It was a horn of plenty last weekend with Randy Brecker and Terence Blanchard in town. These groups were opposites in their approaches.
Brecker was marvelous in a virtuoso role backed up by some of Indy's best players, including Steve Allee, Frank Glover, Jack Helsley and Jason Keenan. Known for his jazz/rock approach, Brecker's trumpet tossed off fiery, yet logical excursions in an evening of neo-bop jazz.
Terence Blanchard's Sextet was more ambitious and introspective. The mature Aaron Parks on piano was a joy to hear. Blanchard's horn was searing with slurs, shouts of joy and sadness with his stable mates matching his wide-ranging moods. The second set was an emotional roller coaster.
* Remember saxophone prodigy Sophie Faught, who is currently a student in jazz studies at Indiana University? Harry Miedema, Faught's former mentor and head of University of Indianapolis jazz studies, told me that renowned jazz trumpeter Nicholas Payton was giving a master class at IU's music school and was so taken by her skill that she played in his group for a two-night gig in Minneapolis last Monday and Tuesday.
* Jazz and classical music will intertwine at the Hilbert Circle Theatre Sunday, Jan. 29 in the concert "If Mozart Wrote Jazz." Making its headline debut with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra string players is the 16-piece Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra.
For Brent Wallarab, artistic director of the BWJO, this is a goal he has sought for the orchestra. "This is an incredible opportunity. Jazz, being the great American artform, should be a constant in the concert hall as well as the clubs. To get to work with the ISO is wonderful; we have always approached the way we write and arrange and orchestrate our music like a chamber orchestra. I think it's a real good fit."
Featured soloists will be Frank Glover on clarinet and saxophone and vocalist Steven Stolen, tenor. This event is part of a three-concert series that has been celebrating Mozart's birth. Performance time is 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $15.
* The Jazz Kitchen will debut a pair of new bands this weekend. Friday, Jan. 27, the six-piece Free For All group debuts its dedication to playing and paying tribute to the pioneers of modern jazz, especially bebop. Anchoring the group are Steve Jones, piano, Joel Kelsey, bass, and Anthony Lee, drums. The front horn line has David Allee, trumpet, Rob Dixon, saxophone, and Rich Dole, trombone.
Saxophonist Rob Dixon will share the arranging and tune selection with Rich Dole. "We are going to play a lot of stuff from the Blakey era but we are also going to do some original music, too. I'm going to transcribe some of the Blakey tunes with Rich," Dixon stated. The group's musical emphasis will be on post bop sextet jazz of the '60s and '70s and such artists as Cannoball Adderley, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Joe Henderson and Miles Davis. Shows are at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.
It will get even hotter when Illuciones, a 12-piece salsa band out of Valparaso, Ind., brings its fiery rhythms and sensuous melodies to ignite the room. Marco Dominguez of Univision Indianapolis will also DJ a mix of salsa, reggae and merengue. Shows are at 9 and 11:30 p.m.