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.
Granada is a Caribbean nation 100 miles off the coast of Venezuela with a population about that of Dayton’s. If Americans have heard of Grenada at all it’s probably in connection with Ronald Reagan’s Cold War saber-rattling invasion of the island in 1983.
That might change Sunday when Cleveland saxophonist Ronell Regis presents a world premiere performance of “Grenada to the World: The Suite” at Cleveland’s Bop Stop.
Right now, the northeast Ohio creative music scene is like the parent of a toddler walking barefoot in the dark trying to cross the room not knowing where the Legos might be. What will the size of audiences be like? What will they be willing to spend when inflation is eating away at buying power? How will ongoing health concerns play out?
For a multiday event at several venues, the peril increases. Still, if you’re looking for a music event that has bounce-back written all over it, Akron’s Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festivalhas to be the one.
“I hate that a big band is so . . . big,” saxophonist, composer and arranger Stephen Philip Harvey said with a chuckle. “It’s financially a problem, but I just really like big band music.”
Harvey likes it so much that he’s putting aside the financial, organizational and logistical challenges of touring with a big band to bring the Stephen Philip Harvey Jazz Orchestra (SPHJO) to Cleveland’s Bop Stop Thursday night to support the release two weeks ago of the band’s debut recording, Smash!(Next Level, 2022).