I had a fantastic Jazz Night Out seeing the James Gaiters Quartet at Natalie’s on Tuesday, September 23rd. It was my first time seeing the masterful local drummer, and I’m glad I have finally rectified that situation. The group of Gaiters, tenor saxophonist Eddie Bayard, Cincinnati pianist William Menefield, and bassist Greg Wolfram played two lively, wide-ranging sets honoring the release day of Gaiters’ Exodus and John Coltrane’s birthday. The night started with a spirited rendition of Charlie Rouse’s “Hopscotch,” featuring Bayard blowing some funky lines over Gaiters’ double-kick rhythm and an excellent solo by Menefield. Next was “Black Man’s Dawn,” a new composition by Gaiters that paid homage to his personal awakening as a black man through African history courses at OSU. This tune was mellower, with a yearning, spiritual groove that led to great solos by Wolfram and Gaiters. The band then premiered Gaiters’ “Soul Cries Out,” a soulful ballad that the composer wrote in reaction to recent turmoil in the US. In honor of Coltrane, the first set ended with a blazing version of “Chasing the Trane” that swung HARD. Menefield unleashed a long, fiery solo that had him jumping off of his bench and ignited the crowd. Not to be outdone, Bayard followed with an equally long (or longer) and raucous solo that eventually shed accompaniment until only his long-time collaborator Gaiters was playing. The set certainly ended in style. The shorter second set opened with another new Gaiters original, tentatively titled “Wait,” that featured Wolfram with an opening solo that led to a Mingus-esque groove. Gaiters employed mallets to lead a surprising, poignant version of “Amazing Grace,” and the night ended with the uptempo blues of “Mr. PC,” another rousing tribute to Coltrane. The night was a great mix of Gaiters’ skillful compositions and inspired takes on the classics, fueled by an all-star band.
Shows To See This Week
Saturday & Sunday, October 4th-5th: 18th Annual Denison University Jazz Guitar Festival at Burke Hall of Music and Art, 240 West Broadway, Granville, 43023. Since he began the festival in 1997, Denison guitar instructor Tom Carroll has helmed what has become the longest running jazz guitar festival in the country. This year’s event kicks off with a range of guitar clinics from 12 – 4pm on Saturday afternoon (more details in the above link), and at 7:30pm is Sweet & Low Down, a concert by celebrated guitarist Howard Alden. On Sunday night, after a 7pm Blue Sunday blues performance by the Duke Robillard Band and Sean Carney, there will be a Grand Finale concert featuring Alden, Carroll, and festival participants. All events are free and open to the public.
Sunday, October 5th: Peace: An Homage to Horace Silver at Columbus Museum of Art. After leading the successful Jazz On A Summer’s Day series there, stalwart local pianist Richard Lopez returns to CMA to kick off a series of monthly fall shows. Lopez will head a tribute to the recently departed piano great Silver, who left behind a multitude of amazing tunes. Lopez will be joined by his colleagues from Redbird, the Otterbein faculty jazz ensemble: Jay Miglia, sax; Ryan Hamilton, trombone; Ben Huntoon, trumpet; Chris Berg, bass; and Michael Yonchak, drums.
Wednesday, October 8th: Danny Bauer Quartet – Chris Potter Underground Tribute at Brothers Drake. After recently debuting his Sextet at Rumba Cafe, new Capital U. grad and keyboardist Bauer (of Wake Fold) is using his Jazz Wednesday slot to premier another new group with a special project. A quartet of Bauer (Fender Rhodes), Bryan Olsheski (tenor sax), Josh Hill (guitar) and Zach Compston (drums) will honor the music of modern saxophonist Potter and his Underground group. As Bauer was kind enough to tell me:
I transcribed 10 of the band’s tunes that we’re doing and we’re doing a few of my originals and a few from the other band members. We’re doing three tunes from each of the three [Underground] albums, as well as one of his songs that isn’t on any of the albums but is from the documentary Open Minds: Chris Potter Underground. The Underground’s music is difficult to describe. It’s rooted in funk and jazz, but there’s an avant-garde element to it as well. A lot of the music is in odd meters, with angular melodies and complex grooves, but when their band plays it it all feels really good (and that’s what we’ll try to do, too!). Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard is the album that got me hooked and I think is widely considered the best of their three records. Some people are even starting to consider that album a modern “must have” album, up there with some of the great Davis and Coltrane records that are in every collection.
Another great week for live jazz this fall, so get out there and see it!