Jazz Notes 02/06/08 

Jazz photographer Mark Sheldon is asking local jazz musicians to strike a pose. Sunday, June 1, over 100 of them are expected to gather for a historic photo shoot on the steps of the Indiana History Center. The project falls on the 50th anniversary of photographer Art Kane’s iconic photo of 57 jazz legends, “A Great Day In Harlem.”

Steve Allee, Dr. David Baker, Melvin Rhyne and members of the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra are among those who have already committed to the shoot.

“We have gotten a commitment from many musicians,” Sheldon says.
For those who aren’t yet signed up, Sheldon has created a registration form on his Web site, www.agreatdayinindy.com.

A limited number of posters of the photograph will be printed, with proceeds going to the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation’s fund for music education.

This week: renegades, crusaders

• Thursday, Feb. 7, the Phillips Music Guild’s Jazz Renegades Big Band will play a concert honoring composer Billy Strayhorn and celebrating Black History Month. The show gets underway at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Martin University, 2171 Avondale Place.

• At the Jazz Kitchen this weekend, Friday, Feb. 8 sees the debut of the CU Jazz Crusaders, and top local jazz vocalists perform under the moniker Vocal Ease on Saturday, Feb. 9.

• The Chatterbox features a couple of straight-ahead jazz groups this weekend. Bassist Brandon Meek’s Quartet fires up grooving sounds Friday, Feb. 8, and trumpeter Clifford Ratliff’s Quintet will cook up the bop sounds of Indiana Avenue Saturday, Feb. 9. Music both nights runs 10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. with a $5 cover.

• Sunday, Feb. 10, the 30-voice Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Chamber Singers will present a vocal jazz tribute to Ellington’s “Mood Indigo” at the Indiana History Center’s Basile Theater. The 3 p.m. show costs $20 for adults and $5 for students.

Last week: saxophone phenom, Kitchen expansion

• Saturday, Feb. 2, the Artsgarden overflowed for the Art & Soul presentation of popular saxophonist Gregg Bacon’s band. It was obvious that families with school-age kids were there to see 11-year-old sax phenom Bryan Thompson. Bacon warmed up the crowd with a sizzling performance on multiple reed instruments before bringing on the kid.

It’s startling to hear how quickly Thompson is developing. He was absolutely brilliant on Saturday, repeatedly bringing the crowd to its feet, showing off his skills at improvisation and taking some musical risks. He borrowed his mentor Bacon’s technique, walking with poise through the crowd while playing.

Bryan Thompson is performing with passion and focus at a skill that is twice his age. The crowd was left awestruck.

• Yats and the Jazz Kitchen pulled off an extreme makeover in time for a highly successful Mardi Gras party Saturday, Feb. 2. Bill and Marlene Scarborough, who own the building in which the Kitchen is housed, turned the vacant Piano Merchant storefront over to Jazz Kitchen owner David Allee Friday morning. Allee wasted no time: With chain saw in hand, he cut a double door to lead from his bar lounge into the old piano store. Saturday morning saw some hasty patchwork on the opening and versatile decorating by the Jazz Kitchen’s LuAnn Lancton: She transformed the piano store into a party banquet hall, complete with bandstand, tables, chairs and a Mardi Gras gilded dance cage for partygoers. Mark Buselli’s Swamp Stomp Dixieland Band kept the revelers dancing and partying in the new addition. The two main rooms of the Jazz Kitchen were packed to the walls with celebrants well into the night.

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