August 2004
May 2004
January 2004
Articles 2003
Articles 2002

Russ Long Trio

Berman Jazz Series

Doug Talley Quartet

Dan Thomas Quintet

Marian McPartland Trio

Rob Scheps-Zach Brock Quintet

BeauSoleil & Preservation Hall

Roy Haynes Quartet

San Francisco Jazz Festival


2005 Topeka Jazz Festival Info


Nebraska Jazz Orchestra

December 2004

Concert Previews/Reviews, Artist Interviews

Performance Review

Russ Long Trio puts audience at ease


By Tom Ineck


Russ Long [Photo by Rich Hoover]TOPEKA, Kan.—The Nov. 14 edition of the Berman Jazz Series was the perfect convergence of an intimate setting, a compatible trio of longtime friends and colleagues, a familiar repertoire played with a relaxed swing, and a warmly responsive audience.


From the opener, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “We Kiss in a Shadow,” listeners were reminded what makes Russ Long so popular on the Kansas City jazz scene. His fleet-fingered, light touch and relaxed melodic approach immediately put the audience at ease, like settling into a beloved uncle’s parlor for a Sunday afternoon chat, perhaps with a snifter of something to sip.


Gershwin’s “Fascinatin’ Rhythm” received its usual lively reading, with Long and bassist Gerald Spaits taking the melody line in unison and drummer Ray DeMarchi taking a spirited solo with brushes. The three-way chemistry that has contributed to the trio’s longevity (performing together since 1982) was immediately evident.


Long revealed his stylistic debt to Mose Allison on the bluesy “Fool’s Paradise,” which Allison recorded in 1960.  Long delivered the lyric with wit and a sense of world-weary wisdom, embellishing the melody with right-hand trills. DeMarchi switched to mallets for the exotic “Poinciana,” made popular by Ahmad Jamal in the late 1950s. Spaits held down the intricate bass line with poise and precision as Long explored melodic variations.


“You Came a Long Way from St. Louis,” was delivered with a rumba beat and the tongue-in-cheek irony of a longtime Missouri resident. On “All of You,” however, Long proved himself just as capable with a serious ballad, phrasing the lyric with a natural, conversational quality and more than making up in emotion what he lacks in vocal pyrotechnics.


Gerald Spaits [Photo by Rich Hoover]Spaits was featured on “Don’t You Go Away Mad,” a beautiful minor-key instrumental with DeMarchi adding to the impact with skillful brush work. Long paid tribute to Anita O’Day with a nice rendition of “Whatever Happened to You?” Bud Powell’s difficult, Spanish-tinged “Un Poco Loco” completed the first set with its sudden stops and starts and an outstanding drum solo that included a flourish on timbales.


Long opened the second set with a brief, but gorgeous solo take of the Rodgers and Hart standard “It Never Entered My Mind.” Moving uptempo, the trio attacked “Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” with DeMarchi delivering an inspired drum solo that incorporated cymbals and hand-drumming on the snare. Long reclaimed his own composition, “Save That Time,” a lovely ballad that has been admirably covered by singers Karrin Allyson, Kevin Mahogany and Joe Williams.


False expectations and outright fantasies are the subject of the hilarious blues “It Was a Dream,” with Long lending just the right degree of sarcasm to the refrain. Gershwin returned with the trio’s interpretation of “The Man I Love,” featuring Long deftly duplicating Spaits’ bass line. Again, DeMarchi showed his skill and sensitivity on brushes.


Ray DeMarchi [Photo by Rich Hoover]Spaits and DeMarchi traded four-bar breaks and Long nailed the lyric on the uptempo “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.” The title track from Long’s CD “Never Let Me Go” again displayed his more tender side as his voice nearly cracked with vulnerability. By contrast, he returned to the lighter side with the bluesy uptempo “Kidney Stew,” a popular tune from his tenure with Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson. Throughout the two-hour performance, Long’s dry sense of humor frequently bubbled to the surface, in his choice of tunes and in his repartee with the audience.


The ballad “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere” served as the concert’s apt closer, as it does on the CD. The audience of 30 in the lounge-style setting of the Hussey Playhouse in the lower level of the Topeka Performing Arts Center showed its appreciation with a standing ovation.


The Berman Jazz Series continues with performances by Luqman Hamza and Lucky Wesley on Feb. 13 and by pianist George Cables on March 13. All concerts begin at 3 p.m. in the lower level of the Topeka Performing Arts Center. 


Berman Jazz Series


The Berman Jazz Series began in SeptemberBerman Jazz Series and concludes in March at the Topeka Performing Arts Center in Topeka, Kan. The premiere series is primarily a showcase for prominent Kansas City-based musicians.


For a printable pdf version of the series schedule and order form, click on the image to the right.


Luqman Hamza and Lucky Wesley will appear Feb. 13. Pianist-singer Luqman Hamza is a much-loved presence in Kansas City. Recent recordings include “With This Voice” and “When a Smile Overtakes a Frown.” Bassist and singer Lucky Wesley also has been well-known to KC jazz fans for many years.


George Cables will perform a solo piano concert March 13. Equally skilled as a leader, a sideman or in solo performance, Cables helped to define modern mainstream jazz piano of the 1980s and '90s. He gained recognition during his stints with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard. He was with Dexter Gordon during the tenor's successful return to the United States in the late 1970s, and became known as Art Pepper's favorite pianist. With more than 20 recordings as a leader, Cables most recent releases are 2002’s “Shared Secrets” and 2003’s “Looking for the Light.”


To order tickets by phone, call (785) 234-ARTS. To order by fax, dial (785) 234-2307. To order by mail, write Topeka Performing Arts Center, 214 SE Eighth Ave., Topeka, KS 66606.



Concert Review

Talley Quartet exhibits mutual comfort level

The Doug Talley Quartet [Photo by Rich Hoover]











By Tom Ineck


TOPEKA, Kan.—Given the tough economics of jazz performance and recording, musicians seldom have the opportunity to grow together over a period of several years. The Doug Talley Quartet, formed in 1995, is the exception that proves the rule.


Over nearly a decade of concert and studio collaborations, saxophonist Talley and his Kansas City-based cohorts—pianist Wayne Hawkins, bassist Tim Brewer and drummer Keith Kavanaugh—have honed their composing and instrumental skills to a fine edge. They make frequent appearances throughout the Midwest and have produced three CDs, with another recording planned for next spring. Their mutual comfort level was especially evident during a performance Oct. 24 at the Topeka Performing Arts Center (TPAC), the second concert in the Berman Jazz Series.


Drawing much of their material from the Cole Porter tribute “Night and Day: Musings on the Cole Porter Songbook,” the band sensitively played to an audience familiar with the standards. The band’s interpretations of Porter, however, are anything but traditional or predictable. Listeners were alerted to the difference with the opening title track, which uses an effective stop-time and release motif, setting up solos for bass, piano and tenor sax, as well as a series of drum breaks.


Kavanaugh’s arrangement of “What Is This Thing Called Love?” was set in the unusual 7/4 time and included an infectious sax and walking bass interlude. Unlike its conventional ballad exposition, “Autumn Leaves” was taken at a fast clip, embellished with an outstanding keyboard solo by Hawkins and tenor statements that included a wry quote from Gershwin’s “Fascinating Rhythm.”


Doug Talley and Tim Brewer [Photo by Rich Hoover]Brewer contributed “For John,” a merry, dancing tune written for his son. Not content to remain a waltz, it subtly shifted as Brewer and Hawkins chimed in with solos. Porter’s “Love for Sale” opened with a playful, irreverent duo blast from Talley and Hawkins before settling into a tenor lead line, another inspired solo by Hawkins and a piercing sax solo. “It’s All Right with Me” went uptempo and was highlighted by another Hawkins solo, which cleverly interpolated “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top.”


The second set was largely a showcase for the band’s original compositions, both old and new. Talley switched to soprano sax for the new tune, “Harry Fox,” named for the notorious music licensing and collection agency. With the high-pitched horn, stop-time and a percussive piano solo, the band created an edgy feel. The Latin-tinged “Plaza Lights,” from the quartet’s “Kansas City Suite” CD, celebrated the Spanish architecture and festive holiday illumination of KC’s landmark Country Club Plaza district.


Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” received the most faithful rendition of the afternoon, a lush ballad treatment featuring Talley’s tenor. There was no mistaking the inspiration for “1600 E. 18th St.,” a swinging bop tune with echoes of the 18th and Vine Street District where Count Basie, Lester Young, Charlie Parker and many others cut their musical teeth during the notorious Pendergast Era. This Talley tribute also is drawn from “Kansas City Suite.”


