We have once again reached the last weekend of June, which can only mean one thing: Comfest time! The traditional grumbling from my rock fan friends about the lineups at the other stages seems to be louder than ever this year, so hopefully there’s room at the as-strong-as-ever I Wish You Jazz Stage for these musical refugees. Just like last week, even though we’ve already given you the full jazz portion of the festival schedule, my personal picks for bands to see follow. If you missed it, here’s my rundown of your jazzy options for Comfest afterparties. Afterwards, I have a few picks for the remainder of the week. Let’s do it!
Friday, June 27th: Friday afternoon’s schedule is a great kickoff to the weekend, so hopefully you can duck down to the park! Guitarist Tom Davis and his quartet play at 12:50, bringing a breezy modern take on the classic sounds of legends like Wes Montgomery and Grant Green. The afternoon continues swiftly with the strong original material of vibist Patrick Overturf, the drum-less eclecticism of the Rorschach Trio, and the young vibrant trio (saxophonist Alex Burgoyne, guitarist Aaron Quinn and drummer Seth Daily) of Liver Quiver. Local percussion all-star Ron Hope leads his Keeping Hope Alive collective at 5:55, and after some blues and party variations, groove navigators fo/mo/deep, still riding high on their new album TheGroovyGoodness, close out Friday with a 9:50 set that is sure to jam hard!
Saturday, June 28th: Mount Vernon-based Padula Oblongata will get things cooking out of the gate with a 12:00 noon set of jazz-funk classics and memorable standards. Next up will be the traditional Gene Walker jazz jam, aka the Listen For The Jazz All-Stars. Unfortunately, Columbus sax legend Walker is recovering from illness, but the jam and the spirit will continue in his stead. In a late substitution (unfortunately due to the continuing recovery of Phoenix Project leader Ken Messer from a May car accident), upstart outfit Insane Jazz Posse (I reviewed their debut here, when they were still the Ben Johnson Quartet) will play their unique mix of 90s pop covers and originals at 3:15. A moving reprisal of the Nelson Mandela Tribute from earlier this year will take the stage at 5:05, and the night will end with back-to-back party sets from the New Basics Brass Band (7:50) and DW6 (8:50).
Sunday, June 29th: Comfest Sunday at the jazz stage is rich with tradition. Those traditions will come alive when Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra kicks off the proceedings at 12:00 noon with their majestic big band sound. There will be a tribute to departed saxophonist Joe Diamond at 1:50 (his birthday was celebrated recently at Dicks Den), just before the first annual Comfest Second Line kicks off. The long-running avant-big band sounds of Honk, Wail & Moan strike at 3:40. The high-powered Brett Burleson Band, with special guest keyboardist Stephen Wood, plays at 6:00 before Tony Monaco closes things down yet again with the final jazz set of Comfest at 7.
(Other) Shows To See This Week
Thursday, June 26th: Adam Smith & Different Seasons at Dick’s Den. This will be a reprisal of what turned out to be the secret finale of keyboardist/guitarist/wizard Smith’s May residency at Dick’s. His forthcoming album Different Seasons was written by Smith, trombonist Jason Branscum, and saxophonist Nicole Rachelle. This formidable trio will be joined by Aaron Quinn and bassist Phil Maneri to perform the album in its entirety along with “tunes by Dave Holland, Sonny Sharrock, Miroslav Vitous, Steve Kuhn, Freddie Hubbard, as well as other originals by Aaron Quinn.”
Thursday, June 26th: The Rad Trads at Brothers Drake. The meadery gets a headstart on its ferocious Comfest weekend schedule with a return visit from this young, Brooklyn-based mob that mixes classic (100 year old classic) jazz with funk, soul, and blues burners into a non-stop rager. Check out our interview from their last visit for more insights into this touring juggernaut.
Sunday, June 29th (12-2pm): Derek DiCenzo Trio at Natalie’s. If you want (or need) a quieter, climate-controlled start to your Comfest Sunday, this is a strong entry on the ever-growing list of jazz brunch options. The guitarist and his stalwart trio of Dave DeWitt on bass and Aaron Scott on drums will provide a pleasant mix of standards in one of the best rooms in town.
Below are a couple tastes of the Adam Smith Different Seasons album. Happy Comfest!