At this point, Dave Rempis, who will appear with drummer Tyler Damon at Saturday gig presented by New Ghosts, is a known quantity in Cleveland. By his own count, the Chicago multi-reedist said, “I must’ve played there 12 or 15 times. It’s often more than once a year. Oh man, the list goes on and on.”
Like many Black musicians, pianist, bandleader and theologian Julian Davis Reid paid close attention to poet and essayist Amiri Baraka’s 1963 book “Blues People: Negro Music in White America.” Reid was particularly taken with, as he told me, “this idea that Black music is a place where people in this country, Black and otherwise, rest. But at the same time, the music emerges from our sense of homelessness, of not feeling welcomed.”
Baraka was a man of action as well as of ideas, and Reid, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, took his words as a call that Reid answered in words and music with “The American Dream, the American Nightmare, and Black American Music,” which he will present Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Reinberger Chamber Hall at Severance Music Center. as part of the Cleveland Orchestra’s weeklong Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival: The American Dream.
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.
Marco Benevento is a workaholic. The playful, keyboardist who gleefully straddles the worlds of jam-band euphoria, jazzy, improvisatory exploration and nerdy gadget geekery might not fit the image of the jittery, Type-A striver but just listen to the man himself.
“I’m a very productive person,” he said by phone last month from his home in Woodstock, New York and one listen to his latest release, Marco Benevento (Royal Potato Factory, 2022), proves his point. Benevento composed all the music and played all the instruments except for some occasional added percussion and the vocals, aside from cameos by his wife and children are all Benevento’s.
But as much as studio wonkery appeals to the 45-year-old New Jersey native (and more about that later), he’s a road dog at heart who will return to a favorite venue, the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern March 14 on a double bill with labelmates Mike Dillon and Punkadelic.