Hello! Lots of great stuff below, but before we get to that, here’s this:
We are a web-publication and we certainly do have opinions, but we try to keep our writing scene-specific and scene-first. Our goal with Our Scene // Your Scene is to uplift and amplify the voices of our community by giving a platform to people to share their experiences. BUT, we need your help. We are two guys. We look the same. We play at the same spots. LOTS of our community overlaps. We even play together a pretty good amount. So if you aren’t like us, and you have an opinion to share, PLEASE DO. We’d love to hear from you and we want what you have to say to be as big a part of the “conversation” as you’d like. Columbus isn’t just where we go, and we need help sharing ALL of it.
ALSO, we have a new member of the team! Meet, Frankie Wantuch. Frankie is going to be doing a variety of things, including but not limited to reminding us that going places and meeting people is as or more important than providing good content. Check out her interview with Bria Skonberg below!
One more once:
If you are a musician (tell us about your life!), writer (write something!), reviewer (go to a show and tell us about it), graphic designer (you’ve seen what we have going on…), social media expert (jazz musicians are the worst at this!), web developer (we are also not good at this), artist (let’s collaborate on a show!), or listener (thank you! tell us what you like – or what you don’t!) who’s interested in helping us grow this site and our community, check out THIS post and think about what you might want to share! Our scene IS your scene.
As Phil Sees It // Phil Maneri
May 23, 1986 I Saw Jaco Pastorius play in Columbus at Staches with Kenwood Denard and Hiram Bullock. Stache’s was a 200 seat dive bar on High street notorious for great shows. It was the last time Jaco ever played in Columbus as he died 16 months after that appearance. It was a significant moment for me as I had absorbed just about everything he had done in that previous 10 years. He was a profound influence on my bass playing; as he was for most bass players working at that time. We all could never sound like him even though we tried for quite awhile. He had a unique voice that has been often copied but never duplicated. Staches was such a tiny place and I was psyched to be that close to a legend.
Never meet your heroes they say. It’s probably true. I met him. Watched him play. He was a mess. He was an ass. They played like shit …for them anyway. Listening to a board tape of that show I found on mixcloud recently I confirmed that I didn’t make this up. He was a pain in the ass right out of the gate. For Jaco his playing was a shadow of what I knew of him in the past. Denard and Bullock played their asses off and made him sound better than he was that night. In the end they couldn’t escape sounding like really great players who were drunk and coked up banging through tunes they knew pretty well and used to shred on, but couldn’t quite get right that night. Jaco didn’t even pick up the bass until 20 minutes into the show, instead playing a crappy sounding keyboard on some forgettable thing he had just written. When he finally started playing the bass though there was that sound. I remember thinking ” oh fuck, thats Jaco” like 10 feet from me. I promptly started shitting myself. That sound, that precise attack, the blistering speed. Yikes. What a monster. The show went on and the sheen wore off. Jaco wasn’t anything like I remembered when I saw Weather Report several years before in a much bigger room. That was transcendent. This was shit.
I stood around to meet him after the show as is the curse of anyone playing that tiny place. There’s really no way to not interact with your fans. He was a wreck. I’d heard stories about him being like that but this was pre internet years so one never really knew until confirmation. I’m sure he had ups and downs in his relationships with fans and this was a down.
I remember leaving that show with a profound sense of disappointment. It was mostly posturing and egocentric playing, hardly musical really. It left me confused and adrift for awhile. In retrospect it was the perfect thing for me to witness. It dethroned the delusion of greatness and untouchability. It forced me to seek my own voice. I abandoned his thing and dug into my own. I started the lifelong journey of discovering me rather than trying to be someone else. I started to incorporate the vestiges of his voice that resonated with me into the voices of all the others who did so in equal measure. In that melange I found myself. From there I started to grow as me on the shoulders of my heroes rather than in their shadow.