Members of the Doug Talley Quartet join Tom Ineck, Mark Radziejeski, Pamela Hatfield, Butch Berman and Grace Sankey Berman for dinner at Boss Hogg's in Topeka. [Photo by Rich Hoover]The quartet played a breezy 8/4 tune from their recently commissioned soundtrack for Alfred Hitchcock’s creepy silent film, “The Lodger.” Its atmospheric tone begs the question why this music has not been recorded. Brewer’s ballad “All Stories Have an End” begins with a beautiful bowed bass and piano introduction before the addition of tenor sax and Kavanaugh on brushes. Shifting gears, the quartet finished with a typically uptempo but oddly timed “Cherokee.”



Concert Review

Dan Thomas Quintet concert brings changes


By Tom Ineck


TOPEKA, Kan.—For the inaugural concert of the first Berman Jazz Series, the Dan Thomas Quintet dared to be different, leaning heavily on a repertoire of bold originals rather than familiar standards. The Sept. 19 performance served notice that a new jazz breeze is blowing in Topeka, where too often the prejudices of the past have stifled the creativity of the artists.


Dan Thomas, Bram Wijnands and Joe Parisi square off. [Photo by Rich Hoover]To survive as a viable art form in the 21st century, jazz must continue to evolve. In the hands of saxophonist and composer Thomas, that future is assured. He and his Kansas City-based colleagues brought a wealth of talent and material to the stage, in the lower-level Hussey Playhouse at the Topeka Performing Arts Center.


Sensitive to older audience members who may be reluctant to change, the quintet began with the standard “Bye Bye Blackbird.” With Joe Parisi on flugelhorn, Roger Wilder on piano, Bram Wijnands on bass and Jim Eriksen on drums, Thomas faithfully addressed the melody on alto sax and gave everyone a chance to make a solo statement.


Bram Wijnands, Joe Parisi, Jim Eriksen and Dan Thomas [Photo by Rich Hoover]Wijnands, widely known for his talents as a stride pianist, also proved himself an able and authoritative bassist, opening the Thomas composition “Green Card” with a solo introduction before Thomas on alto and Parisi on trumpet stated the melody. A Parisi solo displayed a crystal-clear tone and a penchant for taking risks.  Eriksen’s waltz-time ballad “Ernestine” was a beautiful contribution with Thomas switching to tenor sax and Parisi returning to flugelhorn.


Thomas soared on tenor on his “Life with Nadaj,” a reversal of his son’s name, Jadan, and Wilder’s keyboard solo offered inventive variations on the theme. Short solo statements by all gave urgency to “Leading the Blind,” and “Blues for Bootie” put a new twist on an old set of changes.


Drummer Jim Eriksen, TPAC's Mark Radziejeski and Butch Berman chat after the show. [Photo by Rich Hoover]Returning briefly to more familiar territory, the quintet performed “Dear Old Stockholm,” associated with versions by Miles Davis, Stan Getz and others. On the lesser-known “Beatrice,” by saxophonist Sam Rivers, Wijnands held down a solid, swinging bass line, allowing Thomas on tenor and Parisi on flugelhorn to improvise freely.  


Wordplay again entered the program with “Tuobanrut” (“Turnabout” backwards), a new uptempo composition by Thomas that spotlighted some imaginative drum breaks by Eriksen. While not exactly a standard, Frank Rosolino’s jazz waltz “Blue Daniel” is familiar to fans of the great trombonist and was an especially good vehicle for Wilder, who quoted “If I Only Had a Brain.”


Members of the Dan Thomas Quintet dine with TPAC's Mark Radziejeski. [Photo by Rich Hoover]Eriksen also contributed the lovely “Silent Summer Storm,” a ballad with Thomas taking the lead on alto sax and Parisi taking the bridge on flugelhorn. “ An original blues shuffle called “Upbeat and Busted” completed the concert with a rousing and playful “conversation” between tenor sax and trumpet. 


Whether original or standard, the tunes that Thomas and his cohorts chose for the concert were accessible to all listeners who keep their ears open to change. The quintet was a joy to watch in performance, taking chances and feeding each other ideas. Thomas fronts the same group on his debut recording, “City Scope,” and it is obvious that they possess a rapport that is both musical and personal. 



