth of energy is my only concern. I’ll play the parts of my piece I want to hear when I want to hear them and everyone else collectively orchestrates and arranges the music around that. Dancing/Moving is as important to me as Contemplation and Singing – and as vocalists are instrumentalists, instrumentalists are singers. My goal is to present a balance of these essential elements to whoever shows up. I’m confident that everyone in the ensemble agrees.
Sunday, January 29th (3pm – 5pm): Jazz at the MAC presents Soul Jazz Sunday with the New Tony Monaco Quartet at McConnell Arts Center. Aaron Scott’s Jazz at the MAC series, which started its 2016-17 season strong with a tribute to Bob Allen, resumes with a look into soul jazz classics largely from the 1960s and 1970s. The new Monaco quartet finds the organ master with saxophonist Randy Mather, guitarist Derek DiCenzo, and drummer Scott, who delved into the background of this band here. I got to see the band this past Friday at Dick’s, and can tell you that they are firing on all cylinders! Sunday’s program will focus on the music of organ titans Jimmy McGriff and Jack McDuff, so expect an afternoon of greasy, soulful grooves played with world-class musicianship. Get your tickets now while they’re still available!
Wednesday, February 1st (9 – 11pm): JD Allen Trio at Natalie’s. A blockbuster new addition to next week’s calendar is this kickoff to the Black History Month series at Natalie’s (more details on the series next week). Tenor saxophonist Allen is a giant on the modern jazz scene, having released 10 acclaimed albums as a leader and many more as a sideman playing with many of the world’s best musicians. His latest, 2016’s Americana: Musings On Jazz And Blues is a masterful exploration of fundamental American musical roots. For this special show, Allen, who spends part of his time in Cincinnati, will be joined by Indianapolis’ Brandon Meeks on bass and Columbus’ own James Gaiters on drums to form a high-powered trio that should put on an immensely memorable performance. Tickets and more info are available here.
Thursday, February 2nd (9 – 11pm): Dan White + Birdshack at Natalie’s. Huntertones saxophonist White, now based in NYC, ends a two-night stand in his college stomping grounds with this intimate show at one of Columbus’ finest listening rooms. More info and limited tickets available here. The same band plays a free Jazz Wednesday show the previous night, Wednesday, February 1st, 8 – 11pm at Brothers Drake. White will be joined both nights by hard-working Columbus trio Birdshack, including White’s longtime collaborator Josh Hill on guitar, plus Tony McClung on drums, and Jeff Ciampa on bass. White was kind enough to check in with a few thoughts on the shows:
We’ll be playing some new originals inspired by my travels over the last year, and also some covers of music by Neil Young and Nick Drake. A lot of it will be on the fly groove-based improvisation. These are some of my favorite musicians who skillfully keep the Columbus music scene at a VERY high level.
Have a great week! Enjoy videos of these artists to prepare for a busy week: