Archive for the Jazz in Charlotte Category

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz – Thursday, 12/1: JazzMas Begins with Buff Dillard

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, Holiday Jazz, Jazz in Charlotte, JazzLives! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2016 by curtjazz
buff-dillard-225

Buff Dillard

In the same way that we used to on Live365’s Curt’s Cafe Noir, we will celebrate the Holidays throughout December on JAZZ LIVES with CurtJazz on Charlotte Community Radio. And we will kick off our “JazzMas” celebration in fine style, during our show on Thursday, December 1, with our special guest, trombonist Buff Dillard, who will join me from 7pm – 8 pm (ET).

Born into a musical family, Buff exhibited an interest for singing, drums and playing brass instruments at an early age. By the age of twelve, the trombone had become his passion and he decided to focus on mastering the slide. As a student of Martin Luther King High School in Philadelphia PA, his gift allowed him to attend the Philadelphia All-City Jazz Academy. While there, he performed with the Philadelphia All-City Jazz Band, Pieces of a Dream, and the legendary Count Basie Band. He was also able to attend jazz workshops instructed by the celebrated jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

buffdillard2

As a solo artist, Mr. Dillard has released a total of 8 independent projects, including his latest album, Mr. Bonejazz and his Holiday themed EP Christmas Moments. Buff is endorsed by Conn/Selmer/King Instruments and continues his career as a trombonist, performer, independent international recording artist and CEO of Buff Dillard Music LLC.

During JAZZ LIVES!!! on December 1, Buff Dillard will join me during the 7 pm hour of the show. We will talk about his music, his influences, his current projects and we will play a few tracks from Christmas Moments that will help to get us all in the mood for the Holiday Season.

Be sure to join Buff Dillard and me as we prove that there’s nothing better than “Bone for the Holidays’, on JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, Thursday, December 1; from 6 pm – 9 pm (EDT); on CLTCRadio.

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, airing LIVE every Thursday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm via CharlotteCommunityRadio.orgCLTCRadio.org OR use the Mixlr app where you can listen and chat with our hosts and guests alike.

Website: http://www.buffdillardmusic.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/buffdillard/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BuffDillard1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/buffdillardmusic/

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz – Thursday, 11/10: Trumpeter Michael Hackett

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, Jazz in Charlotte, Under The Radar with tags , , , on November 7, 2016 by curtjazz
mike-hackett-3

Mike Hackett

After a two week hiatus, JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, is pleased to return to live broadcasts on CharlotteCommunityRadio, this Thursday, November 10, with a very special guest: Michael Hackett – educator, composer, arranger and trumpet master.

An Oregon native, who now calls Charlotte home, Michael Hackett is a graduate of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he earned the BM and MM in Jazz studies as well as a DM in Brass Pedagogy. He has toured, performed or recorded with a wide variety of jazz and pop artists including Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra Jr., Ben Vereen, Aretha Franklin, Larry Willis, Sir Roland Hanna and Vincent Herring. Mike currently serves as an Assistant Professor of trumpet and Jazz Studies at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is also a member of the Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra in Greensboro, NC and the North Carolina Brass Band.

 

As a recording artist, Mike can be found on numerous albums, including Circles, his first recording as leader (Summit Records, 2005), which was described by All About Jazz as “…an exciting performance that sizzles with intensity”. About his second disc, 2013’s New Point of View (Summit Records), The Jazz Society of Oregon raved, “…There are similarities here to the exceptional Blue Note sound and concept: clear statements of melody, creative improvisation, and consistent swing. Hackett’s sound is pure hard bop pleasure and ballad finery…”

Mr. Hackett’s playing has also been featured in numerous television and radio commercials as well as in the Hollywood blockbuster The Aviator, as a member of Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks.

During JAZZ LIVES!!! on November 10, Mike Hackett will join me during the 7 pm hour of the show, to talk about his music, influences, current projects and to play a few favorite tracks from his albums and other great jazz records.

