Though the weather has felt right for weeks, Saturday marks the official start of summer. So it only makes sense that this weekend also brings the first big jazz festival of the year: The Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival. We ran down the Jazz Stage schedule (and other details) of this Gahanna celebration of blues, jazz, and beyond here, but I wanted to give you some personal recommendations:
The Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra, led by Mark Donavan, kicks off the jazz portion of the proceedings Friday at 5:15, offering a chance to see Columbus’ best developing jazz musicians in a warm, festive atmosphere. Saturday is highlighted by the 4:30 performance by the Pete Mills Quartet. The house band for the Tuesday jams at Park Street Tavern, the Quartet will get a chance to stretch out this time and feature Mills’ excellent compositions. For the best 1-2 punch of the schedule, fusion supergroup Flippo follows Mills with their tribute to Marvin Gaye, featuring excellent local vocalist Ron Jenkins. This should be a great weekend of live jazz in Gahanna.
Shows To See This Week
Thursday, June 19th: Maxwell Button presents the music of Cole Porter at Dicks Den. Drummer Button’s monthly tribute series continues with a look at the music of one of the greats. From Max:
“…(I) wanted to do a composition based tribute to mix it up. So we’re doing a Cole Porter tribute as a trio with Lucas Holmes on piano and John Allen on bass. We’ll be doing a few special arrangements and many of the tunes just straight up. This trio has been playing since last fall and we have developed a great rapport. I’m excited for these younger guys to get a chance to be heard because they can really play some cool stuff. I’m looking forward to playing with them. This will be the first of the monthly tributes with a trio. All the others were quartets or larger. Piano trios are fun because there’s an automatic sense of intimacy and cohesion, maybe because everyone is a rhythm section player. I don’t get to play in them as much as I’d like and I’m very happy to be playing and rehearsing regularly with these guys. I’m hopeful that we’ll play out more and down the road.”
Saturday, June 21st: Ray Charles Tribute at Natalie’s. Local bassist Roger Hines was a longtime friend and band member of Charles. He will pay tribute to the legend with an all-star band that features special guest Dr. Milton Ruffin on vocals and piano and also includes: Jon Eshelman (B3 organ/piano), Stan Smith (guitar), Randy Mather (saxophone), James Elliot (drums), Debra James Tucker, Tia Harris-Roseboro, and Vicki Saunders (backing vocals as the “Raelettes”).
Wednesday, June 25th: Stan Smith at Dick’s Den. I got a chance to see a set of the second week of Smith’s June Residency at Dick’s on June 11th, and I can tell you that, as always he is putting some elegant, emotive jazz on the stage. Though saxophonist Jay Miglia and the veteran rhythm section of Dave DeWitt and Jim Rupp all played beautifully, Smith’s almost transcendental solo improvisations were the clear highlight. He will wrap up the residency with another fine lineup. From Stan:
“Wednesday will feature Adam Smith keyboards, Taylor DeVault guitar, Roger Hines bass, Ryan Jewell drumset and Ron Hope percussion. Several select musicians are invited to sit in. We will be playing music I’ve been writing over the past 35 years combined with group improvisations. The goal is a balance of previously composed ideas combined with spontaneity with many of the themes recurring throughout the evening. Listeners are encouraged to DANCE! An important goal of mine is to go beyond a typical “jazz” approach to form which for me too often relies on theme/improvised variations/theme. While my approach to form in a jazz context is certainly not new in my opinion it is too often overlooked by many performers.”
Plenty of it this week, so go see some jazz!