Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hot jazz for cold nights

THe new year is starting right, for local jazz fans: Princeton's Mediterra has jazz each Wednesday and Thursday night through the month, and local favorites are returning to regular schedules.

Friday, Jan. 1
Start your New Year with jazz singer Laura Hull, who's appearing at the Hibiscus Restaurant in the Morristown Inn for tonight's Jazz Fridays presentation. She picks up the microphone at 7 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 2

Altoist Julian Pressley will visit the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St. in Trenton, for this week’s meeting of the Jazz Disciples. Stop by at 3 p.m. to enjoy.

Eryn Shewell is having a CD release party at the Havana Restaurant in New Hope, Pa., at 2 p.m. Her music covers a lot of territory, including references to jazz and the Great American Songbook.

Sunday, Jan. 3
Jonathan Russell is 14-years-old, and when he plays the violin, the New York Times says, “he embraces his instrument and enters a private cocoon, where he conjures sophisticated improvisations on the melodies of jazz standards.” You can catch him at the Maplewood Women's Club at 60 Woodland Road, Maplewood, at 2 p.m. Call the club at 973-762-9877 for more information.

Pam Purvis, Bob Ackerman and Matt Chertkoff will be at Cecil’s in West Orange at 5:30 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 4
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 5
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Jan. 6
Patty Cronheim is back at Princeton’s Mediterra, on Hulfish Street. She’ll be performing every Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. this month.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Vocalist Margie Notte lights up Libretti’s Restaurant, 554 Orange St. in Orange, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.


Thursday, Jan. 7
The Eric Mintel Quartet will perform 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Thursday night through January at Mediterra.

Friday, Jan. 8

Dick Gratton returns to the Chambers Walk Café in Lawrenceville, playing from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. He’ll head to the Farnsworth House in Bordentown, Jan. 9.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday jazz on tap

There's a great list of events to enjoy this week, while you're basking in the glow of the holidays. Get out and enjoy live music.

Saturday, Dec. 26
Guitarist B.D. Lenz and his quartet (which includes James Rosocha, Abe Fogle and Geoff Mattoon) will be at Triumph Brewery in Princeton for a late-night show. The music begins at 10 p.m. -- take advantage of the low, low $5 cover and enjoy.

Philadelphian Orrin Evans will appear at this week's meeting of the Jazz Disciples at 3 p.m. at the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St. in Trenton. Next week, it's altoist Julian Pressley.

Monday, Dec. 28
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 29
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Dec. 30
The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Vocalist Margie Notte lights up Libretti’s Restaurant, 554 Orange St. in Orange, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Thursday, Dec. 31
Rio Clemente will join this year's First Night-Morris County non-alcoholic New Year's celebration in Morristown, performing at 9:45 p.m. and 11 p.m. at the Morristown High School, Early Street and Atno Avenue, Morristown. Tickets are $25 and can be ordered here.

Friday, Jan. 1
Start your New Year with jazz singer Laura Hull, who's appearing at the Hibiscus Restaurant in the Morristown Inn for tonight's Jazz Fridays presentation. She picks up the microphone at 7 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 2
Eryn Shewell mixes genres for an interesting blend of styles -- she's having a CD release party at the Havana Restaurant in New Hope, Pa., at 2 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 3
Jonathan Russell is 14-years-old, and when he plays the violin, the New York Times says, “he embraces his instrument and enters a private cocoon, where he conjures sophisticated improvisations on the melodies of jazz standards.” You can catch him at the Maplewood Women's Club at 60 Woodland Road, Maplewood, at 2 p.m. Call the club at 973-762-9877 for more information.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

'Tis the season ... to be swingin'

There are lots of special gigs coming up for the holidays -- special dates for the Jazz Celebration Big Band, Karen Rodriguez and Gordon James. Why not put some swinging rhythm into Christmas classics?
You can start with the Princeton University Concert Jazz Ensemble and University Orchestra's performance of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite," as arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Check it out at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday nights at the Richardson Auditorium.

Thursday, Dec. 10

Rio Clemente is at the Bernards Inn tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 11

Gordon James and Jose Loo will return to Scampi’s in Somerville next week for a Dec. 17 Christmas show, but this week they’re at the Salt Creek Grille in the Forrestal Village, Route 1 South. The date is actually a gig for the full Gordon James Band, which adds Chris Plunkett on bass and Al Johnson on drums.

Jim Popik’s Black Diamond Jazz will be at Kline's Gallery, 25 Bridge St. in Lambertville, for two sets, the first at 8 p.m. This acoustic outing will feature Jim and Richard Cann on nylon string guitars, with Karttikeya on a drum set and Halo drum, and special guest Kathy Ridl, upright bass. A $10 donation will be greatly appreciated, but not mandatory.

The Eric Mintel Quartet will be at the Crossing Vineyards and Winery, 1853 Wrightstown Road in Washington Crossing, Pa., at 7:30 p.m. The Quartet includes Mintel on piano, Nelson Hill on alto and soprano sax and flute, Dave Antonow on electric bass, and Dave Mohn on drums. Tickets are $45 and may be purchased online here or by calling 215-493-6500, ext. 19.

Laura Hull has a gig at the Hibiscus Restaurant in the Morristown Inn, playing from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Call 973-350-0200 for reservations.

Guitarist Dick Gratton will perform at the Chambers Walk Café, 2667 Main St., in Lawrenceville, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Trumpeter James Gibbs is at Cecils in West Orange tonight and tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Click here for a taste of his new CD.

The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30
p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 12
Akiko Tsuruga is this week’s visiting Jazz Disciple, meeting at 3 p.m. in Trenton’s Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St. The list of fantastic keyboardists from Japan keeps growing …

Darla Tarpinian
returns to the Hopewell Inn’s Starlight Lounge, with accompaniment by husband Rich (vocals/guitar), Jim May (guitar), Joe Bezek (alto sax) and David Stier (drums).

Karen Rodriguez will make your Navidad muy feliz with her show at the Salt Creek Grille, at 1 Rockingham Row, Forrestal Village, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Dr. Karen Zumbrunn and her jazz trio will be at the Hopewell Valley Vineyard, 46 Yard Road in Pennington, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. There’s no cover or minimum.
John Bianculli will be at the Heldrich Hotel, 10m Livingston Ave, in New Brunswick at 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 13

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

Monday, Dec. 14
Rio Clemente is helping out at New Hope’s Bowman's Tavern neighborhood outreach foundation fundraiser 6:30 p.m.- 11 p.m.. There’s a suggested minimum donation of $50 ($100 per couple). The tavern is at 1600 River Road. Call 215-862-2972 for more information.

Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 15
Ted Broncado will be at the Hibiscus Restaurant in the Morristown Inn from 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

McCaffrey’s in the Edgewood Shopping Center in Yardley will feature The Tom Adams Jazz Trio at 7:30 p.m.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Dec. 16
Singer-songwriter Patty Cronheim returns to Mediterra 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. tonight. Make your reservations here.

Rio Clemente’s night at Attilios Tavern on Route 46 in Dover will include the Hon. Judge Michael Wright, of Morris County. Starts at 8 p.m. Call 973-328-1100 for reservations or more information.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Vocalist Margie Notte lights up Libretti’s Restaurant, 554 Orange St. in Orange, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Dec. 17
The Jazz Celebration Big Band, featuring Claudia Perry, will jingle your bells, Count Basie-style, at the Temperance House, at 5 S. State. St. in Newtown, Pa., from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 17 during the band’s Holiday Gala. They’ll also play Stan Kenton’s “Christmas Medley,” and more favorites. $10 cover. Call 215-860-9975 to make a reservation.

The “infectious grooves” of the B.D. Lenz Trio will be at Mediterra in Princeton, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Rio Clemente is at the Bernards Inn tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving blessings for jazz fans

The Union County Arts Center will be holding the “J5” summit – something like the “G-20” summit but with more swinging than last year’s stock market.
The Jazz Summit at UCAC will feature five great groups Saturday night -- Emilio Valdes and Cubafunk, Stefon Harris and Blackout, the Lionel Loueke Trio, “50 Years of Giant Steps” with Cedar Walton, and Randy Weston’s “African Rhythms Solo Piano.”
Whew! The concerts start at 6 p.m. and tickets are just $40 …unless you want to help the center’s fundraising and can kick in $100 for a chance to join the pre-performance reception at 4 p.m.

And if that's not enough, look at all the great shows lined up in Central Jersey this week:

Thursday, Nov. 19
Gordon James and Jose Loo return to Scampi’s in Somerville tonight, offering up renditions of jazz standards, R&B favorites and soul classics. There’s no cover charge, but plan on sampling the restaurant’s fine food (they specialize in seafood).

The Eric Mintel Quartet will be at Princeton’s Mediterra, on Hulfish Street, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Vinnie Rome entertains at Limelight, 812 N. Easton Road in Doylestown, this weekend, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. nightly.

John Henry Goldman and his friends are at Looking Glass Studio, 800 Alexander Road in Princeton. Come and listen at 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. The suggested donation of $5 helps defray some of the expenses at the studio. Send John a note if you need more info: johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com, or call 609-610-1655. If Thursday nights aren’t good for you, check out his Saturday night gig.

Rio Clemente is at the Bernards Inn tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 20
The Eric Mintel Quartet will bring its version of “cool jazz” to Crossing Vineyards and Winery, 1853 Wrightstown Road in Washington Crossing, Pa., from 8 to 10 p.m. Nov. 20, the second program in the winery’s new fall offering – “All That Jazz.” The Quartet - Mintel on piano, Nelson Hill on alto and soprano sax and flute, Dave Antonow on electric bass, and Dave Mohn on drums - will perform at the winery. Cost of the evening is $20; wine and cheese will be available for purchase. Tickets may be purchased online at www.crossingvineyards.com or by calling 215-493-6500, ext. 19.

Laura Hull has a gig at Hibiscus Restaurant in the Morristown Inn, playing from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Hibiscus’ Web site says she’s performing with Rio Clemente, but Trumpets Jazz Club is expecting him there. Either way, you’d better get reservations: call 973-350-0200.

Guitarist Dick Gratton will perform at the Chambers Walk Café, 2667 Main St., in Lawrenceville, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Cecil’s Jazz Club in West Orange got Dave Stryker to stop by for shows at 9 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night. Click here to get tickets.

The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30
p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 21
Cliff Adams is the next guest at Trenton’s Jazz Disciples, meeting at 3 p.m. in the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St.

Darla Tarpinian returns to the Hopewell Inn’s Starlight Lounge, with accompaniment by husband Rich (vocals/guitar), Jim May (guitar), Joe Bezek (alto sax) and David Stier (drums).

Karen Rodriguez returns to the Salt Creek Grille, at 1 Rockingham Row, Forrestal Village, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Concerts at the Crossing will present a 35th anniversary celebration of Joni Mitchell's “Court & Spark,” featuring Maura Kennedy, Sloan Wainwright, Kelly Flint, LisaBeth Weber and Maggi Marshall. It begins at 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Church at Washington Crossing, Titusville. Call 609-510-6278 for more information. “Court and Spark” is a great melding of jazz and pop music — Joni Mitchell brought in Jim Hughart, Larry Carlton and Tom Scott, among others, to help.

The John Bianculli Jazz Trio performs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays nights at Makeda Ethiopian Restaurant, 338 George St., New Brunswick.

Sunday, Nov. 22
It’s Jazz Month at the Monmouth County Library's Livingstone Auditorium in Manalapan, and what a month it is! This week, bassist Harvie S brings friends Joe Lovano and James Weidman for a free show at 2 p.m. Promoters promise lots of seating and lots of parking – if this week’s card doesn’t test that, then maybe next week’s will, when Claudio Roditi and his Latin Orchestra come to town. For more information, call 732-431-7220.

Pam Purvis will be at Langosta, 1000 Ocean Ave. in Asbury Park, from noon to 4 p.m., for the brunch offered there.

Jack Wilkins is a fine guitarist, and knew Les Paul well. He’s offering a tribute to the late Mr. Paul from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Shanghai Jazz Club.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

Monday, Nov. 23
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 24
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Nov. 25
Singer-songwriter Patty Cronheim returns to Mediterra 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. tonight.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Vocalist Margie Notte lights up Libretti’s Restaurant, 554 Orange St. in Orange, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Autumn leaves

Thursday, Nov. 12
Vinnie Rome entertains at Limelight, 812 N. Easton Road in Doylestown, this weekend, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. nightly.

John Henry Goldman and friends will be at Looking Glass Studio, 800 Alexander Road in Princeton. Come and listen at 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. The suggested donation of $5 helps defray some of the expenses at the studio. Send John a note if you need more info: johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com, or call 609-610-1655. If Thursday nights aren’t good for you, check out his Saturday night gig.

Rio Clemente is at the Bernards Inn tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 13

Guitarist Dick Gratton will perform at the Chambers Walk Café, 2667 Main St., in Lawrenceville, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Here’s a great idea — go to the Starlight Lounge at the Hopewell Inn tonight and enjoy Lynn Randall at 7 p.m. tonight. Then, tomorrow, pop in the CD every attending will receive and enjoy her singing all over again.

Jane Stuart and Ted Broncado will be at Morristown's Hibiscus Restaurant, performing from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant is in the Morristown Inn, at the intersection of Madison Avenue and South Street.

The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30
p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 14
Trumpeter Curtis Taylor will preach to the choir of Trenton’s Jazz Disciples, at 3 p.m. in the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St.

Laura Hull’s monthly gig at Ponte Vecchio is set for 6:30-9:30 p.m. Nov. 14. She’ll be appearing with Eddie Monteiro (on jazz accordion) and guitarist Vinnie Corrao stepping in after the recent death of Lenny Argese. Ponte Vecchio in the Best Western Murray Hill Inn, at 535 Central Ave., New Providence. Call 908-464-4424 for more information. She returns to Morristown’s Hibiscus Room next week.

The John Bianculli Jazz Trio performs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays nights at Makeda Ethiopian Restaurant, 338 George St., New Brunswick.

Sunday, Nov. 15
The jazz faculty of Princeton University will present “Composing in the Moment: A Concert of Original Works," at 3 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall. Featured performers include Ralph Bowen (tenor and soprano saxophones), Bruce Arnold (guitar), Michael Cochrane (piano), Brian Glassman (acoustic bass), John Arrucci (percussion), and Anthony D.J. Branker (composer). Admission is $15 general public, $5 students — call 609-258-9220 or order online at www.princeton.edu/utickets

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

Monday, Nov. 16
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 17
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Nov. 18
The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Vocalist Margie Notte lights up Libretti’s Restaurant, 554 Orange St. in Orange, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Coming up
The Eric Mintel Quartet will bring its version of “cool jazz” to Crossing Vineyards and Winery, 1853 Wrightstown Road in Washington Crossing, Pa., from 8 to 10 p.m. Nov. 20, the second program in the winery’s new fall offering –“All That Jazz.” The Quartet - Mintel on piano, Nelson Hill on alto and soprano sax and flute, Dave Antonow on electric bass, and Dave Mohn on drums - will perform at the winery. Cost of the evening is $20; wine and cheese will be available for purchase. Tickets may be purchased online at www.crossingvineyards.com or by calling 215-493-6500, ext. 19.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Was it jazz ... or does it matter?

Remember in the '60s when a popular jazz tune would get AM radio airplay, along with The Beatles or Buck Owens? When did you first hear Cannonball Adderley introduce "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," or Wes Montgomery?
I don't know if we'd really call it jazz, but two staples of '60s pop instrumental music were Sergio Mendez' Brasil '66 and Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass. If you loved those sounds, head to McCarter Theater tonight -- Herb Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall (her's was the lead voice in Brasil '66) will be performing. Probably not the same things they played back then, but ...

Thursday, Nov. 5
Herb Alpert and singer Lani Hall will perform at 8 p.m. at McCarter Theater, and at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at Kean University’s Wilkins Theatre.

Vinnie Rome entertains at Limelight, 812 N. Easton Road in Doylestown, this weekend, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. nightly.

John Henry Goldman and his friends have a standing Thursday night at Looking Glass Studio, 800 Alexander Road in Princeton. Come and listen at 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. The suggested donation of $5 helps defray some of the expenses at the studio. Send John a note if you need more info: johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com, or call 609-610-1655. If Thursday nights aren’t good for you, check out his Saturday night gig.

Rio Clemente is at the Bernards Inn tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 6
Laura Hull will be moving into a new post as president of the New Jersey Jazz Society, but first she's got a date at the Herb Eckert Auditorium, 540 Ridge Road, in Monmouth Junction, for 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 6. Admission is just $5 - call 732-329-4000 to reserve a spot.

Rio Clemente will move over to Casa Bella, on Route 46 in Denville, where he’ll perform with vocalist Elena Zabyako. 8:30 p.m. Call 973-627-2003 for further information.

The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30
p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 7
James Stewart is this week’s featured disciple at Trenton’s Jazz Disciples, meeting at 3 p.m. in the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St.

Bassist Lisle Atkinson and pianist Richard Wyands will join Steve Rozek (tenor sax), Mike Ipri (drums) and John Henry Goldman (trumpet) for two special shows 6 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Looking Glass Pond Studio, 800 Alexander, Princeton Junction. For a special Conversations in Jazz. For information and reservations, call 609-610-1655, or e-mail johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com.

Hopewell’s Starlight Room added a couple of extra dates for jazz in November, and will feature Stringzville’s mix of jazz standards with a bit of Gypsy Jazz and Bossa Nova, 7 pm to 9:30 pm. Nov. 7.

James Albis (keyboards and horns), Robert Felsted Jr. (bass and guitars) and Dave Witter (drums) comprise Bad Apples. They’ll be at Princeton’s Small World Coffee at 8:30 p.m.

Rio Clemente’s hands are getting a good workout this weekend – he’s playing tonight with Michael Ester at Vitellas Cucina, 40 Clinton Road, West Caldwell, at 6:30 p.m.

The John Bianculli Jazz Trio performs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays nights at Makeda Ethiopian Restaurant, 338 George St., New Brunswick.

Sunday, Nov. 8
Pam Purvis will be at Van Gogh's Ear, 1017 Stuyvesant Ave., Union, at 8 p.m. Nov. 8. Pam says this is one of her favorite places to play – get out and check it out.

Jerry Topinka headlines today’s Jazz Brunch at the Salt Creek Grille 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

Monday, Nov. 9
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 10
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to
the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Nov. 11
The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Vocalist Margie Notte lights up Libretti’s Restaurant, 554 Orange St. in Orange, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Thursday, Nov. 12

Crooner Vinnie Rome entertains at Limelight, 812 N. Easton Road in Doylestown, this weekend, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. nightly.

John Henry Goldman and friends Thursday nights at
Looking Glass Studio, 800 Alexander Road in Princeton, are going strong. Come and listen at 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. The suggested donation of $5 helps defray some of the expenses at the studio. Send John a note if you need more info: johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com, or call 609-610-1655.

Rio Clemente is at the Bernards Inn tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A time machine discovered ...

I grew up listening to and loving jazz, but it was a mostly long-distance affair.
Jazz lovers in Montana can enjoy thier music, but don't have many opportunities to catch the big name acts of the day. I was able to catch some who are among my favorites -- such as Emily Remler -- but never saw giants like Miles Davis.
But today, co-worker Vic Monaco hipped me to the neatest Web site I've seen in years: Wolfgang's Vault. Holding the archives of decades of live performances on the King Biscuit Flower Hour and other sources, the site has hundreds -- if not thousands -- of live performances in free streaming downloads.
Leaning heavily towards rock and popular music, the site does hold surprises for jazzbos: rememebr Brian Auger's Oblivion Express? Enjoy a Nov. 25, 1975, performance at Winterland.
Didn't catch Weather Report live? Take your choice of the band's Sept. 2, 1973, show at the Lenox Music Inn; the Nov. 29, 1973, show at Cornell University; or a March 2, 1979, gig at the Karl Marx Theater.
For Miles fans, you can choose from seven shows -- but check this out: you can listen to and compare the early show and the late show from two dates in March 1970 at the Fillmore East!
There are also interviews, including a 38-minute George Benson interview from 1979.
Sound quality is ... well, it was the '70s ... certainly professionally made recordings and not boot-legged tapes off somebody's portable tape recorder.
It's almost like being able to go back in time and be there.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No tricks, but lots of treats

This is a great weekend for jazz lovers in Central New Jersey -- lots of venues with great music through the week.

Thursday, Oct. 29

Crooner Vinnie Rome entertains at Limelight, 812 N. Easton Road in Doylestown, this weekend, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. nightly.

John Henry Goldman and friends Thursday nights at
Looking Glass Studio, 800 Alexander Road in Princeton, are going strong. Come and listen at 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. The suggested donation of $5 helps defray some of the expenses at the studio. Send John a note if you need more info: johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com, or call 609-610-1655.

Rio Clemente is at the Bernards Inn tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 30
Dick Gratton returns to Chambers Walk Café in Lawrenceville from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. He’ll be playing original arrangements – it’s sure to be packed so call 609-896-5995 to make your reservations.

Happy hour at Hopewell Valley Vineyards will include the Upper Princeton Swing Collective

Steve Turre takes his quartet and his trombone to Shanghai Jazz for shows tonight and tomorrow night.

The Meg Hanson Group is at Salt Creek Grille in Forrestal Village 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. tonight.

The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The John Bianculli Jazz Trio with Jackie Jones will be at Christopher’s, in the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick, at 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 31
Ronnie Burrage (check out his bio) will be at the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St., Trenton, for this week’s Jazz Disciples meeting at 3 p.m.

The John Bianculli Jazz Trio moves to Steakhouse 85 on Church Street in Metuchen tonight, playing from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 1
You can catch Jerry Topinka at the Salt Creek Grille from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the Jazz Brunch.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

Cecil’s Jazz Club, 364 Valley Road, West Orange, will feature Pam Purvis and Matt Chertkoff at its Jazz Social at 5:30 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 2
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 3
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Nov. 4
BD Lenz will be at Mediterra in Princeton at 8 p.m. If you like what you hear here, be sure to catch him.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Vocalist Margie Notte lights up Libretti’s Restaurant, 554 Orange St. in Orange, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Thursday, Nov. 5
Herb Alpert and singer Lani Hall will perform at 8 p.m. at McCarter Theater, and at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at Kean University’s Wilkins Theatre.

Coming up
Laura Hull will be moving into a new post as president of the New Jersey Jazz Society, but first she's got a date at the Herb Eckert Auditorium, 540 Ridge Road, in
Monmouth Junction, for 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 6. Admission is just $5 - call 732-329-4000 to reserve a spot.

Bassist Lisle Atkinson and pianist Richard Wyands will join Steve Rozek (tenor sax), Mike Ipri (drums) and John Henry Goldman (trumpet) for two special shows 6 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Looking Glass Pond Studio, 800 Alexander, Princeton Junction. For a special Conversations in Jazz. For information and reservations, call 609-610-1655, or e-mail johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com.

Hopewell’s Starlight Room added a couple of extra dates for jazz in November, and will feature Stringzville’s mix of jazz standards with a bit of Gypsy Jazz and Bossa Nova, 7 pm to 9:30 pm. Nov. 7.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jazz for a cause -- or just because

More Jersey jazzbos are back at work this week, with gigs galore to enjoy.
Thursday, Oct. 22
Celebrate big band music – get out to the Temperance House, at 5 S. State St. in Newtown, Pa., and enjoy the 17-piece Jazz Celebration Big Band, playing from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. It’s always a good idea to call ahead for reservations at the Temperance House – 215-860-9975.

If you’ve got an appetite for Latin jazz, catch Karen Rodriguez at the Salt Creek Grille in Forrestal Village tonight and Saturday night, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Vinnie Rome entertains at Limelight, 812 N. Easton Road in Doylestown, this weekend, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. nightly.

John Henry Goldman and his friends have a standing Thursday night at Looking Glass Studio, 800 Alexander Road in Princeton. Come and listen at 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. The suggested donation of $5 helps defray some of the expenses at the studio. Send John a note if you need more info: johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com, or call 609-610-1655. If Thursday nights aren’t good for you, check out his Saturday night gig.

Rio Clemente is at the Bernards
Inn tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 23
Brian Pastor takes his big band to Philadelphia’s Devon Theater for a show at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 ...

Catch some funked-up jazz and swing by The Franklin-Alison Jazz Combo at the BT Bistro, 3499 Route 1 S., West Windsor, at 7 p.m., 609-919-9403
Jazz, blue, swing, and funk.

Eric Mintel will be at the Salt Creek Grille in Forrestal Village tonight. 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The John Bianculli Trio with Jackie Jones moves to Christopher's in the Heldrich Hotel, 10 Livingston Ave. in New Brunswick, for a show at 8:30 p.m.

Jerry Vivino, of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, will be “Walking with the Wazmo” tonight at Shanghai Jazz. Check here for times and seatings.
The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30
p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 24
Joe Ford is this week’s featured disciple at Trenton’s Jazz Disciples, meeting at 3 p.m. in the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St.

Pam Purvis will participate in a fundraising concert from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Stanley Congregational Church in Chatham’s Cornerstone Café. She’ll be working with organist Pat Bianchi (you could call him an understudy of Joey DeFrancesco) and drummer Noel Sagerman. Proceeds from the $15 tickets will be donated to area charities. The church is at 94 Pairmount Ave.

The John Bianculli Jazz Trio performs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays nights at Makeda Ethiopian Restaurant, 338 George St., New Brunswick.

Saxman Tom Tallitsch returns to Small World Coffee in Princeton at 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 25
Jerry Topinka headlines today’s Jazz Brunch at the Salt Creek Grille 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Pam Purvis has a standing gig at Cecil’s Jazz Party from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Sunday. She’ll be alongside Bob Ackerman and Matt Chertkoff.
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

Monday, Oct. 26
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 27
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to
the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Oct. 28
The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Vocalist Margie Notte lights up
Libretti’s Restaurant, 554 Orange St. in Orange, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Who's setting the mood?