Be sure to join Michael Hackett and me as we celebrate living jazz artists, on JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, Thursday, November 10; from 6 pm – 9 pm (EDT); on CLTCRadio.

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, airing LIVE every Thursday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm via CharlotteCommunityRadio.orgCLTCRadio.org OR use the Mixlr app where you can listen and chat with our hosts and guests alike.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/curtjazz/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/curtjazz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CurtJazz/

JAZZ LIVES!!! 10/20/16 – Trumpet Tribute (featuring Kenny Dorham)

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, Jazz in Charlotte, Obscure Trumpet Masters, Who's New in Jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2016 by curtjazz

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz – Thursday, October 20: Trumpet Tribute – featuring Kenny Dorham

kennydorham_unamasOn this week’s edition of JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, it will be all about the trumpets.

With the birthdays of Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis and Dizzy Gillespie all taking place this week, plus the Grammy winning jazz trumpeter Ashlin Parker, paying tribute to the underappreciated trumpet master Kenny Dorham, in The Jazz Arts Initiative’s JAZZ ROOM this Friday and Saturday, it is a perfect time for a Trumpet Tribute, from 6 pm – 9 pm, Thursday on CharlotteCommunityRadio (CLTCRadio).

He was a trumpet player of exceptional gifts; a composer of jazz classics, such as “Blue Bossa” and a better than average vocalist. Nevertheless, McKinley Howard “Kenny” Dorham (1924-1972), often gets lost among the glut of trumpet stars of the 1950’s and 60’s. He was a member of Art Blakey’s original Jazz Messengers and he replaced Clifford Brown in Max Roach’s group after Brownie’s tragic death. Dorham’s recordings as a leader are some of the most enduring of the era, including Afro Cuban, Quiet Kenny, ‘Round About Midnight at the Café Bohemia and Una Mas. He also made memorable music as a sideman, especially with his frequent musical partner, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. Together, they made three classic Blue Note albums over a two year period, under Henderson’s name: Page One; Our Thing and In ‘n Out.

ashlin-parker

Ashlin Parker

Charlotte native Ashlin Parker plays with large and small ensembles nationally and internationally. His solos have been described at various times as being lyrical or fiery, with throaty growls or “brilliant vibrato,” and with lightning staccato runs or “superb legato” phrasing.  When part of a front-line, Ashlin can bring energy, bite, and zest to a performance through engaging in “fine counterpoint duets” or spirited trading with other horn players.  His newest ensemble, the Trumpet Mafia, is considered “an immensely talented band.”

Ashlin shared in the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble for the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra’s album, Book One.  Following Book One, Ashlin has recorded with numerous artists, including Ellis Marsalis, Harold Battiste, Dmitry Mospan, James Partridge, Terence Blanchard and Jason Marsalis. Ashlin has been teaching various aspects of jazz, including improvisation, theory, repertoire, arranging, and performance preparation in private lessons, courses, summer institutes, jazz camps, and master classes for more than ten years.  He has been leading the jazz trumpet studio in the Music Department at the University of New Orleans since January 2011.

Be sure to join me on JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, as we honor the musical legacy of Kenny Dorham and play the music of Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Hargrove and  Ashlin Parker; Thursday, October 20; from 6 pm – 9 pm (EDT); on CLTCRadio.

Don’t miss Ashlin Parker as he pays tribute to Kenny Dorham, in the Jazz Arts Initiative’s THE JAZZ ROOM. Friday, October 21, at 6 pm & 8:15 pm and Saturday, October 22, at 7 pm and 9:15 pm. For ticket information, visit www.thejazzarts.org

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, airs LIVE every Thursday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm via CharlotteCommunityRadio.orgCLTCRadio.org OR use the Mixlr app where you can listen and chat with our hosts and guests alike.

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Twitter:  @thejazzarts  @curtjazz

Facebook: JazzArtsInitiative AshlinParker CurtJazzRadio

On JAZZ LIVES!!! Thursday, May 19: Lonnie Davis of the JAI

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, Jazz in Charlotte with tags , , , on May 18, 2016 by curtjazz

 Lonnie DavisA New Orleans native, who has called Charlotte home for the past decade, Lonnie Davis and her husband, Ocie, have been credited by many with turning Charlotte into one of the fastest growing local jazz scenes in the U.S.

As president of the Jazz Arts Initiative (JAI), Lonnie has been instrumental in the creation of programs that educate local students; such as the Youth Jazz Workshops, the Jazz Arts Music Camp and the Jazz in Schools program. And, with the JAI’s highly acclaimed, regularly sold-out monthly series; The Jazz Room @ The Stage Door Theater; Lonnie and Ocie have created an oasis for parched jazz fans from around the country, who now call the Queen City home.

Already, in this season, The Jazz Room’s seventh, there have been acclaimed tributes to Louis Armstrong and Sarah Vaughan as well as Jazz Room at the Symphony, a thrilling jazz meets classical performance with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, that brought the Knight Theatre audience to its feet.

Lonnie Davis will join me during the second hour of JAZZ LIVES on Thursday, May 19, to talk about upcoming performances in The Jazz Room, such as bassist Tim Singh and the QC Latin Jazz Orchestra, paying tribute to Tito Puente (Friday, May 20). She will also share information about exciting upcoming JAI educational events, like the Jazz Arts Music Camp, in June, with guest artist in residence vibraphonist/drummer Jason Marsalis. And since we do celebrate the music of living jazz artists on JAZZ LIVES!!!, Lonnie and CurtJazz will discuss and play, music by some of the great musicians who call the Carolinas home.

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, airing LIVE every Thursday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm via CharlotteCommunityRadio.orgCLTCRadio.org OR use the Mixlr app where you can listen and chat with our hosts and guests alike.

 

(Photo of Lonnie Davis, courtesy of Southern Living.com)

Right Back Where We Started

Posted in Jazz in Charlotte, JazzLives!, The Jazz Continues... with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2016 by curtjazz

Before writing reviews, before the “Browsing the Bins” column, before Live365 and Curt’s Cafe Noir and before this blog, there was live jazz radio… The mid-90’s as a jazz DJ on what was tCurtis with Birdhen WPBX, on the East End of Long Island, was the best gig of my life, of any kind, one I reluctantly gave up, when I moved south almost sixteen years ago. As I signed off in October 2000, I always knew that I would be back one day. I just didn’t think that my son, who was less than a month old when I left, would be ready to start driving when that day came!

THE DATE IS SET!!!

Thursday, May 12; 6 pm – 9 pm (EDT). The premiere of my new radio show “JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz” on Charlotte Community Radio. The show will be a continuation of the passion that developed in me during the twelve years of Curt’s Cafe Noir – jazz by active musicians.

We will play jazz from across the spectrum, from modern to bop to swing to avant-garde. So, what will all of the artists have in common? They are all still living and playing great jazz.

I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it – For jazz to survive in the 21st century, we have got to open our ears to some of the great young musicians who are bringing some fresh ideas from their own 21st century experiences. This means that on JAZZ LIVES!!!, we will play Sonny Rollins AND Kamasi Washington. We will play Kenny Barron AND Robert Glasper. We will play Dave Holland AND Esperanza Spalding. And you will definitely hear from Mimi Jones and the marvelous ladies of Hot Tone Music.

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(l to r) Camille Thurman; Mimi Jones and Shirazette Tinnin

And, thanks to the tireless efforts of people like my friends Ocie and Lonnie Davis and the Jazz Arts Initiative, Charlotte is gaining a national reputation for producing some terrific young jazz players. So expect to also learn more about some of the QC’s contributions to  jazz’s future, like Eleazar Shafer, Phillip Whack, Harvey Cummings II, Tim Singh; Troy Conn and Tim Scott, Jr. And a few amazing talents even younger than those I just mentioned, such as Sean Mason and Veronica Leahy.

tim scott, jr

Tim Scott, Jr.

