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Countdown: Where To Go & What To Hear In NEO, Nov. 16-22

Kenny Washington, Bill Charlap, Peter Washington
photocredit: Keith Major

I look at let’s call this as a sort of chamber of commerce for the local scene. It’s important work, especially given the general indifference of the local media to improvised music in the Black American tradition and it’s great fun for me to do, a gateway for this NEO neophyte into the thriving local scene. But two posts a week takes a lot of time to crank out and with holiday travel, my anniversary and listening to catch up with before the yearend polls are due, the next couple of weeks will concentrate on these Countdown previews of upcoming events. Fortunately, there’s a lot to talk about, including more new releases, the first big event at a significant new venue and more. Buckle up. It’s going to be an interesting ride.

Black Dog Octet, Friday, Nov 17, 8 p.m., BLU Jazz+, 47 E. Market St., Akron

Saxophone sections with rhythm are not exactly unknown. The LA studio band Supersax and occasionally the World Saxophone Quartet represent opposite poles of that continuum, Still the notion is sufficiently novel that a concert by the Black Dog Octet demands attention, especially given the personnel involved. The saxophonists are Chris Coles and Brad Wagner (alto and soprano), Tim McDonald and Tony Spicer (tenor) and Dick Ingersoll on bari. Pianist Joe Leaman Aidan Plank on bass and drummer Dustin May are in the engine room for the octet’s book of compositions and arrangements by band members and other local composers.

Moises Borges, Saturday, Nov 18, 8 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland

The title of guitarist and vocalist Moises Borges‘ new recording is Baiano, which is the name given to persons born in northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. It’s the corner of the Western Hemisphere that is closest to Africa geographically and, arguably, culturally, and it’s a wellspring of Brazilian music. So expect this record release party to be an evening drenched in the irresistible rhythms and memorable melodies of Borges’ native state. He’ll be joined by bassist Gary Aprile, Christopher Burge on saxophone and drummer Liam Smith.

Kevin Robert Martinez, Daniel Bruce, Chris Coles, Tim McDonald, Anthony Taddeo

Kevin Robert Martinez Reclamation Band, Saturday, Nov 18, 8 p.m., G.A.R Hall, 1785 Main St., Peninsula

The Voices In The Valley series at Peninsula’s 1851-vintage G.A.R. Hall typically presents artists working the well-tilled fields of American vernacular music. So the appearance of Kevin Robert Martinez’s Reclamation Band seems anomalous at first until you consider that the bassist grew up around the corner from the historic venue. So maybe it’s better to call this performance by Martinez, guitarist Daniel Bruce, saxophonists Chris Coles and Tim McDonald, bass clarinetist Tony Spicer and percussionist Anthony Taddeo Voices From The Valley. You could also call it the second stop on the band’s record release tour for their debut recording, These Roads, which began at BOP STOP two weeks ago. Any way you look at it, the opportunity to hear top-flight musicians in a cozy, intimate setting is a circle-the-date proposition.

Bill Charlap Trio, Monday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m., Treelawn Music Hall, 15335 Waterloo Rd., Cleveland

When pianist Bill Charlap comes to The Treelawn Music Hall Monday, it will be a reunion twice over. “I used to represent Bill as an agent and have known and loved him personally and professionally for a long time,” said Eric Hanson, a partner in the Waterloo District venue, in a text exchange. In a conversation I had with Hanson earlier this year, he emphasized the importance of having a good piano to attracting high-level bands. “So, I reached out to [Charlap] and asked him the simple question as to whether there are any other options besides Steinway, and he said no. This will be [the] first “meeting” of the piano and Bill, which is very exciting I think.”

Exciting too is fact that the two reunions will be part of the first major jazz show to play the ballroom of the former Slovenian Workmen’s Home, which opened in 1927. Charlap is an authentic lineage holder of mainstream jazz piano and one of its most refined and elegant practitioners. But can we give the rhythm section some here? Bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington (they’re not related) are perhaps the most accomplished and celebrated rhythm section now active. To explain why, I’ll defer to the great Mark Stryker who wrote about the pair in the late, lamented Jazz Times magazine. While that title’s valuable archive has disappeared along with its once-excellent reputation, Stryker’s essay lives on in samizdat 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,