Shows To See This Week:
Thursday, September 18th: Pete Mills Quartet with Rob Parton: The Horace Silver Songbook at Natalie’s. After a summer break, Mills brings back his Side One Series with a tribute to one of the all-time greats. The legendary pianist and composer Silver passed away this past June 18th at the age of 85, leaving behind one of the greatest catalogs of earthy hard-bop (and beyond) jazz. Mills’ quartet will once again be augmented by the versatile trumpet/flugelhorn player Rob Parton, and these five tremendous players, with Erik Augis on keyboards, Greg Wolfram on bass, and Zach Compston on drums, should do a great job of honoring this timeless material.
Saturday, September 20th: The Phoenix Project at Dicks Den. Saxophonist and bandleader Ken Messer was injured a very serious car accident on May 20th that left him recuperating in the hospital for a month. Through persistence and help of friends he is back on his feet and back to making music, leading him to title this show “Back From The Brink.” Expect some standards and originals, and help welcome Messer back to the scene.
Wednesday, September 24th: Dennis Hodges Trio at Brothers Drake. Guitarist Hodges will be joined on this Jazz Wednesday date by bassist John Allen and drummer/percussionist Ryan Jewell. The trio first played together for one of Hodges’ house shows in April, and as Hodges told me,
…it clicked right away, which inspired me to take it beyond the house show and try to turn it into a ‘real’ group. The set will consist mostly of my arrangements of popular music, ranging from pop and rock songs from the ’60s through now to video game and TV themes. We’ll also include some of my original material from the past decade, most of which has only been performed very sporadically. I’m really excited to get to play with Ryan and John – we have a good chemistry musically and personally.
To me, it’s kind of obvious to update the repertoire to include “contemporary” music (even if it’s 20-40 years old) to relate to the public at large. I will always love playing standards, but I don’t think a gig is the time to educate the audience about music that jazz musicians think the listener needs to know. Besides, what were guys doing when they were playing show tunes and pop songs in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s? Playing covers!
Finally, I want to stress that none of this is being ironic – I’m not choosing anything that I don’t want to play. Even if it’s a song I wasn’t crazy about in it’s original form, I try to arrange them in a way that makes it new to me, and hopefully still familiar to a casual listener.
Go out and see some jazz!