This past week was a quieter one, but I did enjoy one fine Jazz Night Out when I caught the second half of a Jazz Wednesday performance by saxophonist Alex Burgoyne and the Free Jazz Hit Parade on October 15th at Brothers Drake. As regular readers of this column can probably gather, I’m not exactly a free jazz aficionado, but I was excited to see what the band’s great lineup had prepared. I arrived to find a big crowd checking out the performance and enjoying the bar. The set kicked off with Ornette Coleman’s “Turnaround,” which swung pretty hard, in a looser sense. Guitarist Aaron Quinn unleashed a dazzling flurry of notes on his solo, and Burgoyne followed suit with a whirlwind of shrieking alto sax. Tenor saxophonist Mark Donavan had a powerful (and more conventional) solo on “Uprising,” which also featured strong performances by Burgoyne, bassist John Allen, and drummer Maxwell Button. The band had a great rendition of Coleman’s “Rambling” and showed their recently-expanded repertoire with a lively take on John Coltrane’s “Ole.” The highlight for me, however, was the band’s version of Coleman’s “Law Years,” which blossomed into a madcap unison jam between all of the players. I have much to learn about free jazz, but this presentation of the “hits” felt like a step in the right direction.
Shows To See This Week
Thursday, October 23rd: Zakk Jones at Dicks Den. Guitarist Jones was very gracious to fill me in on the details of this show: “This Thursday is my first date as a leader at Dick’s Den (which I’m very privileged and happy to say!). The first set will be various duo, trio and quartet formations, starting the night off with mostly standards.” His band Ancient Renegades will perform the second set. This project is a septet, featuring Jones on guitar, Kelsey Anne Hillock on vocals, Steven Jacobs on trumpet, Matt Hakes on saxophones, Kyle J Gentile on vibraphone, Marty Quinn on bass, and Adam Hoffman on drums. “This is a new group, but I’ve had a lot of fun putting together music with everyone. You’ll be hearing some of my arrangements and original material, focusing on the great combinations of voices and colors of the group. For instance, I wanted to use Kelsey both as a ‘solo’ instrument (you’ll hear her on some great standards, including a killin’ Kenny Werner big band arrangement of ‘Whisper Not’ that we reduced to septet) but also as a ‘horn’ where she blends very nicely with Steven and Matt.”
Wrapping up the night is the Zakk Jones 5tet, consisting of Jones on guitar, Jason Branscum on trombone, Justin Dickson on saxophones, John Allen on bass, and Matthiessen Nisch Quan on drums. Jones: “I started my 5tet in the summer, debuting at Brothers Drake on June 25th, and I’ve been slowly working on building our book ever since. This set will be entirely my own arrangements and originals, with a lot of high-energy material to end the night. I don’t want to give too much away, but there may or may not be some Stevie Wonder and Justin Timberlake…come to find out!!!”
Sunday, October 26th (5 – 7:30pm): Gradient Prophet Call Me GP EP Listening Party at Brothers Drake. After persevering through some delays, guitarist Alex Schrock is releasing a new EP by this project that fuses jazz and hip-hop. Schrock told me that “The album features six original compositions that are very grounded and groove, but also have a cinematic element to them that goes well beyond just being a beat loop.” Three of the album’s tracks feature contributions from saxophonist (and flutist) Dan White. The album will be released digitally on Tuesday, October 28th, and this relaxed gathering will provide the chance for the audience to hear these tracks on the meadery’s great sound system before they buy. Stay tuned to our site for a full review. As I mentioned recently, Schrock recently recorded tracks by his jazz trio project for future release, so look out for more material on the way.
Monday, October 27th (7:30 – 10pm): Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra Halloween Party at Clintonville Woman’s Club. This week’s FJO performance, where “21 of central Ohio’s finest musicians who have come together every Monday evening on a semi-informal basis since 1997 to share their love of jazz playing their favorite big band charts,” will kickoff Halloween week in style. Come hear the finest in local big band jazz with a side of spooky treats. Dancing allowed!
Below is “Sloppy,” a sample of the Gradient Prophet EP. Have a great week!