I also learned how to treat people at shows. It’s important for me to remember that it might be just another show, and maybe not in a place I’m all that excited about being but that to someone else it might be a pivotal life moment (for good or bad). Even if I am having a terrible day I need to at least acknowledge that person’s presence and honor their choice to come see me do my thing rather than any number of things they could have chosen to do that day. That night Jaco became not only a great example of what I aspire to be, but also the great example of how I don’t ever want to be.
Phil Maneri, columnist
The Huntertones have been a rising force for the better part of a decade, coming from basement OSU house shows to now having played in over 20 countries across the world spreading their unique brand of high-octane horn-driven originals and uniquely arranged covers. Although most of the band has been living in NYC since 2014, they’re still a ubiquitous force in Columbus. I was able to catch up with saxophonist Dan White to talk about their latest projects, and an upcoming two-night stint at the new Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen in Grandview with special guests Louis Cato and Justin Stanton. The band is no stranger to Natalie’s, often doing a weekend of shows about once a year. In fact, they recorded a successful live album at the original Worthington location in 2016.
You have two chances to catch them, along with multi-instrumentalists Louis Cato (Bobby McFerrin, Jon Batiste/Stay Human) and Justin Stanton (Snarky Puppy).
Friday, Feb. 21st @ 8pm & Saturday, Feb. 22nd @ 8pm
Check out their collaboration with Louis below!!
Zakk: Tell us about this run of shows coming up, starting with the Ohio and Natalie’s connection and then where else are you going?
Dan: We’re playing Cincinnati, we’re playing in Dayton, and then we’re playing in Maryland. We actually started the year off with a state department tour, as cultural ambassadors in Nigeria. So we’re kind of all over the place, but it’s nice to be playing in Ohio where everything is familiar for us.
Zakk: And is this your first time at the new Natalie’s location?
Dan: Yes, it is. This will be our first time playing there two nights. The producer for our new record, Louis Cato, is going to be opening the show. Playing guitar and singing and playing bass…he kind of does everything. He’s played with John Scofield’s band, produced A Tribe Called Quest. He’s an amazingly inspiring human being. He plays with Jon Batiste and Stay Human, for the Colbert show along with Jon Lampley our trumpet player… so that’s kind of where the connection was made.
Zakk: So you alluded to some new music with Louis, what’s this project?
Dan: This whole thing is starting off with us recording our next album here in Columbus. We’re spending a little over a week recording at Vital Studios where we’ve worked before. We’re flying in the producer Louis Cato from New York, and then Justin Stanton is coming from Ground Up (Miami) tonight. This is the first album that we’ve spent this much time in the studio which is kind of a special thing for us. It’s really, really awesome working out a lot of new things, tweaking things.
The way that our music’s written is; we work it out on stage and we get it to a place, but then once we’re in the studio we refine it and it changes the tunes and the pieces all just about as much as playing it live does. For this tour, we’re definitely gonna be playing a lot of new material.
Zakk: You’ve been collaborating with other artists like this the past few years, how has that inspired you or made you write in different ways, if any at all?
Dan: I think the collaboration is a huge, huge component. And to our current situation as a band, I think we’re always trying to look for opportunities to make new music and just have fun with the people that are on the bills with us and not just play our sets. When we can, we want to have people up with us and we want to try and create something together. I think it gets us out of our comfort zone and we listen first rather than trying to, you know, do whatever we think is maybe slick or cool. And I think that’s like probably the most important thing, to listen for and see what the music needs and to go in that different direction that we didn’t initially think of doing. I think it’s yielded some really exciting music, and we just, we have more fun, you know, making music with more people. It doesn’t feel like a battle or a challenge because I think we’re more excited about that new voice being added into the mix and seeing how we can support and add to it, you know?
Zakk: You guys have obviously traveled all over the world for years. I know that’s directly influenced your last album, Passport. What’s one of the most inspiring or surprising places you’ve traveled to, maybe where you had no idea what to expect?
Dan: I think a specific one would be one of our first clinics that we did in Nigeria which was pretty, pretty amazing. Just a few weeks ago. We walked into this public school, middle school and uh, there was no power at the time. There was no back line. So there was no drum set or bass amp.