Concert Review

McPartland performs gallantly against odds


By Tom Ineck


LINCOLN, Neb.—Jazz pianist Marian McPartland, at 86, performed gallantly if somewhat beneath her legendary status in concert Oct. 22 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.


Marian McPartland [File Photo]Best known as genial host of public radio’s “Piano Jazz,” McPartland herself cheerfully alluded to her declining abilities after the opener, “Take the A Train,” saying the tune was “courtesy of the Arthritis Foundation.”


Her sideman, bassist Jim Cox and drummer Charles Braugham, gave her strong support throughout the two-hour concert before more than 1,100 people.


Fortunately, McPartland has never depended solely on keyboard pyrotechnics. Her reputation as an interpreter of the great American popular song relies on unusual chords, lush harmonies and a liberal use of space and suspense.


Familiar crowd pleasers included “Star Eyes,” “I’m Old-Fashioned,” “All the Things You Are,” and “You and the Night and the Music.” The Bill Evans waltz “Very Early,” Alec Wilder’s waltz “While We’re Young” and Ivan Lins’ sentimental “Velas” seemed especially well-suited to McPartland’s gentle elegance. She is capable of imbuing even the most simple, minimalist lines with grace and heartfelt emotion.


Several unexpected departures from the standard repertoire were welcomed. They included Ornette Coleman’s frisky “Ramblin’,” with lively drum fills by Braugham, Bernice Petkere’s “Close Your Eyes” and a Coleman blues that provided plenty of opportunities for playful interplay among the trio.


McPartland cleverly inserted a classical fugue motif in the solo piano introduction of “All the Things You Are,” returning to the motif later in a duo with Cox on bowed bass. The two performed exquisitely on a brief but beautiful statement of “Last Night When We Were Young,” sans improvisation.


Returning to one of her favorite jazz pianists and composers, McPartland turned in a stunning version of Evans’ “Turn Out the Stars.” Mercer Ellington’s bluesy “Things Ain’s What They Used to Be” drew another wry comment from her on the general state of affairs.


Despite her valiant efforts, McPartland occasionally attempted arpeggios that lacked drive and assurance. She struggled through sections of “I’m Old-Fashioned” and wisely turned to Cox and Braugham when she needed a breather.


In a somewhat sad but profound encore, McPartland chose to perform “When the Saints Go Marching In” as a gospel-tinged ballad rather than a traditional flag-waver. Perhaps referring to the post-9/11 world, she began with a brief quote from “The Star-Spangled Banner” and finished with a stately piano solo. 



Concert Review

Scheps-Brock group creates sense of surprise


By Tom Ineck


LINCOLN, Neb.—Nine months, less one day, since the band’s firstZach Brock, Matt Ulery, Rob Scheps and Morgan Childs at P.O. Pears [Photo by Rich Hoover] appearance at P.O. Pears in Lincoln, the Rob Scheps/Zach Brock Quintet returned Oct. 21 with a handful of new tunes and the same sense of surprise that had so impressed listeners back on Jan. 22.


Nine compositions from the evening’s two set lists were repeats, but in true jazz style Scheps, Brock and company maintained an improvisatory edge that made them sound vital and newly inspired. With a talented personnel that has remained stable since its last appearance, the quintet has developed a rapport and a group chemistry that is evident. Co-Rob Scheps [Photo by Rich Hoover]leader Brock is a violin wizard who draws on influences as diverse as Stephane Grappelli and Jean-Luc Ponty. Still in their early 20s are keyboardist Jordan Baskin, bassist Matt Ulery and drummer Morgan Childs. Brock, Baskin and Ulery all hail from Chicago, while Childs is a native of Vancouver, B. C.


Scheps, a formidable saxophonist and flutist who splits his time between Portland, Ore., and New York City, remains the quintet’s undisputed leader. He chooses the tunes and “conducts” the often-difficult arrangements with signals that keep his bandmates alert. Within that enforced structure, however, everyone is allowed much freedom of expression, both in compositional and instrumental contributions, creating the best of both worlds.


Drummer Morgan Childs [Photo by Rich Hoover]Like last January’s performance, the evening began with Brock’s “Mr. Shah,” a funky number that featured deftly intersecting lines between Scheps on tenor sax and the composer on violin. “Searching for Solace,” written by Baskin, began with a solo piano interlude leading into a ballad waltz with Scheps switching to flute. Ulery, Scheps and Baskin took admirable solos.


