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Countdown: Where To Go & What To Hear In NEO May 30 – June 5

Evelyn Wright
Evelyn Wright

Friendly experiencers,

If you want a wellness check of the local improvised music scene, start with checking the vitals. Return appearance by a touring artist: Check. Exciting new project from ace local players: Check. Free concert: Check and bonus points for the beloved Cleveland artists on the marquee. So things are looking good as northeast Ohio heads into summer and a stacked June calendar is just getting started.

Steve Carrington and Beyond the Horizon, Friday, May 31, 8 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Rd., Cleveland, tickets $25, available here

In his two previous BOP STOP appearances, Steve Carrington has established a tradition of bringing strong players to Hingetown. His debut in 2022 set a high bar with the saxophonist in the company of pianist Manuel Valera and guitarist Mark Whitfield among others. Friday’s concert keeps the beat going with Whitfield’s precocious son Davis on piano and doubles down on it thanks to the explosive young drummer Michael Shekwoaga Ode. A student of Jabali Billy Hart at Oberlin, Ode is the rhythmic engine on Isiah Collier’s The Almighty, one of the years finest releases.  The leader is no slouch either. Coming from the undersung jazz hothouse of Baltimore, Carrington’s playing captures Charm City’s borderlands vibe, one half East Coast fire and one-half Southern warmth. Fans of the game within the game will pay close attention to trumpeter Tommy Lehman. In this fast company, expect him to be at the very top of his considerable game.

OHM!, Saturday, June 1, 8 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, tickets $20 available here

Dan Bruce is the guitarist for all seasons, from the summery, Mezzogiorno lyricism of Anthony Taddeo’s Alla Boara gruppo to the burnished autumnal pastels of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. His jazz chops are unimpeachable, but, as he told me earlier this week, “The further I get away from music school, the more I tap into my rock roots.” That’s the inspiration behind OHM!, a classic power trio setting with electric bassist Jordan McBride and drummer Gabe Jones. Rock and jazz, mid-career master and young rhythm players—those are just two of the dialectics that should generate heat Saturday night. That makes sense, In electrical engineering ohm is the unit of measurement for resistance, but in this debut concert OHM! presents an irresistible musical proposition.  

Evelyn Wright and Mike Cady, Sunday, June 2, 4 p.m., East Cleveland Public Library, 14101 Euclid Ave., free

Perhaps the most indelible image from Jazz on a Summer’s Day, the 1959 documentary film of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival was the close up of vocalist Anita O’Day in long white gloves and an enormous picture hat projecting an effortless joy and mastery of the idiom. She probably won’t wear a hat–and definitely no gloves—but Evelyn Wright’s warm, magnetic presence always casts the same authoritative glow.  She’s joined Sunday by fellow vocalist Mike Cady and a sympathetic quartet of pianist Dr. David Thomas, Chris Burge on saxophone, steadfast bassist Kip Reed and Bill Ransom on drums. Summer may be three weeks away, but this free concert is just the thing to get you in the mood.

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