There were dancers and a percussion ensemble and they performed for us. And then we played this Fela Kuti song and everybody in the whole room just erupted in celebration. And then we played Togo and the percussion ensemble played along with us since there wasn’t a drum kit. It was like, it was just a really amazing and inspiring sorta exchange. It’s all about that, you know, it’s about trying to connect with people and know maybe there isn’t power or maybe there isn’t organized backline or microphones or anything, but like, you don’t actually need that to connect with people. And so for that tour to start like that, it was really inspiring and beautiful.
Zakk: The Huntertones are getting close to 10 years together…what’s on the horizon for the band and what can we expect in 2020?
Dan: I would have to say the album will be our big focus this year. I think doing more collaborations both on tape in the studio, but also, video wise and just trying to share the process a little bit more. I think that’s important, you know, not just trying to show the finished product but also the sweat and tears that go into it. We’re planning to play some exciting festivals on the West coast and I think we’re going to be in Kuwait for the first time in the beginning of April.
I think the biggest thing for us is always trying things differently so that, you know, it’s not doing the same thing and expecting a better result. Instead, we’re trying to play in new directions and work with different people and try new sounds, but still express the things that we’re experiencing in our lives. I think this record is definitely going to be a really special thing that we look forward to sharing with the world. I’m specifically happy that we’re doing it where this band came from…our home turf in Columbus. I think that’s a special connection and we still feel it whenever we come back, because it’s part of our DNA.
Zakk: I know you’ve had a long day recording, so I appreciate you spending some time with me. I can’t wait to hear some of this new music.
Dan: Well, thank you so much for your time too. I really appreciate you doing this and helping us get the word out. It’s important to help the scene and build a community. I appreciate you guys.
(not a letter) From (an) Editor // Alex Burgoyne
Here We Are, a haiku
It’s not anywhere but here
That’s where we like it
An Interview with Bria Skonberg // Frankie Wantuch
Jazz vocalist, trumpeter, and composer, Bria Skonberg, has been described by Vanity Fair as “a millennial shaking up the jazz world.” Her style of trumpet playing is indebted to Louis Armstrong, and her vocals are soft and soulful. Currently living in New York, Bria hales from British Columbia, and studied jazz and performance at Capilano University in Vancouver. On all eight of her albums, Bria’s original music tells stories, and her covers of standards are fiercely her own. I got the opportunity to talk with Bria about her new album, as well as discuss how the world of jazz is continuously evolving with regard to media and gender inclusivity.
Bria is performing with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra this week for their Modern Romance show at the Southern Theatre (Thursday 7:30PM, Friday 8:00PM, Saturday 8:00PM, Sunday 3:00PM). You can also catch her at the Jazz Academy for their Offstage talk.
CHECK IT OUT!
Frankie: As a student, sometimes the list of things to practice can seem daunting. For young musicians working on their craft, what’s the biggest piece of advice you have to offer to them.
Bria: Everything adds up, and my teachers have always told me there are no shortcuts, especially when it comes to playing the trumpet. When you’re juggling your schooling and schedule, I know it can be overwhelming a lot of the time. The sooner you learn how to focus your practice, isolate and address, the better. Really be able to isolate the things you need to work on and work through them, instead of focusing on things you are more comfortable with. Be really honest with yourself about where your weaknesses are and choose exercises that challenge the weak spots in your playing. If you are uncomfortable that means you are learning something. Have faith. It’s a process. It’s going to take time and the more that you learn, the more that you realize there is to learn. This feeling will never go away. You have a lifetime to work on these things.
Frankie: Is there something that you are still learning today? An answer you’re still searching for?
Bria: When I was in university I was doing my best to emulate my heros through transcriptions, and learning standards, this is a very important part of the process. Maybe where I find the most mystery these days is in writing music. My process for that is to just sit at a piano and see what happens, or sit in a quiet place with my trumpet and see what decides to come out. Then there’s the process of developing these ideas.This is always an interesting part of the process for me.