Zach Brock [Photo by Rich Hoover]The first new tune in the repertoire was Keith Jarrett’s “Le Mistral,” from the period in which the composer featured iconoclastic saxophonist Dewey Redman in his band. Baskin set it up with a jagged electric piano statement before handing it off to Scheps on tenor, Brock on violin and Childs, with a drum solo that swirled and buffeted like the Mediterranean squalls for which the tune is named.


Scheps’ ballad “Crestfallen” was written in Nebraska City, where the band has performed and conducted workshops on more than one occasion. The composer sat this one out as Brock took the lead on violin and Childs set the rhythmic mood, with help from Baskin and Ulery. The bassist contributed “First Morning of the Tower,” inspired by the Tower of Pisa during a visit to that city. The leaping, lyrical tune is set in 7/4 time and featured a nice solo by the composer.


Ornette Coleman’s typically manic “Happy House” provoked especially pungent statements by Scheps on sax, Brock on feedback fiddle and BaskinBassist Matt Ullery [Photo by Rich Hoover] at a blazing tempo. The new tune “KC Strip at 18th and Vine” completed the first set with the trio of Baskin, Ulery and Childs excelling.


Brock’s frantic “Common Ground” opened the second set with a stunning showcase for the violin virtuoso. Scheps switched to flute for the Midwest premiere of his “Wurlitzer Waltz,” a captivating tune that also featured some wonderful keyboard work by Baskin. The band neatly segued into Scheps’ “New Homes,” weaving flute and violin lines and setting up another bracing electric piano solo by Baskin, followed in succession by bass, violin, violin/flute and drum statements.


Jordan Baskin [Photo by Rich Hoover]Gary Smulyan’s swinging tune “Olivia’s Arrival” made a return appearance, again proving the compatibility of the sax and violin. The tune is, however, clearly a tour de force setting for Scheps’ tenor saxophone mastery. “Little Jewel,” by Scheps, is a ballad with a distinct gospel feel that had the saxophonist displaying his “fat” tone against Baskin’s bluesy keys and Childs’ brushwork.


Saving the oddest till last, Scheps introduced his new “Capetown Races” by explaining that it was a case of “Beethoven goes to South Africa.” Just for the occasion, Ulery switched from bass to tuba for the stylistic clash of classical music, township jive and jazz. The results were mixed, as though pitting swing and anti-swing in an unfair fight. If nothing else, it epitomizes the refreshingly unconventional and uncompromising nature of the Scheps-Brock combo.   



Concert Review
Two streams of New Orleans music converge


By Tom Ineck


LINCOLN, Neb.—In a stroke of marketing genius, two streams of New Orleans roots music converged Sept. 23 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Neb., theoretically combining local audiences for traditional jazz and Cajun music.


The double bill also provided a history lesson in miniature, spanning from the early days of Crescent City polyphony, as represented by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, to French-influenced dance music, as modernized by the ever-popular BeauSoleil, led by fiddler extraordinaire Michael Doucet.


Now in its 29th year of performing and recording, BeauSoleil draws its inspiration from a rural music form with roots in the Acadia region of Nova Scotia. When the British forcibly expelled the Acadians from their homeland, they sought refuge in Louisiana, creating the unique “Cajun” culture that still survives.


The six-piece band has almost single-handedly popularized the music worldwide, and they continue to add new tunes to their rich repertoire. Doucet’s “Me and Dennis McGee,” a typically lively two-step, is homage to another fiddle legend. “Looking Back to Acadia” reflects directly on the music’s Canadian roots. “La Femme Qui Jouaix aux Cartes (The Woman Who Played Cards)” draws from the Cajun storytelling tradition. The aptly named “Chanky Chank Francais” epitomized the two-step’s lively pulse.


“You Made Me Laugh” is a swinging new addition to the band’s playlist. Rub board and zydeco-style accordion were featured on “Bye, Bye Boozoo,” a memorial tribute to the late zydeco bandleader Boozoo Chavis. “La Fleche d’Amour (Love Arrow)” reflected the bluesy, romantic side of the Cajun soul. “Malinda” brought a driving calypso sound to the evening’s proceedings.


At least half a dozen tunes from the setlist are from the band’s new release, “Gitane Cajun” on Vanguard Records.


