JazzColumbus Weekly – November 14, 2013

Hi there. My name is Andrew Patton and I’ve written sporadically here at JazzColumbus since March. Before that, I wrote for dearly departed Columbus music website Donewaiting.com for almost 8 years (also sporadically). In an effort to paint more of a picture of the Columbus jazz scene, this week I’m starting something new. This is the first of my weekly columns featuring my thoughts on jazz in Columbus. Depending on the week, there will be show reviews, album reviews, interviews with local musicians (hopefully), and who knows what else, but there will always be a listing of 2-3 shows in the next week that I think are worth seeing. If you’re reading this and have thoughts on what you’d like to see here, or an idea for a catchy title for this column, please comment below and let us know. Thanks.

A Jazz Night Out – November 8th

Last Friday there was a bevy of jazz shows in town featuring local and national acts, so I went out and saw most of the shows I wanted to see. First up, the Jazz Arts Group’s Inside Track series presented an exciting double bill at the Lincoln Theatre. In what appeared to be a late booking, Columbus’ own Tony Monaco Trio opened the show with a rousing 45 minute set. For reasons unbeknownst to me, Monaco’s organ was accompanied by his original trio, guitarist Robert Kraut and drummer Louis Tsamous. As a longtime fan of Monaco’s work, though I love his current trio and all permutations thereof, hearing the old trio was a rare treat. The six song set was a solid mix of Monaco’s influences and his recent compositions, including some B3 cookers, ballads, and a bit of bossa nova. Though his recently revived weekly gig at Rumba Cafe is always very entertaining, the more attentive crowd and setting at the Lincoln provided for a different experience, as Monaco talked about his jazz roots and told the back stories of several songs. “I’ll Remember Jimmy,” his tribute to organ legend Jimmy Smith that Monaco wrote upon hearing of Smith’s death, was a good example of this presentation. The song is a staple of his Rumba shows, so I’m glad that I now know more about the song. Monaco was ever the energetic showman, burning through the uptempo numbers and wringing the emotion out of the more sultry material. Kraut and Tsamous sounded great on the big stage, as Kraut rattled off fiery solos on Monaco originals “Happy Sergio” and “Aglio E Olio” (both taken from 2012’s double album Celebration) and Tsamous attacked the drum breaks whenever he had the chance. This was a great compact set from a trio of Columbus jazz masters.

The headliner at the Lincoln was Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics, a young eight-piece soul band from Atlanta. Well, they are promoted as an eight-piece, but in a disappointment for yours truly, there were only seven musicians on the stage, as the baritone saxophone was not along for the ride (I say saxophone because the baritone saxophonist was there, but he was playing tenor, and the regular tenor player was not). Regardless, the band executed a mostly exciting 17 song, 90 minute (!) set. The eventual length of the set was a bit unexpected, as the band has only released one (10-song) full-length album, 2012’s It’s About Time, but they also included a handful of well-chosen soul covers and a few random numbers. Ms. Velle is definitely something of a soul belter from the Southern tradition, as her voice swelled on tales of the wrong man and inspirational exhortations to keep on going. The Soulphonics contributed skilled backing for Velle, highlighted for me by the heavy thumping of accomplished bassist Kevin Scott, who was featured on a funky extended solo in their cover of “You Got Me Hummin.'” Though a few songs could have been trimmed, Ms. Velle and band put on a powerful display of modern soul rooted in the classics.

Later on, I managed to see the 3rd set of the evening by locals fo/mo/deep at Dick’s Den. Actually, I arrived to hear most of 2nd set finale “Groidology,” a Curtis Lundy cover which illustrated their commitment to “experimenting with all things groove.” As I entered the bar, the bass of bandleader Ron Holmes seemed to be shaking the entire building with a hypnotic thump. The third set was a wacky mix of originals and funky covers like “Pick Up The Pieces” and “Frankenstein” interspersed with comical birthday rap medleys and vocal “contributions” from tipsy audience members. It was a great time, and well received by the youngish partying crowd. The band is working on recording their forthcoming 3rd album and could use your support.

Shows To See This Week

Friday, Nov. 15th: Jeff Lorber and the Urban Jazz Coalition at the McConnell Arts Center. Jazz fusion legend makes a rare Columbus appearance, with an opening set from the top local smooth/contemporary jazz live band.

Saturday, Nov. 16th: James Gaiters at Dick’s Den. Not sure which lineup he’s playing with, but as one of Columbus’ finest drummers, Gaiters always puts on a great show.

Wednesday, Nov. 20th: Dan White Sextet at Natalie’s. The sextet has been on fire lately following their recent release of Play. The cozy confines of Natalie’s should be a great backdrop for DW6’s explosive talents.

That’s all for this week. Are you going to see any shows this week? Let us know below. See you next week!

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