One of the most salient features of the best music is its ability to stike a mood, to capture a sound that reflects its time. Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" encapsulates the late 1950s cool and sets such a definitive mood, just as John Coltrane's Impulse! releases hit the mark for the 60s. Can you hear George Benson's "Breezin'" without being transported to the late 1970s?
While there's a lot of terrific music recorded today, one has to wonder if anyone is really, really nailing the sounds that will become associated with this decade in such a way.
That's the first step towards becoming a classic ...
While I don't know if they've hit the right mood yet, several new releases have powerful moods that strike me as being potential classics -- though only time will tell.
Stefon Harris and Blackout's outstanding "Urbanus" has such an amazing range of sounds that I think it may be among the most memorable for a long time. Blackout's phenomenal rhythm section -- Ben Williams and Terreon Gully -- keep a groove going that is subtle but brilliant. If you can get your ears off the melodies and solos, you'll find a rich tapestry in the background.
But that's a big "if" -- Harris has combined and balanced a potent mix of the familiar and not-familiar. Several tracks lay a Vocoder-synthesized melody over the rhythm section, with Harris and others soloing, an effect that was entrancing. Sounding at once unhuman yet warm, it's a delicious treat -- especially on Stevie Wonder's "They Won't Go."
Madeleine Peyreaux's new "Bare Bones" captures a unique mood. It's a mystical brew made with blues-based stock, with all sorts of funky flavors added. The opening track -- "Instead" -- opens with a spot-on imitation of George Harrison's slinky guitar playing (that is, the sounds he favored later, not while with the Beatles). then adds Peyreaux's melancholy and smoky voice.
It's a powerful dose which may not suit everyone, but much of it was entrancing.
Check them out and let me know what you think -- what captures your ears, or sets a mood for you?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cold winds and hot trumpeters blowing

What's October without a change of seasons? Central Jersey always has lots of hot jazz, thanks to our local musicians and venues.

Friday, Oct. 16
Jim Popik brings his Black Diamond Jazz group to the Looking Glass Pond Studio on Alexander Road in Princeton, tonight at 8 p.m.

The Eric Mintel Jazz Quartet will entertain the Arts Council of Princeton at the Robeson Center, 102 Witherspoon St., at 8 p.m. Oct. 16. Mintel promises to feature Dave Brubeck’s music. Tickets are $15 – go to www.artscouncilofprinceotn.org or call 609-924-8777.

The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 17
Darla Rich and her Quintet return to the Hopewell Inn for shows at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 17.

Laura Hull will be at Ponte Vecchio at Murray Hill Inn, New Providence, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 17. She joins Rio Clemente at the Mahwah Library, 100 Ridge Road, at 2 p.m. Sunday. Call 201-529-2183 for information, or check the Web site http://mahwah.bccis.org

NYC-based guitarist Sten Hostfalt will be at Garwood's Crossroads, 78 North Ave., tonight at 10 p.m. Don't know him? Read his bio here

Trumpeter Jean Caze will brave our cold weekend to join Trenton's Jazz Disciples 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St.

The Princeton University Concert Jazz Ensemble will present "The Voice of the Jazz Composer: The Music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn" at 8 p.m. Oct. 17 in the Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall on campus. Admission is $15 general public, $5 students. Call 609-258-9220 or order online at www.princeton.edu/utickets

The John Bianculli Jazz Trio performs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays nights at Makeda Ethiopian Restaurant, 338 George St., New Brunswick.

Sunday, Oct. 18
The Princeton University Jazz Vespers Ensemble will perform in University Chapel at 11 a.m Oct. 18. Free admission.

Laura Hull and Rio Clemente will warm the rooms at the Mahwah Library, 100 Ridge Road, at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Jerry Rife and the Rhythm Kings will perform at Princeton’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 50 Cherry Hill Road, at 3 p.m. Oct. 18. Tickets are $15 at the door.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

Monday, Oct. 19
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 20
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Oct. 21
The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Vocalist Margie Notte lights up Libretti’s Restaurant, 554 Orange St. in Orange, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Thursday, Oct. 22
John Henry Goldman and his friends have a standing Thursday night at Looking Glass Studio, 800 Alexander Road in Princeton. Come and listen at 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. The suggested donation of $5 helps defray some of the expenses at the studio. Send John a note if you need more info: johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com, or call 609-610-1655. If Thursday nights aren’t good for you, check out his Saturday night gig.

Rio Clemente is at the Bernards Inn tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Morristown’s Hibiscus tomorrow night.



Thursday, October 8, 2009

So much jazz, so little time

We are blessed in this area with abundant opportunities to hear fine music -- including lots of terrific local jazz musicians.

Thursday, Oct. 8
John Henry Goldman and his friends have a standing Thursday night at 800 Alexander Road in Princeton Junction. Come and listen at 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. The suggested donation of $5 helps defray some of the expenses at the studio. Send John a note if you need more info: johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com, or call 609-610-1655. If Thursday nights aren’t good for you, check out his Saturday night gig.

Rio Clemente is at the Bernards Inn tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 9
The JP3 -- Hopewell resident Jim Popik (guitar), Mark Amentt on bass, and Andy Janowiak on drums – will play swing, bebop, blues and modern jazz at the Trenton Marriott 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 9.

Laura Hull wrote to say she'll be joined by Eddie Monteiro and guitarist Lenny Argese at this week's Jazz Nights at the Hibiscus 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 9 -- thanks, Laura! The Hibiscus is in the Best Western Morristown Inn, 270 South St., Morristown.

Matt Richards, Bill Zola and Adrian Valosin are booked for the Taste of Woodbridge event at 6 p.m. today in the Woodbridge Community Center, before heading to the Witherspoon Grill in Princeton on Sunday.

The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 10
Guitarist Dick Gratton will be busy this weekend at the Allentown, N.J., Fall Harvest festival. He’s on stage at 3:30 p.m. both days, Saturday at the Methodist Church on Church Street; Sunday on Main Street.

Fingerstyle wiz Tim Thompson is this week’s Jazz Disciple featured at 2 p.m. in the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St. in Trenton.

The John Bianculli Jazz Trio performs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays nights at Makeda Ethiopian Restaurant, 338 George St., New Brunswick.

Sunday, Oct. 11
Pam Purvis sings at Langosta, 1000 Ocean Ave. Asbury Park, on Oct. 11.

Guitarist Matt Richards will be at the Witherspoon Grill at 2:30 Sunday for a fundraising event.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

Monday, Oct. 12
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 13
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Oct. 14
The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.
Vocalist Margie Notte lights up Libretti’s Restaurant, 554 Orange St. in Orange, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October is for cool jazzy nights

Thursday, Oct. 1Make your way to the Glen Rock Inn, 222 Rock Road, Glen Rock, by 7 p.m. tonight to catch Jack Wilkens and Howard Alden. They’re always a great duo.

John Henry Goldman and his friends have a standing Thursday night at 800 Alexander Road in Princeton Junction. Come and listen at 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. The suggested donation of $5 helps defray some of the expenses at the studio. Send John a note if you need more info: johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com, or call 609-610-1655. If Thursday nights aren’t good for you, check out his Saturday night gig.

Princeton University’s University Jazz Program Small Group, Anthony D.J. Branker, director will perform at 11:30 p.m. in Café Vivian in the Frist Campus Center. It’s free ...if you're still up.

Rio Clemente is at the Bernards Inn tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Morristown’s Hibiscus tomorrow night.

Friday, Oct. 2
The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 3
Randy Sutin meets the Jazz Disciples at 2 p.m. in the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St. in Trenton.

The StraightJazz Quintet -- Steve Rozek on tenor sax, Mike Ipri on drums, Doug Miller on piano, Tom McMillan on bass and John Henry Goldman on trumpet – will be at 800 Alexander Road, Princeton. Two shows – 6:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. – will feature jazz standards, such as “Willow Weep for Me,” “My Favorite Things,” “Lullaby Of Birdland,” and music by great 20th century composers Oscar Hammerstein II, George Shearing, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery, Bird and Monk.

The Robert Ross Band will headline a special show at 7:30 p.m. at the Somerset County Vocational and Technical School Performing Arts Theatre, 14 Vogt Dr. in Bridgewater. Call 908-237-1238 to reserve tickets ($15-$20 in advance; more at the door).

The John Bianculli Jazz Trio performs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays nights at Makeda Ethiopian Restaurant, 338 George St., New Brunswick.

Sunday, Oct. 4
Ever wanted to hear how musicians like Mulgrew Miller and Gary Bartz approach a standard? Here’s a chance: they’ll be at William Paterson University, ready to talk at 3 p.m. They’ll play at 4 p.m. Talk is cheap – free, actually, but the performance comes at a price ($15; $12 for seniors and $8 for students). The gig is part of the New Jersey Jazz Society’s College Jazz Performance Series.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

Monday, Oct. 5
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 6
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Oct. 7
The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.
Vocalist Margie Notte lights up Libretti’s Restaurant, 554 Orange St. in Orange, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Coming up:
The JP3 -- Hopewell resident Jim Popik (guitar), Mark Amentt on bass, and Andy Janowiak on drums – will play swing, bebop, blues and modern jazz at the Trenton Marriott 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 9.

Laura Hull will be the featured guest for Jazz Nights at the Hibiscus 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 9. The Hibiscus is in the Best Western Morristown Inn, 270 South St., Morristown.

Pam Purvis sings at Langosta, 1000 Ocean Ave. Asbury Park, on Oct. 11.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New sounds from new crowds

National Public Radio's jazz blog, ABlogSupreme, posted an article yesterday with seven jazz bloggers under the age of 24 comments on who they like. The NPR blog (read it here ) includes the bloggers commentary on five recent releases: Brad Meldau's "When It Rains" from the CD Largo, Christian Scott's "Litany Against Fear" from his release Anthem, saxman Andrew D'Angelo's composition "Fam Hana" on the Skadra Degis CD, "Hat Trick" on the Soulive release Up Here, and Tigran Hamasyan and Aratta Rebirth recording of "Sibylla" on the CD Red Hail.
First, let's take a moment to note how refreshing it is have someone throwing out their new favorites -- I'm hearing so much truly terrific music, much of it very innovative and original but I don't think I trust my ears enough anymore to really say something sounds new.
I've learned there are key reference points I listen for, and consequently, it sort of pegs my music. In the list above, I didn't hear many of those points in "Fam Hana" or "Litany Against Fear," but Brad Meldau oftens hits them and I liked Soulive right away.
Were I to continue my list of new faves, I suspect it would become progressively easier to pin me down as a jazz fan originating in the late-70s.
I don't want to be pinned down in this way, but I just can't seem to fall in love with a composition that doesn't have certain beats, some dissonance (but not too much!), and somewhere, a strong melody ... you know, something Wayne Shorter-ish ...
Still, I fear my tastes are still firmly rooted in the jazz forms and harmonies that were generated in the late 1950s. Those sounds may have culminated in Weather Report or Return to Forever, but at the risk of being a traitor to my generation, I want to hear today's Jaco ... I'm not tired of the first, it's just that I want to hear something more ... and I don't even know what it is.
So it's great to hear suggestions from a younger generation, operating with fresher ears, that also appeal to me. I'll listen to these bands and performers more, and perhaps after a few more listens come to different conclusions ... maybe I'll hear my next Miles or Jaco in there.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pianist Helio Alves is making his mark

Here's a name to remember: Helio Alves.
I've come across his name on two recent releases, and noted his skillful playing on both. Alves, a pianist, hails from Brazil but has been making a career in the U.S. since attending Berklee in 1984. While he's turning up now as an in-demand sideman on jazz dates, he's also able to play it straight -- he was the pianist on Yo-Yo Ma's Garmmy Award-winning "Obrigato Brazil" album in 2003.
Alves gives bassist Gabriel Espinosa's "From Yucatan to Rio" CD lively keyboards to work with. The release is a nice collection of light Brazilian sounds, some with a neo-Sergio Mendes flavor.
Alves also backs up the great Louis Hayes on Hayes' new "The Time Keeper." His playing varies nicely on the releases, which includes some nice straight-ahead boppers and sweet ballads (the release also features compositions by saxophonist Abraham Burton, who is also worth keeping an eye on).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Start the weekend off with jazz

We've got another great weekend for jazz lovers, due in no small part to the New Jersey Blues and Jazz Festival, which kicks off tonight (Thursday) at the State Theater in New Brunswick. Tonight's focus is on the blues part of the event, with Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers; tomorrow night it's Marcia Ball. But Saturday night's finale features the Yellowjackets.

Thursday, Sept. 24
Gordon James hooks up with singer Lauren Hooker for a performance date tonight at Scampi’s Restaurant, 198 West Main St., Somerville. There’s no cover, no minimum … why not stop by for a drink?
John Henry Goldman and his friends have a standing Thursday night at 800 Alexander Road in Princeton Junction. Come and listen at 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. The suggested donation of $5 helps defray some of the expenses at the studio. Send John a note if you need more info: johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com, or call 609-610-1655.

Friday, Sept. 25
The Franklin-Alison Jazz Combo will perform at BT Bistro on Route 1 in West Windsor.
The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 26
The Jazz Disciples will feature Bob Devos at 2 p.m. in the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St. in Trenton.

Sunday, Sept. 27
WWFM Radio is celebrating the anniversary of the station’s return to broadcasting jazz with a special event, Jazz On 2 at Katmandu, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Katmandu in Trenton. Scheduled performers includeJoe Cataldo, Tom Tallitsch, Gail Dixon, Buzz Herman and Doris Spears, Jerry Rife's Rhythm Kings, vocalist Miche Braden, Joe Zook and Blues Deluxe, and, from the campus of Mercer County Community College, Zingu. There’s no charge to come and listen, but Katmandu is planning some special brunch and New Orleans-themed menu items.
John Nobile's SummerSwing Orchestra will be performing at 1 p.m. with the First Marine Corps Band at the Raritan Township's band shell located on Old York Road in Raritan for the town’s celebration of hometown hero John Basilone.
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

Monday, Sept. 28
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 29
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.
Shanghai Jazz in Madison will have John, Martin and Bucky Pizzarelli – with Tony Tedesco — tonight and Wednesday. One of my favorite records to play on my college radio station was a Bucky and John album … now John’s leading …

Wednesday, Sept. 30
The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Thursday, October 1
Princeton University’s University Jazz Program Small Group, Anthony D.J. Branker, director will perform at 11:30 p.m. in Café Vivian in the Frist Campus Center. It’s free.
Rio Clemente’s fans at the Bernards Inn will be glad to know he’ll be back tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wynton Marsalis steps in

Saturday, Wynton Marsalis stepped up to join in with a high school band at the Vacaville, Ca., Jazz Festival. Read about it -- and catch some videos here.
Whether you're a Marsalis fan or a hater -- and there appears to be plenty of both -- you've got to give it up to a guy who takes every opportunity to teach. I first learned of this aspect of Marsalis' nature in the mid-1980s, when he was playing a concert in Billings, Mont. Hours befoe the gig, he stopped in at a local jazz club after calling area high schools to let the kids know he and his band would be there if anyone wanted to join him.
Aspiring to a career as a jazz musician can be a lonely undertaking -- doubly hard in land filled with cowboy honky tonks and redneck music. Can you imagine how inspiring it must have been for some of those kids to have a chance to sit in with such a band?
In the book he co-authored with Carl Vigeland, "Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues" (Da Capo Press, 2002), Marsalis time and time again shows his willingness to do more to help spread his love of jazz.
I've enjoyed much of Marsalis' work -- but not everything. And that's one of the things I like about him: he's not afraid to change or to try something new.
If we have a modern ambassador for jazz -- a Duke Ellington or Dizzie -- it's got to be Wynton Marsalis.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Can jazz be saved? Can anything?

There's been a lot of ink spilled in response to a column by Terry Teachout in an early August issue of the Wall Steet Journal titled "Can jazz be saved?"
Teachout's column reviewed statistics collected in a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, measuring participation in various cultural events and activities. I haven't read the entire column, but one summary notes Teachout reported on the decline in stated attendance at jazz concerts, and the increase in average age of said attendees.
Here's a graf in the NEA's summary of the survey's findings, which show it ain't just jazz that's in dire straits: "Between 1982 and 2008, attendance at performing arts such as classical music, jazz, opera, ballet, musical theater, and dramatic plays has seen double-digit rates of decline."
I don't know how the survey was conducted, but my question is how was or is a jazz concert defined? Sure, it's easy if it's a Pat Metheny or Dave Brubeck show, but did they reach the fans of Modeski, Martin and Wood, or Charlie Hunter? Moving even further from mainstream jazz, we find the definitions getting even more blurred - if yo define jazz as music incorporating improvisation, syncopated or swing rhythms and advanced harmony, then doesn't the Dave Matthews Band fall under the jazz heading?
There are dozens more examples, but the point is jazz is so broadly interwoven in modern music that it's hard to see where the lines of distinction may be.
So let's parse it further: the question is can mainstream jazz or be-bop be saved?
If "saved" means maintain sales quotas, or draw crowds of certain sizes, then no, it most likely can't. Outside of the growing list of has-been singers getting a quick sales bump by doing a collection of songs from the cliche-ridden Great American Songbook (Willie Nelson? Really?), mainstream jazz releases are not goign to ignite Billboard charts.
But there's a lot of excellent, exciting and innovative jazz that's doing very well, thank you very much. And if we really open our ears, we'll find jazz living and thriving under many rocks ... including rock.
So, save your worries for Bach and Beethoven, and add Brubeck if you want. I think art will survive because it is fine art.

But don't write off jazz yet -- like an adaptable virus, jazz has a way of permeating all kinds of hosts. Many people have been infected and don't even know it ...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Schedule your jazz

Thursday, Sept. 17

John Henry Goldman and his friends have a standing Thursday night at 800 Alexander Road in Princeton Junction. Come and listen at 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. The suggested donation of $5 helps defray some of the expenses at the studio. Send John a note if you need more info: johnhenrygoldman@straightjazz.com, or call 609-610-1655.

Gordon James hoped to be at Scampi’s Restaurant in Somerville tonight, but someone misread their calendar and double-booked the room. So, plan on catching him next Thursday with singer Lauren Hooker.

The Jazz Celebration Big Band is back at the Temperance House in Newtown, Pa., from 8 - 10 p.m. They offer classic big band jazz, which you can enjoy with great food and drink. Reservations are recommended: call 215-860-9975 to book yours.

Trumpeter Ted Curson hosts Trumpets Jazz Club’s Thursday night jam session, if you’re looking to get out of your woodshed. For more information, click here.

Friday, Sept. 18

Rio Clemente will be at Casa Bella Restaurant, 304 Route 46 in Denville, with vocalist Elena Zabyako 8 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Call 973-627-2003 for information.

The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 19

Andrew Beal visits this week’s meeting of the Jazz Disciples, 2 p.m. at Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St. in Trenton.

Darla and Rich Tarpinian return to the Starlight Room at Hopewell Valley Inn, 15 E. Broad St. in Hopewell. Hear them from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 20

John Nobile's Summerswing Orchestra will be appearing at Rhythms in the Night, 729 S. Main St. in Manville, 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There’s a $10 cover charge, and it’s bets to call ahead for reservations (908-707-8757).

The Salt Creek Grille in Forrestal Village jazz brunch with live music runs from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

Monday, Aug. 21
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 22

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Aug. 23

The New Jersey Jazz Society film series continues with "Jazz on a Summer's Day," a documentary of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival featuring performances by Anita O'Day, Mahalia Jackson, Thelonious Monk and Louis Armstrong. The show will be presented at the Library of the Chathams, 214 Main St. in Chatham Boro, starting at 7 p.m. There is no admission charge, and the programs are open to the general public.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 24

Grover’s Mill Coffeehouse, 295 Route 571 (West Windsor-Hightstown Road), hosts jazz by Straight on Red at 7:30 p.m.

Don't forget Gordon James and Lauren Hooker at Scampi's ...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jimmy Heath ... still bopping at 83

From Jimmy heath at Somerville Jazz Festival, Sept. 13, 2009
Didn't have a chance to get to Saturday's drizzled JazzFeast in Princeton, but Sunday's inaugural Somerville Jazz Festival was great. Gretchen Parlato gave a solid setting, capping her performance with a Stevie Wonder tune which gave her accompanists a chance to stretch out a bit.
After an introduction by Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher, Jimmy Heath capped the festival with some spot-on playing. He moved easily between Calypso and post-bop rhythms, and danced and smiled for the audience while his band took solo turns.
Before playing, Heath admitted he was entering his sixth decade on jazz circuits but you may not have known that from his playing. He's slowed a bit for sure, but his tone was full and his lines were lively and melodic.
There may not words like "retirement" in jazz musicians' vocabularies, but when one can still play and have as much fun doing it as Jimmy Heath seemed to be having Sunday ... why would you?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Feast on this

After two weeks out of state, it's great to be back in time for a weekend of jazz. We've not only got a full slate of great jazz performances in the clubs (and the South Brunswick Library), but two open air festivals, the Princeton Jazz Feast Saturday and Sunday's Somerville Jazz Festival.
There are great acts to see at both: Roomful of Blues and the Marlene Verplanck Group are in Princeton, with Alan Dale and the New Legacy Jazz Band and the Smith Street Society. The Feast runs from noon to 6 p.m.
Sunday's Somerville event is going to be just as great: Jimmy Heath gets top billing, but the event also features The Gretchen Parlato Band, Harry Allen Quartet and Sherman Irby’s “Organomics.” It's been produced by WBGO's Sheila Anderson. The festival runs from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the lawn of the Historic Somerset Courthouse -- for more, check www.FindSomerville.com.

Thursday, Sept. 10
Rio Clemente will be at Mullberries Bar and Grille, with Mr. Muzzy and his Melliferous Tones … 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mulberries is at 158 Market St., Elmwood Park. Call the bar at 201-475-5700 for further information. Rio will be at Armando's Italian Restaurant, 144 Main St. in Ft. Lee, with bassist Jerry Bruno from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Trumpeter Ted Curson hosts Trumpets Jazz Club’s Thursday night jam session, if you’re looking to get out of your woodshed. For more information, click here.

Friday, Sept. 11
The Sixth Street Quaternion will close out Crossing Vineyards’ Summer under the Starts Music series at 7 p.m. It’s $10 to go, or $25 with the food buffet. Make your reservations here. They’ll be playing selections from their new new CD “Summer Nights” – which includes the track “Wine Me, Dine Me.” Almost sounds as if written for the date, doesn’t it?

The Marriott in Trenton, 1 West Lafayette, will have live jazz from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 12

The Jazz Disciples program at the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St. in Trenton features local hero Richie Cole. The program starts at 2 p.m. – go and get yourself some alto madness…

The South Brunswick Library won’t be quiet at 7 p.m. tonight, when the Andy Rothstein Band performs. The library describes guitarist Andy Rothstein as melding Stevie Ray Vaughn, Pat Martino and “The
Edge” from U2. With him will be Chris Bacas on saxophone, Steve Jankowski on trumpet, Tony Senatore on bass, and Luther Rix on drums.

Sunday, Sept. 13
Laura Hull headlines at Shanghai Jazz tonight, with Tomoko Ohno on piano. Call 973-822-2899 to get your tickets. Learn more about Laura at www.LauraHull.com

The Salt Creek Grille in Forrestal Village jazz brunch with live music runs from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park is a great place to meet musicians – or join the band. They play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

The New Jersey Jazz Society member social scheduled for 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Shanghai Jazz Club will feature the Baby Soda Jazz Band with Ed Polcer, who will talk about the pleasure of working with the young lions of jazz and offer some thoughts of what it's like to work with a seasoned and accomplished player. According to the NJJS Web site, “Baby Soda is on the cutting edge of a new movement loosely known as street jazz; with an eclectic set of influences ranging from New Orleans brass bands, jug music, southern gospel and hot jazz. The ensemble doesn't desire to recreate the past, rather they bring the concept and joy of the music to the present.” You don’t have to be a member to go – but it helps – find out more at www.njjs.org.

Monday, Aug. 24
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 25
The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, Aug. 26
The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The good, the bad and the monotone

Recently, I listened to two new independent releases, one which really struck me as being a quality musical project. The other, not so much.
In fairness, it's clear Recording X, as we'll call the weaker of the two, was made on a lower budget, by jazz musicians really just starting out, whereas Recording A was made by an experienced, if relatively unknown player.
When I realized I can't listen to Recording X without getting droopy, I began to try and pin down what was missing. The combo features a piano and saxophone, both of whom are clearly competent performers -- they know their changes; they have good timing; and, for the sax player, good intonation.
What's wrong?
It really didn't hit me until I went back to Recording A -- at first I thought, sure the recording is sharper and clearer, but is that part of the problem? Two things stood out -- and it seems listeners and musicians should pay more attention to these two things than many do: Recording X was very compressed in the recording process, and the musicians weren't paying attention to their phrasing as much as they should have.
The first problem may have crept in in post-production, but the lead instrument was always too much louder than the others. When the sax soloed, the piano was buried in the mix, killing the dynamics of the music.
Without the dynamics, the recording feels lifeless and causes drowsiness ... not to be listened to while operating heavy equipment.
Furthermore, the solos on Recording X tended to have long, scalar runs ... continuously. It got exhausting -- causing further drowsiness.
Recording A is a debut recording from a long-time professional. He certainly has had opportunities to record before, I'm sure, but waited until he knew what he wanted to do.
When he soloed, he played with terrific dynamics -- articulating individual notes in a run or arpeggio; he employed slides, honks and other "gimmicks" comfortably and without drawing too much attention to them.
This made the recording more enjoyable and easy to listen to -- and frankly, a much, much better jazz CD, even without the higher-quality recording.
I won't mention who made Recording X -- I hope the group can listen to their work and continue to develop their skills -- but Recording A is Scotty Barnhart's "Say It Plain." Go to www.scottybarnhart.com to hear a sample from the release -- "a brilliant reworking of "Giant Steps." It's traditional but innovative, features terrific soloing, and is representative of why this release is likely to be one of the year's top jazz recordings.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Big night for a big band

Thursday, May 28

The 17-piece Jazz Celebration Big Band, featuring vocalist Claudia Perry, will be at Poco's Comedy Cabaret (2nd floor), 625 North Main Street in Doylestown from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. tonight. They’re hoping to impress club owners on the viability of jazz bands – try to get over and back them up. There’s a $10 cover charge. You can learn more about Cluadia Perry here.

Trumpeter Gordon James and Henry Loo on piano will be appearing at Scampi’s at 198 West Main Street, Somerville, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. every Thursday, beginning tonight. They’ll perform some R&B, pop standards and jazz – something for everyone with shrimp on the side!

Pianist Rio Clemente will be at the Bernards Inn on Route 202 in Bernardsville, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, May 29
Guitarist Dick Gratton will be at the Chambers Walk Cafe on Main Street in Lawrenceville, with sets at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The Trenton Marriott at 1 West Lafayette, always features live jazz music from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. No cover.

Steakhouse 85 (http://www.steakhouse85.com/aboutus.html), 85 Church St., New Brunswick, has live jazz music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Saturday, May 30
Clifford Adams will be at the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St., Trenton, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The date is part of the series organized by the Trenton Jazz Disciples.

Dick Gratton will be at Bordentown’s Farnsworth House from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Steakhouse 85 (http://www.steakhouse85.com/aboutus.html), 85 Church St., New Brunswick, has live jazz music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Trumpeter Claudio Roditi and his quartet will be at Trumpets Jazz in Montclair – I’ve hearing a lot of this guy lately and he’s worth the trip.

Sunday, May 31
Salt Creek Grille in Forrestal Village has a jazz brunch, with live music, starting this weekend. The brunch is offered from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Dick Gratton will be back at it at Hightstown's Sunday Jazz Brunch at Bistro Soleil, 173 Mercer St. Sets at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium hosts a jam session from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park.

Monday, June 1
Jim Jasion and His Jazz (the Somerset Jazz Consortium Horn Squad) will be at Home Town Buffet, 561 US Highway 1, Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, June 2
Steakhouse 85 (http://www.steakhouse85.com/aboutus.html), 85 Church St., New Brunswick, has live jazz music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium jam session lead by Jim Jasion has moved to the Subterranean Recording Studios in Edison. Call Jim if you’re interested in joining -- 732-325-7464.

Wednesday, June 3

The Somerset Jazz Consortium Second Generation Band will be at Home Town Buffet on Route 1 in Edison, beginning at 6 p.m.

Thursday, June 4

Pianist Rio Clemente will be at the Bernards Inn on Route 202 in Bernardsville, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Look below for Rio’s weekend plans.

Later

Drew University will host the Sanofi-aventis Jazzfest 2009 June 5 – 6 at the Madison campus. Among the acts appearing will be the Allan Vache Benny Goodman Tribute Big Band, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, the Brazilian jazz of Trio da Paz and the bop sounds of tenor star Houston Person Quartet throughout the afternoon. The Rio Clemente Trio and vocalist Laura Hull will perform June 6, along with jazz singer Curtis Stigers, Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra. The festival begins with a free concert at 7 p.m. Friday and then noon to 10 p.m. June 6.

Tickets are only $50 in advance, but will be $65 at the gate on June 6. For more information, advance sale discount tickets and hotel reservations log onto www.njjs.org or call 800-303-6557. Students are $10 at the gate and kids 16 and under are free. Drew University is on Route 124 in Madison and parking is free.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

We moved!

The Augmented Ear blog has been moved to a new server -- you can find it here:
http://packetinsider.com/blog/augmentedear

Monday, May 11, 2009

More on big bands ...

As I noted in my last blog, big bands are hard to sustain these days, but that doesn't mean you won't find some outside of your closest high school or college.
In fact, there are several bands trying to make a go of it in our neighborhood -- you can help by getting out and supporting local musicians.
The 17-piece Jazz Celebration Big Band, fronted by Paul Morris and featuring vocalist Claudia Perry (his wife), has been working hard on making big band music available for local fans. The band will be at Poco's Comedy Cabaret at 625 N. Main, Doylestown, at 8 p.m. May 28, where they're looking to prove area fans will support their music. The cover is low ($10), so make a note to show up.
John Nobile's Hunterdon County-based SummerSwing Orchestra can often be found playing in Somerville and Manville. The band has performed at The Rhythms of the Night nighclub in Manville several times this year -- and will be back June 28, and ie a regular at the Indigo Ballroom in Somerville -- catch the orchetsra there on May 23.
You can also enjoy the SummerSwing Orchestra June 5 in Somerville on the lawn of the historic courthouse.
Big bands are labors of love, requiring hours of practice and dedication by the musicians. There's some powerful medicine in the power and beauty a larger group of musicians can summon -- check it out and you'll see for yourself.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Diggin' the big bands

As much as I like the classic small combos of Miles Davis or Art Blakey, big bands can really get me excited. I haven't played in a large band setting since college, but being part of such a big, noisy machine is a powerful experience.
Big bands are pretty rare these days, the costs of maintaining them is just too high. But there are a few -- Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band is one.
Most of the time, you'll find special one or two-date bands assembled and recorded. Gerald Wilson never fails to deliver great music this way.
Recently, I've been listening to some re-issued big bands that I'm really enjoying --- I'm not talking about Basie or Ellington, although they were terrific.
No - we're moving into more modern territory. Compositionally.
For example, remember Jaco Pastorius' Word of Mouth Big Band? They recorded a couple of fantastic releases. Some of the tracks are like Weather Report -- but with less Joe Zawinul and more horns ... and Jaco bouncing along underneath.
In 2003, trumpeter Randy Brecker led a big band, with brother Michael, recorded a German date released as "Some Skunk Funk" that shows how wonderfully talented the Brecker Brothers were. If their earlier fusion scared you -- don't be put off: this is a marvelous fast-paced, big band outing.
Speaking of fusion: I recently listened to Frank Zappa's "Grand Wazoo," which has all of his trademarks. That is to say, you'll find lots of wooden marimba sounds, bells, incredible harmonies and quirky rhythms that made Zappa Zappa. I know Zappa viewed the Grand Wazoo as a big band for his compositional ideas, but I'm not certain it's got quite enough to really be a big band ... maybe like a nonet, with guitar, bass, synthesizer, drums, tenor and baritone saxes, and always a few other, unexpected surprises. If you haven't listened to The Grand Wazoo, check out "Blessed Relief" or "Eat that Question."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

May showers bring jazz by the hours ...

Your Augmented Ear calendar for the week ...

Thursday, May 7

Pianist Rio Clemente will be at the Bernards Inn on Route 202 in Bernardsville, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The Princeton University Sinfonia will conclude its 2008—2009 season at 8 p.m. May 7 with the premiere of Princeton-area composer Laurie Altman’s jazz-influenced work In Another Time, as well as several orchestra favorites. The orchestra, conducted by Ruth Ochs, will be joined by Fuma Sacra, a professional vocal ensemble directed by Andrew Megill, guitarist Nate Radley, and the Princeton University Concert Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Anthony D.J. Branker. In Another Time was commissioned and supported by the Lewis Center for the Arts, the Princeton University Jazz Program, and the Princeton University Music Department. Tickets for the concert are $5 and seating is general admission. For tickets call 609-258-9220 or order online at www.princeton.edu/utickets.

The Cornelia Street Café at 29 Cornelia St. in New York has a special ECM release event at 8:30 p.m. featuring Theo Bleckmann and the Ben Monder Duo and Cyminology. I had the pleasure of interviewing Cymin Samawatie of Cyminology for AllAboutJazz.com, as well as enjoy the band’s new ECM release “As Ney.” There’s a beautiful and compelling blend of harmonies in the compositions, which are spellbinding with Ms. Samawatie’s Farsi-language poetry. I’m hoping this band catches on – they’re talented and skilled, with an original sound.

Friday, May 8

Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair has the Houston Person Quartet tonight and tomorrow night. There’s a $20 cover and $12 minimum. Get details at www.trumpetsjazz.com.

Guitarist Dick Gratton will be at the Chambers Walk Cafe on main Street in Lawrenceville, with sets at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The Trenton Marriott at 1 West Lafayette, always features live jazz music from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. No cover.

Steakhouse 85 , 85 Church St., New Brunswick, has live jazz music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday, May 9

Duane Eubanks will be at the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St., Trenton, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Princeton University Concert Jazz Ensemble will present “Celebrating Jazz at Princeton University: 35 Years and into the Future,” billed as “the beginning of a yearlong anniversary salute to the Princeton University Jazz Ensembles featuring Jazz Program Alumni.” The Concert Jazz Ensemble will perform the works of Herbie Hancock, Bob Brookmeyer, Ryan Kisor, Pat Metheny, and Freddie Hubbard while several alumni from the university jazz program will be spotlighted in small group settings including trumpeter Eli Asher; pianists Keigo Hirakawa, Julia Brav, and Vivek Mathew; saxophonist Ben Wasserman; bassists Julian Rosse, Dean Reynolds, and Dan Ryan; as well as the Klez Dispensers featuring Adrian Banner, Ben Holmes, Amy Zakar, and Audrey Welber. It’s set for Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $15 ($5 for students) and may be purchased at the Box Office in Alexander Hall. For more information, call 609-258-5000 or go to www.princeton.edu/~richaud

McCarter Theater will feature Tiempo Libre and the Conga Kings at 8 p.m. The theater’s Webs ite says “The music of Tiempo Libre explodes in dance floor ecstasy, and the band is renowned for its incendiary performances of timba – that mix of high-voltage Latin jazz and the seductive rhythms of son. With two Grammy nominations already, Tiempo is the first authentic all-Cuban timba band in the USA.” Can you say, “Ticketes, por favor?” Click here to get your tickets. http://www.mccarter.org/ticketoffice/eventdetail.aspx?page_id=7&event_id=4395

Steakhouse 85 , 85 Church St., New Brunswick, has live jazz music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Sunday, May 10

Salt Creek Grille in Forrestal Village has a jazz brunch, with live music, starting this weekend. The brunch is offered from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Dick Gratton makes his regular appearance at Hightstown's Sunday Jazz Brunch at Bistro Soleil, 173 Mercer St. Sets at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium hosts a jam session from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park.

The Darla Rich Quartet will be appearing in the Starlight Room at the Hopewell Valley Inn on East Broad Street in Hopewell from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., part of the Inn’s Mother’s Day brunch. Call 609-466-9889 for reservations … then call mom.

The fifth annual Barn Dance to benefit the New Jersey Conservation Society will feature pianist Fred Miller, 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, at Brook Hollow Farm barn in Sergeantsville. Tickets are $100.

Monday, May 11

In case you forgot – you can still see Les Paul and his trio at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at the Iridium. What a legend!

Tuesday, May 12

Steakhouse 85, 85 Church St., New Brunswick, has live jazz music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Wednesday, May 13

Dick Gratton will perform for the Trenton Downtown Association - Wednesday on Warren event, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Warren Street between State and Front streets, in Trenton.


Friday, May 1, 2009

We miss you, Art

The University of Hartford is hosting a tribute to Art Blakey on May 22, featuring The Jazz Messengers All Star Band -- Mulgrew Miller, Javon Jackson, Carl Allen, Steve Davis, Eddie Henderson and Nat Reeves.
That's an impressive lineup, but no where near the amazing lineups Blakey assembled through his career and during the 40 years of Jazz Messengers he led.
When Mulgrew Miller was a Messenger in 1984, he played along with Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Jean Toussaint and Lonnie Plaxico.
Javon played with Kenny Garrett and Wallace Roney, Robin Eubanks and Terrence Blanchard during his time with Blakey.
And Henderson was alongside Jackie McLean, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton, Airto Moreira and Valery Ponomarev while a Messenger in 1979.
From the first iteration of the Messengers through the last, Blakey surrounded himself with amazing musicians -- he often stole them from other bands and leaders, but it wasn't hard for him to do: The Jazz Messengers meant steady gigs, good pay, prestige and the opportunity to compose -- no, the expectation of composing.
Along the way, Wayne Shorter pinpointed his voice and Wynton Marsalis found his passion. Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Dorham, Cedar Walton, Eddie Gomez, Chuck Mangione, Keith Jarrett, McCoy Tyner, Woody Shaw, Randy Brecker, Stanley Clarke, Olu Dara and dozens more have all testified on the stage with Art Blakey behind them.
It's the history of modern jazz ... a creative force driving the progress of jazz through the 60s and 70s and 80s as forcefully as an Art Blakey snare roll and double kick on the bass ...
You really can't go wrong with a Blakey recording -- what's your favorite? I've been listening to Reflections on Buhania (1957), Ugetsu (1963) and Straight Ahead (1981) -- all full of great music.
It would be great to get to the Hartford show, but I doubt I will -- I'll have to content myself by putting some more Blakey music on my MP3 player.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lots of locals out this week

It's another great week for local fans -- we've got players from old to young and in-between this week ....

Thursday, April 30
The Highland Park-based Jim Lapidus Trio will be at Steakhouse 85 , 85 Church St., New Brunswick.
Pianist Rio Clemente will be at the Bernards Inn on Route 202 in Bernardsville, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, May 1
The annual Cranbury-Princeton High School Jazz Dance begins at 7 p.m. Friday in the Cranbury School Auditorium, 23 N. Main St., Cranbury. The event will feature several area school jazz bands, including Princeton High School’s award-winning Studio Band and Jazz Ensemble. The $6 adult tickets ($4 for seniors and children) will help support Princeton bands; buy some refreshments to support Cranbury musicians. Tickets will sold at the door or by band members.


Guitarist Dick Gratton will be at the Chambers Walk Cafe on main Street in Lawrenceville, with sets at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.


The Trenton Marriott at 1 West Lafayette, always features live jazz music from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. No cover.


Saturday, May 2
James Stewart will be at the Candlelight Lounge, 24 Passaic St., Trenton, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.


Sunday, May 3
Salt Creek Grille in Forrestal Village has a jazz brunch, with live music, starting this weekend. The brunch is offered from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Dick Gratton makes his regular appearance at Hightstown's Sunday Jazz Brunch at Bistro Soleil, 173 Mercer St. Sets at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The Somerset Jazz Consortium hosts a jam session from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday at PJ's Coffee on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park.

Monday, May 4
The incomparable Maria Schneider will be in concert with the New Jersey City University Jazz Ensemble, at 7:30 p.m. in the Margaret Williams Theatre at NJCU in Jersey City. $15 general admission; $10 students/seniors.

Thursday, May 7
The Princeton University Sinfonia will conclude its 2008—2009 season at 8 p.m. May 7 with the premiere of Princeton-area composer Laurie Altman’s jazz-influenced work "In Another Time," as well as several orchestra favorites. The orchestra, conducted by Ruth Ochs, will be joined by Fuma Sacra, a professional vocal ensemble directed by Andrew Megill, guitarist Nate Radley, and the Princeton University Concert Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Anthony D.J. Branker. "In Another Time" was commissioned and supported by the Lewis Center for the Arts, the Princeton University Jazz Program, and the Princeton University Music Department. Tickets for the concert are $5 and seating is general admission. For tickets call 609-258-9220 or order online at www.princeton.edu/utickets.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


When reviewing new releases for publications, one often gets smitten with a new release. Most of the time, the love doesn't last -- once you're not listening to something as closely, whatever beauty it had fades and when it's heard again ... well, it's like bumping into an old aquaintance you've forgotten about.

But every now and again, there's real gold among the thousands of new releases, and one of my favorites is Ray Barretto's "Time was -- Time is" from 2005 on O+ Music.

It was Ray's last studio release, and it's a fine tribute to this incredible musician who gave us "El Watusi" in the 60s, 1972's "Carnival" and this, before his death in early 2006. His contributions to salsa music is legendary -- but his jazz was also first rate.

I find the opening track of "Time was - Time is" -- "Drume Negrita" -- completely enchanting. With Barretto on shakers, pianist Robert Rodriguez outlines the harmonic structure with a series of whole-note chords.

Then, in a beautifully realized and powerful statement, Sean Conly's bass gives the tune's bottom end. It's a wonderful fulfillment of the rhythm and chordal presence, with a snaking rhythm moving down a descending melody line.

By the time the two horns -- Joe Magnarelli on trumpet and altoist Myron Walden -- join, the song balances on the interplay between the elements.


There are times I will crave another listen to this delicious serving the way some people crave ice cream -- it begins with the hypnotic shakers, then the bass line ...

Throught the CD, Baretto's percussion work is moved up in the mix, creating a more urgent feel to the music. It's not in-your-face percussion, but -- typical of Barretto -- perfectly placed and played.


The arrangements and perfomances here -- recorded over a three-day session at the end of November 2004 -- are sublime and fresh. The septet with two horns is an unusual combination, but it works -- they're light and nimble, and Magnarelli is fantastic here.




It's become one of my favorite recordings of the decade, one that earns repeated listens and deserves to become a classic. As a final effort, it shows what an immense talent Barretto was.