JazzColumbus Weekly – May 14, 2015

My buddy Rick and I had a Jazz Night Out doubleheader on Wednesday, May 6th. First up was the opening set of James Gaiters’ Soul Revival’s Jazz Wednesday debut at Brothers Drake. The band’s lineup was smaller than the first time they played, as guitarist Craig “Superfly” McMullen was apparently unavailable, but the other three top-notch musicians roared on as a powerhouse trio. We arrived to hear a powerful take on “Caravan” – I believe I have heard tenor saxophonist Eddie Bayard play the standard a handful of times, and he always sounds at home. His evocative marathon solo was followed by an efficient passage from organist Jon Eshelman and some delicately restrained power from drummer Gaiters when playing the breaks. The group sounded great all set, but especially with a workmanlike performance of Woody Shaw’s “The Moontrane” that saw Eshelman and Bayard tackle the tune with understated ease and Gaiters turn up the heat on his rapid-fire solo. This emerging outfit is highly recommended, as their soulful take on hard bop/early soul jazz is a bit different from other similar local projects, and the combined talent onstage is tough to match.

To end the night, we stopped in at Dick’s Den for a bit of the opening night of guitarist Tom Davis’ May residency. This installment was dubbed A Tribute to the Paul Desmond/Jim Hall Quartets, and a low-key night in Columbus’ finest jazz dive was the perfect setting for such mellow yet intricate material. Rick and I agreed that alto saxophonist Alex Burgoyne’s clear yet nuanced tone was a key part of what made the tribute work, as his leads and solos on tunes like “Out of Nowhere” and “Theme from Black Orpheus” were excellent homages to Desmond’s work on the originals. Davis’ artfully smooth parts accomplished a similar goal, bringing Hall’s understated approach to life. “Out Of Nowhere” was also notable for the rhythm section of bassist Greg Wolfram and drummer Dan DiPiero trading smoldering 4-bar phrases for a unique display of synchronized soloing. What we heard was a strong indication that Davis will do a great job with the entirety of his residency, so make sure to stop by Dick’s on a Wednesday night this month.

Shows To See This Week

Friday, May 15th: Talisha Holmes Ensemble and Friends Celebrate Stevie Wonder at Brothers Drake. Holmes, one of central Ohio’s finest vocalists in the jazz and soul realms (and beyond!), will do her part to continue a spring that has seen multiple loving tributes to the innovative soul icon with a particularly timely celebration in honor of Wonder’s 65th birthday on Wednesday the 13th. For a fresh and diverse tribute, the all-star Ensemble will be backing not just Holmes, but also a handful of other great local singers across the musical spectrum – Andy Shaw, Chris Shaw, Jamalia Jackson, Mandi Gage, Mark Cullison, and Monique Mitchell. The band promises a night of touching on their favorite tunes that Wonder was involved in producing, writing, recording or performing, both “A AND B sides,” so expect to hear the unexpected!

Sunday, May 17th (Noon – 2pm): Ali Ryerson with Stan Smith & Roger Hines at Natalie’s. Internationally renowned NYC-based jazz flutist Ryerson is ending her trip to town with a brunch show featuring two of the area’s finest. Ryerson, whose career spans over four decades, is currently promoting Game Changer, the recent Capri Records debut by her her Jazz Flute Big Band, a project over twelve years in the making that features 16 of jazz’s most influential flutists. With assistance from all-stars Smith (guitar) and Hines (bass), this will be quite the high-level jazz brunch, rounding out a very jazzy week at the Worthington home for jazz and more.

Sunday, May 17th (7 – 9pm): Jacob Reed Trio at Barcelona. Drummer and composer Reed brings his trio back to one of Columbus’ best settings for the combination of live jazz and fine dining. Reed is joined in the band by fellow local veterans Tony Bonardi (piano) and Brad Mellen (bass). As Reed informed me about the music for the evening, “We are playing a mix of jazz standards and originals. Occasionally we also like to throw in some obscure gems like contemporary Norwegian tunes or songs from the Third Stream.”

Have a great week! Here’s a taste of Ryerson’s recent exploits:

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