After nearly three decades together, BeauSoleil plays their pure acoustic music with the ease and assurance of a family. Doucet’s brother, David, is a superb guitarist and accordionist Jimmy Breaux completes the front line with lush and rhythmic contributions. Bassist Al Tharp, drummer Tommy Alesi and percussionist Billy Ware fill out the veteran lineup.


The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was introduced with a documentary video that was interesting but could have been edited to allow for more live music.


Beginning with a quartet of trumpet, banjo, piano and bass, the band kicked things off with “Ain’t She Sweet?” sung by banjo player Don Vappie. Before they were joined by the rest of the band, trumpeter John Brunious took the vocal on “If I Had My Life to Live Over.” Bassist Walter Payton provided strong support.


The ebullient “Bourbon Street Parade” was the cue for the drummer, tenor saxophonist and trombonist Frank Demond to join the fray. In classic style, the front-line brass converged in full flight for the out-chorus.


A boogie-woogie piano number loosened up the audience for the highlight of the evening, a stirring rendition of the Jelly Roll Morton classic “Buddy Bolden’s Blues.” Vappie delivered the lyric with feeling and performed with virtuosic dexterity on the banjo, an instrument usually limited to the role of rhythmic accompaniment. He punctuated his playing with incredible arpeggios and full-neck slurs.


The evening ended with the obligatory “When the Saints Go Marching In,” with band members leading dozens of listeners in a snaking second line through the hall and onto the stage.


The double header drew more than 1,700 music fans of all ages, a rare occurrence in a music world splintered by niche marketing. The Lied Center would be well-advised to seek similar thematic programs in the future.



Concert Review
Roy Haynes, 78, leads a youthful quartet


By Tom Ineck


KANSAS CITY, Mo.—In a career spanning 60 years, drummer Roy Haynes has created a monumental resume, including important tenures with Charlie Parker from 1949 to 1952, touring the world with Sarah Vaughan from 1953 to 1958 and subbing for Elvin Jones in John Coltrane’s legendary quartet from 1961 to 1965.


Since then, he has worked with artists as stylistically diverse as saxophonist Stan Getz, vibraphonist Gary Burton and guitarist Pat Metheny. Most recently, however, he has come into his own leading superb touring and recording ensembles. He fronted a quartet for a Sept. 18 appearance at the Gem Theater. Joining him on stage were saxophonist Marcus Strickland, pianist Martin Bejerano and bassist John Sullivan, a youthful group of musicians, especially when compared with their venerable employer.


Legendary drummer Roy Haynes [File Photo]At age 78 and dressed in a silk shirt and lizard-skin boots, Haynes displayed an impeccable sense of time and an economy of motion that serves him well, simultaneously working snare drum, tom-toms, bass drum and ride cymbal with incredible ease and precision. The aptly named “Diverse” featured outstanding solos on tenor sax and piano, trades by the two musicians and a series of thunderous drum breaks.


Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way” was the perfect vehicle for Bejerano, a disciple of the Bill Evans school of keyboard impressionism. After a solo piano introduction, Strickland played the melody on soprano sax, then deconstructed it in an exploratory excursion into the unknown. Bass and drum solos followed, with Haynes especially potent.


At one point between tunes, Haynes reminisced about playing in the 18th and Vine Street area back in the 1950s. He said Count Basie had borrowed $50 from him “right across the street from here.”


Because Haynes provided considerable banter between tunes and the tunes themselves developed slowly and went on for 10 minutes or more, the quartet had time to play only a handful of numbers.


Roy Haynes [File Photo]“My Heart Belongs to Daddy” had a distinctly Yiddish flavor, with Strickland keening on soprano sax and Bejerano creating elaborate piano flourishes. Haynes provided an insistent rhythmic pulse that made powerful presence undeniable. He fired a barrage behind Bejerano’s inventive solo, which led to a modal, Trane-like soprano sax solo. Haynes got the audience involved by clapping along with the irresistible rhythms.


“All Blues” was performed as a jazz waltz, beginning with a soprano sax solo, segueing into another outstanding piano solo and taking a funky turn with a drum break that relied heavily on the bass drum. It eventually took on the flavor of a revival meeting, with Haynes shouting and the audience responding. Another of the evening’s highlights was a reading of “Mr. P.C.,” Coltrane’s lively tribute to bassist Paul Chambers. Haynes, at times, echoed the spirit of legendary predecessors Art Blakey and Elvin Jones in his muscular but virtuosic approach to time-keeping.


