It was a year of massive jazz releases in all styles, both nationally and locally. The local jazz scene was especially prolific. Jazz harpist Jan Aldridge Clark turned out an aptly titled release Anything But Ordinary. The slick, captivating arrangements of tunes from Celtic to Coltrane are exceptionally performed with a variety of top local talent. Clark's aggressive but sensitive playing shows she is also a gifted composer, penning 10 of the 15 tracks.
Veteran guitarist Bill Lancton cut his most straight-ahead jazz album to date in Vintage Melange. Lancton's efforts to recreate the feel of recorded jazz from the late '60s paid off. With sympathetic support from David Murray's bass, Kenny Phelps' driving drums and Jeff DeHerdt on piano, they romp through '60s gems like "House of the Rising Sun," "Sunshine Superman" and jazz standard versions of "Body & Soul," "End of a Love Affair" and Wes Montgomery's "Naptown Blues."
Triple threat artist singer, pianist and composer Jeff DeHerdt has to rank as one of the most underrated jazz artists in town. His second release, Club Bordeaux, is a treasure. This is a deep excursion into DeHerdt's musical mind with its sardonically hip humor. Note his fondness for Thelonius Monk on the swinging "I'm All the Friends That I Got." There are 12 DeHerdt originals with words, music and arrangements played with fire by 10 local artists in various groupings.
Keyboardist and composer Fred Sights finally completed his album, The Fred Sights Project. Apart from the jazz classic "Take Five," featuring Phil Hampton's sax, there are six originals. Sights' playing is brilliant on the catchy movie-theme sounding "Marshelle's Sunrise." Barbara Epps' vocals are stunning on "Glass City." This is jazz with an alternative approach.
Award-winning vocalist Cynthia Layne's second release, Reality, is Layne's personal triumph of passion. Saxophonist Rob Dixon wrote six compositions, including the album's title cut "Reality" that Layne sings with deep conviction. "The Promise" is Layne pouring out a soulfully heated rendering of emotion. Layne has found her musical niche here.
Tim Hoover's recorded vocal debut is auspicious to say the least. Coming from choral groups, Hoover clearly shows he has natural jazz feelings on his Street of Dreams release. He is harmonically hip and is not afraid to take a chance anchored by the tastily swinging Ken Fary Trio. Noteworthy is "In The Miller Mood" - tunes associated with Glenn Miller that Hoover stirs into a blend of swinging vocalise. Hoover is a talent deserving to be heard.
Wish list to the Big Bag Man
The Big Man with a Big Bag will be laying out some insane objects this Saturday. So I thought I had better get my list together for his bag of tricks.
Top on my list is reinstating music back into all Indianapolis Public Schools, with music directors; it doesn't hurt if they favor jazz.
Second: Las Vegas-type weather (sunny, low humidity) for all three days and nights of the Indy Jazz Fest June 17-19, 2005.
Third: It would be nice to have televised performances of local jazz groups from the Jazz Kitchen back on the tube.
Fourth: Give the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation 200 pro-active new members.
Fifth: Deliver a full-time jazz club to the street known for jazz, Indiana Avenue.
These venues will be closed this week for Christmas: The Jazz Kitchen will be closed Thursday, Friday and Saturday; D'Vine a Wine bar closed Friday and Saturday; Keystone Grill closed Saturday; Rick's Cafe Boatyard closed Saturday.
Chatterbox, 435 Massachusetts Ave. Friday, Sing Along with Jane Pozek, 9 p.m. Saturday, closed for Christmas.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, 45 S. Illinois St. "Sizzling Steaks & Jazz Sunday" vocal debut of Stan Blevins & The Ken Fary Trio, 7 to 10 p.m.
Sullivan's Steakhouse, 3316 E. 86th St., Keystone at the Crossing. Friday, Steve Corn, piano, Joe Deal, bass, 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday, closed for Christmas. Sunday, Steve Corn, piano, Steve Woerner, bass, 5 to 9 p.m.
Bella Vita Ristorante, 11699 Fall Creek Road at Geist Marina. Sunday, "Jazzing Up Breakfast" with Goldie, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Smokehouse Cafe, County Line Road and Meridian Street. "Sunday Jazz Brunch" with The Impulse Jazz Trio, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dine & Dance jazz with saxophonist Tommy Wills Twosome, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Sangiovese Restaurante, 4110 E. 82nd St. Tuesday, Dave Lowe, vocals and keyboards, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Brenda Williams, vocals, David Meeks, piano, John Huber, bass. Thursday, Shannon Forsell, vocals, Ray Larman, piano, 7 to 10 p.m.
Blu Martini, 4705 E. 96th St. Wednesday, Larry Calland & Conga Jazz, 8 to 11 p.m.
Chuck Workman is the producer/host of the Sunday Morning Jazz Show at 107.9 WTPI.