Winner of APA Cole Porter Fellow After two nights of intense, innovative jazz piano competition, 25-year-old Adam Birnbaum of New York City emerged as the 2004 winner of the prestigious title of Cole Porter Fellow. Birnbaum was brilliantly consistent throughout the close competition, performing in trio and solo settings, and backed up by the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra — a new wrinkle added this year. Birnbaum picked up a prize package of over $70,000 — with $15,000 in cash. Adam Birnbaum emerged as the 2004 Cole Porter Fellow. I spoke with an exhilarated Birnbaum, who admitted he doesn’t think about competing. “I try not to think about it, sometimes thinking is my worst enemy. I try to stay relaxed and just read and take it easy. All the practice came earlier in my life. When it comes down to the stretch, it’s more important to be in the right mental state.”
Birnbaum’s music choices were all from standards of the American Songbook. “They didn’t give us any ideas about repertoire. Personally, I have always enjoyed those tunes and I am most comfortable playing them and I thought they would represent me best as a pianist.” As the American Pianist Association’s Best in Jazz, Birnbaum will be featured at the Sixth Annual Indy Jazz Fest, along with numerous appearances and tours over the next two years.
Jazz happenings There’s more than the roar of engines in the month of May for Indy. You can get your groove on with the fun shout of jazz sounds this week.
The Chatterbox, 435 Mass. Ave., welcomes back from Seattle pianist/composer Amy Stephens, who has gathered her group for a performance Friday, May 14. It’s Latin night with Urbanos Light Saturday, May 15. Music both nights goes 10:30 p.m. to 2.a.m.
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, 45 S. Illinois St., “Sizzling Steaks & Jazz Sundays” features the Bill Lancton Trio May 16 playing 7 to 10 p.m.
Jazz on the Avenue, 617 Indiana Ave. in the fourth floor ballroom of the Madame Walker Theatre Center, has the sassy swinging vocals of Mary Moss & Friends Friday, May 14 performing 6 to 10 p.m. Admission fee is $10; a optional soul food buffet is available.
The Artsgarden, Illinois and Washington streets, has a free concert with D. Crystal performing jazz, blues and pop at 12:15 p.m.
At the Hyatt Regency, 1 S. Capitol Ave., The Four Sexes, vocals and instrumentals, can be heard on The Porch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
St. Elmo Steakhouse, 127 S. Illinois St., has Olde School playing Thursday, May 13 from 7 to 10 p.m.
The Jazz Kitchen, 54th Street and College Avenue, has internationally acclaimed pianist Lynne Arriale’s Trio playing May 14 with Jay Anderson, bass, and Steve Davis, drums. Arriale, who consistently places in the top bracket of various jazz rankings, will release a new CD, Come Together, in September. It will offer diverse material for this trio, ranging from the Beatles to Scottish classics and her own original melodies. Returning Saturday, May 15 is the party popular sound of Dog Talk. Sets both nights are 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.
Sullivan’s Steakhouse, 3316 E. 86th St., Keystone at the Crossing, has the duo of Claude Sifferlen, piano, and Joe Deal Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15 playing 5 to 11 p.m.
Keystone Grill, 8650 Keystone Crossing Blvd., presents Steve Corn, piano, and Fred Withrow, bass, playing Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. (vocalist Julie Houston joins the duo on Wednesday); Saturday, 7 to 10 p.m. Lisa Baldwin offers smooth jazz and adult contemporary vocals and keyboard on Monday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Justin plays solo keyboards Thursday and Friday from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Parrotheads, 5522 E. Fallcreek Pkway. N. Drive, has Tommy Mullinix & The Naptown Strutters playing hot Dixieland jazz each Sunday 6 to 9 p.m.
Pauly’s Italian Restaurant, Southport Road and Highway 37, features the Notemen Jazz Combo on Wednesday, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Friday, 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Hancock County Public Library will present the Oliver Nelson Jr. Quintet with guest David Baker in this year’s final free concert of “Music With Our Friends” jazz series Thursday, May 13 at 8 p.m. at the Greenfield Christian Church, 23 N. East St.
Chuck Workman is the producer/host of the Sunday Morning Jazz Show at 107.9 WTPI.