I had a wonderful Jazz Night Out when I saw the 7pm show of trombone superstar Wycliffe Gordon joined by the Bobby Floyd Trio at Notes on Thursday the 15th. The first performance of the new Jazz Arts Group Presents series brought a packed house to the Brewery District venue for a high-powered night of varied forms of straight-ahead jazz. The quartet hit the ground running, as Gordon opened Ellington’s “In A Mellow Tone” with a dramatic, growling solo without accompaniment before soaring to great heights during the piece. Coltrane’s “Impressions” was rendered with a stately but blistering intensity including powerful passages from Gordon, Floyd, and drummer Reggie Jackson that led to a swaggering, swinging outro.
The breadth of Gordon’s talent was on full display, as he sang two pieces (a charming take on “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” and his own politely bawdy “Toast My Bread”) and played trumpet, piano, and alto trombone in addition to his primary instrument. Gordon stepped aside for a trio feature on “Yesterdays” that found the group loosely connected at the outset before locking in and taking the tune to thunderous heights with Floyd using powerful repetition, Derek DiCenzo delivering a relaxed bass groove, and Jackson hitting his solo breaks hard. The concise set ended with a New Orleans funeral-styled medley of “Amazing Grace,” “Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” and “Down By The Riverside” as the musicians pulled out all the stops and ended with Floyd providing burning grooves on the organ, flavored with a bit more of Gordon’s roaring trombone. This was a fantastic night of four world-class musicians giving it all – a great kickoff to the 2016-17 JAG season!
Shows To See This Week
Friday, September 23rd (7:30 – 11:30pm): Vernon Hairston Trio at Black Point, Downtown. This steak, seafood, and sushi hot spot, part of the Hyde Park Restaurant Group, is a dependable source of top-notch trio jazz every Friday and Saturday night. This Friday’s performance will serve as a strong start to pianist/vocalist Hairston’s busy week. He will be joined by Kevin Turner on bass and Jerry Powell (Hairston’s nephew) on drums, and the group will play “straight ahead jazz as well as contemporary jazz.” After a night of solo piano at Vittoria Ristorante in Powell on Monday at 6pm, Hairston will lead another group at the Thursday jazz night at SuperChef’s in Gahanna at 6pm on the 29th. Joined by bassist Dwight Bailey and Powell, this show will feature Hairston’s daughter Arianna Michele on vocals for an evening of “jazz, neo-soul, and fusion.” Seize one of your chances to catch Hairston (and his collaborators) in action and combine great jazz with a great meal!
Saturday, September 24th (4 – 8pm): Jazz At The Amp: The Rhythm Aces, Hosea’s State of Mind, and NexLevel at the Westerville Amphitheater. After a scheduled September 10th concert was postponed by rain, this rescheduled triple-header is the finale of the inaugural season of Jazz At The Amp free concerts sponsored by Jazz 98.5 FM, WSAX-LP and the SEMM Foundation. Opening at 4pm is veteran quartet the Rhythm Aces, putting their own twist on classic jazz and swing. Next at 5:15pm is Hosea’s State of Mind, whose vocal-driven blend of smooth jazz and R&B is gaining recognition around town – this is one of their three shows this weekend! Headlining at 6:30pm is NexLevel, a long-running smooth and urban jazz quartet who are seen playing around town most weekends. This fun bill is a great chance to enjoy jazz in a family-friendly environment and keep the summer going.
Saturday, September 24th (9:30pm – 1:30am): Kali Rising and Groove Plexus at the Tree Bar, Grandview. Mostly known for its intimate rock shows over the years, this distinctive neighborhood bar will play host to a diverse four band bill on Saturday night. Kali Rising is a brand new project from guitarist Zakk Jones. For the band’s first quartet appearance, Jones and bassist Marty Quinn, drummer Kramer Sell, and keyboardist Jacob Campbell will play a fusion-leaning set in the vein of John Scofield, Pat Metheny, and Jeff Beck. Toledo-based keyboard/drums duo Groove Plexus will stop through town with a set mixing jazz with electronic sounds and styles. The bill is rounded out by folk/rock solo projects Cold Country and Cabin Hound. Cover is $5.
Have a great week!