JazzColumbus Weekly – June 18, 2015

While there is a bounty of live jazz to be enjoyed in every corner of Central Ohio this weekend, the focus of this third weekend in June is the Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival in Gahanna. While there is great jazz (along with blues, rock, and more) to see all weekend, I would like to draw attention to a few of the schedule highlights. Friday night’s Jazz Stage is stacked with local heavyweights as local legend saxophonist Carl Sally and Friends open the stage at 5pm, followed by groove masters fo/mo/deep at 7pm. The evening’s entertainment is headlined by the Tony Monaco and Fareed Haque Trio, as the internationally-renowned organist is joined by Haque, a Chicago-based guitar virtuoso, and drummer Louis Tsamous. Cincinnati-based Brazilian jazz enthusiasts Phil Degreg and Brasilia, featuring Columbus native Kim Pensyl on trumpet, will start Saturday’s proceedings at 12:30pm. Fusion purveyors FLIPPO will feature vocalists Kay Harris and Ron Jenkins on their always entertaining Stevie Wonder Tribute at 4:45pm, and Saturday night closes with a rousing set from local smooth jazz all-stars Urban Jazz Coalition at 9pm. The shorter Sunday schedule is bolstered by an appearance from long-running local Dixieland band The High Street Stompers at 2pm.

A Jazz Afternoon Out

After being unable to attend last year, I am very thankful to have been able to enjoy the second annual Mark Flugge tribute concert at Capital University’s Mees Hall on Sunday the 14th. Organized by Lisa Jelle and Erika Flugge, Flugge’s wife and daughter, the event also served as the release party for Mark Flugge Remembered: Jazz Originals and Standards, a 2-CD set of live performances, tributes, and more. The concert was split into two halves: the first featured performances by soloists and small groups. Personal highlights of this portion were 13 year-old Abhik Mazumder’s stirring solo piano rendition of Flugge’s “February’s Promise” (click here for video of a recent recital performance), the Bryan Olsheski Quartet’s performance of Olsheski’s “Song for Mark,” and Tony Hagood’s solo version of Keith Jarrett’s “My Song,” a tune Hagood worked on while under Flugge’s tutelage. The first half ended with “Soiree,” a quartet take on a Flugge piece that featured Steven Jacobs, the inaugural winner of the Capital University Mark Flugge Jazz Award, on trumpet. The second half of the show was comprised of arrangements of Flugge works played by Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra. All seven songs conveyed the material with big band majesty, but I was especially taken by the beauty of “Feeling, not Words,” with great duet and solo passages from Jay Miglia on saxophone and Jelle on flute, and the hard-charging finale, “Drivin’ the Bus.” It was a great afternoon of jazz celebrating the depth and breadth of talent and artistry inspired by a musician gone too soon.

Shows To See This Week

Thursday, June 18th: Stan Smith + at Carabar. Local guitar wizard Smith has been booking the weekly jazz-ish shows here since late last year, including a handful of performances by his own band, with focus on group improvisation. He will be joined onstage by Danny Aguiar on drums, Steve Perakis on bass, Brett Burleson on guitar, and KT Ramsey on keyboards. This is only the start of a very busy weekend for Smith, as he will lead a Trio for a Friday happy hour performance at the Brewer’s Yard Kroger Tap Room, and will bring his large group to The Walrus downtown for an evening of jams on Saturday night. At the Walrus, Taylor DeVault and Roger Hines will replace Burleson and Perakis on guitar and bass, respectively, and other guests are likely. Catch up with Smith this weekend for he and his collaborators’ inspired visions of jazz and improvised music.

Friday, June 19th (7:30 – 10pm): Dave DeWitt TRio featuring Rachel Sepulveda at Bungalow Jazz. This star-studded house party is the 75th birthday celebration for Becky Ogden, owner/operator of the Bungalow and longtime jazz educator and promoter. Along with running the dearly missed Columbus Music Hall, she also started what became the PBJ & Jazz concert series, educating children about jazz with actual local groups. Bungalow regulars DeWitt (piano), Derek DiCenzo (bass), and Aaron Scott (drums) will play their playfully artistic takes on standards, and will be joined by talented vocalist Sepulveda on some of their tunes. Come celebrate with a fundamental figure in Columbus jazz!

Saturday, June 20th: Bass Jam featuring EOP (Evan Oberla Project) and Jonathan Scales Fourchestra at Skully’s. The monthly Bass Jam live band dance party at one of Columbus’ top dance clubs often features acts on the jazz fringes, but this one ups the ante. The Asheville, NC-based Fourchestra, led by steel-pan maestro Scales, is making its third Columbus appearance of the year, and promises to put on a show that finds the right balance of virtuosity and fun. But the headliner for this installment is EOP, the brainchild of trombonist and Columbus expatriate Evan Oberla, who now calls New Orleans home. EOP will be joined by Oberla’s New Orleans friend Henry Green on guitar. As Oberla told me,

[This will be] the band’s first performance together since January this year in the Florida Keys. So it’s gonna be sort of us remembering how to play these songs, so it will be super fresh for us and the audience. We’ll have members of the Columbus music community on both shows…to be announced. It’s gonna be a fun all out party. I haven’t seen my Columbus people in a while so I can’t wait to throw down. So come dance!

After their midnight set at Saturday’s free show, the band will also play Dick’s Den Sunday night starting at 9pm, so be sure to catch Oberla while he’s home if you can. And for you early readers, Oberla is playing with soul singer Allen Stone’s band on the Conan O’Brien show tonight (Wednesday)!

Have a great week! Here’s a video of Monaco and Haque in action to get you ready:

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