Friday, September 16, 2011

I'm at Piccolo Tonight (9/16/11), New Jam Session Sunday, James Houlik Coming to Museum, More

I'm past due on an event post, though there's a pretty good list of September's events at the end of this previous post in case I leave anything out here, which I will. I'll leave out a lot of it. Like I left out Return to Forever playing in Atlanta last weekend at the Fox.

I'm at Piccolo, and There's a New Jam Session in Town

I would love for you all to come out to Piccolo tonight (9/16) and hear me play jazz with Patrick Bruce and Sidney Simmons. We'll go for three sets, 8-11. There's no cover or drink minimum, and the food is good. Try the pizza. Under 21? No problem. On Saturday (9/17) at Piccolo, Columbus saxophonist Stan Murray will play, same times.

Then on Sunday (9/18) from 7-11 (What? No. Not 4 hours. I meant to say 7-9, but we've moved it to 8-10 PM.), Auburn-Opelika's first frequently regular, open jazz jam in I don't know how long will start up at Auburn's Balcony Bar, upstairs at 114 West Magnolia Ave. Piccolo's jam session led by Jane Drake on the Thursday night before the Auburn Knights reunion has been very well attended the last couple of years. But a session a year is not enough to give budding and established talent the chance to learn from each other. This one will be every first and third Sunday night.

The owner, Louis Williams and I went to Auburn High together. He loves jazz and used to play it (and will again), owned a bar in New Orleans, barely got out when the levees broke, and eventually made his way back here. We have been talking about doing something since he opened last year, and now it's on. Lest anyone think the jam-session idea was mine, it was Louis's. Bravo to him. This is as much a community service as it is a hopefully profitable draw for his business. Core personnel this week will be me, drummer David Zuwiyya, bassist Sidney Simmons and pianist Jonathan Lynn. Come out. Bring your ax.

James Houlik
James Houlik on September 22

With all of my stuff going on, I'll say that if you can only go to one thing in the next 7 days or so, you need to hear a free concert next Thursday (9/22) at the museum from 12-1. Internationally acclaimed concert tenor saxophone virtuoso James Houlik will perform for the weekly lunchtime series. He'll be playing some beautiful music with Armenian mutant empath pianist, Vahan Sargsayn (pronounced VAH-hahn Sark-SAH-in, I think). I just say that about Sargsayn because he's so deeply responsive and plays effortlessly. As far as I know, he's not a mutant.

Houlik was my saxophone professor in grad school at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He was one who really opened the door for me to the world of chamber music, and more than that, melody itself. His approach to a musical phrase opened my eyes to the stuff that lives and breathes inside of it. It changed the way I played all kinds of music.

For those of you who are not familiar with the saxophone as a classical, concert instrument, this will be a tremendous introduction. Houlik has had over 80 pieces written for him by composers of great stature like Morton Gould, Robert Ward, Russell Peck and Eric Ewazen. He studied with Sigurd Rascher himself (wiki), and performs worldwide with some of the best orchestras and in some of the biggest halls. There's more bio material on the schedule page for both great artists, and Houlik's website is

You'll hear more from me about Houlik. If I were you, and wanted to eat that day at the Museum Café, I'd call and make a lunch reservation. The number at the museum is 334-844-1484. Here's a link to the menu.

He will do a masterclass in room 102 at Goodwin Hall at 6:00 PM on 9/22 which is open to the public. He will play in Columbus, Georgia, the next night (9/23) in Legacy Hall at RiverCenter. Here's the event page for that concert. He will also do a masterclass in the same place earlier that day, 2:30 to 4:00. Contact CSU sax instructor Amy Griffiths at if you want to attend the masterclass.

There's more that I hope to highlight, like an AU Music Faculty Showcase, also on 9/22. That should be very, very good. I'll try to get some details. Event page here.

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