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Countdown: Where To Go & What To Hear In NEO April 18-25

Friendly experiencers,

A reaction to a COVID booster swamped my Tuesday preview (staying healthy is making me sick!) and a badly timed security certificate expiration wiped out my Wednesday. So to make up, it’s time for an expanded Thursday Countdown–not that I needed an excuse because the coming week is high-key loaded with notable jazz events. Touring artists and local luminaries alike await your appreciative ears and enthusiastic applause. So take a portion of that tax refund check (you DID get those done, right?) and head out to a club or concert hall near you and make the momentum happen.

Marion Meadows Group wsg Hubb’s Groove, Friday, April 19, 7:30 p.m., Murphy Theater, Tri-C Metro Campus, 2900 Community College Ave., Cleveland

Contemporary jazz, or what I call instrumental R&B, doesn’t often make it into my listings, but maybe it should. With funk rhythms, jazz improvisation and gospel fervor delivered with a pop/R&B garnish, it’s a stylistic cocktail that uses all the ingredients that Cleveland loves, And of course, it goes down–there’s no avoiding the word–smooth. There might no better–or more enduring– embodiment of the style than saxophonist Marion Meadows, unless it’s special guest band Hubb’s Groove. Expect to see a lot of feet patting and heads nodding in Tri-C’s intimate Murphy Theater. And maybe a fair amount of hand holding and who knows what else. After all Meadows is billing this as The Romantica Tour 2024.

Bobby Selvaggio:  Stories, Dreams, Inspirations: For My Boy,

Bobby Selvaggio 11 Record Release, Friday, April 19, 8 p.m., BLU Jazz+, 47 E. Market St., Akron

Bobby Selvaggio‘s new recording, Stories, Dreams, Inspirations: For My Boy, released last Friday, is as restlessly inventive as its creator. Boasting an all-star cast of northeast Ohio’s finest players, it’s a labor of love dedicated to the saxophonist’s son, Julian. The family affair extends to the band, which includes Selvaggio’s wife Chelsea on vocals, Chris Coles, Tony Spicer and Brad Wagner on saxophones, trumpeters Tommy Lehman and Mark Russo, a rhythm section of Joe Leaman, piano, bassist Kip Reed and Zaire Darden on drums and in the trombone section Zach Warren and Chris Anderson, your newly minted 2024 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Hero, From the exuberant opener, “Good People” to the concluding nocturne “Four Past Midnight” this is music rich with incident and saturated with instrumental color. Listen closely. You won’t want to miss a note. And to save the logrolling for last, I’ll be there to moderate a short pre-concert conversation with Selvaggio and guests.

Ari Hoenig Trio, Saturday, April 20, 7 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Rd., Cleveland

Ari Hoenig must have liked the reception he received when he brought his new trio to BOP STOP last July, a gig that I previewed here, He’s back again with trio mates bassist Ben Tiberio and the Israeli pianist Gadi Lehavi for another session at the intimate Hingetown boîte for an evening that promises to be laden with quick-twitch interaction and subtle provocation. We are blessed to live in an era of peak piano trio practice and though Hoenig’s group is of relatively recent vintage, it absolutely belongs among the best.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Saturday, April 20, 7:30 p.m., E.J. Thomas Hall, 198 Hill St., Akron

April 29 will mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of Duke Ellington. America’s greatest composer has been a constant presence in the programming of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. So it’s no surprise that in commemoration of the event, the longstanding big band is touring an Ellington program, which rolls into Akron Saturday evening under the auspices of Tuesday Musical. Ellingtonia is a musical universe unto itself, one that offers many rewarding paths of inquiry. Saturday’s concert will train its lens on two of the less explored corners of the master’s late-period output, film scores and the suites. Orchestra saxophonist Ted Nash lays out the details to Cleveland Classical’s Mike Telin in his preview of the concert, which you can read here,

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