Frankie: You released your album Nothing Never Happens in 2019. What is your favorite part when starting a new project? What is your process?
Bria: There’s a lot of original music on this album, there are a lot of lyrics. For me this album was about really releasing/processing a lot of tensions that are happening throughout the world.
Between social media and media in general, I feel like there’s a lot of input, we get a lot of information thrown at us these days and not enough time to sift through it. For me it was about writing songs that could be a release for me. So that was a beautiful part of the process. Obviously playing the music live is satisfying. This album is self released. I’ve been through many record labels, and this time with this music, it was important to me to have full control of this project.
Frankie: As an artist with a platform, do you feel as though you have a duty to say something about what is happening around the world.
Bria: I think that art reflects life, it helps provide a snapshot of what we are going through at a certain point in time. A lot of times music, especially instrumental music, is able to express things that words can’t. Providing that outlet for listeners, I think that they can have some of that same cathartic experience that we have. It’s not just a duty, it’s a privilege. It really is. There are a lot of things to get upset about these days, but ultimately it’s my goal to bring people together, whatever their beliefs are. I try to make music that has universal elements to it, such as the blues.
Frankie: How do you think social media has affected the art of jazz?
Bria: I think the effect is a positive one. It totally depends on what your voice is through your social media account. It’s up to you if you want to share more of your musical process or if you’d prefer to share the finished product. Of course everyone is going to share when they’re killing it. That sets the bar so high, but I try to use it as inspiration. I think it can make others feel self conscious, but I think comparison should only ever be used for inspiration. It’s too easy to see people playing their very best and feel discouraged. I actively try to find inspiration in what other people are sharing. This can lead to new discoveries.
Frankie: As a young artist, choosing the path of making money or doing what we love can be very conflicting. What would you say to someone who is facing this inner conflict?
Bria: My parents were always like “you can do whatever you want, just get your degree and make it pay.” They were always pretty realistic about that. Committing to your music and your instrument is one thing. This path also requires committing to the lifestyle, and committing to the work. Learning the instrument and learning jazz is a lot of work, and the life it takes to be successful is also a lot of work.
There have been a couple of waves along the way where you hit a wall with your own professional growth, and you have to look at it and decide how you’re going to get to the next level. This might come down to diversifying the type of music that you make or trying to expand beyond your circle of friends to get better. I think I had one moment where I thought about doing something else, but this has been such an interesting career. There’s no way I could’ve dreamt of all of these adventures that have opened up because of this “golden ticket trumpet.” It’s the experiences, to me, that are so rich.
Frankie: Do you think being a female musician is different from being a male musician? If so, how?
Bria: My experience has been more fortunate compared to many. Which is probably why I’ve been able to come this far with confidence. When I joined the band in the seventh grade, there were several other females that were also learning to play the trumpet. I surrounded myself with other female instrumentalists. I think there is safety and power in numbers. I didn’t have to overthink any sort of vulnerability. But I do believe, as I teach more, there is a clear inequality of females that are playing. That might come down to them not being encouraged and pushed. I think I’ve been more proactive about it in the past couple of years with reaching out. I’ve tried to create more direct relationships with these players just so that they know that they can do it, you should do it. Do it. It’s possible. There are stereotypes that we don’t have control over but we don’t have to subscribe to them or believe them.
Frankie: Do you think jazz culture has improved in including women and people of diversity?
Bria: I think the conversations have been more frequent and the people organizing events are generally trying to be more proactive about including more women. I try to remain optimistic about everything. We don’t need to wait until Women’s History Month to recognize women. I think there’s a really cool wave of women who are getting into leadership positions. Roxy Coss, a jazz tenor player, co-founded the Women in Jazz Organization. She has been very proactive, and female forward in regards to bringing these difficult conversations to the table and holding people accountable. Terri Lyne Carrington, a drummer, started the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. I am inspired by what I am hearing and what I am seeing in both what women are doing and what some men are doing to step up.
