Vincent Herring, Hard Times (CD review)

Vincent Herring“Is this disc’s title an apropos description of the current era, with its semi-permanent malaise, and anger seemingly just below the surface of all public discourse? Maybe,” I wrote, in my review for JazzTimes.Vincent Herring’s response: Gather like-minded musicians and make a joyful noise with a set of muscular blues-tinted jazz.”

Read the complete review here.

Fun fact: Back in 2000, I played the Nat Adderley memorial concert at Florida Southern College’s Branscomb Auditorium, in Lakeland, my hometown. Nat lived there for many decades after relocating from New Jersey; at FSC, he was artist-in-residence, and, with FSC music prof Larry Burke, he launched the (now-defunct) Child of the Sun Jazz Festival.

How’d I wind up playing that show, alongside former Adderley musical associates and friends, including drummer Jimmy Cobb, pianists Larry Willis and Rob Bargad, saxophonists Vincent Herring and Antonio Hart, and trumpeter Longineau Parsons, among others?

Here’s how it happened: Burke had asked me to lend my upright bass to Walter Booker for the performance, which I was happy to do. I’d previously let another NYC bassist, Santi Debriano, borrow my bass when he played one of the editions of the Child of the Sun fest. About three hours before the show was slated to start, Burke called me, told me that Bookie was ailing (an asthma attack) and unable to play, and asked if I’d fill in.

I couldn’t ever have actually properly filled in for Booker, who died in 2006, but I had a (slightly nervous) blast playing the gig — won’t ever forget that performance.

I’d had a chance to get to know Nat a little bit some years early, when I interviewed him for an extended feature in one of the first issues of Jazziz magazine; I was a part of that mag from the start, beginning with exploratory meetings at the condo of Michael Fagien, who was then a med student (or a resident?) at UF. I recall discussing what the mag should be named — I wasn’t in favor of “Jazziz.” What did  I know? 🙂

And that’s … almost the rest of the story 🙂

BTW — had a chance on Saturday to talk with Debriano after one of his sets at Smalls in NYC. He was leading a great quartet with Craig Handy on tenor, Bill O’Connell on piano, and Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun.

Debriano said he hopes to soon record with that group.

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Tampa Jazz Notes: Child of the Sun Jazz Festival Returns; Don Capone Tribute; Jazz Cellar Underground Orchestra to Play

The Child of the Sun Jazz Festival, a first-class Lakeland event begun in 1988 with major input from late great cornetist Nat Adderley but shuttered after a great 20-year run, will be revived next spring.

That’s the word from Larry Burke, longtime music professor at Florida Southern College, original home to the event. The revived fest, to be sponsored by the Lakeland Rotary Club, will be held April 15-16 downtown at Lake Mirror. An affiliated triathlon is slated for that weekend, too.

Over the years, the fest, directed by Burke and usually held outdoors on campus and at Branscomb Auditorium (and sometimes in Munn Park) featured impressive lineups headlined by major jazzers. A partial list: Adderley, pianists Larry Willis and Rob Bargad, bassist Walter Booker, drummer Jimmy Cobb, saxophonists Antonio Hart and Vincent Herring, and percussionist Gumbi Ortiz (all of whom variously played or guested with Nat), guitarists Barney Kessel and Roni Ben-Hur, saxophonists Junior Cook and Ernie Watts, trumpeters Lew Soloff and Jeremy Pelt, and pianists Manfredo Fest and Kenny Drew, Jr. The fest, which took its name from the architectural theme of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed campus, also provided a showcase for many Tampa Bay area jazz musicians.

The lineup for the 2011 fest is TBA — check back here for updates.

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Several bands and musicians who worked with late drummer Don Capone, including Denise Moore and Then Some, and Trio Vibe (my group) are gathering to play a concert/jam in honor of Don, who passed away Feb. 12. We’re getting together Wednesday, May 12 at Lenny’s Latin Cafe in Temple Terrace, where Don played host to a jam session.

Trumpeter Dwayne White will be master of ceremonies for the evening. Music begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but donations will go to the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association’s scholarship fund. More details are TBA.

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The Jazz Cellar Underground Orchestra, who ruled the roost at Dick Rumore‘s old Jazz Cellar at Ybor Square, are reuniting to play a May 16 concert benefiting the jazz program at Blake High School in Tampa. I’ll post more info soon.

Early Christmas Present: New Orleans Jazz Fest Lineup Coming Tuesday

Christmas will come early for Jazz Fest fans — the full lineup  for next year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be announced this Tuesday, Dec. 16, according to a report published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The roster for the 40th annual edition of the festival, April 24-26 and April 30-May 3, will be announced during a press conference scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (Central).

The announcement of the full lineup typically comes in January or February. Why so early this year?

Blame it on the economy.

“With the general economic downturn likely to affect leisure travel and ticket sales, the early announcement also allows for extra time to market the festival,” according to Keith Spera’s story in the Times-Picayune.

Expectations are that the 40th anniversary lineup will be as impressive a lineup as ever. On the list of artists confirmed to play, or expected to do so:

4/24 – Wynton Marsalis, Jazz Tent; Ellis Marsalis; Amanda Shaw

Wynton Marsalis4/25 – Wynton Marsalis (pictured, right), Congo Square

4/26 – Paul Sanchez

Solomon Burke4/30 – Solomon Burke (pictured, below); George Wein 4oth anniversary band with Jimmy Cobb, Esperanza Spalding, and Anat Cohen; Anders Osborne

First weekend (unspecified date) – Don Vappie

5/1 – Esperanza Spalding; Washboard Chaz Blues Trio; Dr. John;

5/2 – O’Jays; New Orleans/Helsinki Connection

5/3 – Jimmy Cobb’s “So What” band (celebrating the classic Miles album) with Wallace Roney, Javon Jackson, Vincent Herring, Larry Willis and Buster Williams; Juke Joint duo (Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm); Radiators; Dash Rip Rock; John Boutte; Voice of the Wetlands

(Know of other confirmations or solid rumors? Updates? Corrections? Send ’em my way)

Here’s my pitch (hope) for the Jazz Stage: Why not tap Sonny Rollins, (IMO) the greatest living jazz giant?

Also promised for the 40th edition of the fest is “a new ticket package option.” Some fans have expressed hopes that that means something along the lines of a multi-day discount, or perhaps steep discounts for locals and/or kids. Others have suggested that the new “option” could mean another type of V.I.P. package.