JazzColumbus Weekly – May 19, 2016

I’ve had two great Jazz Nights Out at Park Street Saloon this month. On Friday, May 6th, Rick Sanford and friends and I enjoyed the excellent double bill of New Mastersounds and Moon Hooch. Openers Moon Hooch have played Columbus a growing handful of times in recent years, and have built a local following – there was a big early crowd on hand for their pumping dance music, created by two saxophonists and a drummer (and some effects). The saxophonists’ arsenal included a tenor sax with a long traffic cone protruding from the bell and a (modified?) contrabass clarinet, and these were useful implements in creating a funky party. The audience was amply riled up for the veteran British jazz-funk headliners making their Columbus debut, who had few frills but held sway with easy grooves and dramatic solos. When a guitar technical problem threatened the set’s momentum, the quartet became a keyboard trio and the sounds of Ramsey Lewis’ “The In Crowd” filled the air with soulful nostalgia. After the New Mastersounds reached their sweaty conclusion, all members of Moon Hooch came out with horns for a thrilling encore jam. This intersection of jazz and jam band scenes and sounds was a pure treat.

On Wednesday, May 11th, modern jazz-fusion maestros Snarky Puppy sold out the Saloon with guitar wiz Charlie Hunter in tow. Safety Squad kicked off the evening with an invigorating pre-party set next door at Park Street Patio. While keyboardist Danny Bauer and crew’s self-titled debut was just released last month, the band already has new songs – “Busted Shoes” was bursting with funky horns and percussion, and boasted big solos from saxophonist Justin Dickson and Bauer. “La Fiesta De Trineo” was even more seductive live, with twists and turns culminating in a full-on percussion jam featuring Kramer Sell and Matthiessen Nisch Quan. “Bestest Mensch” was a great finale, an intricate and passionate piece with many levels that showcases the swaggering jazz machine that is Safety Squad. With Bauer leaving town in the fall, catch them while you have the chance!

Mastermind jazz-groove guitarist Hunter opened the indoor part of the bill backed by Snarky Puppy members on tenor sax, trumpet and drums. Hunter put his bluesy stamp on a variety of his own material and classic covers, including a particularly soulful rendition of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Snarky Puppy gave the capacity crowd what they were waiting for – a non-stop, jam-packed amalgam of styles, influences, moods, and emotions, including tunes from their brand new Culcha Vulcha that showed why the two-time Grammy winners are indeed a force to be reckoned with in modern American music. It had been some time since I last saw the full band live, so I’m grateful for the chance. Woodlands Productions has been throwing some great jazzy concerts lately – looking forward to more!

Shows To See This Week

Friday, May 20th, and Saturday, May 21st (8pm – midnight both nights): Naomi & her Handsome Devils at First Congregational Church, Downtown. This world-travelling classic jazz and swing band is the headlining act of Columbus Lindy & Blues Exchange 2016, an annual weekend long swing & blues dance event presented by SwingColumbus. There are dances featuring live bands and DJs all weekend, highlighted by the two night performance by vocalist Naomi Uyama, an international lindy hop champion, and her band of top-notch New York and Chicago musicians. Click here for registration and ticket details – Registration for the full event closes on Thursday night, but tickets for all individual dances will be available at the door, depending on availability.

Friday, May 20th (9:30pm – 12:30am): FLIPPO Presents: “Deacon Blues,” A Steely Dan Tribute at Notes. After the debut performance of this show sold out Natalie’s in March, the local jazz-fusion supergroup is taking it south to Notes for an encore. The band has added 3 more songs to their repertoire of tunes by the 1970s jazz-rock icons, as well as an additional vocalist and a trumpet player for even more punch. The show will feature vocals from Ron Jenkins, Dan Rowan, Steve Kramer, and Kay Harris. Advance tickets are only $8 and available here while they last.

Sunday, May 22nd (2:30pm – 5:30pm): High Street Stompers at Makoy Center, Hilliard. This outfit of Central Ohio hot jazz all-stars will wrap up the Central Ohio Hot Jazz Society’s spring calendar in style. Founded nearly 30 years ago when the members were all professors of music at The Ohio State University, the band’s lineup includes Michael Cox on clarinet, Tom Battenberg on trumpet, Jim Rupp on drums, Vaughn Wiester on trombone, Paul Robison on banjo & vocals, and Sid Townsend on tuba & string bass. This will be another swinging good time! Tickets are $15 for Members; $10 for Dance Club Members & College Students; and $20 for non-members (COHJS membership is available at the door).

Have a great week! Get ready to dance with Naomi & her Handsome Devils:

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