We are also blessed to have a studio that will be big enough for interviews and live performances and we plan to take advantage of that space for chats and mini concert sets with some of the greats and soon to be greats who live in or visit the Charlotte area.

All we ask from you is to give us a listen. And let us know what you think – on Facebook (CurtJazz Radio); on Twitter (@curtjazz); or on Instagram (curtjazz).

To hear JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz and all of the great programming that Charlotte Community Radio has to offer, just click this link http://charlottecommunityradio.org/
We will also be available via Mixlr (http://mixlr.com/)

More to come over the days leading up to our premiere. Watch this space!!!

CurtJazz’s Best Jazz Albums of 2015

Posted in Best Jazz Albums of 2015, Jazz in Charlotte with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2015 by curtjazz

Well, well ,well…What a difference a year makes…

Eugenie Jones | Come Out Swingin'Last year this time we jazz lovers were once again fending off the usual spate of “Jazz is Dead” announcements from various “serious” publications and also from a satirical “writer” named Django Gold, who thought it would be funny to pen an article, purporting to be Sonny Rollins, claiming to hate jazz.

Now, perhaps because jazz has proven to have more lives than Freddy Krueger, there have been in the past couple of months, an article in The Washington Post and an article/pictorial in Vanity Fair, celebrating jazz and [gasp], the young musicians that represent its future.

This kind of national-level publicity, along with what is happening on  local scenes (such as right here in Charlotte, NC, with the Jazz Arts Initiative, led by my friends, drummer Ocie Davis and flutist Lonnie Davis) has given my cynical middle-aged heart, a smidgen of hope for what is ahead for the music that I love.

I was also greatly encouraged by the tremendous crop of first-rate jazz recordings this year. A major contributor to this is that the jazz world has all but broken free of looking for the approval of the major record label conglomerates. For new jazz recordings, indie labels and self releases have become the rule, not the exception. In fact on my list, only six of the 25 albums have some sort of tie to what would be considered a major label.

And the music itself, cuts across a spectrum of styles, influences and even chronological ages – from vocalists Cecile McLorin Salvant who is 26, to the legendary Tony Bennett, still relevant and vital at 89; from instrumentalists such as Albert “Tootie” Heath, the youngest of The Heath Brothers, at 80; to the exciting twenty-somethings who lead some of the tracks on the wildly creative compilation, Supreme Sonacy, Volume 1.

Yes friends, jazz is still very much alive and kicking some butt. And without further ado, here is a list of 26 recordings that kicked my butt in 2015, in alphabetical order by album title. As usual, we will follow this list with discussions and clips from each of the albums over the next few days. In each title is embedded a link to a place to purchase the CD or download of each recording.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Glorious Kwanzaa and Happy New Year, everyone!

A Rich Jazz Jam at Poor Richard’s

Posted in Jazz in Charlotte, Who's New in Jazz with tags , , , , , , on June 14, 2013 by curtjazz
Tim Scott, Jr.

Tim Scott, Jr.

“While we don’t want to come here and play a bunch of instrumental R&B, we also don’t want to be trapped in the traditions…”Tim Scott, Jr.

When I conceived the idea of writing this post, it was supposed to be about the start of something big. As it turns out, we end up writing about a brief, shining moment.

On April 8th a group of young Charlotte based musicians had arranged to come together a Poor Richard’s Book Shoppe a local bookstore, for what was to be an every Monday night Jazz Jam Session. They were led by Tim Scott, Jr. a fine young drummer (no relation to the SC Senator, to my knowledge)  and his group “Fat Snacks”. They wanted to recreate the spirit of the old jams of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, which birthed some of jazz’s greatest stars and innovations. To do something like this in a place like Charlotte which is not (yet) known for its jazz scene was, to me, very exciting indeed.