(definitely a) Letter To The Editor(s)
Letters published do not necessarily reflect the views of JazzColumbus, its publisher, or its staff. We do however, welcome conversations on the content contained within!
The Columbus Jazz Scene – From the Outside In // David Blumenstein
I’m not a native of Columbus, Ohio, nor the United States. I was born in Portugal, raised in London, England, and New York City, and in all of my soon to be 56 years, haven’t known a year without traveling around the world for work and/or pleasure (more of the latter but still, one’s got to earn their keep).
In all of these travels, music, technology and hi-fi have been my constant pursuits and passions. Without music there is no life, without technology there is no money, and without hi-fi there’s no way for the non-musician like myself to enjoy music while not attending live concerts, performances and gigs.
Here is a series of 7 pieces I was tasked to write two years ago, one per day, which spoke the importance of music throughout my life.
THIS is the link.
Why all the background? And to what end? In all my travels to so many Capital cities, towns, and villages; with so many thriving music venues (halls, lounges, clubs, bars, dive-bars), I have experienced more than my fair share of musical performances and musical cultures that now, a good number of friends and acquaintances of mine are musicians, recording/mastering engineers and executives in the industry.
I am supplying this rich background because there is a stigma attached to those constructively criticizing a scene to which they do not belong (particularly non-musicians). This could upset me, but as I put myself in the place of those calling a particular music scene home, I get it. I might be angered (polite term) as well.
A successful music scene needs more than performing musicians and venues to be healthy. For the ecosystem to be complete, it demands a truly appreciative and understanding audience of non-musicians who can challenge the performers to be at their best, and to be as professional as possible on and off the stage. It is said in Sports that athletes and teams will drop down to the level of their opponent; while athletes and teams can have a bad day, musicians are rarely granted the luxury. The difference here is that the public is more apt to discern issues in Sports performances than they are in the realm of music. That’s not to say that live music performers are being given a free-pass, just that they have far room in which to skate.
I can’t get inside the heads of performers here in Columbus and Central Ohio, but from what I have seen and heard on stages, even if they can’t respect the audience internally it should not be projected on stage. This can manifest itself in a number of ways:
- Appearance: costume, mode of dress
- Banter: appropriate on-stage and off-stage (by-the bar) interactions
- Professionalism: preparedness, set list
Regardless of the quality, class, location of the venue, and the extent to which the audience dresses up for the night out to be entertained, they should be played to as if they were/are the most important people in the house that night, and by right they are. When musicians are playing for/to each other on stage, then that’s less performing and more gigging. The latter is fine, just don’t expect folks in the know to be happy paying for that, and don’t be surprised if they’re not in the audience at your next date.
And another thing: Columbus is NOT New York, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, cities that are teeming and overflowing with talent, complete with a population that can support performances every night of the week and 5 times on Sundays. That’s not Columbus, so performers should not be shocked to be playing to less than full houses.
It’s really great that Columbus’ Jazz musicians can be such great friends, but how about a bit of healthy rivalry and mutual respect amongst players in the scene. Players should look beyond their long-time associates and change things up by playing with different folks from the area who might just be a better musical fit. I’ve gotten to know a good number of the area players by their name, so when I consider attending performances, I’ll check the line-ups for intriguing combos. As I mentioned earlier music and Sports have a great deal in common.
Very few (insanely few) are born into liking and appreciating Jazz, it is something to be nurtured. I consider myself fortunate to at an early age in my teens in the 70’s to have Manhattan as my playground, and being rather tall the bouncers were far more forgiving, so could attend clubs in Greenwich Village, Midtown-52nd Street and the Upper West Side across from Columbia University. I was exposed to so much and had no idea how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right time. If gluttony for Jazz be a sin, bring it on. The same goes for my later years in London, England at Ronnie Scott’s, The Vortex, Kansas Smitty’s, and the 606 Club.
