My wife and I had a fantastic Jazz Night Out when we saw “Charlie Parker With Strings,” the headliner concert of the 41st Annual OSU Jazz Festival, at Weigel Hall on Saturday March 24th. After informative opening remarks from Professor Emeritus Dr. Ted McDaniel, during which he received an exclusive honor from Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the concert kicked off featuring Pete Mills, the first of five guest saxophonists. Each saxophonist played 1 tune with the Ohio Jaztet faculty group and 2-3 with the OSU Symphony string ensemble, directed by David Becker, plus the Jaztet – Mills took flight on a fluid passage on “Dewey Square,” then the symphony opened “Everything Happens to Me” with a pizzicato attack before supplying lush orchestral sounds, including alternating melody duties with Mills. Dr. Michael Cox was next up, and he sounded at home on the hazy “Laura” and the smooth lines of “Easy to Love,” both of which prominently featured oboist Sam Zelnik. Keep reading for more on the show, plus previews of a varied slate of great upcoming live jazz!
Shawn “Thunder” Wallace was third up – his role on “Confirmation” with the Jaztet brought forth bursts of notes that still swung hard, and the tune also featured excellent solos from bassist Andy Woodson, pianist Dave Powers and guitarist Kevin Turner. “Just Friends,” a focal point of McDaniel’s intro for its rarity in Parker’s recorded catalog, employed the cello section for a grand opening before Wallace and the ensemble joined in, where Wallace’s simultaneous power and grace meshed well with the symphony’s breadth of sound. J.D. Allen, the only saxophonist who played his feature on tenor, took off on an intricate solo open to “Anthropology” with the Jaztet before the combo came in and Allen played an adventurous passage that put his fat tone in the spotlight. The symphony was impressively quick on “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and Allen was authoritative in front of the power swing tune.
The final feature was the “Big Chief of Congo Square,” Donald Harrison, and his genuine joy and enthusiasm onstage was impossible to ignore. He was burning on “Au Privave” with the Jaztet, on which the group’s members all soared themselves, including gigantic solo breaks from legendary drummer Jim Rupp. Harrison was also mighty on his symphonic pieces, climaxing with “Repetition” where the ensemble swayed with a bit of Latin feel and Harrison held sway with soothing power in between momentous passages from the string section. Grand finale “Klactoveedsedstene,” arranged by trumpet professor Anthony Stanco, added additional woodwinds and horns in the symphony and brought all five saxophonists on stage, with Mills moving to baritone sax and Cox returning to his usual tenor. The expanded symphony opened with majestic splendor before Rupp’s drums brought in the world-class sax section. The pairs of alto and tenor saxes each had dual solos where the players traded bars, and Mills followed with a muscular solo of his own before a well-orchestrated conclusion. “Charlie Parker With Strings” was an extraordinary concert, and I can’t wait to see what Wallace and the OSU jazz department present in next year’s festival!
Shows To See This Week
Saturday, March 31st (10pm – 2am): Insane Jazz Posse at Dick’s Den. Bassist Ben Johnson’s adventurous outfit that mixes arrangements of 90’s and pop tunes with original material returns to the stage for the first time in 2018. He will be joined by Alex Burgoyne on saxes, Danny Bauer on keyboards, Zakk Jones on guitar, and Seth Daily on drums (lineup subject to change). This will be Burgoyne’s third gig at Dick’s in four days, as he is setting up for the finale of Jones’ March Wednesday Residency as this article goes to press, and will also lead an all-star quartet on Thursday – more details here. As always, cover is $5 and drinks are cheap, so let the IJP help you get in touch with your feelings.
Sunday, April 1st (2:30 – 4pm): Easter Gospel Soul Brunch – Old Landmark: Traditional Gospel with Tia Harris, Vicki Saunders, and Debra James Tucker at Natalie’s. The Easter Columbus Jazz Calendar is particularly strong this year, with this concert a beckoning highlight. After the Derek DiCenzo TRio plays their monthly brunch set at 11am, Tucker’s gospel series will unite her with her longtime collaborators for a special holiday treat. Hear three of Columbus’ finest vocalists and performers share heartfelt traditional gospel favorites in one of Columbus’ finest listening rooms. Only bar/standing tickets remained at press time, so click here NOW to buy yours!
Wednesday, April 4th (6 – 9pm): Peter & Will Anderson Trio at The Refectory. These NYC-based woodwind masters and twin brothers return to Columbus for an intimate concert in the restaurant’s Jazz Dinner Club series. These virtuosos continue to gain acclaim for their musicianship and their growing catalog of albums that mix a delicate, inventive touch on well-chosen standards with innovative original tunes. With their lineup for this tour rounded out by French guitarist Félix Lemerle, this pairing of world-class jazz with an exquisite four course meal prepared by one of the area’s finest kitchens is an experience not to be missed! Reservation and menu details are available here – Call (614) 451-9774 to make your reservations, which are required. Wednesday’s show kicks off a hot April jazz schedule at The Refectory, so make your plans now (Click the event names for details): April 5 – Bobby Floyd Trio, April 12 – Davina & The Vagabonds, April 19 – Joni Mitchell Tribute with FLIPPO featuring Kay Harris, April 21 – SpeakEasy, April 28 – Dan Wilson Quartet, and April 30 – Danilo Brito!
Have a great week! Check out videos from this week’s artists to prepare: