Brenda Williams wraps up zoo jazz series 

The Indianapolis Zoo’s popular Animals & All That Jazz series will wind up its season in a big way, showcasing the 2006 theme “Hear the Big Beat” with dynamic vocalist Brenda Williams and the Cold Fusion Band Thursday, Aug 17. Williams has built a large fan base in Indy over the years for her ability to perform in a wide variety of settings in her own defining style. Whether performing in the theater with Broadway tunes, singing ballads in a supper club or swinging away in a jazz room, she energetically communicates with her audience.

Her second CD, Brenda Williams Live Again, will be released Aug. 26 where it was recorded, the Jazz Kitchen. The hard-swinging Cold Fusion Band backing up Williams will feature Tom Padgett, guitar, Pat Finnegan, keyboards, John Klemens, bass, Kenny Phelps, drums, and Clifford Ratliff, trumpet.

Animals & All That Jazz performances are held 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the zoo’s Café on the Commons Stage. In the event of rain, performances move to the Kroger Pavilion tent. Zoo members are admitted free, for non-members admission is the regular zoo fee. Dining options are available from Crystal Catering and lawn chairs are welcome.

Roy Meriwether Trio at the Jazz Kitchen Sunday

Among jazz pianists who have performed in and around Indy for the past three decades, Roy Meriwether has one of the most loyal local fan bases. As a national recording artiston labels such as Columbia and Capitol Records, Meriwether was practically a regular on the entertainment scene playing between Indy and Lafayette in the ’70s.

Aug. 20, Roy Meriwether brings his trio to the Jazz Kitchen in a rare Sunday jazz booking at Indy’s premier jazz venue, the Jazz Kitchen.

I have worked with and known Meriwether professionally and personally for over 30 years and he is a consummate jazz artist. Meriwether is a self-taught virtuoso and composer who has recorded 18 albums and was commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1973 to write and perform an original work about black history in America that produced his classic “Black Snow Suite.”

Even after all of this time, Meriwether’s passion for touring, performing and striving for musical perfection has not shown the slightest hint of diminishing. He continues to play it his way. “I am not much different today than how I began to interpret music. I was originally an ear player. Even though music is going in all kinds of directions and it’s all about taste, some of those things I don’t really care to do,” he said. Meriwether has strong opinions about the technological advances in the music industry regarding recording and performance. “I think those things are nice if they are put in their proper perspective. No matter what is going on in technology, it’s always the thing that brings emotional tears when somebody bodily succeeds because of just pure hard work.”

Backing up Roy Meriwether Sunday, Aug. 20 at the Jazz Kitchen will be Frank Smith, bass, and Kenny Phelps, drums. Admission is $15, open for dinner at 5 p.m.; call 317-253-4900 for reservations. The Roy Meriwether Trio is presented by 88.7 WICR and Jazz City Entertainment. Meriwether will be my guest on this week’s Saturday Evening Jazz Show on WICR.

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