Coming Attractions in Jazz: October 2012

By J. R. Carroll

[Update: Tonight’s performance at Scullers by Mozik and special guest Rebecca Parris is still on. Rumor has it that the set will include Herbie Hancock’s “The Eye of the Hurricane”.] All treats, no tricks—it’s a great month for jazz in New England. The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra turns forty, and so does NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation department. Meanwhile, a raft of musicians make deep dives into electronica.

Forty years is a long time for any jazz ensemble to remain in existence; for a jazz orchestra it’s almost unheard of. Composer/arranger Mark Harvey has been at the helm of the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra since 1973 (the anniversary concert will be next spring), and it’s kicking off its fortieth season with a new CD, Evocations, and an 8 p.m. performance at Scullers on Wednesday, October 3. The concert looks forward with selections from the new CD and the premiere of Harvey’s taxonomically witty “Cantata Tubulidentata”, which pays tribute to the sole living member of that order–a survivor, like the ensemble bearing its name; also on the program are reminiscences of Basie, Ellington and Ralph Burns. (Be sure to read the outstanding history of Mark Harvey’s career with–and beyond–Aardvark by the Arts Fuse’s Steve Elman.)

Large ensembles of a different (and highly mobile) sort populate the seventh annual HONK! festival, with events across Somerville and Cambridge spanning Thursday through Sunday, October 4-7. Weather, as always, will be a factor for the outdoor events, but Saturday afternoon should feature dozens of brass bands playing from 1-9 p.m. in locations around Davis Square, while Sunday will be highlighted by the noontime annual parade from Davis to Harvard Square.

Bassist Michael Formanek is another composer with a gift for genre-crossing; he and his quartet (with saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver) will be at the Regattabar at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 4.

Don’t hold your breath for a rendition of “Nessun dorma”, but do expect some inspired interplay when the three tenors of Jerry Bergonzi, Rick DiMuzio and George Garzone join pianist/composer Nando Michelin and his trio (bassist Fernando Huergo and drummer Tiago Michelin) on Friday, October 5, at 8 p.m. in Distler Hall at Tufts’ Granoff Music Center.

Saturday, October 6, is a busy night in Lexington at the National Heritage Museum’s Maxwell Auditorium At 7 p.m., pianist/composer/arranger Pablo Mayor and his New York-based Folklore Urbano bring their unique fusion of jazz and traditional Colombian music to town. Then, at 9 p.m., the GPS coordinates point to southern Italy for a performance by Newpoli.

The geographic focus shifts again at 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 7, when Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center welcomes Quartango.

Meanwhile, back in Inman Square the Lily Pad has a full evening, with a 6 p.m. gig by the John Funkhouser Quartet, followed at 9 p.m. by trumpeter Stanton Davis and his quintet paying tribute to drummer Vinnie Johnson.

At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 9, the Regattabar hosts faculty and students from the Longy School of Music (and special guests) in a program entitled “Viva Venezuela!”, a celebration of Venezuelan music and the innovative music education program, El Sistema.

Saxophonist Donny McCaslin takes a deep dive into electronica on his just-released CD, Casting for Gravity, with keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Tim Lefebvre, and drummer Mark Guiliana. McCaslin brings them all to Scullers at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, October 10.

On Thursday, October 11, keyboardist Sean Wayland, who grew up in Australia but now lives in New York, pays a 10 p.m. visit to the Lily Pad with bassist Sam Anning and the wonderfully named guitarist Kanga Twanga, joining forces with two of Boston’s own, guitarist Tim Miller and drummer Austin McMahon.

Outpost 186 becomes the crossroads where far-flung creative improvisers meet on Friday, October 12, at 8 p.m. Tenor saxophonist Phillip Greenlief flies in from San Francisco, alto saxophonist Marco Eneidi hops the pond from Vienna, and bassist Joe Morris, well, he just drives up from Connecticut. Local alto sax hero Jim Hobbs opens the evening and later joins in with Greenlief & Co.

Then, at 10 p.m., head around the corner to the Lily Pad to experience the Kandinsky Effect (saxophonist Warren Walker, bassist Gael Petrina and drummer Caleb Dolister), visiting from Paris.

If you’re in the vicinity of Brattleboro, VT on Saturday, October 13, you can catch guitarist Lionel Loueke at 8 p.m. at the Vermont Jazz Center.

On the other hand, if you’re in Cambridge, head over to Outpost 186 at 8 p.m. for pianist Nick Sanders and his trio (with bassist Henry Fraser and drummer Connor Baker). Then, at 10 p.m., a quick jump of the river takes you physically to the Beehive but musically to the Middle East with Israeli bassist Haggai Cohen Milo and his ensemble.

Pat Metheny is one of music’s restless souls—you can’t take any individual recording as a predictor of its successor. In 2010, he toured with an ensemble of electronic instruments, all triggered by his own guitar. (A DVD (in 3D and 2D) of his Orchestrion Project will be released on Tuesday, October 9.) In 2011 he released a solo CD of standards, and this year he’s on the road with a new CD by his Unity Band, which brings the tenor saxophone of Chris Potter (and some residual Orchestrionics) into his quartet (with bassist Ben Williams and drummer Antonio Sanchez). Catch them live at the Berklee Performance Center at 7 p.m. on Sunday, October 14.

Straight out of Brooklyn on Wednesday, October 17, drummer Rob Garcia turns his band loose on the Beehive at 9 p.m.

Composer/arranger/trombonist Bob Brookmeyer

Composer/arranger Bob Brookmeyer
Photo by Ben Poulsen

Composer, arranger, and, of course, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer taught at the New England Conservatory from 1997 to 2007. On Thursday, October 18, at 8 p.m., the NEC Jazz Orchestra under Ken Schaphorst will present a special concert in Jordan Hall featuring compositions by Brookmeyer, as well as his arrangements of music by Django Reinhardt, Fats Waller, and Hoagy Carmichael. Works by two of Brookmeyer’s best-known students (and bandleaders), Darcy James Argue and Ayn Inserto, will also be on the program.

On Friday, October 19, at 8 and 10 p.m., Scullers welcomes back vocalist Karrin Allyson. (She’ll also be conducting a master class at Berklee earlier in the day.)

Elder brother Yuval Cohen is back in Tel Aviv, but two of the 3 Cohens will spend some time at the Regattabar this month. On Saturday, October 20, at 7:30 and 10 p.m., clarinetist/saxophonist Anat Cohen brings her quartet (with pianist Jason Lindner, bassist and drummer) to town. Trumpeter Avishai Cohen and Triveni (with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Jeff Ballard) get their turn at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 25.

If the Bob Brookmeyer tribute triggered a craving for more of composer/arranger Ayn Inserto, she and her Jazz Orchestra will celebrate 11 years together with a 2 p.m. concert at the Lily Pad on Sunday, October 21.

After his adventures with Sean Wayland (see above), guitarist Tim Miller teams with bassist Janek Gwizdala for a 9 p.m. gig at the Beehive on Monday, October 22.

French trumpeter Erik Truffaz inhabits a big tent, successfully bringing hip-hop, beatboxing, ambient, dubstep—you name it—into a jazz context. He’ll unfold that tent at the Regattabar on Tuesday, October 23, at 7:30 p.m.

The following evening at 9 p.m., the Beehive features pianist Vadim Neselovskyi and his ensemble.

At 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 25, saxophonist Felipe Salles celebrates the release of his new CD, Departure, at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center in the familiar company of pianist Nando Michelin, bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa, and drummer Bertram Lehmann, with special guest trumpeter Randy Brecker.

In honor of the 40th year of NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation program, a diverse assemblage of alumni will gather at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 26, in Jordan Hall. Performers include vocalist Judy Bressler, guitarist/composer Sergio Brandão and Manga Rosa, Sol y Canto, and the NEC Jazz Orchestra backing vocalist/bandleader C. Calloway Brooks in a tribute to his grandfather, Cab Calloway.

Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Sam Cooke are rightly venerated for bringing gospel into the secular world of rhythm and blues, but long before them songwriter and pianist Thomas A. Dorsey dropped the “Georgia Tom” moniker and made the trip in the other direction. Another outstanding NEC alum, clarinetist/saxophonist Don Byron and his New Gospel Quintet, along with a chorus of students from Boston Arts Academy, dip into the rich repertoire of Dorsey and Sister Rosetta Tharpe at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 27, in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium.

The duo project Deco Heart (violinist Mat Maneri and pianist Lucian Ban) make a swing through New England, starting on Friday, October 26, at 7 p.m. at the Lily Pad. The following evening they’re up in Portland at the Woodfords Congregational Church at 7 p.m. They wrap up the weekend in Framingham, MA on Sunday, October 28, with a 2 p.m. performance at Amazing Things Arts Center.

Also on Sunday, at 8 p.m., Outpost 186 hosts another intriguing duo, The Moon (guitarist Adam Caine and drummer Federico Ughi).

It’s back to Jordan Hall on Monday, October 29, for an evening of “Brando Noir.” At 8 p.m. pianist Ran Blake heads up an impressive roster of musicians in an evening of excerpts from Brando films with improvised accompaniments.

Here’s an interesting pairing to close out the month: Mozik (co-led by pianist Gilson Schachnik and drummer Mauricio Zotarelli) teams with special guest vocalist Rebecca Parris for an evening of music by Antonio Carlos Jobim at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 30 at Scullers.

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