1. You don't have to swing hard to swing: Parlour Game proved that Tuesday night at Sharp Nine. Drummer Allison Miller kept a steady, distinct beat, violinist Jenny Scheinman soared quietely, pianist Carmen Staaf had the softest, most sensitive hands I've heard, & bassist Tony Sher kept the beat too while adding fine accents.
2. Raleigh's Sullivan's Steakhouse is listing its jazz: I'd taken it off my venue list because its website had no calendar, but I found it now has a calendar for Wed-Sat music. It's also made me realize Raleigh has lots more local jazz than Durham & Carrboro/Chapel Hill combined.
3. Ernest Turner competes in the Jacksonville Jazz Fest piano competition this week: Wish him luck!
This Week: What I see over the next two weeks will depend on whether I get my grandkids's permission, but there's always interesting stuff--including:
Sunday: There's a gypsy jazz jam at the Station 3-5p. It'll be my first such jam, so why not? Tuesday: Singer Ti Harmon fronts the Thrio piano trio. Haven't seen Ti in too long! Wednesday: The UNC Public Humanities program presents Stephen Anderson & Brian Horton covering NC-born jazz greats at Chapel Hill's Flyleaf Bookstore 5:30p. I've paid the $18 fee because I'm interested. Thursday: It's the straight-ahead jazz jam at the Durham Hotel, led by Al Strong, 7p. Friday: Singer Frankie Alexander outdoors at Durham's Brightleaf Square 7p. She does standards very well.
1. The Quartet isn't going but Eric Hirsh is: Eric Hirsh had a tune accepted at the International Jazz Composer Symposium this week in Colorado. Check out "To Comfort A Shadow" here: http://www.erichirsh.com/#shows
2. Just because you don't recognize the performers doesn't mean you shouldn't go: Having noticed that NYC-based guitarist Rale Micic's show at Sharp Nine was cancelled--probably due to low ticket sales--I can't let the Parlour Game gig there Tuesday night 7p go unmentioned. To know why go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3aw-9lkXDY
This Week: Yes, go see Parlour Game Tuesday night but also think about seeing a Usual Suspect or two at usual venues. E.g.:
Tea Cup Gin is at the Durham's Blue Note Grill Sunday (5p) & the Unscripted Hotel Thursday (7p) & Friday at Cary's Mayton Inn (6p). I'll be at one of those since I haven't seen them in years.
Kate McGarry & Keigh Ganz perform at Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheater Wednesday 5:45p.
Angela Bingham celebrates her birthday at Watts & Ward Friday night 7p. It will be fun!
Discovery: Pianist Ed Paloantonio retiring from NCCU jazz program:This was announced at the NCCU Jazz Fest. Don't know any details, but I do know "Mister P" has been important to many, many NCCU jazz students. I do hope this only means retirement from his work & not retirement from playing, e.g., with Frankie Alexander & other vocalists.
The Eric Hirsh Quartet will play at the International Jazz Composers Symposium 5/17.
This Week is mainly dedicated to my Basic Jazz Listening class, which is interested in the many jazz styles we have here. Noted below are a diverse range of gigs this week, something valuable for all of us.
James Gilmore & his improvising Freetet at Durham's Arcana (arcanadurham.com) 8p. I'll be there because I enjoy James's devotion to listenable free jazz. Join me. You've got nothing to lose.
Gregg Gelb's Second Line Stompers play New Orleans trad jazz at C Grace 9p.
Mint Julep Jazz Band brings swing dance to Cary's Koka Booth venue 5:30p.
Carrboro's best jazz bar band--Yeaux Katz--at the Station 7p.
Sidecar Social Club does its jazz/blues best at Humble Pie 8:30p.
Al Strong's Durham Hotel straight-ahead jazz jam 7p. Should be lots of local musicians sitting in.
The Eric Hirsh Quartet's monthly residency at Arcana. I'll be there to find out more about the Discovery above.
Thrio--Andrew Berinson, Donovan Cheatham, Kevin Beardsley--at C Grace 9p. Good piano trio.
