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Countdown: Where To Go & What To Hear In NEO April 11-17

The Jazz-Bins, (from left) Joe Dyson, Marc Ribot, Greg Lewis

Friendly experiencers,

Monday’s Great Celestial Gig In The Sky is going to be hard to top. On the other hand, NEO jazz fans don’t have to wait 200 years for next big show to arrive, April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and there’s much to appreciate in the area’s clubs, concert halls and other venues. Here are four such shows, all filled with blindingly original and exciting players. File your taxes, mow the lawn and reward yourself with the best music Northeast Ohio has to offer.

UA Jazz Ensemble

University of Akron JazzFest 2024, Thursday, April 11, 7:30 p.m., BLU Jazz+, 47 E. Market St., Akron, and Friday, April 12, 7:30 p.m., E.J. Thomas Hall, 198 Hill St., Akron

One can debate whether the shift in jazz education from the bandstand to the classroom is a positive or negative development, but if jazz is to find a home in the academy, let it be taught by players who came up in the tradition. Chris Coles and Dan Wilson are two such players, and their addition to the faculty at the University of Akron is an unalloyed good. The fruits of their classroom labors are on display this week at UA’s annual Jazz Week, beginning tonight at Blu Jazz+ with a concert by UA Jazz Combos and Jazz Ensemble with the Birth of the Cool Ensemble and the I Promise School Jazz Ensemble. Friday’s Finale Concert at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall is an interdisciplinary affair featuring the Jazz Combo and Birth of the Cool Ensemble with the UA Dance Ensemble, Wilson and guest pianist Martha Kato. At a time when universities are gutting liberal arts programs, UA’s commitment to jazz education is something to applaud. And support.

The Jazz-Bins, Saturday, April 13, 7 and 9:30 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland

Guitarist Marc Ribot once told an interviewer that as a left-hander playing right-handed, he couldn’t be a jazz guitarist if he tried. I call bullshit–not that such an intervention is necessary when the man has jazz credits with such artists as bassist Henry Grimes and in the trio of Hammond B-3 organist Brother Jack McDuff in a guitar chair once occupied by George Benson. That gig was not a long-lived nor apparently a congenial one for the young Ribot, but the music must have made an impression because he has reincarnated Brother Jack’s organ trio as the Jazz-Bins for a 2024 tour. The name is in keeping with Ribot’s slyly subversive sense of humor; this is the man who once played Cuban conjunto music with a band he called Los Cubanos Postizos (The Prosthetic Cubans). Yet there will nothing prosthetic about the current band. Organist Greg Lewis somehow translated Thelonious Monk’s piano style to the B-3 and made it work while drummer Joe Dyson brings the whole New Orleans thing to the kit. BOP STOP director Bryan Kennard wisely booked two shows for Saturday night but at press time tickets were scarce. Don’t be a has-been if you want to hear these three throw down.

Dan Bruce

Dan Bruce & Friends, Wednesday, April 17, 1:30 p.m., Rocky River Senior Center, 21014 Hilliard Rd., Rocky River

What better way to show appreciation for the jazz audience than to bring the music to the people free of charge? That’s exactly what the Local 4 Music Fund is doing Wednesday as busy guitarist Dan Bruce makes the short trip to River for a free afternoon concert. He’s not only a great player, but he has great friends, too, in this case trumpet firestarter Tommy Lehman, Kip Reed on bass and drummer Zaire Darden. West Siders and anyone interested in hearing just how good Cleveland jazz can be should reserve the afternoons of April 25 and 30 when the Fund will present two local bands filled with the kind of players you would gladly pay real money to hear. Check out the details at the Local 4 site here and clear your calendar. These are going to be good.

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,


JJA bug