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Countdown: Where To Go & What To Hear In NEO, Feb. 22-29

Ken Vandermark's Edition Redux
Ken Vandermark’s Edition Redux. Photocredit: Alex Inglizian

Friendly Experiencers,

It’s been a minnit, I know, but the last eight weeks has been a bit of a time, which is to say that big changes are afoot, but getting on the good foot, I should have the time and mental energy to resume the coverage here and there’s much to cover on the NEO scene in the very near future. So let’s get right to it.

Sing and Swing: Our American Songbook, featuring Benny Benack III and Bria Skonberg, Friday, February 23, 7:30 p.m., YSU Ford Theater, 547 Wick Ave., Youngstown

The Jazz At Lincoln Center leviathan is venturing forth from its Hell’s Kitchen lair and taking its show on the road, this week with some familiar names out front. Benny Benack III hails from Pittsburgh and Bria Skonberg returns following a November engagement with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. Both sing and play trumpet, a two-way combo cemented in jazz lore by a certain ebullient giant from New Orleans. Like Armstrong, both are as conversant with show biz as they are with chord-scale theory, and they embrace the old-fashioned but still vital skill of giving the audience their money’s worth. Interesting backing band too, including effervescent Toronto guitarist Jocelyn Gould, pianist Mathis Picard who was with Skonberg at the 2021 Tri-C JazzFest, bassist Mark Lewandowski and percussionist Charles Goold.

Cleveland Jazz Orchestra Little Big Band featuring Giuliana Soscia, Friday, Jan 23, 8 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland and Saturday, Jan 24, 8 p.m., BLU Jazz+, 47 E. Market St., Akron. The Friday concert will be livestreamed on BOP STOP’s YouTube page.

Italy is a supremely musical society, so it’s little wonder that the improvisatory, quicksilver and technically demanding art form of jazz has found a congenial home there. The accomplishments of Italian-American jazz musicians are well known, but lately the transatlantic traffic is running in both directions. This week, the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra will host pianist, arranger, composer and educator Guiliana Soscia for a pair of concerts with the Little Big Band lineup. Soscia’s musical interests are wide-ranging as are her playing experiences, both factors that make her appearance here, supported by the Instituto Italiana di Cultura of Chicago, a compelling prospect.

Ken Vandermark’s Edition Redux, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 8 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland. The concert will be livestreamed on BOP STOP’s Facebook page.

Last year, saxophonist Ken Vandermark came to BOP STOP for the first gig on an American tour by his new quartet Edition Redux, but keyboardist Erez Dessel wasn’t able to make the gig (you can refresh your memory with the details here). Fast forward ten months and Edition Redux, by now a seasoned road band with a recording, Better A Rook Than A Pawn (Audiographic Records), returns at full strength and then some for a concert co-presented by the essential New Ghosts organization. Joining Vandermark and Dessel will be Beth McDonald on tuba and electronics and drummer Lily Glick Finnegan. Vandermark is one of the music’s great connectors, gathering not only generations but strands of music from all sorts of people, places and traditions. The result is never predictable, but always surprising, delightful and thought provoking.

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,