It took me a while to find Poor Richard’s but once I did, I got chills from what I saw. The jam had already started and on the stage was a quintet of musicians, all from my estimation in their early to mid twenties and very talented. They were exploring the boundaries of jazz and what it meant to them. It was clear that they all had some knowledge of jazz traditions but they were not chained to conventions that were over half a century old. These young cats were all born in the late 20th century and came of age in the 21st. Their common language is not Tin Pan Alley, Jump Blues or even Motown but it is the hip-hop, R&B and rock artists of today.

Though many of my generation and older scoff at younger players for just this reason, I for one find it very exciting. It gives me hope for growth in the music I love and a sense that maybe jazz has a chance to get out of the museums and into the consciousness of some millennials.

There was an enthusiastic crowd of about two dozen people of all races, ages, sexes and sizes, jammed into the intimate Poor Richard’s space. People grabbed chairs, sofas and floor wherever they could and the mood was very relaxed.

The ten or so musicians who dropped into and off of the makeshift stage were generally excellent. Scott, Jr. took on the defacto role of leader, making announcements and introductions but also driving the band from behind his drum kit with shouts of encouragement and most importantly, a steady, driving beat. Jonny Fung on guitar has absorbed the lessons of the jazz and rock guitar greats into a cohesive sound that is fascinating. Tim Singh on bass is already a pro’s pro at his young age, commanding the rhythm and soloing with ease. Henry Cummings (you’ll see him in a green t-shirt in the videos) plays some cool melodies on his alto sax.

There was one musician who caught my attention above all others; Marcus Jones on alto sax. Looking relaxed in his backward baseball cap as he waited his turn, he was as unassuming as could be. But when he began to blow it was with the fire, precision and unrelenting creativity of a Cannonball Adderley. I had never heard Mr. Jones’ name before that night. I will not forget it from now on. Check out the accompanying video clips, for evidence of what I’m saying. Watch out for Marcus Jones, I expect that we will hear a lot from him outside of the Charlotte area.

It seemed as if the jam was an idea whose time had come. Attendance was good the first few sessions and word of mouth had created a bit of buzz behind it. But unfortunately fate intervened in an unkind way.  Poor Richard’s was unexpectedly forced to vacate its location on May 17. The Monday Night Jazz Jam had its final performance on Monday, May 13, a scant five weeks after it had begun.  We are left with the hope that either the bookstore will find another home that will welcome the music or that some venue in the area will champion the idea of a jazz jam and start the ball rolling again. Until then, we have a lot of hope and a few lasting memories. In spite of it all, jazz is alive in Charlotte, NC.

Fred Wesley and Two Saxophonists to Watch

Posted in Jazz in Charlotte, Under The Radar, Unsung Saxophone Masters, Unsung Women of Jazz, Video Vault, Who's New in Jazz with tags , , , , on June 9, 2013 by curtjazz

susanne altIt’s funny sometimes how a search for one thing can lead to another. During the May edition of THE JAZZ ROOM here in Charlotte, I was introduced to the talents of tenor saxophonist Phillip Whack, who was playing with Mark Rapp during the Miles Davis tribute. Mr. Whack turned in an impressive performance that night that arguably stole the show.

I spoke to Phillip after the show and found out a little about his background. He is a Carolinas native, that unfortunately he does not have any available recordings at this time and that he has spent a bit of time touring with Fred Wesley, the legendary trombonist of the J.B.’s; James Brown’s backup band.

Phillip Whack

Phillip Whack

I was inspired then to go to YouTube in search of some footage of Whack and Wesley. I found a good bit of it but I also made another discovery; on the bandstand during several of the performances was a young woman next to Whack, playing alto sax. The fact that she is fairly easy on the eyes is immediately apparent. The next thing you notice is that she is a very good saxophonist and her presence on the stand is by no means a novelty. Her name is Susanne Alt.

This led me to widen my search for more information concerning Ms. Alt. She was born in Germany and is now based in Amsterdam. She has released five albums as a leader, which range in styles from post bop to house to J.B.’s style funk. She has her own YouTube Channel, Venustunes where you can view and hear copious evidence of her musical talents. I can recommend a trio of her albums – Nocturne, her straightahead 2004 recording debut; On Track a funk steeped 2009 release that features Mr. Wesley and Live at Bimhuis from 2011, which covers all facets of her musical personality.

So here you have two gifted saxophonists that you’ve probably heard not a lot about, Phillip Whack and Susanne Alt. The two-part video clip included here features a dynamite performance of “Chameleon” from a Fred Wesley and the New J.B.’s club date at JazzClub Minden in Minden, Germany, that was featured on Venustunes. This was the set opener so everybody gets a turn. Alt starts at about 5:25 of Part 1 and takes it to the end. Whack opens Part 2 and shows that he will not be outdone.

It’s great funk from some master musicians and a chance to make a few new discoveries. Enjoy!

A Room of Our Own in Charlotte

Posted in Jazz in Charlotte, The Jazz Continues... with tags , , , , , , , on May 19, 2013 by curtjazz

The Jazz Room - Spring 13In the dozen or so years that I’ve called Charlotte home, the city’s relationship with the music I love has been at best, tenuous. Big name artists will come to town occasionally for a night, on their way to somewhere else. There have been several clubs that have used the word “jazz” in their name but how much actual jazz was performed in them was often limited. I think that those involved liked the idea of being a “jazz club” and the aura of coolness that went with the moniker but most of the time what you got when you walked through the doors was rehashed instrumental funk and loud, second-rate R&B groups.

Meanwhile most of us lovers of traditional jazz were left to either wait for the headliners to pass through or support these local so-called jazz clubs, hoping to be thrown an occaisonal bone for our patience. All the while wishing to have a room of our own, where we could hear the jazz of Miles, Diz, Monk and Newk.

Thanks to Lonnie Davis and the great people of the Jazz Arts Initiative (JAI) of Charlotte, our patience has been rewarded.

Last month the JAI premiered “THE JAZZ ROOM”, which for now is occurring on the 3rd Tuesday of every month at the Stage Door Theater; a black box space in the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte’s Uptown business district. Through the magic of stagecraft, the space is transformed into an elegant jazz club, complete with candlelit tables in the front of the room and general admission seating toward the rear. The concerts begin at 6 pm, allowing those who are getting off from work in the area to come in after a hard day, have a drink and hear some great jazz played by some of the finest musicians that this region has to offer. Tickets for each event are currently a very reasonable $10.

The Jazz Room - Spring 13

The series got off to a great start in April with pianist Chad Lawson paying an outstanding tribute to the music of Bill Evans before a sold out and very enthusiastic audience. The series continues on May 21 with trumpeter Mark Rapp leading a quintet, playing the music of Miles Davis. This performance is already nearly sold out. The next two dates have also been announced with trombonist Tyrone Jefferson in a tribute to Slide Hampton on June 18 and saxophonist Tim Gordon honoring Dexter Gordon (no relation) on July 16th.

Jazz Room 3

Would we like for THE JAZZ ROOM to be open more than once a month? Of course; but let’s face it, you’ve got to crawl before you walk or run. Any kind of jazz series, contemporary or traditional, is a tough sell in this economy so building an audience incrementally is a wise business model. Right now it seems as if Ms. Davis and the JAI may be onto something which will work in the long run and we Charlotteans who love jazz are very, very grateful. Kudos to Lonnie, Ocie, Glyn and all of those in the leadership of the JAI.

By the way the onstage MC at THE JAZZ ROOM is a grizzled veteran jazz radio DJ/magazine columnist/blogger named Curtis Davenport. Please try to forgive his corny jokes; he writes his own material.

