It’s rare to have a woman vocalist who also doubles by playing the trumpet. Michelle Latimer is such a person and she will make her Indy debut Saturday, Sept. 3 at the Jazz Kitchen for shows at 9 and 11 p.m.
Latimer, who holds a degree in journalism, is a latecomer to the world of jazz. She studied classical music and the trumpet has always been her choice of instrument. She has been singing and playing in San Francisco for five years, has been in demand as a soloist and has played across the country and worked in Europe.
When asked, she admits that the late West Coast trumpeter Chet Baker became a big influence on what she is doing, even though she didn’t find out about him until late in her career. Last year, she released her first CD on the Cool Note label, Michelle Latimer Sings & Plays, which places her in quartet to string settings. Latimer shows her composing skills on three tunes and her arranging talents on seven of the 12 tracks. Her voice, like her trumpet, is fluid in delivery, with a melodic, pure tone.
Backing up Latimer will be Luke Gillespie, piano, Frank Smith, bass, and Bryson Kern, drums. Latimer is a young talent whose star holds a very promising future.
There is a noticeable lack of young African-American jazz performers across the nation. Internationally distinguished award-winning jazz trombonist, composer, arranger and educator Slide Hampton, who covers the nation’s jazz scene, is very aware of this trend. He gave us his candid observations in this interview from Chicago before rehearsals for the Chicago Jazz Festival.
NUVO: Have you noticed in your travels across the country an absence of African-American kids seriously picking up instruments for jazz studies?
Hampton: In the bands and schools and things, there are very few African-American kids that are in them.
NUVO: What would you attribute that to?
Hampton: Part of that is the media has kind of led them away from jazz. It’s also a political thing. There are still a lot of kids that are very talented African-Americans.
NUVO: Are they teaching about jazz in the African-American college music schools?
Hampton: No, they are not, they do not even know about it. If you ask them about Charlie Parker, a lot of them don’t even know who he is. There are still a lot of them that are very fine jazz players and have good jazz ensembles.
NUVO: In a saxophone- and guitar-dominated music genre, as a trombonist, do you see any inroads being made for trombone players?
Hampton: At one time it seemed like trombone players disappeared completely from the scene; that’s when I went to live in Europe. Now there are a lot of great young trombone players and some of them will be on tour with me.
What has been billed as the nation’s largest free jazz festival opens this week in Chicago. Here are some highlights.
On Thursday: “Downbeat Poll Winners Soundstage Shows,” 5:30 p.m. at Claudia Cassidy Theatre; John Medeski, Louis Hayes & The Cannonball Tribute Band and The Joe Zawinul Syndicate at Symphony Center (tickets required), 8 p.m.
On Friday: Slide Hampton Trombone Choir, 3:30 p.m. at Grant Park Jackson Stage; Roy Haynes 80th Birthday Celebration at the Petrillo Music Shell, 8:30 p.m.
On Saturday: The Frontburners on the Grant Park Jackson Stage at noon; Sumoito Ariyoshi at 1:05 p.m.; Slide Hampton & the Jazz Links All Stars on the Jazz and Heritage Stage at 3:30 p.m.; Jack DeJohnette, John Schofield, Larry Goldings at the Petrillo Music Shell, 8:30 p.m.
On Sunday: El Trio Tropical on the Jazz and Heritage Stage at 12:30 p.m.; Le Petit Jazz Band from France at the Petrillo Music Shell at 5 p.m.; Slide Hampton & The Chicago Jazz Ensemble at 7:10 p.m.; and at 8:30 p.m., “Jammin’ for Bird,” with The Charles McPherson Quartet with guests Frank Morgan and Donald Harrison.
• The Jazz Kitchen and 54th Street merchants will hold their Seventh Annual Labor Day Event Monday, Sept. 5. Food and drink specials will be served by participating merchants. This free event takes place from noon to 6 p.m. Entertainment for all ages and music lovers will feature Rob Dixon & Trilogy from 12:30 to 2 p.m., The Charlie Smith Project from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and Dog Talk from 4:30 to 6 p.m. A raffle will be held throughout the day for a variety of prizes with the proceeds benefiting the educational outreach programs of the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation. Participating merchants are the Jazz Kitchen, the Piano Merchant, Yats and Northside News and Northside Cafe.
• The Sunday Jazz Brunch returns to the Madame Walker Theatre’s fourth floor ballroom Sunday, Sept. 4 from 1 to 5 p.m. Keyboardist Carl Hines & Friends will play. Admission is $20 and includes a buffet by Grant’s Catering.
• Gregg Bacon’s sax and flute with James Simmons’ guitar/keyboards can be heard Tuesdays at Cafe @ Ray from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
• Solo jazz pianist Dave Hepler plays Friday and Saturday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Midtown Grill, 815 E. Westfield Blvd.
• The Four Sexes perform the Sunday Brunch on the Porch at the Hyatt Regency, 1 S. Capitol, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.