The end of the month brings a great lineup of artists to U of L. The concerts take place Thursday, February 27-Saturday, March 1 at Comstock Hall at the School of Music, beginning 8:00 p.m. each night. Brazilian guitarist Bruno Mangueira opens on Thursday, the great bassist Christian McBride brings his trio Friday, and trumpeter Sean Jones, an alumnus of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra closes it out Saturday. More details at: http://louisville.edu/music/academics/areas-of-study/jazz/2014-jazz-fest.10
As reported here (July), and in LEO, www.leoweekly.com/music/indefatigable-jamey-aebersold, Jamey Aebersold has been named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. The ceremony will be webcast at 7:30 PM EST on Monday, January 13, 2014. You can follow his induction, along with that of fellow 2014 Jazz masters Anthony Braxton, Richard Davis, and Keith Jarrett online at the following url: http://arts.gov/lifetime-honors/nea-jazz-masters/nea-jazz-masters-awards-ceremony-concert-webcast.
Bill Frisell returned to Louisville’s Clifton Center with his Big Sur ensemble, on Wednesday, December 4. (My interview of Frisell for this performance was in LEO, at http://leoweekly.com/music/good-chemistry-bill-frisell). This time, he performed with his Big Sur Quintet, consisting of featuring Eyvind Kang, viola; Hank Roberts, cello; Rudy Royston, drums; and Jenny Scheinman, violin, for two hours of music that ranged from dreamy to rock’n’roll surf. Most of the material was from his latest release, Big Sur, a suite commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival. The musicians used scores, but stretched and shaped the music far beyond what was on the written pages. Song titles were not announced, but themes from the album were heard throughout. The second piece was a long waltz, featuring a pizzicato viola solo with only subtle loops from Frisell underneath, which somehow meandered into a funky piece. The next piece may have been the album opener, “The Music of Glen Deven Ranch;” it had a hint of reggae and at one point sounded like an echo of the “eternity blue”refrain from the Grateful Dead’s “Blues for Allah.” which led to some heavy whammy bar playing. After a short intermission, the musicians returned with a slow blues, with emotional viola and guitar solos. Next up was a fast, riff-driven piece, followed by a pretty ballad with touches of folk and Celtic music. And then, this “string quarter + drummer” launched into outright, Ventures territory surf music; the double encore of the Beach Boys’ In My Room” and the Astronauts’ “Baja” neatly tied up the California coastline concepts. Frisell never ceases to explore music, with new projects and ensembles. Here’s hoping he comes back through with his next one.
Jeff Sherman brought his friends Hunt Butler on tenor and flute, Bruce Morrow on drums, and Mark McCulloch on bass to the Rudyard Kipling on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, November 10, for the latest in the monthly concert series presented by the Louisville Jazz Society, on whose Board I serve [disclaimer]. “C & H Sugar,” by Carol Kaye and Hampton Hawes, was mellow Latin funk, followed by a Pat Metheny piece whose name I didn’t catch, but which was fun and tricky. Sal Salvador’s “Loose Walk,” a/k/a “Blues Walk,” was classic uptempo bop, followed by the well-known Adagio from “Concierto de Aranjuez.” Sam Jones’ fast-paced blues “Bittersweet” closed out the first set. The second set was bookended by Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple from the Apple” and Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road, Jack,” with a highlight being “You Can’t Go Home Again” a Don Sebesky composition based on Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto. Sherman is a past master of modern mainstream guitar, playing with verve and taste throughout, and his colleagues added to the delightful performance.
Pianist Hal Galper has been on the jazz scene for decades, yet is not a household name, despite some 30 albums of his own, and a long history of playing with Phil Woods and others. More’s the pity, as he continues to take chances with his music. He brought his working trio of Jeff Johnson on bass and John Bishop on drums to University of Louisville’s Bird Recital Hall on November 1. Most of the material was from his 2013 Origin Records release, Airegin Revisited, and showcased his penchant for shifting tempos (playing in rubato). The old Sinatra torch song, “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry,” from the trio’s 2011 Origin release Trip the Light Fantastic, was perhaps the song which most closely adhered to the classic piano trio concept, with subtle brushwork by Bishop. John Taylor’s “Ambleside,” a waltz from the current release, slowly coalesced from its virtually freestyle opening. Galper played early on in his career with Sam Rivers, and referred to him as a mentor and influence in his introduction to Rivers’ “Melancholia.” In a more traditional vein, Galper said that the first jazz record he heard was by George Shearing, whose “Conception” featured a bass solo before a spirited piano/drums exchange which led to Bishop’s only solo of the night (although even his accompaniment was usually tastefully busy). They closed with their extrapolations on Sonny Rollins’ classic title track, “Airegin,” introduced by Johnson’s bowed solo, with Bishop adding colors on cymbals, leading to some freeform trio playing before the musicians settled into the theme, with Johnson changing from arco to pizzicato. The music then moved deeper into space, with Galper keeping his left hand on the keys while plucking the piano strings with his right hand. At 75, Galper is clearly looking forward as he pursues his muse.
I profiled Guitarist Brandon Coleman in LEO (http://leoweekly.com/music/b-sides-135) and reviewed his album Decisions there (http://leoweekly.com/music/reviews/decisions). He brings his band to the Willis Music Performing Arts Auditorium, at 1850 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy #128, for a CD release show with his friend and fellow University of Louisville School of music alumnus, trumpeter Craig Tweddell’s band. As I write this, I anticipate profiles of Tweddell and a review of his new album, Away With Words will be published in LEO as well. The concert is a matinee, on Sunday, December 15, at 2:00 p.m.. Coleman leans toward fusion, while Tweddell is more of a post-bop player, although these are oversimplifications. I hope they will do some playing together before the concert is over.
Vibraphonist Dick Sisto and pianist Steve Allee return to the Clifton Center for a series of four concerts, in the same setting as the first, with audience members joining the musicians on stage. On November 24, the musicians will feature the spiritual music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The concert will also celebrate the release of the quartet’s new CD. Ticket information at www.cliftoncenter.tix.com