If there were a Mount Rushmore of Cleveland jazz, maybe on the bluff overlooking the West Flats, who would be on it? Albert Ayler and Tadd Dameron for sure, and maybe Eddie Baccus, too. Joe Lovano is still very much with us, but it’s not too soon to reserve a place for him up there, too.
Lovano’s career accomplishments, including his tenure with Bill Frisell in Paul Motian’s enormously influential trio, loom so large that it’s easy to forget that the saxophonist’s first big gig was with the Woody Herman Orchestra.
Trombonist Scott Garlock, the executive director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra with whom Lovano will play two concerts this weekend, remembers.
Eleven months ago, A.J. Kluth was at New York’s New School at a conference presented by Black Quantum Futurism, the literary and artistic collective created by Philadelphians Rasheedah Phillips and Camae Ayewa, the composer and poet who performs as Moor Mother.
“That was my first time meeting Camae and really feeling like the work that the collective was doing [and] that she was doing as a musician was deeply important and urgent,” Kluth said on a video call earlier this month. “I said, ‘I would love to bring you to Cleveland sometime.’ She’s like, ‘That sounds cool. I’ve never been to Cleveland. Let’s do that.’ But she’s really busy. She’s got a really heavy touring schedule and it didn’t seem plausible.”
Several months of phone calls, planning meetings and grant applications later, the Case Western Reserve University musicologist’s implausible idea has become reality, and a reality greater than even he imagined.
On Friday evening, Moor Mother will be joined on the stage of Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art by Lonnie Holley, Lee Bains, and the Cleveland-based collective Mourning [A] BLKstar for a presentation Kluth called “Toward a Different Kind of Horizon, an extraordinary collection of artists who to varying degrees are associated with the cultural movement known as Afrofuturism.
At 70, you would think drummer and percussionist Jamey Haddad would be ready to slow down. After all, he’s toured the world with artists such as Paul Simon, Sting and Yo-Yo Ma. Yet he’s equally excited to play this weekend’s pair of gigs at Bop Stop with a trio of accomplished Ohioans. To Haddad, only the music matters.
In Japan the togishi is the skilled craftsman who polishes and sharpens the nihonto, the deadly sword used by samurai warriors to cut their enemies to pieces.
In Cleveland, Togishi is a trio of saxophonist Dan Wenninger, Mike Sopko on guitar and electronics, and Joe Tomino on drums and electronics whose improvised music cuts to pieces various genres including jazz, rock, contemporary classical and noise and reassembles them in a glorious freewheeling clatter.
Togishi will bring their usual sonic maelstrom to the Bop Stop stage Tuesday, December 21, but the trio will drop down the Hingetown club’s chimney with a surprise in their sack: tunes–and not just tunes, but some of the most recognizable, widely loved and, yes, even sentimental tunes.