Hey jazz fans! I hope everyone had a jazzy (fun, restful, safe also accepted) Memorial Day weekend. Now that we have (unofficially) moved into summer, the outdoor jazz schedule is heating up! The Comfest schedule is up, with a great jazz lineup in tow, and plenty of other great festivals are looming in the near future. We’ll have more details on those events as they approach, but for now it’s nice to know we’re into outdoor music season. And at the same time, the indoor schedule isn’t letting up! This looks to be a great summer for jazz in Columbus.
Some Jazzy Nights Out
I was happy to have the chance to catch two shows at Dicks Den this week. On Wednesday, May 21st, I caught the first set of the third installment of Adam Smith’s May residency. The fusion quartet he presented showcased a soulful side of some very talented musicians. The set I saw included a handful of vocal soul tunes featuring Roxie Wolfe and Talisha Holmes. The band really opened up on the instrumental tunes, including a stanky 10+ minute fusion jam to open the set and a smoldering take on Bobby Hutcherson’s “Montara” that featured a blistering solo from Smith on the Moog keyboard and some rugged bass work from Mike Ealy. Another highlight was the Holmes-led tune “America,” a sultry fusion tune that covered some serious ground before drummer Rob Riley brought it home with military precision. I wish I had seen more, but what I saw was eye-opening for a Wednesday night.
On Sunday, I returned to Dick’s with friends for Honk Wail & Moan’s Sun Ra Centennial Celebration. This was the veteran jazz collective’s 21st annual tribute to Sun Ra, complete with CD-festooned uniforms inspired by the Arkestra. The program was a smorgasbord of Ra’s tunes coupled with originals by guitarist Larry Marotta and dearly departed trombonist/co-founder Brian Casey, who apparently left behind over 100 songs that the band is still digging through. The power and finesse that charged through the room when all of the horns played was spellbinding. Especially stirring was the play of baritone sax player Fred Gablick, who had featured parts on many of the tunes. I hope this tradition continues for many more years.
Shows To See This Week
Thursday, May 29th: The Lisa Clark-Augis Quartet: A Tribute to Billie Holiday at Natalie’s. Vocalist Clark-Augis will lead her quartet in a special tribute to the jazz legend. Among interpretations of Holiday’s classics will be “some original music including a trio of songs inspired by the works of Langston Hughes, and a lyric to the hauntingly beautiful Mal Waldron tune ‘Soul Eyes.'” Clark-Augis will be joined by Erik Augis on piano, Derek DiCenzo on bass, and Joe Ong on drums.
Tuesday, June 3rd: Jazz Jam at Park Street Tavern. The popular weekly open jam regularly provides an informal place to hear exciting improvised jazz by some of the city’s best musicians. After a few weeks of playing in the Book of Mormon house band, saxophonist Pete Mills returns to his role as host of the jam’s house band, the Pete Mills Quartet. The featured special guest for this week will be trumpeter Rob Parton (From the Five Jazztet).
Wednesday, June 4th: Knots at Brothers Drake. The Columbus/Athens duo of keyboardist Caleb Miller and drummer Troy Kunkler brings their electronically-influenced modern jazz to Jazz Wednesday. Expect some introspective yet forceful tunes to make you think.