Caique Vidal leads "Brazil Night" at Durham's West End Wine Bar 8p. Maybe not jazz, but what compares with Brazilian music?
Golden Belt brucnh jazz jam 12p
Noah Sager trio at West End Wine Bar 4p.
Tea Cup Gin does its roadhouse jazz at Durham's Blue Note Grill 5p. Haven't seen them in years; need to..
1. Fred Hersch's "Leaves of Grass" song cycle is a masterpiece: I listened to the CD fifteen years ago. saw it life online from Jazz At Lincoln Center, & Friday night we saw it live at Duke's Baldwin Auditorium. Lead vocalist Kurt Elling sang & spoke Walt Whitman's word abetted by Kate McGarry, while pianist Hersch played & led a sextet through instrumental interludes & back-up music that perfectly fit the singing & speaking. This performance will stay with me as long as I am sentient.
2. We thought we were in a New York cabaret--at Raleigh's Empress Room Thursday night. We walked in expecting just to listen to pianist Jonathan Markow play standards with loving care. We left extraordinarily happy to have heard vocalist Amy Hancock's devotion to & skill at intelligent lyrics, often with tunes completely new to us. We need more such music.
This Week: I'll complete this once some venues/performers put out May calendars.
Discoveries: 1. It's hard to put the brilliance of Jason Moran's Bandwagon trio into words: Having listened to them for 15+ of their 20 years together, I found their Duke Performances gig Thursday night at Durham Fruit & Produce one of the best I've heard, reflecting Moran's involvement with the quilters of Gee's Bend, private academy students whose music he played, & the legacy of WWI-era jazz pioneer James Reece Europe, etl al. That describes what but not how.... Moran plays dramatically, complicatedly, going from thrashing to soft melody in the same tune, often quoting jazz history en route....
Check out this concert on YouTube--https://spectacularmag.com/2019/04/19/nccus-29th-annual-jazz-festival-brings-renowned-musicians-to-campus/
This doesn't sound like any other trio, any other pianist. I watching as I type, just realizing that they played a long intro to get into "Honeysuckle Rose". Wait for other surprises as Moran improvises from pieces of the tune, occasionally exposing the thread before moving. I could keep on for the 1+ hour of this concert but must move on. Keep listening to the YouTube, I will as I finish this blog.
2. "Leaves of Grass" is a do not miss performance (Duke Performances @ Baldwin Auditorium Saturday 4/27 8p): I heard the CD 15 years ago, I watched it live online 2 years ago, now I can--& you must--Saturday. Jazz pianist Fred Hersch put together this performance of Walt Whitman, leading a sextet with vocalists Kurt Elling & our Kate McGarry speaking & singing the free verses. A good fit for jazz, eh? You betcha. It is special, it is unique, who knows if/when it will be performed again in our area. You will leave Baldwin Auditorium enraptured...
3. How lucky can we be to have the two performances above in a nine-day stretch?
This Week: Not just "Leaves of Grass"! Yup, there's more...
Gypsy jazz jam at The Station 3p. I'll be there to check out this new-to-me.
Nnenna Freelon sings with the NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble in the above at B.N. Duke Auditorium 8p. I'll be there as much for the VJE as for Nnenna.
Check Sharp Nine, Irregardless, Brasa Steakshouse, C Grace, the NC Museum of Art, Cary's Mayton Inn, & Carrboro's Second Wind for many more opportunities.
Where else should you be than "Leaves of Grass"?
OK, as much as I want everyone to go to "LoG" there's lots of usual suspects in the usual venues tonight too. Check them out if you have a good excuse for not going to "LoG". Doctors or parents note, babysitting grandchildren, sheer ennui...
Sunday: Two new jazz jams...
Raleigh's Dix Park hosts a jazz brunch with Peter Lamb & the Wolves 11a.
