Updated: Sep 25, 2020
The first annual Jazz Vibes Showcase at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina went off like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Forget that it was January and the weather was spring-like. Rich Speer, my co-producer, and I expected four vibes players that Sunday afternoon. We ended up with five. Here’s what happened. Headliners Joe Locke, Tony Miceli, Warren Wolf and David Friedman were signed, sealed and almost delivered when Friedman, at the last minute, realized he couldn’t make the trip from Berlin, his home. The three remaining vibesmen decided they could play the gig as a threesome so we went with it. Meanwhile Anthony Smith, a player from the West Coast and author of Masters of the Vibes, was coming and would give what would have been the fifth workshop on Saturday. Turned out it was the fourth of the day, without David, and a good one it was with Junior Jazz Foundation camper 12-year-old Duncan Ward taking a duo with Smith on “Take On Me.” By then we were set for Sunday with Tony, Warren and Joe. Tony, who is always full of ideas, thought, “Anthony and I play together a lot.” (They’ve even made a CD together, California Here We Come.) “Why don’t I invite him to share my set with me?” We were back up to four.
Saturday night we all went to dinner at the Jazz Corner and were happily surprised to see and hear Chuck Redd, another renowned vibraphone player, playing that weekend, with the Kevin Bales Quartet. An idea percolated upwards, let’s invite Redd to play in the finale, “Bags’ Groove” written by none other than legendary vibist Milt Jackson whose nickname was Bags. Redd was more than happy to share the finale spotlight with his colleagues. And then there were five. To the enjoyment of a very enthusiastic audience.
Photo by Lauren Vogel Weiss for Rhythm! Scene
Updated: Sep 25, 2020
When jazz club doors close, sometimes other doors open. There’s a literal cottage industry cropping up, as people are opening their homes to fellow jazz lovers, charging a fee to pay musicians to perform and serving refreshments in a cozy atmosphere. If there is such a group in your area, get on their mailing list – they’re usually private and space is limited. Or, host one yourself.
One of my favorite vocalists, Paul Jost, emailed me about a gig of his on a December Sunday afternoon not far from where I live. The cost was a reasonable $50 each, which included the music, appetizers, wine and the comfort of someone’s living room. Granted, it was a fairly big space, accommodating about 25 people and the Dean Johnson Quartet comfortably, including Jim Ridl on piano, Johnson on bass and Tim Horner on drums
Paul is an amazing vocalist who also plays harmonica and drums. He swings through tunes with an innovative scat language all his own and enhances tunes with percussive tricks drawn from his cuffs or some other magical place. He announces that the next tune he’ll sing is one of his favorites and laughs, “They all are.” You know that’s true by the way he lets each tune sink in before attempting another, as if he is collecting his emotions from where they’ve spilled and calling them back in an orderly fashion so they are available for the next. That’s as true of the traditional American folk song “Shenandoah” as it is of Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” also known as the theme from the movie Midnight Cowboy.
Jost has also written a great deal of music, including “Livin’ in the Wrong Time,” part of the afternoon’s repertoire. As he sings, his right hand often forms a loose fist, which he taps rhythmically on his chest, resembling a beating heart that cannot be contained. “Wrong Time” will be included on his new CD, Simple Life, due out in March 2019, along with standards like “Caravan” and contemporary tunes like “Girl from the North Country” and features special guest Joe Locke on vibraphone. Check him out at: www.pauljostmusic.com
Photo of Paul Jost by Chris Drukker
Updated: Sep 25, 2020
Some years ago, while in a group called "Jazz Friends" on a social media site, some of us got to talking about music that makes us cry. Contributors, both men and women, began offering examples, like "Goodbye" and Bill Evans playing "My Foolish Heart." Thus was born the sub-group, "The Crybabies Club." If you identify with this idea, here's an article you might want to read: "If Music Sends Shivers Down Your Spine, You Have A Special Brain" by Sheena Vasani.
Photo Credit: Wuhuiru55/Wikimedia Commons