I ended a big week of live jazz for me personally with three more Jazz Nights Out last week. On Wednesday the 6th, Rick Sanford and I saw the kickoff of the 2017 Hot Times Kate Schulte Tribute at Natalie’s, featuring The JazzPoetry Ensemble (JPE) and an internationally known cast. Baritone saxophonist James Carter established his raw and refined power right away on the rugged swing of Hamiet Bluiett’s “Blues For A Warrior Spirit,” blowing hard and soulful lines with huge shrieks and growls. Bassist Roger Hines then laid down a big groove on “Make Jazz Not War,” setting the table for Carter and tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan, as well as Michael Vander Does’ poetry both original and quoted – Bertolt Brecht’s “The God of War.” New JPE single “We Are Not Going Away” was indeed a fiery mix of many elements of American popular song with a concise and timely political message, which Vander Does delivered part of through a megaphone.
The shorter second set started strong with a loose and funky tribute to Bluiett, who will hopefully return to the tribute next year, written by Burleson and leading keyboardist D.D. Jackson to a pounding Rhodes solo. However, the highlight of the set and evening was an immensely powerful take on “Strange Fruit” with vocals by Debra James Tucker. After a noisy opening featuring Jackson and Carter (on soprano sax), Tucker’s stirring vocals cut through the air swiftly, affecting the entire audience. It was the perfect cap on a wonderful night of music.
On Thursday the 7th, I got the chance to check out the Latin Passion Band’s weekly gig at Arepazo Tapas Bar & Grille in the Brewery District. The quartet of percussionist Russ Frost, keyboardist Rick Soriano, saxophonist Tim Tolber and bassist Devon Buchanan laid down smooth and Latin jazz-inspired renditions of standards and classic Latin tunes for the dinner crowd. Tolber and Soriano shone on their take on “Song For My Father,” Frost added a sizzling conga solo to “Oye Como Va,” and Buchanan laid down a thick bass line for a spirited “Watermelon Man.” Definitely a gig to check out for relaxing tunes and great food on Thursday nights!
And on Friday the 8th, I caught the Schulte Tribute again, this time at Dick’s Den. The setlist expanded to include a variety of different tunes, including “Wait,” which conjured the sound of glass suspended mid-air, and an updated version of Charles Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus.” And more great Columbus jazz musicians joined in the festivities, like saxophonists Eddie Bayard and Matt Adams, and drummer Mark Lomax. Another night of spiritually and technically powerful music for a receptive audience. Already looking forward to next year’s tribute!
Shows To See This Week
Friday, September 15th (10pm – 2am): Flypaper & Table 15 at Dick’s Den. If you missed Jim Maneri’s Flypaper headline Friday night of Hot Times last week, you have another affordable chance to see his “jazztronic art music for dancing” in action. Keyboardist Maneri will be joined by Randy Mather (sax), Peg Allen (flute), Scott Gold (bass) and Willie Barthel (drums). Allen and Gold will open the night with a new and intriguing project called Table 15. Get ready to dance! Cover is $5.
Sunday, September 17th (Noon – 1:30pm): Columbus Video Game Ensemble & Safety Squad at the Independents’ Day Festival North Stage, Franklinton. The final year of this 10 year festival tradition includes a bursting schedule of Columbus music of all stripes. While jazz is not a major element of the proceedings, there are a few big moments, including this back-to-back pairing of projects helmed by keyboardist Danny Bauer. The Video Game Ensemble is very well-named – the band covers video game music of various eras in arrangements influenced by jazz, funk and much more. At 12:45, his modern fusion project Safety Squad takes the stage to play from their ever-expanding catalog of originals and Snarky Puppy tunes. Look for a follow-up to their excellent 2016 self-titled debut in the near future. Free admission!
Have a great week! Here’s a bit of a taste of Bauer’s take on video game tunes: