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Countdown: Where To Go & What To Hear In NEO May 9-15

Tommy Lehman

Friendly experiencers,

It’s Thursday and the Countdown is back on its normal schedule. Order has been restored. The concert lineup was thinned a bit by the cancellation of the Christian Sands gig at The Treelawn, but just look at the variety of offerings below: a big band session with vocalist, hard-blowing sextet and a free improv legend. Who says the NEO scene is one-dimensional?

Danjo Jazz Orchestra with Olivia Van Goor, Thursday, May 9, 7 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Rd., Cleveland, tickets $15 available here

You can think of a big band as a full-employment program for jazz musicians as well as time tested educational platform and proving ground. Northeast Ohio has no shortage of big bands and one of the best will be in action tonight. It’s the Akron-based Danjo Jazz Orchestra that rolls into BOP STOP with vocalist Olivia Van Goor. Though she’s a fixture on the Detroit scene, Van Goor grew up in Hudson and is a welcome presence on her frequent visits here. If you didn’t make it to her sold-out Valentine’s Day BOP Stop concert, now’s your chance.

Tommy Lehman and Friends, Friday, May 10, 7:30 p.m., Mercedes’ Neighborhood Tavern, 1947 W. Market St., Akron, tickets $20 available here

Whether he’s lighting up the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra’s new recording, adding Mediterranean warmth to Anthony Taddeo’s Alla Boara, throwing down with his hip-hop inspired electric quartet or singing, Akron’s Tommy Lehman seems to be going from strength to strength. Dood can dance, too, but that’s beyond the scope of this project. He’s an inspiring player in a straightahead context with a small group and the one he assembled for a Friday night casual is pretty inspiring too. Chris Coles, and Brad Wagner join the trumpeter on the front line with an A-list rhythm section of Joe Leaman, Jordan McBride and Zaire Darden. If that lineup alone isn’t enough to send you to your navigation app to find Mercedes’ Neighborhood Tavern, maybe the price will help you make up your mind. It’s free.

Jack Wright, J Guy Laughlin, Bbob Drake wsg The Naan Prophets, Monday, May 13, 8 p.m., Waterloo Arts Café, 15601 Waterloo Rd., Cleveland, donation

Jack Wright has had a few careers in his eight decades on the planet: history professor, rabble-rousing activist, poet and spoken word artist. But his greatest claim to . . . well, you cant exactly call it fame, is as an avatar of free improvisation on the saxophone. By now, he’s the Grand Old Man of the style and a true innovation. And he’s back on the road, stopping by the Waterloo Arts Café for a date with likeminded locals J Guy Laughlin on percussion, and Bbob Drake on a variety of electronic stuff. There’s no telling what might happen and that’s the entire point. Leading off the evening will be The Naan Prophets, Scott Hosner, Ryan Kuehn and Ben Ozborne.

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