With summer almost officially upon us, the outdoor jazz season is in full bloom. The first big open air jazz event of the year is this weekend – The Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival! The full jazz schedule is available here, but I wanted to rundown a few highlights of this year’s lineup. Renowned vocalist Mary McClendon and her excellent trio of guitarist Kevin Turner, pianist Vernon Hairston, and drummer Jerry Powell will kickoff the Jazz Stage Friday at 5pm with a spirited set, and the night wraps up with the world-class grouping of Byron Stripling and the Bobby Floyd Trio taking the stage for some friendly yet feisty fireworks at 9pm. Saturday finds a robust lineup on the Jazz Stage, and two additional bands on the Community Stage. Veteran Cleveland tenor saxophonist Ernie Krivda and a local quartet of Dave Powers (piano), Chris Berg (bass), and Louis Tsamous (drums) will play at 2:30pm. After a set of sultry Brazilian tunes by Canta Brasil at 6:45pm, the evening reaches its peak with a performance by the mighty Urban Jazz Coalition and international smooth jazz soprano sax star Marion Meadows at 9pm. The shorter Sunday schedule still packs a punch, opening strong with the warm standards and originals of the Pete Mills Quartet at 12:30pm, and closing with jazz-fusion supergroup FLIPPO and friends performing the latest iteration of their popular tribute to Steely Dan, “Deacon Blues,” at 4:30pm. Get to Gahanna for great jazz (and blues, and more) this weekend!
(Other) Shows To See This Week
Friday, June 17th (6 – 11pm): Urban Jazz Coalition and James Gaiters’ Watu Utongo at PNC Arts Alive Summer Music Festival at McConnell Arts Center. Through funding from a PNC Arts Alive grant, the MAC is bringing a varied schedule of classes and concerts to Worthington this week in conjunction with the Worthington Arts Festival. Friday night’s free show on the Festival Stage on the MAC lawn features a heavy-hitting double bill of local jazz. Opening up is drummer James Gaiters’ Watu Utongo large group, which Gaiters detailed for me ahead of the group’s debut in April. After this textured blend of jazz, soul, hip-hop and more, smooth jazz will fill the air at 8:30pm when international juggernaut Urban Jazz Coalition takes the stage for a special performance. Enjoy some of Columbus’ greatest musicians in a lovely outdoor setting ahead of their appearances Saturday at Creekside.
Sunday, June 19th (8 – 11pm): Zakk Jones’ Screeching Owl Trio Live Recording at Kafe Kerouac (North Campus). In the middle of a short tour that includes stops in Chicago, Cleveland, and Buffalo, guitarist Jones’ new trio version of his Screeching Owl group will be recording a performance for a digital live release at this North Campus coffee house and venue. Joined by Elliot Scozzaro on saxophone and David Wolbert on bass, the trio will “be playing originals as well as the music of Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Dave Holland and more.” For a mere $3, this is a great chance to be part of an album and see an outstanding trio well-tuned by a week of performing together every night.
Wednesday, June 22nd (8pm – 1am): The Rad Trads and Safety Squad – Jazz Wednesday 3rd Anniversary Party at Brothers Drake. The meadery is celebrating three years of exciting Wednesday night jazz with a true blowout. Opening up is local all-star fusion group Safety Squad, fresh off of opening up for their primary inspiration, Snarky Puppy. The group made its live debut at Jazz Wednesday just over a year ago, so their presence is certainly fitting. Headlining after a dinner performance at the Refectory (likely sold out, click here for details and reservation info) is NYC’s Rad Trads, back to their busy domestic touring schedule after a trip to Malaysia while releasing their debut full-length album in May. This good times amalgam of American Songbook roots and soulful rocking originals tears the meadery (and other venues) apart every time they come to town, and this party will certainly be no exception. This is a FREE SHOW, so come early and stay late to get warmed up for Comfest weekend!
Have a great week! Here are some videos to get you ready for a busy week: