Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Celebrating Jazz in Connecticut!

As Willie Nelson famously wrote so many years ago "Ain't It Funny How Time Slips Away" - of course, the lyrics are dark and about a love that has died.  However, one might react with those very words upon discovering that The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme is celebrating its 1st Anniversary this weekend (Saturday night May 10, to be exact.

On Friday, Jan and Ken welcome trombonist/composer Steve Davis, bassist Nat Reeves and the JMI All Star Band (students from the Jackie McLean Institute in Hartford. Mr. Davis (pictured) is a Hartt School of Music graduate, now a Professor and former Jackie McLean student (as is bassist Reeves); he's toured and recorded with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Chick Corea's Origin and is a founding member of One For All.  His buttery tone and intelligent, swinging, solos has been a strong feature of his 15 recordings as a leader and on hundred of sideman gigs.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with the first set commencing at 8:30.  Go to thesidedoorjazz.com for more information and to make reservations.

The big celebration is, as I mentioned above, on Saturday and The Side Door presents the Chair of the Jackie McLean Institute and Associate Professor of Jazz at The Hartt School, Javon Jackson. Jackson, also an alumnus of the Jazz Messengers, is a fine tenor saxophonist with numerous CDs as a leader for labels such as Blue Note, Palmetto, and Smalls plus 2 on his own label.  He's bringing quite a band, including guitarist Larry Coryell, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White. With such great sidemen, the music should move from straight-ahead jazz to more contemporary sounds and all stops in-between.  Go to the website above for more details or call 860-434-0886. I've been assured there will be a number of surprises in store for this who attend so make your reservation sooner rather than later.

The Hartford Jazz Society presents its Spring Concert this Friday at 7 p.m. in the Polish National Home, 60 Charter Oak Avenue in Hartford. Headlining this year's event is the Louis Hayes Jazz Communicators.  The 76-year old Hayes, a native of Detroit, MI, has played and recorded with a myriad of jazz greats including Horace Silver (when the drummer was just 18), John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Oscar Peterson and on. His first Lp as a leader, simply titled "Louis Hayes Quintet", was issued in 1960 on VeeJay Records and he has since issued 18 more, the latest being "Lou's Idea", released in 2010 on Jazz Showplace Records.    His band features Hartt School graduate Abraham Burton (saxophones), veteran bassist Gerald Cannon, and the fine young pianist David Bryant.  Opening the show will be the Greater Hartford Arts Academy Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Alex Nakhimovsky.  There will also be a Student Workshop from 4:30 - 6 p.m. that is free of charge.  For more information and ticket reservations, call the HJS at 860-242-6688.  

Firehouse 12, 45 Crown Street in New Haven, presents pianist/composer/activist Noah Baerman and the Jazz Samaritan Alliance this Friday. The concert is part of the CD release events centered around Mr. Baerman's new self-released album,"Ripples." Joining him in the performance space is Chris Dingman (vibraphone), Jimmy Greene (saxophones), Kris Allen (saxophones), Henry Lugo (bass) and Otis Brown III (drums). Over the past year, Baerman has been involved with Resonant Motion, an organization that, to quote from its "Mission Statement", is " committed to the great potential that exists when music intersects with meaningful facets of the world outside of pitches and rhythms."  Meanwhile, in the pianist's words, "The concept behind the Jazz Samaritan Alliance is to create and present socially conscious jazz."  Don't expect political screes or profanity-laced rants, this music is not only meant to make you contemplate the world but also to enjoy the interactions of the musicians, the wealth of melody and rhythms plus the fine soloists.  

Noah Baerman et al will play 2 sets - 8:30 and 10 p.m. - tickets are still available by going to firehouse12.com or calling 203-785-0468.  To find out more about about Noah Baerman and his various projects, go to www.noahjazz.com and resonantmotion.org.

Saturday night, the Uncertainty Music Series presents an exciting double bill at 8 p.m. in Never Ending Books, 810 State Street in New Haven.  Opening the show will be Duo Music, an ensemble that features series curator Carl Testa (bass) and Chris Cretella (guitar), the first time these musicians who have worked together in numerous groups have played in this formation.  Following them will the Chris Welcome Quartet featuring the guitarist with Shayna Dulberger (bass), Jonathan Moritz (tenor and soprano saxophones) and John McLellan (drums). Since 2007, the CWQ has issued 4 CDs filled with improvisations that run the gamut from delicate to hearty, noise to whispers.  For more information, go to uncertaintymusic.com.

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