For music scribblers, the first two weeks of December are what the first two weeks of April are like for normies: a time of dread and foreboding. Like Tax Day, the holiday concert season comes for us all. But this might be your thing, and if it is, there is a Santa’s bag full of delights, holiday-themed and otherwise, to unwrap in the next week. So, drink deeply of the wassail cup and be merry and bright and all that.
Category: Event previews
Tomorrow evening, Nov. 30 at BOP STOP, I’ll have the honor of presenting the Jazz Journalists Association’s 2023 Cleveland Jazz Hero Award to Gabe Pollack. To borrow the title of a great Paul Motian song, it should’ve happened a long time ago, but scheduling conflicts and my own disorganization got in the way. Oh well, it’s still 2023, isn’t it?
Rather than make a new case for this honor, I’ll refer you to the JJA’s own commemoration of Gabe’s award and repost below an appreciation I published last August. Any similarity in the language is purely coincidental.
If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll come out tomorrow night and give Gabe his well-deserved flowers. Stop by my table and say hello if you think about it. Now here’s that piece:
Word reached me late yesterday that Gabe Pollack, longtime director of Bop Stop at the Music Settlement, will be leaving the Hingetown club to become director of performing arts at the Cleveland Museum of Art (you can read CMA’s announcement here, the Settlement’s here).
I look at let’s call this as a sort of chamber of commerce for the local scene. It’s important work, especially given the general indifference of the local media to improvised music in the Black American tradition and it’s great fun for me to do, a gateway for this NEO neophyte into the thriving local scene. But two posts a week takes a lot of time to crank out and with holiday travel, my anniversary and listening to catch up with before the yearend polls are due, the next couple of weeks will concentrate on these Countdown previews of upcoming events. Fortunately, there’s a lot to talk about, including more new releases, the first big event at a significant new venue and more. Buckle up. It’s going to be an interesting ride.
The first thing you need to know about bass trombonist Jennifer Wharton, who will bring a septet to Akron and Cleveland this week, is that she has a delightfully playful sense of humor. The second thing you should know is that she’s nobody’s fool. So when she chose Bonegasm as the name of her four-trombone band, she knew she would hear about it.
“Being a lady brass player, my suit of armor, my protection for most of my career was my humor. If I could hang with the guys and tell jokes, whatever,” Wharton said in a humor-filled video call from her home in the New York area. “But I have been in a couple situations where I can give as good as I get, and people have been offended because it’s a woman saying it.”
Her response to them? “Well, bite me,” she said laughing.