Discoveries: 1. If you want a crowd, book a swing dance jazz band: Keenan McKenzie's Riffers band took over what may be a regular gig at Vecino's Brewery in Carrboro Tuesday. Dancing ensued. I'll let you know about the future. 2. Durham's Golden Belt starts a first & third Sunday Brunches Brew: Hosted by NCCU & locavore saxist Alan Thompson 12p.
This Week: There's life after Games of Thrones.
My favorite NCCU student saxist, Dexter Moses, leads a young lions quartet at Sharp Nine 7p. I'll be there if I can escape at neighborhood meeting.
My favorite pianist, Jason Moran, & his Bandwagon Trio at Duke Performances @ Durham Fruit & Produce 8p. Do I have a choice??
Jason Moran talks at Durham's Pinhook 12p. He's always worth hearing speak.
Moran hosts his Fats Waller Dance Party at Fruit & Product 8p. Check out the Fats Waller head mask.
Orquesta Gardel Latinizes Durham's Golden Belt Arts Center first Third Friday Arts Walk 7p.
Kate McGarry/Keith Ganz Quartet at Sharp Nine 8p. Will be there.
The Hot Club of Raleigh brings gypsy swing to Irregardless 9p.
Discoveries: 1. A great night at the Village Vanguard: Whenever extravore pianist Sullivan Fortner returns to our area--especially with locally-based drummer Bean Clemmons--go see him. Fortner is an incredibly imaginative player, one who incorporates most jazz history in his playing. E.g., "Barb's Strut" imagines the relationship of Monk & his mother as if they lived in New Orleans. 2. Pianist Andrew Berinson brought spirit & fire to his CD release gig: I've listened to a bit of the CD, which starts out with the Episcoplian version of his "House of Prayer"; he went Pentacostal live, managing three quiet ballads too in a bout of barely controlled adrenaline at Sharp Nine Friday night. Buy the CD!
This Week: Check out the Usual Suspect Venues this week because there are lots of choices besides those below. I.e., a busy week!
Tuesday even has an interesting choice...
Keenan McKenzie leads his Riffers swing band at Carrboro's Vecinos Brewing Company 7:30p. I'll be there after the first set at...
Extravore saxist Jeff Lederer leads a locavore big band organized by locally-raised (& Washington DC jazz leader) Brad Linde at Sharp Nine 8p. I'll catch the first set before the above.
Eric Hirsh Quartet monthly residency at Durham's Arcana 8p. I should be there.
Friday: Lots going on, including the Duke student orchestra with bassist Rufus Reid.
Extravore saxist Tim Armacost playing with a fine local trio Sharp Nine 8p. He sounds worth hearing on YouTube so worth taking a flyer on.
Vocalist Angela Bingham & guitarist Scott Sawyer return to Sharp Nine 8p. Great chemistry. I'll be there.
Sunday: Not just Game of Thrones this day; jazz jams pop up! I'll have to investigate.
Durham's Golden Belt holds its first jazz jam 12p.
Durham's Rhythms Live holds its first jazz/blues jam 3p.
And three extravore events worth noting...
Thursday 4/18: Pianist Jason Moran's Bandwagon Trio at Duke Perfs 8p. My favorite pianist. Friday 4/19: Pianist Jason Moran's Fats Waller Dance Party at Duke Perfs 8p. Saturday, 4/27: The DO NOT MISS "Leaves of Grass" orchestrated & played by the great pianist Fred Hersch & sung/read by Kurt Elling & Kate McGarry. OF COURSE I'LL BE THERE!
Discoveries: 1. Singer Jo Gore has resurfaced: She tells me she'll be at Motorco later in April, a welcome return to performing locally. She's also raising money to produce her first CD so check her link on the Home page. In my next blog I hope to have a link to her performing schedule.
2. It was great to hear both Dave Finucane & Andrew Berinson, for different reasons: The last two times I've heard Dave at Sharp Nine he hadn't played in a while; his readiness to play came through again Friday night there. Meanwhile, having not heard Andrew in a while, I found his playing deeper & more imaginative; that'll make his 4/5 CD release at Sharp Nine even more exciting. And, since he did the mixing & mastering himself, he deserves a lot of C sales for his effort, beyond what should be fine playing. There's a sample via his link on the Home page.
