Thursday, October 28, 2010

ArtsPreview 2010-11: The season in jazz

Chris Botti.‭
(‬Illustration by Pat Crowley‭)

By Bill Meredith

South Florida's creative jazz concert calendar is always a case of feast or famine,‭ ‬and there's usually more of a feast south of Palm Beach County.

That's partly because there's a stronger jazz nightclub presence in the Fort Lauderdale and Miami areas than on the practically nonexistent West Palm Beach scene.‭ ‬And while the Kravis Center is every bit the equal of the performing arts centers in Broward and‭ ‬Miami-Dade counties,‭ ‬its jazz bookings may be even more geared toward retirees who still cling to the genre's swing era.

So jazz isn't exactly thriving in South Florida,‭ ‬but it still has a pulse in the tri-county area thanks to a few organizations,‭ ‬venues and college campuses.‭ ‬And if you know where to look in Palm Beach County,‭ ‬the‭ ‬2010-2011‭ ‬seasonal spread isn't bad.

Savannah-based guitarist and vocalist‭ ‬Bobby Lee Rodgers straddled jazz,‭ ‬bluegrass and pop for nearly a decade with his band The Codetalkers‭ (‬co-led by another Georgia-based genre-straddler,‭ ‬Col.‭ ‬Bruce Hampton‭) ‬before deciding to continue his solo career last year.‭ ‬On his own,‭ ‬Rodgers is no less amoebic,‭ ‬playing a hollow-bodied guitar through a rotating Leslie cabinet that's most often used with a Hammond organ.‭ ‬He's put his focus on jazz in a six-month series of tributes that first paid homage to Miles Davis last month.‭ ‬Future nods include John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk,‭ ‬and Rodgers salutes guitar great Wes Montgomery on Oct.‭ ‬28‭ ‬at the Green Room in Fort Lauderdale‭ (‬7‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$15‭)‬.

Troy Andrews‭' ‬alter‭ ‬ego is Trombone Shorty,‭ ‬but both personalities are steeped in New Orleans history.‭ ‬Andrews was born and raised in the Treme‭ ‬neighborhood of the city's‭ ‬6th Ward‭ ‬--‭ ‬the oldest African-American neighborhood in the United States.‭ ‬Equally proficient on trombone or trumpet,‭ ‬he and his band Orleans Avenue‭ (‬with guitarist Pete Murano,‭ ‬saxophonist Dan Oestreicher,‭ ‬bassist Mike Ballard,‭ ‬drummer Joey Peebles and percussionist Dwayne Williams‭) ‬will play songs from their major-label debut CD‭ ‬Backatown‭ (‬itself a nickname for the area where he grew up‭) ‬on Nov.‭ ‬5‭ ‬at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$14.99‭)‬.

The Yellowjackets.

The Yellowjackets are a California quartet that has straddled jazz sub-genres for nearly‭ ‬30‭ ‬years.‭ ‬Most of its albums lean toward the smooth jazz side of original keyboardist Russell Ferrante‭; ‬most live shows toward the fusion expertise of original bassist Jimmy Haslip.‭ ‬Longtime saxophonist Bob Mintzer is adept at both,‭ ‬and muscular drummer Will Kennedy‭ (‬who played with the group on some of its best studio efforts from‭ ‬1986-1998‭) ‬has returned.‭ ‬The Yellowjackets recently signed to record with Mack Avenue Records,‭ ‬and are likely to premiere material from a forthcoming CD on Nov.‭ ‬11‭ ‬at the Harriet Himmel Theater,‭ ‬located within CityPlace in West Palm Beach‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35‭)‬.

With his Latin influence,‭ ‬acoustic jazz and electric fusion recordings,‭ ‬and solo-to-full band performances,‭ ‬keyboardist‭ ‬Chick Corea has practically decorated a wing of jazz history by himself.‭ ‬The former Miles Davis sideman has a‭ ‬45-year recording career,‭ ‬and in‭ ‬2009‭ ‬alone released three stellar CDs‭ ‬--‭ ‬Duet‭ ‬(his series of live duets with Japanese pianist Hiromi‭)‬,‭ ‬Returns‭ (‬the live reunion of his‭ ‬1970s fusion band Return To Forever‭)‬,‭ ‬and the Grammy-winning‭ ‬Five Peace Band‭ ‬(co-led by guitarist John McLaughlin,‭ ‬another Davis alum‭)‬.‭ ‬Corea plays a solo piano show on Nov.‭ ‬20‭ ‬at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts‭' ‬Miniaci Performing Arts Center,‭ ‬on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Davie‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$50-$150‭)‬.

Ken Peplowski.

The clarinet's potency has waned since the swing era,‭ ‬but‭ ‬Ken Peplowski is one of the few who can breathe life back into it.‭ ‬The expert reedman has worked with Woody Herman,‭ ‬Louie Bellson,‭ ‬Clark Terry and Ray Brown,‭ ‬and was endorsed by vocalist Mel Tormé.‭ "‬Since the advent of Benny Goodman,‭ ‬there have been too few clarinetists to fill the void,‭" ‬Tormé said.‭ "‬Ken Peplowski is certainly one of those few.‭ ‬The man is magic.‭" ‬See Peplowski‭ (‬with pianist Shelly Berg‭) ‬recall Goodman,‭ ‬Artie Shaw and more in the‭ ‬Gold Coast Jazz presentation‭ ‬Dynamos of Jazz on Dec.‭ ‬8‭ ‬at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts‭' ‬Amaturo Theater in Fort Lauderdale‭ (‬7:45‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35-$40‭)‬.

Arturo Sandoval's life reads like a movie script‭ ‬--‭ ‬to the‭ ‬2000‭ ‬HBO film‭ ‬For Love or Country,‭ ‬to be exact.‭ ‬Andy Garcia portrayed the Cuban trumpeter,‭ ‬who went from a Dizzy Gillespie protégé in his native country to an exile‭ (‬during a tour of the United States in‭ ‬1990‭) ‬and a U.S.‭ ‬citizen in‭ ‬1999.‭ ‬Now based in Los Angeles,‭ ‬Sandoval has earned four Grammys and an Emmy Award,‭ ‬and his latest release is the burning‭ ‬Arturo Sandoval Live DVD.‭ ‬He performs Dec.‭ ‬30‭ ‬at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts‭' ‬Dreyfoos Concert Hall in West Palm Beach‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$15-$85‭)‬.

Christian McBride.

Few modern bassists have the dexterity of‭ ‬Christian McBride.‭ ‬The‭ ‬38-year-old Philadelphian defied his youth to become the top acoustic session bassist in jazz through the‭ ‬1990s,‭ ‬then occasionally went back to his original instrument‭ ‬--‭ ‬electric bass‭ ‬--‭ ‬over the past decade.‭ ‬His genre-bending recording and touring resume includes work with McCoy Tyner,‭ ‬Sting,‭ ‬Kathleen Battle,‭ ‬Diana Krall,‭ ‬Pat Metheny,‭ ‬and Chaka Khan.‭ ‬McBride and Inside Straight‭ (‬with pianist Eric Reed,‭ ‬vibraphonist Warren Wolf,‭ ‬saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Carl Allen‭) ‬perform songs from their‭ ‬Kind of Brown CD on Jan.‭ ‬8‭ ‬in a South Florida Jazz presentation at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$40‭)‬.

Rim Shots:‭ ‬An Evening with the‭ ‬Jeff Hamilton Trio gives a modern behind-the-scenes drumming great a chance to headline.‭ ‬Hamilton also co-leads the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with bassist John Clayton,‭ ‬and has a deep recording discography that includes sessions with everyone from Frank Sinatra,‭ ‬Woody Herman,‭ ‬Rosemary Clooney and Diana Krall to Willie Nelson,‭ ‬Barbra Streisand,‭ ‬Natalie Cole and Queen Latifah.‭ ‬The Jeff Hamilton Trio‭ (‬which includes pianist Tamir Hendelman and bassist Christoph Luty‭) ‬performs pieces from its latest CD,‭ ‬Symbiosis,‭ ‬on Jan.‭ ‬12‭ ‬in a Gold Coast Jazz presentation at the Amaturo Theater‭ (‬7:45‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35-$40‭)‬.

A jazz ukulele player‭? ‬Don't laugh.‭ ‬Jake Shimabukuro has taken the four-stringed,‭ ‬two-octave instrument to levels that Don Ho never envisioned.‭ ‬The‭ ‬33-year-old Hawaii native's latest CD,‭ ‬Live,‭ ‬features his far-reaching original compositions and covers that include Bach's‭ ‬Two-Part Invention No.‭ ‬4‭ ‬in D Minor,‭ ‬Michael Jackson's‭ ‬Thriller and The Beatles‭' ‬While My Guitar Gently Weeps.‭ ‬Shimabukuro has also recorded and performed with Bela Fleck,‭ ‬Bette Midler,‭ ‬Ziggy Marley,‭ ‬Jimmy Buffett,‭ ‬Cyndi Lauper,‭ ‬and Yo-Yo Ma.‭ ‬See him on Jan.‭ ‬19‭ ‬at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts‭' ‬Rinker Playhouse in West Palm Beach‭ (‬7:30‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$32‭)‬.

Like fellow keyboard icons Herbie Hancock,‭ ‬Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul,‭ ‬Keith Jarrett emerged from trumpeter Miles Davis‭' ‬late‭ ‬1960s-early‭ ‬1970s jazz/fusion ensembles.‭ ‬But while the others stayed with electronic keyboards to varying degrees,‭ ‬nearly all of the‭ ‬65-year-old Jarrett's subsequent recordings have featured acoustic piano.‭ ‬Equally brilliant playing jazz or classical music,‭ ‬many of Jarrett's best CDs since the early‭ ‬1980s have been with his long-standing‭ "‬standards trio‭" (‬with bassist Gary Peacock and another Davis alum,‭ ‬Jack DeJohnette,‭ ‬on drums‭)‬.‭ ‬The influential pianist's trio will‭ ‬take standards to new levels‭ ‬Jan.‭ ‬21‭ ‬at the Adrienne Arsht Center‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$25-$130‭)‬.

Norman Simmons.

Norman Simmons‭'‬ playing is steeped in Chicago jazz tradition,‭ ‬but he's otherwise no Second City pianist.‭ ‬The‭ ‬81-year-old has shifted between the Windy City and New York City to work with an array of renowned vocalists‭ (‬Ernestine Anderson,‭ ‬Joe Williams,‭ ‬Carmen McRae,‭ ‬Betty Carter,‭ ‬Anita O'Day‭) ‬and saxophonists‭ (‬Charlie Parker,‭ ‬Dexter Gordon,‭ ‬Eddie‭ "‬Lockjaw‭" ‬Davis,‭ ‬Johnny Griffin‭)‬.‭ ‬More recently,‭ ‬Simmons has collaborated with Houston Person,‭ ‬another veteran sax titan who's five years his junior.‭ ‬Person joins Simmons and his trio in a Jazz Arts Music Society‭ (‬JAMS‭) ‬of the Palm Beaches presentation on Jan.25‭ ‬at the Harriet Himmel Theater‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35‭)‬.

Roget Pontbriand.

Roget Pontbriand has been one of South Florida's top trumpeters for decades,‭ ‬and has even unearthed his soft,‭ ‬Chet Baker-like vocals on occasion.‭ ‬For the Symphonic Band of the‭ ‬Palm Beaches presentation of‭ ‬Some Like It Hot,‭ ‬he'll leave the singing to Dorothy Yanes,‭ ‬the acclaimed classical and pops soprano.‭ ‬The show celebrates the golden anniversary of the music of the Big Band era.‭ ‬See‭ ‬Some Like It Hot on Feb.‭ ‬5‭ ‬at the Duncan Theatre at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth‭ (‬7:30‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$15‭)‬,‭ ‬and on Feb.‭ ‬12‭ ‬at the Eissey Campus Theatre at Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach Gardens‭ (‬7:30‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$15‭)‬.

Music is a family affair for vocalist/guitarist‭ ‬John Pizzarelli.‭ ‬His father is Bucky Pizzarelli,‭ ‬the venerable guitarist who's been revered since the swing era.‭ ‬Brother Martin Pizzarelli plays bass on tour with the singer/guitarist,‭ ‬who's built a‭ ‬25-year career as a master interpreter of standards.‭ ‬And Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart helped to define those standards with gems from‭ ‬My Funny Valentine‭ ‬to‭ ‬The Lady Is a Tramp.‭ ‬Pizzarelli's quartet‭ (‬which also includes pianist Larry Fuller and drummer Tony Tedesco‭) ‬plays on Feb.‭ ‬8‭ ‬in a Bob Lappin‭ ‬and the Palm Beach Pops presentation of‭ ‬An Evening of Rodgers and Hart at the Eissey Campus Theatre‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$75-$85‭)‬.

Perhaps it's only the surplus of female jazz vocalists that's kept California-based‭ ‬Jackie Ryan from becoming a household name.‭ ‬With her three-and-a-half octave range and Mexican,‭ ‬French,‭ ‬Irish and Spanish ancestry,‭ ‬Ryan sings standards in English,‭ ‬Spanish and Portuguese.‭ ‬She also writes and performs vocalese lyrics to jazz classics,‭ ‬and has a recent release that showcases her range.‭ ‬Doozy is an adventurous double-CD featuring musicians like guitarist Romero Lubambo and pianist Cyrus Chestnut on cuts from Benny Carter's title track to Leonard Bernstein's‭ ‬Some Other Time.‭ ‬Ryan performs her‭ ‬This Heart of Mine‭ ‬show on Feb.‭ ‬9‭ ‬at the Amaturo Theater‭ (‬7:45‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35-$40‭)‬.

Celebrating Miles is more than just another Miles Davis tribute.‭ ‬The two-part concert spotlights both the trumpeter's early acoustic and latter electric sides,‭ ‬each with one of Davis‭' ‬great bassists from the two respective eras.‭ ‬During the‭ "‬Acoustically Speaking‭" ‬set,‭ ‬trumpeter‭ ‬Wallace Roney and his sextet are featured,‭ ‬along with bassist‭ ‬Ron Carter‭ (‬from Davis‭' ‬mid-1960s quintet‭)‬.‭ ‬Roney has carried the torch by playing a trumpet given to him by Davis himself in‭ ‬1983.‭ "‬Tutu Revisited‭" ‬features young trumpet lion Christian Scott playing with bassist Marcus Miller,‭ ‬architect of Davis‭' ‬1986‭ ‬fusion gem‭ ‬Tutu.‭ ‬See‭ ‬Celebrating Miles on Feb.‭ ‬25‭ ‬at the Adrienne Arsht Center‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$25-$130‭)‬.

We Four:‭ ‬Celebrating John Coltrane is a special tribute not only because it honors the titan of tenor saxophonists,‭ ‬but also because of the four participants.‭ ‬Drummer‭ ‬Jimmy Cobb,‭ ‬still going strong at age‭ ‬82,‭ ‬played with Coltrane in Miles Davis‭' ‬late‭ ‬1950s band,‭ ‬including on the seminal‭ ‬Kind of Blue album.‭ ‬Tenor sax player‭ ‬Javon Jackson played with drummer‭ ‬Elvin Jones,‭ ‬of‭ '‬Trane's‭ ‬A Love Supreme‭ ‬fame.‭ ‬Pianist‭ ‬Mulgrew Miller and bassist‭ ‬Peter Washington toured with drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers,‭ ‬providing countless other connections.‭ ‬The quartet honors Coltrane's legacy in a South Florida Jazz presentation on March‭ ‬12‭ ‬at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$40‭)‬.

Trumpeter‭ ‬Chris Botti's rare combination of talent and matinee-idol looks have made him a superstar.‭ ‬Few others have played muted trumpet as well since Miles Davis,‭ ‬and Botti is at home doing so within the contexts of jazz,‭ ‬pop and classical music.‭ ‬On his latest CD,‭ ‬Chris Botti in Boston,‭ ‬the trumpeter blends them all together.‭ ‬The live disc features guest appearances by Sting,‭ ‬Yo-Yo Ma,‭ ‬Katharine McPhee and John Mayer,‭ ‬all with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra and Botti's quintet members Billy Childs‭ (‬piano‭)‬,‭ ‬Robert Hurst‭ (‬bass‭)‬,‭ ‬Billy Kilson‭ (‬drums‭) ‬and Mark Whitfield‭ (‬guitar‭)‬.‭ ‬See Botti on March‭ ‬17‭ ‬at the Kravis Center's Dreyfoos Hall‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$25-$100‭)‬.

Remembering Chet Baker‭ ‬honors a trumpeter/vocalist who missed out on the legacy his talent warranted.‭ ‬After a successful solo career and work with Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan,‭ ‬Baker‭ (‬who often battled substance abuse‭) ‬fell to his death out of a hotel window in the Netherlands at age‭ ‬58.‭ ‬But between trumpeter‭ ‬Bobby Shew‭ (‬who's worked with the Tommy Dorsey,‭ ‬Woody Herman and Buddy Rich orchestras‭) ‬and singing pianist‭ ‬John Proulx‭ (‬who released a CD last year called‭ ‬Baker's Dozen‭: ‬Remembering Chet Baker‭)‬,‭ ‬Baker's spectrum of introspective-to-fiery playing and breathy vocals is covered.‭ ‬He's remembered on March‭ ‬22‭ ‬at the Harriet Himmel Theater‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35‭)‬.

Karrin Allyson.

Vocalist‭ ‬Karrin Allyson certainly isn't in Kansas anymore,‭ ‬having left her home state to settle in Nebraska,‭ ‬San Francisco,‭ ‬and now New York City.‭ ‬Her‭ ‬12‭ ‬CDs include creative tributes from‭ ‬Ballads:‭ ‬Remembering John Coltrane‭ (‬2001‭) ‬to‭ ‬Imagina:‭ ‬Songs of Brazil‭ (‬2008‭)‬,‭ ‬and her dexterity between rapid-fire scat-singing and expressive ballads has earned three Grammy nominations.‭ ‬She'll perform with the trio led by Shelly Berg‭ (‬who's both a talented pianist and dean of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami‭) ‬on March‭ ‬26‭ ‬in the Jazz Arts Music Society's annual fundraising dinner concert at Falls Country Club in Lake Worth‭ (‬6:30‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$85‭ ‬for members,‭ ‬$95‭ ‬for non-members‭)‬.

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