For more information on the JAI and THE JAZZ ROOM, visit the JAI Website. To purchase tickets for any of the upcoming JAZZ ROOM events, go to Carolina Tix.

A “Royal Jam” in The Queen City

Posted in Jazz in Charlotte, JazzLives! with tags , , , , , , on September 24, 2012 by curtjazz

In New York, Chicago, Philly or San Francisco, this night would have probably passed without notice. But in Charlotte, NC, where jazz jams occur on a basis closer to quarterly than nightly, this was an event of note…Ocie Davis, the veteran drummer, who makes his home base in Charlotte, was in town for a few days in early June, so he put out the word that there would be a  jam session, featuring his group, “The Queen’s Collective”  at 10 pm on Wednesday, June 6, at The Evening Muse, a funky little bar in the NoDa section of town, with a decidedly bohemian atmosphere.

These NoDa jams used to be regular weekly occurrences, but with Mr. Davis on the road quite a bit lately, they had pretty much died out…So when the word of this mid-week gathering went out via Facebook, Charlotte’s small but faithful jazz community was abuzz. I knew that my butt would be draggin’ when I got to work on Thursday morning, but hell, it was going to be worth it!

Eleazar Shafer (trumpet) and Zach Wheeler (sax) at the Queen’s Collective Jam on 6/6/12

I arrived a little before 10 and found a spot at the back of the club. The weekly Open Mic night was still going on and it would continue well past its scheduled conclusion time. By 10:30 those of us who had come to hear jazz were quietly getting a bit restless waiting for the game gaggle of college aged kids to relinquish the stage.  When they finally did, at around 10:40, Ocie and crew went quickly to work getting things set up for the session. He was joined by Queen’s Collective veterans, guitarist Troy Conn, Tim Singh on bass and percussionist Robert Beasley.  Conn is a UNC-Charlotte grad with fleet fingers, a gorgeous full tone and a touch of a CTI era GB influence. Mr. Singh is a young bassist who shows a world of promise.  Mr. Beasley is a veteran percussionist, versed in many styles. He is also without a doubt the coolest cat in the band, who with his shaved head and dark shades, resembles Roy Haynes’ younger Doppelganger.

Percussionist Robert Beasley at the Evening Muse on 6/6/12.

The collective kicked things off with a gritty untitled blues that featured Mr. Conn’s dirty guitar work. This was followed by a cool take on Joe Henderson’s “Recordame”. Conn and Singh set the table with their strong solos, followed by Davis and Beasley feeding off of each other in lockstep and showing the kids how it’s done.

Next was Trane’s “Impressions”; a ballsy move for any group that features a guitarist as we all have the sound of Wes Montgomery’s classic version from Smokin’ at the Half Note etched in our memories.  But as you’ll see in this clip, young Troy Conn is up to the task.

With the crowd now warmed up Ocie called for “Cissy Strut” – a staple for any percussionist with Bayou roots. Things then got even better when Mr. Davis summoned to the stand Eleazar Shafer, a 26 year-old Charlotte native who is now based in NYC, with a lot of Hubbard in his horn and in his attitude.  You’ve got to like a cat who takes the stage wearing a t-shirt that reads “I Am Awesome”; you’ve got to love him when he can back it up. Suffices to say, we love “Shafe”.

Davis then decided to take a break and relinquished the drum chair to Jacob Cavell. Another promising youngster, Zach Wheeler grabbed his alto sax and they then dove into one of my favorite Coltrane tunes, “Equinox”, with fine results.

There was much still to come as more musicians arrived, fully ready to go on all night long. Unfortunately however, I wasn’t, as I knew that I had to get out of there if I was to stand any chance of  being even semi-coherent at work later that day. So regretfully,  I had to cut out a little before 1 – missing in the process some great music and some fine new talent but feeling hopeful for the future of jazz in The Queen City.

It was fun y’all. Let’s do it again real soon!