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Countdown: Your Guide To Jazz in NEO, Sept. 20-26

Veronica Swift

Attention Swifties: ya girl is coming to Cleveland tonight. No, it’s not a previously unannounced stop on the Eras Tour, but you wouldn’t expect to find that kind of scoop in this column, would you? The Swift in question is Veronica, who kicks off a late-September clambake of jazz and adjacent musical revelry this week, one that could launch a million crossover dreams.

Veronica Swift, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 8 p.m., Beachland Ballroom Cleveland

What do you call a recording that covers Duke Ellington, Puccini, Queen, the Broadway hit “Funny Girl” and Judy Garland on her latest album? Veronica Swift has a name for what she’s doing: “transgenre.” It’s a clever portmanteau custom-fitted for social-media virality, but it’s not inaccurate. The fact is that Swift is an extravagantly talented vocalist, capable of singing just about anything she puts her mind to. Applying a focus to a talent that large might be an impossible task, and one in which she might have little interest. Listening to the way she soars beyond Mercury on Queen’s “The Show Must Go On” or snarls her way through a punk-rock version of Barbra Streisand’s signature show-stopper “Don’t Rain On My Parade” makes clear that Swift is as fearless as she is gifted. Sixty years ago, she would have owned Broadway. Five or 10 years from now, who knows where she’ll be; Swift is only 29. But for tonight at least, she’s in Cleveland. Colin Palmieri opens.

Andrew Danforth Quintet, Thursday, Sept. 21 7, p.m., BOP STOP, Cleveland

When the roll of great Midwestern jazz cities is called, Indianapolis doesn’t always get its flowers. Yet the city produced the Montgomery Brothers, Freddy Hubbard, James Spaulding and other luminaries. On his new release, Homegrown, Andrew Danforth offers a bouquet to his hometown and an acknowledgement of its history. That history, like the music that honors it, veers between light and darkness. Even as he recalls sun-dappled childhood idylls in the heartland, Danforth confronts the ill-conceived policies that destroyed the thriving Indiana Avenue scene that nurtured many of the city’s most significant musicians. “Back Home In Indiana” this is not. As a trombonist, Naptown’s musical legacy weighs heavier on Danforth than on most; the city was home to ‘bone giants J.J. Johnson, Slide Hampton, David Baker and Phil Ranelin. With Sean Imboden (tenor sax), Christopher Pitts (piano), Brendan Keller-Tuberg (bass) and Carrington Clinton (drums).

Tim Mirth’s Night Terrors, Friday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m., Treelawn Social Club, Cleveland

Halloween is five weeks away, but it’s not too soon for the night terrors. That’s the name guitarist Tim Mirth has given to his duo with percussionist Paul Stranahan. Among his many projects, Stellar Regions, the Tim Mirth Guitar Band and solo gigs among them, Night Terrors is where Mirth indulges his experimental side. ““Paul started really getting into [saxophonist] Tim Berne, the free jazz thing” Mirth told me for a profile earlier this year. ”I think a lot of people that we were playing with really weren’t into it, but I was open to it.” With just two players–and perhaps the largest cymbals rack ever devised–Night Terrors is open to just about anything.

Andrew Haug Trio, Friday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m., BLU Jazz+, Akron

Google Andrew Haug and the first result you are likely to get is for an Australian musician and radio personality who is prominent on the Australian metal scene. Rest assured, gentle reader, this is not that man. Instead, the Andrew Haug in question is a Cincinnatian who can light up a piano with sparkling bop chops. Haug recently moved to New York, but is making a tour of his native state this month that will also bring him to BOP STOP on Saturday evening. The tour marks a quick a return trip to NEO for New York bassist Ben Tiberio who visited BOP STOP in July with drummer Ari Hoenig’s trio and who will join drummer Charlie Schefft.

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,