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Archive for September, 2011

Live Performances Crispus Attucks: Where it All Began

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This photograph of the great Steve Weakley was made for  a fundraiser I put together with radio personality Chuck Workman to bring some attention to the Crispus Attucks Museum and the scores of great musicians that attended the school from the 1940s through the 1980s.   In addition to Steve’s solo career, he was the guitarist for the late 60s soul-jazz band, Funk Inc.

Some of the musicians that went to Crispus Attucks include J. J. Johnson, Wes Montgomery and his brothers Monk and Buddy, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Spaulding, David Baker, Phil Ranelin, Russell Webster, Pookie Johnson, Jimmy Coe and Bill Penick…..really the list is just too long to mention here.

Crispus Attucks alumni performing during this event were tenor player Bill Penick, bassist Rudy Finnell, pianist Carl Hines, guitarist Steve Weakley, trumpeter Clifford Ratliff and the youngest of them, drummer Kenny Phelps. During the 90 minute performance, each of the musicians had a chance to share some memories of attending the school.  An award was also given to Gilbert Taylor, the founder of the museum.


In addition to the performance, I donated photographs of each of the musicians to the museum for their permanent collection.

If you get a chance, please pay a visit to to The Crispus Attucks Museum, Monday through Saturday.



Live Performances Jeremy Pelt Quintet @ the Jazz Showcase

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..thoughts and photos coming soon.

Live Performances The 5th Annual Hyde Park Jazz Fest

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I had a great time at the 5th Annual Hyde Park Jazz Fest on the south side of Chicago.  Despite a little rain on Sunday morning, the festival managed to attract over 25,000 jazz fans over the two-day event.  With thirteen venues/stages in place,  a lot of the shows overlapped to some degree, though I still managed to catch eight shows over the two days.

First up on Saturday was a Tomeka Reid Trio, comprised of Tomeka on cello, Josh Abrams on bass and an unknown guitarist.   This set took place at the Oriental Institute and was of my favorite sets but at 30 minutes, too short!  I’ve seen Tomeka is several setting and none of them dissapoint.  The trio did play a second set an hour or so later but I was on the move to my second performance, this time on the Midway Plaisance…featuring “Rhythms of Thunder” featuring drummers Dana Hall, Charles Heath and Ernie Adams.   Rarely do you see a band with 3 drummers playing at once but here you have it.   Certainly a high energy show…at times I thought Dana Hall was going to fly off his stool…..the crowd loved this show!!!  Probably my favorite young bassist in Chicago, Junius Paul was on bass.

I then went over to the International House to catch a trio with guitarist Fareed Haque, the very excitable B3 organist  Tony Monaco and a drummer that I don’t recall his name.  I’m a huge fan of B3 trios so I really liked this set.  From here, it was over to Mandel Hall to catch probably my favorite show of the festival….the Don Byron “New Gospel Quartet” with the amazing vocalist DK Dyson.  I had seen Byron on another occasion and was not that thrilled…this was another thing altogether.  Byron, animated and talkative was outstanding on both clarinet and tenor saxophone and Dyson’s performance was great!  Bassist Brad Jones, pianist Xavier David and drummer Pheeroan akLaff rounded out the quartet…really loved Xavier’s playing.  At one point Dyson left the stage and walked around the room singing.  When I looked back at the stage, akLaff was gone and Byron was playing drums.  Minutes later, akLaff came back on stage in his boxer shorts and nothing else.  I don’t know exactly what happened and I won’t speculate…I’ll leave it at that!

Next up was the Everett Greene Quartet.  Being from Indianapolis, it was great to see my  good friends and fellow hoosiers up on stage in the beautiful Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.  Not sure how many people this place holds but it was packed to the rafters to see a truly amazing vocalist backed by drummer Kenny Phelps, bassist Frank Smith and pianist Craig Hicks.  The chapel is huge with ceilings that look two hundred feet high….the place is cavernous but I thought the sound was very good.  Staying put in the chapel, it was time for the headliner for this night, The 3 Ellas, featuring vocalists Frieda Lee, Spider Saloff and Dee Alexander, a Chicago favorite!  This was a fun performance as each of the women took turns paying tribute to the great Ella Fitzgerald.  Backing the 3 Ellas tonight, Jeremy Kahn on piano, Jim Cox on bass and Charles Heath on drums.  I think half the shows I went to had Heath sitting in on drums…the guy is everywhere!

The final performance of the night, a jam session, returned to Mandel Hall.  This was hosted by Dee Alexander and started about 12:30 a.m.  Featuring many of the musicians that performed during the day and some that didn’t.  I think this ended about 1:30-2:00 a.m…..I was beat!

I only caught one show at the festival on Sunday….but it was fantastic.  Bassist Tatsu Aoki and his Miyumi Project performed at the Midway Plaisance,  raining throughout…maybe 30 people in seats and umbrellas out, these folks got to see a great show.  Featuring Tatsu on bass, Ed Wilkerson and Jeff Chan on tenor, Amy Homma on drums, Coco Elyesses on congas and Mwata Bowden on many things…this show was a highlight for me.

While I mentioned only a few of the venues, there were 13 in all….the primary stage is the James W. Wagner stage on the Midway Plaisance, the Court Theater, the beautiful DuSable Museum, Frank Lloyd’s Robie House, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Hyde Park Bank, the Hyde Park Union Church, the International House, the Little Black Pearl, Mandel Hall, the Oriental Institute, the amazing Rockefeller Memorial Chapel and the Smart Museum of Art.

One thing I forgot to mention is that saxophonist Geof Bradfield was this years artist-in-residence.  Despite playing several time, I managed to not see him at all which is very disapointing!   My other dissapointment was missing the Ben Patterson Trio @ the Black Pearl.  I was basically walking venue to venue and lugging too much equipment around, bad timing prevented me from making it to the show….hope to catch up to him soon….very soulful guy on the B3.


Live Performances Indy Jazz Fest

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Coming Soon!