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Countdown: Your Planning Guide for Music Sept. 7-13


Remember last week’s Countdown? That’s right. There wasn’t one. A combination of the psychological fallout from disposing of half of my flooded record collection and late-August programming doldrums swamped me. But what a difference a week makes! And Countdown gets you ready with a roundup of some of the most snackable music events on this week’s banquet menu. Think of it as your every-Thursday planning guide to a weekend of music and good times.

Both Sides of Joni with Monika Herzig and Alexis Cole, Thursday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., BOP STOP, Cleveland

When Joni Mitchell stepped onstage for an unannounced appearance at the Aug. 23 Wayne Shorter tribute concert at the Hollywood Bowl, the response was electrifying (Michelle Mercer described it best in this poignant post on Substack). Mitchell’s influence on a new generation of jazz vocalists has been massive, and her idiosyncratic compositions have refreshed the jazz canon. So it should come as no surprise that jazz musicians are taking up her cause in earnest. Pianist Monika Herzig was early to the Joni party and her longtime advocacy of Mitchell’s oeuvre lends authority to “Both Sides of Joni,” the program she’ll bring to BOP STOP featuring vocalist Alexis Cole and with a rhythm section of guitarist Peter Kienle, Gina Schwarz on bass and drummer Cassius Goens.

Modern Warrior LIVE with Dominick Farinacci and Jaymes Poling, Thursday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., Mandel Theatre, Tri-C Eastern Campus, 4250 Richmond Rd., Highland Hills

Igor Stravinsky’s “L’histoire du soldat” premiered 105 years ago this month, It’s a landmark work with a prominent–and punishing–trumpet part that might have been on the mind of Dominick Farinacci when he conceived “Modern Warrior LIVE” with Jaymes Poling. It’s a modern-day soldier’s tale of Poling’s three deployments with the US Army in Afghanistan and his transition to civilian life. With Poling as narrator, the journey described crackles with power and pathos in equal measure. It’s not for the fainthearted, but makes very necessary points about what we send young men to do in our name and how we treat them when they return.

Black Duck and TJ Borden/Bbob Drake/J Guy Laughlin, Thursday, Sept. 7, 8 p.m., Waterloo Arts, 16505 Waterloo Rd., Cleveland

Count on Cleveland’s New Ghosts organization to go where other presenters wouldn’t dare. This fall, they have gathered genre-defying improvising musicians from around the world for a series of concerts that kicks off with a double bill of Great Lakes trios. Black Duck from Chicago brings together guitarist and bassist Douglas McCombs, guitarist Bill MacKay and drummer Charles Rumback, three stalwarts of the city’s ever-mutating improv scene. Cleveland is represented by cellist Borden and percussionist Laughlin who will team up with Bbob Drake (electronics, objects), through whose auspices the traveling circus of New Ghosts, a presenter without a permanent home, seems to have found a congenial crash in the burgeoning Waterloo Arts District.

Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini, Friday, Sept. 8, 8 p.m., BOP STOP, Cleveland

There are no awards for Most Charming Record of the Year, but if there were, last year’s Auburn Whisper by Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini would have been a runaway winner. It’s a jewel-like thing of casual brilliance and the record I played more than any other in 2022. Where to begin with these two? Cressman is a kick-ass trombonist who frequently tours with Trey Anastasio’s band. She’s also a baker of some accomplishment. Faquini is a Brazilian-born guitarist who navigates snaky chorinho lines in the tradition of that nation’s great violão players. They both sing in small intimate voices of honeyed sweetness. This might be the sleeper concert of the year, a date-night slam-dunk that is not to be missed, especially for lovers of João Gilberto, Pixinguinha and, well, just lovers.

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,