This Week is incredibly busy! Monday
Imbibe: Grewen & Griffin 7p.
Pittsboro Roadhouse: Dance to whatever band Gregg Gelb leads 7p.
Discoveries: 1. The new Branford Marsalis Quartet is something special: I stumbled across "The Secret Between the Shadow & the Soul" at Barnes & Noble. Happy stumbing as this CD sounds different that prior ones in ones I haven't the vocabulary to describe (yet). So, buy & listen... 2. The Eric Hirsh Quartet may have given me a better sense of rhythm: At Eric's monthly residency at Durham's Arcana--that venue offering other jazz now as well--I tried to sense/feel/hear the intricate rhythms that drive his distinctive composing/arranging/playing. Helped by drummer Stephen Coffman & saxist Aaron Hill, I got the 7/4 tunes, felt the shifts from 11/8 to 10/8 & back, & totally botched the 3/4 waltz. That's known as Progress. 3. Atomic Rhythm All-Star chief George Knott may be the funniest musician around here: Anyone that describes types of hammers in a post on the ARAS website has a strange way of looking at things. Check it out via the Home page link.
This Week: It looks good though I'll be busy with the visit of four grandkids.
Pianist Martin Eagle (whom I haven't heard in a while) premiers his new CD at Durham's Parizade 4p.
You can check out bassist George Knott & the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars at Raleigh's Neptune's Parlour 8p.
Ernest Turner & his trio appear on WUNC's The State of Things 12p. I'll catch it via the online archive.
Dave Finucane leads a sextet at the request of fan Mark O'Donnell (who's visiting from retirement in Ecuador) 8p. If I have energy left I'll be there.
Keith Ganz joins visiting pianist Gary Versace & bassist Sean Smith at Sharp Nine 7 pm. I may be nodding off but I'll be there.
Bassist Rick Bugel plays with Scott Sawyer & Donovan Cheatham at Watts & Ward 7p. Could be there if I miss the above because I need to hear live music.
Discoveries: 1. Pianist Sean Mason's style has changed (at least for one night): Saturday night at Sharp Nine he was too full of sound & fury, signifying not enough. I left when he went on & on with a fourth extended vamp accented by piano-pounding & driving rockish drumming. Yes, he was briefly melodic ("My Romance") & a couple of gospel forays, but, e.g., turning the lovely "Blame It On My Youth" into one of those extended things was incongruous. One hopes that the road of excess does lead to the path of wisdom. 2. Yeaux Katz is back--at the Station: They started there, & now that drummer Rob Ladd has recovered from car crash injuries, they were on fire Wednesday night. The Best Jazz Bar Band In Carrboro will play every Wednesday night.
This Week: It could be very busy for me (in addition to my Guide To Local Jazz class). It depends on my energy.
The Avante acapella group at the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (ERUUF) 4p. Unless domestic tasks get in the way, I'll be there.
The incomparable Atomic Rhythm All-Stars recreate speakeasy jazz at Raleigh's Neptune's Parlour 8p.
Saxophonist Noel Sherr at Sharp Nine 7p. If I have energy after my class, I should be there to listen to sideman Scott Sawyer.
Wednesday: In addition to Yeaux Katz at the Station...
Jonathan Markow plays lovely standards at Empress Room 7:30p.
Thursday: Two good gigs in Durham...
Al Strong's Durham Hotel jazz jam (fusion tonight?) 7p.
Eric Hirsh starts his monthly residency at Durham's Arcana 8p. I'll be there, perhaps after a stop at the Durham Hotel.
Saturday: In addition to usual choices...
Zen Poets at Irregardless 9p. A chance to catch up with them, especially Annalist Stalls on saxophones.
Not often heard pianist Martin Eagle debuts a CD at Durham's Parizade Restaurant 4p. His playing is worth hearing.