Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Artists of ATL's Sunset Jazz and the Bios Who Love Them

On August 18 at 6:00 EDT, Atlanta's Delta Classic Chastain Park Ampitheater will present Sunset Jazz (event page). I get excited to see an event title like this one. National-scene artists are hard to come by in the south, and when it's billed as jazz, I tend to expect (for some reason) music from at least the middle of the spectrum. But these are smooth jazz, instrumental pop, and R&B artists and, with one exception, are outside of my usual listening rotation. That being said, this should be a very entertaining show. But they might think about changing the name to Sunset Jazzy.

I would like to survey the opening sentences from the bios, displayed on the Ampitheater's event page, of the six featured artists. I hear that successful musicians are often beholden to managers, publicists and record labels who have great influence on what gets put out there about them. So any implied criticism is not necessarily directed at the performers. As a writer and editor of artist bios, mainly for the series I coordinate at the museum, I could certainly produce some criticism, but I won't. Instead, I'll highlight one that to me stands out as being good. It's from the one artist who has actually established himself as an accomplished improvisor, who wields a sound that I think defines a subset of jazz, and whose influence I hear throughout the genre. I've put his last.

"Women love Will Downing. And men love the women who love Will Downing."

"Her name is legendary." (Lalah Hathaway)

"After eleven inspired albums that have passionately surveyed a broad spectrum of musical styles and prominently featured many of music’s finest players, R&B/Jazz multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson decided to keep conceptualism to a minimum and simply title his twelfth album XII (the Roman numeral for twelve)."

"Gerald Albright began to master his talent by working extensively in the studio with such artists as Patrice Rushen, Anita Baker, Ray Parker, Jr., Lola Folana, Atlantic Starr, The Winans, Olivia Newton-John, The Temptations, and Maurice White."

"GRAMMY® Award winner Norman Brown is on close intimate terms with his audience."

"One of the most commercially successful American saxophonists to earn prominence since the 1980s, David Sanborn has released 24 albums, won six Grammy Awards, and has had eight Gold albums and one Platinum album."

Anyway, the truly great David Sanborn will be there, and I'll list the websites of all the artists below so you can check them out. There's some good music here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Auburn Knights Alumni Big-Band Event This Weekend, Sanborn and Branford in ATL, More

Above is a video playlist of samples of each of the Auburn Knights era bands performing at the 2011 reunion. All of the videos are from the YouTube channel of Procat (procatav), the production company who engineered the concerts.
This weekend will mark the 82nd anniversary of the Auburn Knights Orchestra (current band site). The band's alumni hold a reunion each year resulting in two nights of performances by multiple big bands that include personnel from every decade of the band's existence since the 1930s. Yes, at least one of these players is in his 90s, and several are in their 80s. More impressive might be that a large group are in their 20s and 30s. The group suspects that it is the longest running regional big band in the world. The event will be at the thoroughly named Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel & Conference Center at Grand National (hotel page) with music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights (7/19-7/21). Thursday, the Jane Drake Trio will host a jam session at the Marriott which will be set up "near the restaurant" according to her Facebook announcement. The big band concerts will be Friday, 7-10 PM, and Saturday, 7-11 PM with the current band playing at 10 on Saturday. You can find out a little more about the event and a lot more about the group and its members at the Auburn Knights Alumni Association's website.

Other Local Events: Opelika Series, Jazz at Piccolo and Ham's
My summer posts are few and far between, so I'll try to look forward a little farther than usual. You can go to my Event Sources page if I am quiet and you want to look around for yourself.

The Arts Association of East Alabama has recently announced its 2012-13 series. This one looks very, very good. If you go to AAEA's website, you'll literally have five ways to preview the series. A simple listing, maybe my favorite, is at this link. You can get to the other four ways on the "Up Close & Personal" page. I enjoyed the Kyle Gassoitt interview of director Phillip Preston for Troy University Public Radio's Community Focus. Included is jazz singer Dianne Reeves, the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba (Phillip said in the interview that it was a "coup" to get them here.), the Del McCoury Band (distant cousin, I'm sure), classical performers (some edgy, some flashy, all with skills), and two well-known shows and a show star singer. The first performance will be organist Cameron Carpenter on September 27, 2012.

Though PiccoloMAL, the lounge at Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center, may be set up a little differently due to renovations, jazz is continuing on Fridays and Saturdays. It usually announces the headliners a couple of days in advance on the website. Tim Chambliss (Twitter feed), whose Four Star Music sets up the gigs, also usually posts it in a useful Facebook group called Alabama Jazz Musicians. The Jane Drake Trio's Thursday gig will be off until August, except for the aforementioned jam session at the Marriott this week. Jazz brunch at Ariccia is also on break during the month of July.

As for me, I'll be playing with a couple of the Knights alumni bands this weekend. Then on Monday, August 6, from 6:30 to 9:00 PM, I'll be at Hamilton's on MagnoliaFBS, this time with bassist Sidney Simmons to mix it up a little from the usual (and awesome) sax-guitar duo setting.

Columbus Jazz, Montgomery Simulcasts

Atlanta's Kenyon Carter, often locally heard at Piccolo, will be playing for Columbus Jazz Society's monthly event at the Liberty Theatre on August 12. Also, jazz continues at The Loft each Friday. This week (7/20) will be the Solar QuintetMAL. E-mail to get on the Society's list for upcoming events by CJS and at The Loft.

Fathom EventsMAL is who pushes through music and other special showings at the Rave Motion Pictures Festival Plaza 16 in Montgomery. I noticed at the site that on Wednesday (7/18) the theater will feature The Metropolitan Opera's production of Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. You can get tickets online here. Another opera, Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier will play there next Wednesday (7/25). Get tickets to that one here. More about The Met's Live in HD series at this link.

Atlanta Concerts by David Sanborn, Branford Marsalis

On August 18, Atlanta's Delta Classic Chastain Park Ampitheater will present Sunset Jazz (event page). Among others, the great saxophonist David Sanborn will be featured.

The first concert of Emory University's Flora Glenn Candler Concert Series in Atlanta will be An Evening with Saxophonist Branford Marsalis on September 21. Marsalis is a versatile player often crossing the river of jazz from mainstream bands to classical music. So I should say that this quartet's new album, hilariously titled Four MFs Playin' Tunes, and its personnel reveals that this performance should, for most listeners (even Wynton, probably) rest squarely in the jazz category. Joining Marsalis will be Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner on drums. These are top players on the world jazz scene.