JazzColumbus Weekly – October 9, 2014

Happy October jazz fans! Some holes in my schedule and strong local jazz lineups have aligned to enable me to have a run of Jazz Nights Out here in the early Fall, so I’m using the time to check out a mix of new (to me) bands and venues, as well as some established favorites. In the latter camp, I saw local duo Knots’ latest visit to Jazz Wednesday at Brothers Drake on Wednesday, October 1st. I only caught the last two songs of the first set, but saw some of their quick transitions and heated jams on a rendition of Grizzly Bear’s “Will Calls” and “From Nowhere,” an original by drummer Troy Kunkler. For the second set, the band added guitarist Cody Cooper and transformed into the Wam-Bam Jazz Trio. This was the band’s second time playing out (to my knowledge), but stuck together well. This project lands in the organ trio realm, but certainly retains the improvisational bombast that is a calling card of Kunkler and keyboardist Caleb Miller. The trio put their stamp on the classic organ trio repertoire, rocking a fast groove on “All Blues,” and the modern organ sound, as Cooper plucked his way to a soaring solo on Soulive’s “One In Seven,” as well as some gritty originals. I hope this group continues to blossom like Knots and Radarhill.

On Thursday, I stopped in at Dicks Den for a bit of the release party for guitarist Tom Davis’ new album Home. Davis replicated the international trio that recorded the album with bassist Greg Wolfram and drummer Maxwell Button, and added veteran saxophonist Pete Mills. This addition led to new interpretations of the album’s tunes, as Davis played the melodies on the original versions but Mills often took the lead in performance. The band’s rendition of “Kenny, Ken,” which I learned was a nod to Kenny Burrell, one of Davis’ main inspirations, had an enhanced soul-jazz groove reminiscent of local legend Rusty Bryant with Mills’ assistance. The group also gave the mellow but stirring “Aye Love, I” new life, as Mills wailed on his solo and lent an ascending backup to Davis’ cooking solo. The show was a fine celebration of an attention-worthy local release while also providing a showcase for the adapting/arranging skills of talented musicians.

On Sunday, I returned to Dick’s for my first time seeing Hypnotide, the surf-rock band comprised of local jazz musicians that was formerly known as Surf’s Up, Hose Down (though the old name remains as the band’s call to arms). The set was mostly made up of the band’s intriguingly titled originals, with a few surf classics thrown in. The quartet of Larry Marotta (guitar), Aaron Quinn (guitar), Brett Burleson (bass), and Joe Nelson (drums) put on a very musical display, equally adept at softer ballads as well as uptempo jams. “Landlocked” (probably some half-titles here, they are difficult to record accurately) was an aggressive tune, featuring a blistering lead by Marotta, while “Summer Bummer” had an instrumental 1960s “blue eyed soul” feel before moving into a dreamy improvisation with some heavy drums from Nelson at the end. Many styles were used, as I heard touches of vintage spaghetti western soundtracks and an Eastern European-influenced melody girded by some rock-solid bass from Burleson. The band’s varied attack made for a versatile sound that is easily enjoyed by audiences of all types.

On Monday, I made my first trip to Bexley Italian restaurant Giuseppe’s Ritrovo for some great food and the second half of Birdshack’s weekly happy hour gig. The trio of guitarist Josh Hill, bassist Jeff Ciampa, and drummer Tony McClung has an expert touch on renditions of standards and pop tunes, making for top-notch dining music. My favorite was likely their take on “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” which sped up the tune into a funky uptempo blues before making several transitions into a quick conclusion. Country classic “Your Cheating Heart” received a soulful rendition, and an inventive intro obscured “Take the A-Train” before the band swung the tune into submission. Giuseppe’s is a good setting for jazz, and the veteran trio entertained the room quite well.

Shows To See This Week

Saturday, October 11th: The Colin Lazarski Trio at Dick’s Den. This will be a big weekend for party-starting jazz at the venerable Columbus institution. After jazzy jam bands Jumbo Chimps and Hubbard Stew play Thursday and Friday (respectively), guitarist Lazarski will bring a special band to the bar Saturday night. He will be joined by organ legend Tony Monaco and drummer Louis Tsamous in a new variation of Monaco’s trio. This is a very rare appearance by Monaco at Dick’s, so get there early for some warm classic jazz flavors.

Sunday, October 12th: House Jazz Concert Series featuring Kevin Turner at Clintonville Woman’s Club. Pianist Dave Powers, who plays solo four nights a week around town, presents the latest installment of his House Jazz Concert Series. He will be joined by guitarist Turner, a Columbus native and OSU professor who has played regularly with Powers since 1987, when they were members of Gene Walker’s Generations. Expect a range of tunes in a festive, comfortable atmosphere.

Wednesday, October 15th: Alex Burgoyne and the Free Jazz Hit Parade at Brothers Drake. Saxophonist Burgoyne is bringing his free jazz project back to Jazz Wednesday. From Burgoyne:

…It started as an Ornette Coleman tribute band. We have branched out and expanded our free jazz selections and play a few things that might be considered something other than free jazz, but we focus on music that we feel fits in the Ornette Coleman lineage.

In the handful of shows we’ve played, I’ve been very surprised and excited by the positive response from the crowd, those who are hip to Ornette AND those who aren’t! The band is raucous and full of energy and super fun. One of my favorite projects.

The band features Maxwell Button on drums, Aaron Quinn on guitar, John Allen on bass, Mark Donavan on tenor saxophone, and me on alto saxophone.

Have a great week of jazz!

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