In the popular imagination, an evening of torch songs inevitably takes place in a smoky basement club where a singer in a velvet gown purrs songbook standards while perched on a stool as her cigarette smolders in a nearby ashtray. A half-filled rocks glass is not far away.
One of the great consolations of hanging around the music business stage door for a long time comes when people who assume that you know things ask you questions. One of my favorites is: Which band have you seen the most times? I love this question because it gives me a chance to talk about Kahil El’Zabar’s magnificent Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, which is also my favorite band.
Now, for the first time since I moved to Cleveland in 2019, I get to talk about an upcoming concert of theirs that I will attend. It’s Wednesday, Feb. 1 at Convivium 33 Gallery, presented by the Cleveland Uncommon Sound Project and needless to say, if you’re reading this, you should go, too (full disclosure: I played a small part in making this concert happen). An Ethnics concert is never less than completely enjoyable and on any given night, it can be a transformative experience.
Being a creative musician in Chicago almost demands a willingness to play anything, everywhere with everybody. Percussionist Tim Daisy and saxophonist Ken Vandermark, who will appear at Convivium 33 Friday, Jan. 13, embody that imperative as well as anyone, having collaborated with hundreds of musicians, movement and visual artists on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet despite lengthy resumes that suggest an affinity with musical speed dating, the two are just as committed to long-term relationships, especially their own.
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.