To nurture a more informed, educated and appreciative Jazz audience perhaps it is time to take a page from the local classical music ecosystem and see how the Columbus Symphony and Pro-Musica organization are reaching out to expand their base. At the end of the night no performer wants their audience dying on them.
by David Blumenstein
What’re You Spinning // Pete Mills
I just got back from a trip and worked with a saxophonist from Chicago who I know informally–Scott Burns. He is originally from Dayton I believe but is a mainstay of the the scene in Chicago today. We were doing a festival together and I was struck with his really terrific sound. Great tone! Over the past couple of days I am listening to his recording Passages (below) Really swinging band and smart writing too! CHECK HIM OUT!
I am also checking out a CD (I actually bought the CD!) by bassist Steve Haines that features our friend Chad Eby, Joey Caldarazzo on piano, a string orchestra, and the amazingly talented vocalist Becca Stevens. Sound is my thing lately. I love the sound of Becca’s voice on this recording. CHECK THEM OUT!
Vintage Record Reviews // Fritz the Nite Owl on Jimmy Smith & Tony Monaco
Originally Published in the Short North Gazette // March 2006
Jazz Organ, as we know it today, had its beginnings in 1955 when the Hammond Organ Company introduced their revolutionary vacuum-tubed B3 model, which could best be described as 400 pounds of wood, metal, ivory, and grease. It featured two keyboards, four sets of drawbars, 96 tone-wheels, an oil-lubed motor, all combined on a heavy wooden frame. The required Leslie Speakers and mikes were separate units. Thus, it was a “potential hernia-in-a-box” to lug around if you were one of the musicians who chose to drive it.
It took Jimmy Smith, after a year of experimentation and practice, to create a totally new jazz sound and physical approach to playing. He thus introduced the B3 organ to modern audiences as a leading jazz instrument, capable of producing a wealth of innovative, exciting jazz, which easily rivaled the horns, reeds, acoustic keyboards and other instruments. Smith not only experimented with the nuts-and-bolts-mechanics of the instrument, he also developed the dexterity to play a walking bass line with his feet, a chordal accompaniment with his left hand, and solo melody lines, similar to sax, trumpet, and trombone lines, with his right. Added to this, he fused gospel, R&B, deep blues, bebop and hard-bop into the enormously popular “soul-funk” groove, known today as “acid-jazz.” Over the years, he inspired, mentored, taught, and befriended countless others, including Central Ohio’s Tony Monaco who pays homage to the late, great Smith on his newest CD:
Tony Monaco: East To West (Chicken Coup Records: DCD 7001)This is Tony’s sixth CD. Like its predecessors, every track burns with passion, imagination, improvisation, variety, and musicality. Monaco wrote the uptempo opener, “I’ll Remember Jimmy,” as a tribute to Smith, and searingly evokes Smith’s original “Chicken Shack” sound and style. Guitarist Bruce Forman and drummer Adam Nussbaum add more than a dash of fuel to the musical fires – and continue to do so on the remaining nine selections. The mood and tempo change to mellow and cool for the gently laid-back bossa, “O Barquino.” The boys are delightfully light-and-polite on this one.
The pleasant surprises continue as guest-tenorman Byron Rooker joins the group and adds his always-smokin’ sax to another cookin’ Monaco original, “Rudy and The Fox.” Rooker also shines on two more tracks, a samba-fied treatment of Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee,” and a steamy-dreamy, “perfect for slow dancin’- romancin’” version of Benny Goodman’s “Don’t Be That Way.” Tony, Bruce, and Adam share the “late-nite, after-hours” mood. Of all the superb selections on the CD, this was my favorite. The trio’s versatility continues as they breeze through another Monaco original, a bluesy-breezy waltz, “Roz da’ Cat.”
This is the first CD release for Monaco’s newly formed jazz label, “Chicken Coup Records,” whose name also pays homage to Smith and his enormously popular “Back at the Chicken Shack” album early in his career. The label will focus on keyboard players. Work is already underway on forthcoming releases by Linda Dactyle and Dave McKay.
Somewhere up in that Great Rehearsal Hall in the Sky, the original B3-Groovemeister, The Incredible Jimmy Smith, is smiling.