The bustling October Columbus Jazz Calendar inspired a handful of great Jazz Nights (& Days) Out this week, so let’s get into it! My parents and I saw the Tony Hagood Quartet play The Music of Dave Brubeck at the McConnell Arts Center on Thursday the 12th. The program focusing on Brubeck’s explorations of rare time signatures in jazz started fittingly with all-time classic “Take Five,” and the band was locked in from the jump, with alto saxophonist Will England conveying Paul Brubeck’s legendary lines with style and finesse. Another highlight of the first set was a decidedly “unlimp” “Waltz Limp,” with pianist Hagood and England united in melody over the burning rhythm and the entire quartet contributing fiery solo work. The set ended on an enthusiastic note with the audience clapping the 7/4 rhythm of “Unsquare Dance” while bassist Bradley Mellen guided the proceedings and drummer Zach Compston getting going with clicks before building to booming runs.
Later, 5/4 piece “Far More Blue” had a bit of the lilt of “Take Five” but took on a life of its own, with Mellen’s melodic, technically awe-inspiring solo an unforgettable element. “He Done Her Wrong” had something of a Gospel feel, which was accented by Compston adding tambourine to his kit, and England indeed preached out front on his warm solo. “Blue Rondo a la Turk” was a perfect finale, darting and weaving in relentless fashion with England and Hagood adding flourishes before a dramatic close. The big crowd was very appreciative of the musicians’ effort, and the performance kicked off what looks to be a great season of Jazz at the MAC. Up next is Hagood’s Quintet presenting “The Music of Duke Ellington” on Thursday, November 16th – Get your tickets now!
On Sunday the 15th, I caught the matinee finale of A Columbus Jazz Orchestra 45th Anniversary Extravaganza at the Southern Theatre. I got there early to enjoy the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra, and the high school age band showed themselves to already be in mid-season form! The set started with Count Basie’s “Fantail,” which found pianist Abhik Mazumder cooking on his concise opening solo, and tenor saxophonist Devin Coons brought a big sound on his feature. Director Mark Donavan reacted to the “incessant pumpkinization” of the Fall season by adding Mercer Ellington’s “Jumpin Punkins” to the setlist, and the mellow groove set the tone for a swinging solo from baritone saxophonist Christian Barnard.
The outset of the main event saw pianist Micah Thomas, Mazumder’s predecessor on the CYJO piano stool, start out hot with a broad, gospel-tinged opening solo. Tenor saxophonist Pete Mills authored a smoking solo on the big band heat of “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” arranged by saxophone section member Chad Eby, who had his own authoritative feature on “Caravan.” John Clayton appeared near the end of the first set to direct his tune “Speed Zone,” replete with dynamic and thrilling passages from the CJO and a round of solos from trombonists Jim Masters and Ryan Hamilton and baritone saxophonist Shawn “Thunder” Wallace that concluded with an unaccompanied jam by the trio.
The second set brought out saxophonist Joshua Redman, who came out guns blazing on his own “Jig-A-Jug,” tackling a grooving marathon solo with joyous efficiency before trumpeter Dwight Adams played his own soaring passage. Clayton picked up the bass for a trio rendition of “Monk’s Dream” with Thomas and Redman, which was an amazing moment of three generations of jazz talent combining for straightforward feelgood groove. The show ended with the world premiere of Clayton’s “Tomorrow Arrived Today: The Homecoming,” which included supremely executed starring roles from Thomas and Redman, but also employed the full force of the CJO for flights of big band majesty. It was indeed a spirited start to the exciting 2017-18 Swingin’ with the CJO season!
Shows To See This Week
Friday, October 20th (9 – 11pm): “Testify: Journeys of Women in Story and Song” at Brothers Drake. The meadery plays host to a second presentation of this program that celebrates women through music and storytelling utilizing a cast of some of Columbus’ finest jazz (and beyond) musicians. The tunes will feature singers Debra James Tucker, Tia Harris, Paisha Thomas, and Donna Mogavero, and Vernell Bristow will perform spoken word material. The vocalists will be accompanied by pianist David Swank, drummer Gregory “The Governor” Pearson, guitarist Wib Schneider and bassist Roger Hines. Admission is $5 for a powerful night of music and words.
Friday, October 20th (9 – midnight): The Louies at Rambling House Music Bar, Old North Columbus. The music department of this local soda maker continues to present an excellent program of Americana format shows, but they usually find room for the occasional must-see jazz show. The Louies assemble a lineup of great Columbus area musicians with jazz, country, and Americana backgrounds to “perform the classic music of Louis Jordan, Louis Prima, and Louis Armstrong.” The band includes Jesse Henry on vocals and saxophone, Kevin O’Neill on saxophone, Colin Lazarski on guitar, Nate Anders on vibraphone, Nate Smith on bass and Maxwell Button on drums. Enjoy great drinks and rollicking good time tunes! Cover is $5.
Sunday, October 22nd (3 – 5pm): Emerald City Swing Orchestra: “REUNITED (And it Feels So Good)” at Abbey Theater, Dublin. The ECSO, which can be heard at the monthly big band swing dance at Emerald City Ballroom, has gathered a cavalcade of Columbus and visiting talent for a special review of time-tested standards. Details from the theater:
If you’re looking for a high-energy, fun afternoon, bring your friends for a one-time opportunity to hear four amazing artists performing in one concert. The featured artists are ECSO’s vocalist, Meg Murphy, and her long-time friend, vocalist Vicki McDermitt, a Columbus native, back again, and joined by the Southwest’s favorite bassist, Dwight Kilian, and rounding things out on a very high note, popular trumpet virtuoso Ed Morrison. Four friends…four times the fun! Join us as we swing our way through the Great American Songbook featuring original vocal arrangements of Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Peggy Lee, Bette Midler and many more! The Emerald City Swing Orchestra is an 18-piece band with an extensive musical library that features classic songs of the past and present.
Tickets are $10 adults and $7 for children and seniors, and can be purchased online here, by phone at 614.410.4550, or at the door.
Have a great week! Check out video of the ECSO in action with some of their guests for Sunday: