Of all the varieties of schools and styles in jazz, one of the most endangered is the jazz vocal group. One of the best practitioners of this artform is the Grammy Award-winning vocal jazz group the New York Voices, who will be appearing in concert on the campus of Ball State University at the Emens Auditorium with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra this Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
New York Voices will perform in Muncie this Saturday.
Area jazz musicians Steve Allee, Frank Smith and Chris Pyle make up the rhythm section. Larry MacWilliams, Randy Salmon, Lou Kratzer and Nick Brightman will be the horn support. Darmon Meader is recognized internationally as the New York Voices" founder, musical director, chief arranger, composer, producer and a top vocalist and saxophonist in jazz today. His commitment and passion to the group coupled with his busy schedule as a sideman and university clinician provide a hectic pace that he seems to thrive on. He did take time out for our conversation about vocal jazz groups today. NUVO: In your opinion is this a dying jazz art you are performing? Meader: I think historically there have usually only been two or three groups that were sort of prominent at any given time. You know Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Four Feshman, Hilos and the Singers Unlimited were the only things going on. I think it"s always sort of been a niche idiom. Jazz is already a small niche and we have our funny little vocal group niche. Manhattan Transfer, I think, put that niche into a more visible arena by crossing over into pop and got more people listening to some of their straight-ahead jazz perspective as well. Right now, it"s a little slower but I"m sure someone else will come along because we are there regularly performing for a lot of young students of music that love vocals and love jazz. We are always having people say, "What do I have to do to have a career like what you guys are doing?" There"s definitely people interested in doing it. NUVO: Do you think academia or the colleges and universities may be the saving grace for vocal jazz groups? Meader: That"s where we get a lot of our opportunities and I think that carries over to jazz in general. I know that a lot of performing arts series are supported by universities. Most of the jazz is brought to the rest of the folks through performing arts series, university series and things of that nature and we definitely take part in a lot of that. We also take part as a clinician/educator to try to pass the torch on. There will also be a fund-raising event for the Muncie Symphony Orchestra entitled "Blue Gardenia Jazz Bash" as a pre-concert party starting at 4:30 p.m. with jazz from Jan Aldridge Clark and Rob Dixon. An after-concert party will be held at 9:30 p.m. with the Oliver Nelson Jr. Quintet with prizes, raffles and live auctions. Both take place at Vera Mae"s Bisto featuring edibles and libations. A free shuttle bus from Vera Mae"s to Emens is provided. For concert tickets, call (765) 644-3131 and for tickets for the "Blue Gardenia Jazz Bash," call (765) 285-5531. Jazz happenings This jazz week in Indy offers a wide variety of jazz sounds to enrich your musical sensitivities at various venues around town. The Chatterbox will debut an outstanding new piano group when the Steve Jones Quartet plays Friday, Oct. 25. Trumpeter Kyle Quass" new group performs Saturday, Oct. 26. Music both nights runs from 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. The Jazz Kitchen will premiere a who"s who of Indy jazz guitarists Friday, Oct. 25. This is a stellar one-of-a-kind lineup with Bill Lancton, Charlie Smith, Frank Steans, Steve Weakley and Sandy Williams playing all styles of modern jazz. There will be two shows at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Continuing the fresh sounds will be former Indy jazz trumpeter (now based in Chicago) Pharez Whitted"s Quintet, providing high-energy standards and originals for two shows. They will be held on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Highly regarded national saxophonist Dave Liebman"s Quartet brings in his eclectic sounds on originals and standards for two sets at 7 and 9 p.m. Downtown"s Ruth"s Chris Steakhouse"s "Sizzling Steaks and Jazz" series will debut the new sounds of the Mary Ann Moss Trio on Sunday, Oct. 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. The Indiana State Museum"s Legacy Series, presenting musical artists and groups, will showcase flutist Oliver Nelson Jr. in a program tribute to his father, renowned jazz composer and arranger Oliver Nelson Sr., Sunday, Oct. 27 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Reservations are recommended. Call 232-1637. Lulu"s at the Fashion Mall has Mary Moss" swinging vocals, backed up by Carl Hines and Mingo Jones performing 8 to 11 p.m. The Elbow Room has a new sound to go with that innovative Sunday Jazz Brunch that now features Tom Sullivan on guitar and Duncan Putnam on bass playing 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tip for jazz and Beignet lovers: Show up in your PJs between 10 and 11 a.m. Those signature blueberry Beignets are on the house. Chuck Workman is the producer/host of the Sunday Morning Jazz Show at 107.9 WTPI.