Joking about the upcoming presidential election and the prospect of George Bush’s second term, Haynes demanded, “If he wants four more years, give me five more years!” Here’s hoping that Roy Haynes gets his wish and more.



Concert Review
S.F. Jazz Fest features R&B and stride legends


By Dan Demuth


SAN FRANCISCO—We recently drove from Colorado Springs, Colo., to this city by the bay to visit family and partake of some of the 2004 San Francisco Jazz Festival events. This year’s fest ran from Oct. 14 to Nov. 7, at various locales throughout the city.


At the risk of being labeled an aging codger, I confess to sometimes opting to attend performances by those who have left a legacy, and for whom I may not again get the chance to see.


This time around, Etta James and the Roots Band was the first concert we attended, held in the beautiful old Masonic Auditorium. Earl Thomas opened and easily lived up to his revues as a vocalist with a timbre’ often compared to Al Green, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett or Lou Rawls. Backed only by the acoustic guitar of Dane Heineh Andersen, his half-hour performance was too short.


The Roots Band is Kraig Kilby on trombone, Tom Poole and Ronnie Buttacavoli on trumpets, drummer (and son) Donto James, guitarists Bobby Murray and Josh Sklair (whose playing and features eerily reminded one of a young Eric Clapton), Dave Matthews on electronic keyboard,  and piano man extraordinaire’ Mike Finnigan—who doubled vocally on duets with Etta on several songs.


“R&B and not jazz!” you say. True, but in recent years, R&B performers have made many inroads at jazz festivals. Given the various avenues jazz has traveled, R&B is definitely one of the many side roads. A native San Franciscan, as are several of her band members, James has a very loyal following.


She related a few stories of her youth there, including being discovered by Johnny Otis. He penned a tune which became a hit for her in 1955 on the old Modern label known best as “Dance with Me Henry” (originally titled “Roll with Me Henry” and then “The Wallflower”). This codger was mildly nonplussed when she did a montage of her hits, totally bypassing “Henry,” and starting with the 1960 song “All I Could Do Was Cry.” At 66, she still evokes a strong, no-nonsense mama persona. She alluded to some physical discomfort, sitting the entire performance, and declined an encore despite a long standing ovation.


The following evening, at the beautiful Davies Symphony Hall, we were treated to “The Joint Is Jumpin’”, a Fats Waller 100th birthday celebration. Etta’s contemporary and another R&B legend, Ruth Brown, was the featured vocalist. Her “backup band” also included a few notables you might recognize. Dick Hyman, Jay McShann and Mike Lipskin shared the piano duties, which on most numbers featured two of them playing together. (Hyman occasionally doubled on a gigantic in-house pipe organ.) Mario Suraci on bass, Harold Jones on drums, and Marty Grosz on guitar were the timekeepers, with Byron Stripling on trumpet, a man whose tone was as large as his size. His solos were audience favorites, as was his interplay with Ruth, both in chatting and adding a few “amens” to her vocalizing.


Hyman has to be recognized as one of the ablest and versatile jazz pianists today, in most any category. He and Lipskin were both right at home in Waller’s stride style, with Marty Grosz adding some colorful vocal renditions to some of the standards Fats created.


Amazing is possibly the best adjective for Mr. McShann. Approaching 90, he delighted the audience with two vocal renditions of blues, and his keyboard talent with the blues has lost very little. Reverting to the Waller songs, it gave one a warm feeling to watch the other musicians allow him to get comfortable with the meter before joining in. He did require an assist to the piano, as he did a few years back when he appeared at the Lincoln Hilton with the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra. A quite attractive young lady was his assist here, and if I recall correctly, he duplicated that same feat in Lincoln. There must be something in that Kansas City water!


Brown established an immediate rapport with the audience. She entered to a standing ovation, and her opening comment was, “I’m so damned old I didn’t think I would ever get another gig like this.” She had us in her palm from that point on. My sources say she would be 74, but again, as with Etta James, she proved that age doesn’t necessarily negate a good performance. She sang several of the Waller standards, adding her own sometimes humorous connotations to the lyrics. She related as a youngster listening to Waller’s music on the radio at night, while her mother worked as a cleaning lady, and her father issuing stern warnings to her to not try singing those “gut bucket” blues.


