Because my interview with this week’s feature artist fell through, I decided to improvise and do something different. Instead of stuffing the Trading Fours roundup of capsule event previews at the end of a 700-word feature article, today they’re the main event. Short and sweet. I’m going to open the comments for this post so you can tell me if you like it or think this should be a one-and-done.
Dan Bruce :beta collective with Alyssa Boyd, Cain Park, Tuesday, July 25
In the language of software developers, a beta project is one that is in development. That’s a pretty good description of the jazz playbook, too, especially as practiced by Lakewood guitarist Dan Bruce. His :beta collective balances a mutable blend of electric and acoustic instruments, composition and improvisation, jazz and prog rock influences. For the latest iteration of his tinkerer’s project in sound, Bruce has added a new wrinkle: the voice of Alyssa Boyd. That makes for an intriguing proposition for us musical beta testers, and as part of the free concert series supported by the Local 4 Music Fund, you can’t beat the price.
Third Law Collective, BOP STOP, Thursday, July 27
Composer’s collectives have a long and fruitful history in jazz, from the AACM and Jazz Composers Guild in the ‘60s to more recent efforts organized by bassist Ben Allison in Brooklyn. Named for a tenet of Newtonian physics, the Third Law Collective, Cleveland’s homegrown version, just passed the six-month mark, but on the strength of an A-list roster of musicians and a supportive venue, it’s positioned to succeed in the long haul. Featured composer for the seventh edition of the monthly conclave is firebrand saxophonist and educator Bobby Selvaggio.
“Joni Mitchell: A Tribute in Frustrated Filmmaking” with Randie Shane, BLU Jazz+, Friday, July 28
“I’m not a jazz singer,” the late Tony Bennett told author Mark Stryker. “I’m a singer who likes jazz.” Joni Mitchell might well agree, though it would be hard to find a jazz singer under 50 who doesn’t acknowledge her influence. In addition to jazz, Mitchell herself cited the influence of cinema on her songwriting, once describing herself as a “frustrated filmmaker.” That’s exactly the hook that vocalist Randie Shane used to build a program around and on Friday night she brings it to Akron’s BLU Jazz+–or should that maybe be “Blue?”
Hilario Durán Contumbao, BOP STOP, Saturday, July 29
In the hands of players from Cuba, the piano becomes an orchestra, a drum choir or a singer of aching boleros. Havana-born Hilario Durán falls in the middle of a lost generation of Cuban pianists, having been born equidistant from Chucho Valdez on the older end and Gonzalo Rubalcaba on the younger (He’s three decades the senior of David Virelles, Manuel Valera and Fabian Almazan, too). Choosing to base his career in Toronto, he lacks the high profile of those five countrymen. Yet he is squarely in the tradition of thunderous, technically astonishing Cuban piano masters. He’s a canny arranger, too, with a terrific new big band recording, Cry Me A River, set for fall release. For his BOP STOP engagement, one that was rescheduled from a cancelled gig last year, he’s trimmed his forces down to the Contumbao quartet, but that’s all needs to make the walls shake—and probably some hips, too.
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