It could just be a case of wishful thinking, but the terrific things I’m hearing about this past weekend’s inaugural Hingetown Jazz Festival show what can happen when top-flight musicians, welcoming venues and tireless, community-minded organizers come together to meet audiences where they are. Who wouldn’t be stoked for the future?
It’s going to be a great weekend for music in NEO, but where to start? Countdown gets you ready with a roundup of some of the most notable music events that you might want to check out. Think of it as your every-Thursday planning guide to a weekend of music and good times.
George Benson, Friday, Aug. 25, 8 p.m., Cain Park, Cleveland Heights
Given his chart success as a vocalist, it’s easy to forget just how much jazz guitar George Benson can play when the spirit moves him. Whether that spirit will be with him at Cain Park is an open question. The smart money will be on a medley of hits with maybe one familiar burner to remind us all that the old man (Benson is 80) can bring the fire that lit up Pittsburgh’s Hill District six decades ago.
Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, Friday, Aug. 25, 8 p.m., BOP STOP, Cleveland
All of a sudden, it seems like every musician on the Cleveland Scene is in the studio (watch for my forthcoming Street Date column at AllAboutJazz.com on just this topic). Friday it’s the turn of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, which will convene to record the music of one of its own, Chas Baker. The trombonist and director of the Kent State University Jazz Ensemble goes back a long way with this band, having been present at the creation of the ensemble in 1985. While we’re on the topic of time passing, it’s worth noting that the CJO has not recorded for five years, which makes Friday’s live date something of an event.
What you make of the term trap jazz will likely depend on which side of 30 you find yourself on. My guess is that notwithstanding the issue of age, Sunny Tabler can have it both ways, being both a big-eared musician who is familiar with trap music and a practitioner of the trap set. That’s the seat from which Tabler will direct an ensemble of some of the region’s most accomplished jazzers: electrifying alto saxophonist Ronell Regis and trombonist Zach Warren on the front line with Theron Brown on piano, guitarist Jonah Ferguson and bassist Jordan McBride forming an A-list rhythm section.
1WAY @ THE GO FACTORY, Tuesday, August 29, 8 p.m., Go Factory, Cleveland
The last monthly 1Way presentation of the summer offers improv two ways. At 8 p.m. it’s WELL, a project that joins 1Way ringmaster Dan Wenninger with guitarist Evan Moran and Mat Weisman on drums. The publicity materials promise that they will “thread together composition and improvisation in a manner that balances structure with spontaneity and weight with constant motion,” which seems like a pretty good thesis statement for the entire 1Way project. At 9 p.m. or thereabouts, they give way to Black Island Condors, another trio comprising Vincenzino DiFranco (guitars), Alfredo Guerrieri (bass) and the wonderfully named drummer Mike Bashur.
I couldn’t live without Jim Szabo’s essential, weekly Northeast Ohio jazz calendar , NEO’s most complete list of jazz and jazz-adjacent events. If you haven’t visited it lately, what are you waiting for?
NOTE: This article was written by a real human being. No artificial intelligence or generative language models were used in its creation.
Everywhere you listen these days, you’ll find young musicians from South America ripping it up. Bassist Jorge Roeder (Peru), the enchanting guitarist and vocalist Camila Meza (Chile), pianist Leo Genovese (Argentina) and way too many to mention from Brazil are among the most exciting examples. But try to name a jazz musician from Ecuador and you might come up empty.
Meet Ricardo Morales Vivero, a 28-year-old guitarist from Quito who will celebrate the release of his recording debut, Introspectiva (self-released), with a concert at BOP STOP Thursday.
Fat Tuesday may be six months in the future, but it’s never too early to get your second line strut on, especially when New Orleans funk krewe The Rumble rolls into the Beachland Ballroom. Led by Second Chief Joseph Boudreaux, Jr. of the Golden Eagles (son of Big Chief Monk), this seven-man party machine has the pedigree to turn Collinwood into the Quarter, if only for a night. Crazy Marvin & the Blues Express opens.
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.