As the weather turns chillier and recreation shifts to indoor locations, the NEO scene is responding with a clambake of compelling offerings this week. Touring artists and local luminaries are throwing down. That’s a challenge for those who like to map out their musical itinerary, but what a nice problem to have, right? Supporting live music is always the right choice, but for a little advice, scroll down. You’re sure to find something interesting.
Altin Sencalar, Thursday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland
Gather all the excellent trombonists on the NEO jazz scene and you could fill a good-sized room; the place is stacked with them. Tonight that room might well be BOP STOP, which will host a performance by trombonist Altin Sencalar. A Texan with Mexican and Turkish roots, Sencalar is a neck-snapping technician, able to play high and fast and, well, he simply has to be heard to be believed. Lately he has become an in-demand sideman at the Posi-Tone label and you don’t land on that roster without being able to bring the goods. Sencalar’s first leader date on the label, In Good Standing, dropped in June and BOP STOP is part of the release tour. Playing in a quartet setting with pianist Bijan Taghavi, Jeremy McCabe, on drums and steady bassist Aidan Plank should give Sencalar a lot of room to dazzle fellow trombonists and everyday jazz fans alike.
Ava Preston Quartet, Thursday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m., BLU Jazz+, Akron
What a year vocalist Ava Preston has had. After graduating from Solon High School in June, she’s in the first semester of her senior year at Kent State (you read that right). So what did this classic overachiever do on her summer break? Oh, not much, just won her 11th Downbeat Student Music Award, recorded some new original songs, and made her performance debuts at the Tri-C JazzFest and the Monterey Jazz Festival, the oldest jazz festival in the U.S. In that context her third Thursday Speakeasy Swing Sessions residency at BLU Jazz+ might seem like a casual gig, and easy to dismiss. But it’s a great way for listeners to eavesdrop on the fascinating development process of a singer already remarkably assured in her artistry, and destined for even greater things.
Orrin Evans Trio, Sunday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland
Name-brand gigs in jazz have all but disappeared these days. So it takes a lot of guts to walk away from one as Orrin Evans did when he left The Bad Plus after a three-year stint in the piano chair. It seemed to be an amicable parting with Evans expressing a desire to tend to the numerous projects under his own name, including a big band, record production and leader gigs in various formations. One of those is the trio he brings to BOP STOP for a Sunday night hit with his longtime bassist Luques Curtis and a new addition, the explosive drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr., which is also a favored rhythm section for Warren native Sean Jones. A fearless improvisor and intrepid bandleader, Evans, 48, is a worthy successor to the glittering Philadelphia piano lineage that includes Bobby Timmons, McCoy Tyner and Kenny Barron. He’s as unpredictable at the keyboard as anyone out there, but everything he does is delivered with fierce commitment and cascading joy. He’s also a great follow on social media (thank me for that tip later).
Minor Prophet Joél Presents The Funk N Parables Show, Monday, Oct. 23 6:30, p.m., Disciples Christian Church Cultural Arts Center, 3663 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland Heights
It’s not often that an album release show makes a stop at a church, but Joél Tucker, who performs as Minor Prophet Joél isn’t your usual artist. His new album, The Tucker Family Groove, drops on Apple Music Monday. The title track is, according to publicity materials, “based on the concept of his father and uncles living it up in the 70s with fancy cars, fancy clothes, and fancy shoes.” When I think of that era, I hear colossal basslines and sure enough, the band on the recording and live show is anchored by bassist Walter Barnes, Jr. Joining him will be keyboard players Andru Dennis and Jordan Wright, trumpet firebrand Tommy Lehman, thunderous drummer Gabe Jones and a guitarist who’s mysteriously billed as Fumo Faccia. Those with a rudimentary knowledge of Italian will be able to decode his identity without too much difficulty.
I couldn’t live without Jim Szabo’s essential, weekly Northeast Ohio jazz calendar , NEO’s most complete list of jazz and jazz-adjacent events. If you haven’t visited it lately, what are you waiting for?
NOTE: This article was written by a real human being. No artificial intelligence or generative language models were used in its creation.
Red beans and ricely yours,