A lot of outstanding jazz was performed over this past week in Indy. I was on hand for some of these memorable performances.
Monika Herzig"s Acoustic Trio plays on Tuesdays and Saturdays at Rick"s Cafe Boatyard.
Undoubtedly, arranger Gil Evans and Miles Davis" version of Porgy and Bess at the Indiana Historical Society by the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra was a significant event. BWJO was enhanced with a brilliant tuba performer, Tony Kniffen, and a French horn section with its burnished tones, made up of Celeste Holler, Rick Graef and Katie Cummings.
Both performances were landmarks due to the nature of Evans" arrangements, which were challenging but were handled by the BWJO with a distinct professional aplomb and enthusiasm.
The opening of the evening concert was Evans" theme song, "La Nevada," a blues tune that had Mike Stricklin"s alto sax and Jason Wiseman"s trumpet rendering some heated solo statements. BWJO artistic director Brent Wallarab led his group right into Porgy and Bess, featuring Mark Buselli and Frank Glover on "Buzzard Song," with its dark and transparent bass and alto flute, lead-and-unison bass of Jack Helsey and Kniffen"s tuba rhythm. There is so much musical color in Evans" 13 arrangements - each a portrait of a musical masterwork - but there were moments of exceptional brilliance.
On "Prayer (Oh Doctor Jesus)," Buselli was magnificent and fiery on top of a dirge-like tempo that increased in dynamics and intensity with the whole orchestra becoming one massive salvo of awesome sound, with Buselli"s trumpet riding on top. The audience roared its approval of the performance"s emotional impact.
"It Ain"t Necessarily So" and "Summertime" were the rhythmic swingers, anchored by Bryson Kerns" rimshots that gave both Buselli and Glover opportunities to stretch out with wailing solos. Glover was absolutely dazzling and passionate throughout the evening, as he was swept up by BWJO"s rendering of Evans" charts.
For me personally, it was something to watch Glover"s demeanor onstage. He was absolutely euphoric over the sounds coming from the BWJO. Breaking his usual cool, he couldn"t stop smiling for the whole concert.
That reflected the attitude of a near-capacity hall that gave Wallarab and the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra a standing ovation for more than three minutes.
It was a deserved reward for 21 great musicians who played their hearts out. A special kudo to the trumpet section of Joey Tartell, Jeff Conrad, Lennie Foy and Jason Wiseman, whose firepower was so hot it was a wonder the sprinkler system wasn"t set off.
At Ruth"s Chris Downtown"s Sunday Jazz program, Wendy Reed"s straightforward vocals lit up the room, backed by Ken Fary on keyboards, who cooked all evening with imaginative solos, and Joe Deal"s tonal and rhythmic power on bass. They kept it moving.
Reed was sensitive on "Skylark" and swung like fury on "I"ll Remember April" and "In a Mellow Tone." Her voice is striking and she held a capacity room with her sound.
Now that Easter is on us, brighten up the occasion with some fresh sounds of jazz to enhance your week.
The Chatterbox welcomes back Cathy Morris" "Straight Ahead." It"s violin in a different musical bag on Friday, April 18. Keni Washington & Omniverse return Saturday, April 19. Set times both nights run 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Ruth"s Chris Steakhouse brings back saxophonist Rob Dixon"s Quartet on Sunday, April 20 from 7 to 10 p.m.
Circle City Bar & Grille in the Marriott has Lisa Baldwin"s vocal and keyboard stylings on Friday, April 18. Conga Jazz will play an Easter Sunday Jazz Brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Jazz Kitchen brings in the popular "Lady With a Song," Mary Moss and Friends, Friday, April 18 for two sets at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. On Saturday, it"s the Latin Dance Party hosted by DJ Marco Dominguez from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Every Wednesday is WTPI 107.9"s live broadcast at the Jazz Kitchen of Nightbreeze Night Out with Oleta Martin and J.C. Culver from 7 to 10 p.m. with prizes, guests and great sounds of Cathy Morris" Brazilian Lounge Band, followed by the sensational acid jazz of Seven Pleasures, playing from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Sullivan"s Steakhouse has Claude Sifferlen on piano, Joe Deal on bass and Kevin Johnson on drums performing Friday, April 18 and Saturday, April 19 from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.
The Indianapolis Jazz Orchestra with Joel Herdia and the IJO Singers and guest jazz vibraphonist Bob Stright will play a "Frank Sinatra Tribute" Friday, April 18 at the Community Life Center at Washington Park East at 8 p.m.
Rick"s Cafe Boatyard has the Richard Torres Quartet playing on Fridays, followed by Monika Herzig"s Acoustic Trio on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Music both nights runs from 7 to 10 p.m.
Chuck Workman is the producer/host of the Sunday Morning jazz Show at 107.9 WTPI.