Monday, September 25, 2023, marks the centennial of Sam Rivers’ birth. Rivers was a composer, improvisor, theoretician, scenemaker mentor and instrumentalist of Promethean stature. It’s hard to think of anyone quite like him. So it’s appropriate that his centennial is commemorated by “The Sam Rivers Sessionography,” a new book by Rick Lopez that rivals Rivers in its panoptical audacity.
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.
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.
This week I’m taking a Thanksgiving break of sorts. Instead of my stated project of documenting the northeast Ohio scene I’ll cover something notable that’s happening in my old hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania: a concert Saturday evening headlined by New York improvising trio Three Shamans at Erie’s Grounded Printshop on a bill that also includes New American musicians from Syria and an experimental trombone and percussion duo.