Unlike Etta, the audience was able to bring Ruth and the entire ensemble back out for an encore, with one of the most lengthy and raucous standing ovations I can ever recall. With the concert ended, we had to retire to a San Francisco legend just up the street, Tommy’s Joynt, for a few libations to bring us back down to ground level.


On a personal note, as a destination, this city invigorates and energizes like no other. Days at the beach by the Golden Gate, visiting ethnic neighborhoods, and nights gorging on seafood. On our last night, after leaving another landmark, The Buena Vista, we sampled Club Jazz Nouveau, just one block from the wharf. It was a great venue, with no cover charge and a reasonably priced complete menu. Appearing the night we were there was the Luna Quartet, a local group who perform most of their own material, but if you close your eyes you would swear it was Dave Brubeck.


Mr. Bennett, we understand why you left your heart here.



Jazz Fest Preview

2005 Topeka Jazz Festival tickets on sale now


TPAC Assistant Director Mark Radziejeski with official 2005 Topeka Jazz Festival painting by a local Topeka artist. [Photo by Rich Hoover]Tickets are on sale now for the 2005 Topeka Jazz Festival, May 27-30 at the Topeka Performing Arts Center (TPAC).


Headliners include Bobby Watson & Horizon, the Eldar Djangirov Trio, the Hot Club of San Francisco, Norman Hedman & Tropique, Alaadeen & Group 21, the Doug Talley Quartet, the Joe Cartwright Trio, the Russ Long Trio and Interstring. Featured vocalists are Giacomo Gates and Kathleen Holeman.


Some of the standout soloists include reed players Ken Peplowski and Rob Scheps, trumpeters Claudio Roditi and Terell Stafford, pianists Ed Simon and Misha Tsiganov, guitarists Danny Embrey and Paul Mehling, bassists Essiet Essiet and Jay Leonhart and drummers Victor Lewis and Todd Strait.


Sponsorships and three-day passes are now available at 785-234-ARTS.


Gold Sponsor ($500), reserved seating at the Friday Yard Party, all Saturday and Sunday sessions, the Monday Jazz Brunch, invitations to the Saturday Gold Sponsor Reception and the Sunday Musician Reception, Saturday dinner at the Top of the Tower, $40 in merchandise certificates, $5 worth of Taste of Topeka tickets and a $140 tax deductible contribution.


Sponsor ($325), reserved seating at the Friday Yard Party, all Saturday and Sunday sessions and the Monday Jazz Brunch, invitation to the Sunday Musician Reception, $40 in merchandise certificates and $5 worth of Taste of Topeka tickets.


3-Day Pass ($250), reserved seating at the Friday Yard Party and all Saturday and Sunday sessions.


Single session tickets go on sale March 1, 2005. For a complete schedule of events and other festival information, visit the TPAC website at www.tpactix.org



Concert Preview

Sax figures prominently in NJO season


The Nebraska Jazz Orchestra continues its 2004-2005 concert season with performances in December, January, March and May, plus the annual Valentine's Day event.


NJO music director Ed Love takes the spotlight on saxophone and clarinet for the annual "Christmas and All That Jazz" concert Dec. 14.


Saxophonist Roger Neumann performs with the NJO Jan. 21 as part of the "Learning from the Master" concert, which also features the Young Lions All-Star Band. Neumann, a California native, has performed with Woody Herman and has written for Buddy Rich and Count Basie big bands.


Saxophonist Greg Abate makes a special guest appearance with the NJO March 15. Abate is considered one of the best post-bop alto players and is a veteran of bands led by Ray Charles and Artie Shaw. The Lincoln High School Varsity Jazz Band also will perform.


Former members of the NJO trumpet section return for "Trumpet Madness" May 13. The concert also features the winner of the annual Young Jazz Artist Competition.


The "Valentines and Jazz" dinner and dance is Feb. 14. An annual fund-raising event for the NJO, this concert is not included in the season membership.


All concerts are at the Embassy Suites, 1040 P St. in downtown Lincoln. Single tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $10 for students.


All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.


The Nebraska Jazz Orchestra was founded in 1975 and is one of the Midwest's premier big bands, celebrating more than 25 years of live performances. The NJO participates in the touring programs of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Mid-America Arts Alliance and has toured extensively throughout the Midwest. In 1997, the NJO performed at the prestigious Montreux International Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland.


For more information, contact Zee Zgud at (402) 477-8446 or at aszgud@artsincorporated.org.


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