Gerald & Justin Brown of the Gerald Clayton Trio – photo by Claire Weissenfluh, courtesy UW Union Theater
The next big thing in jazz has arrived. Gerald Clayton is making music that must be heard, receiving rave reviews and touring behind the newest CD with his name and photo on the front. Four days after the release of Life Forum, a sold-out Madison crowd gave Gerald and his New York City-based trio a standing ovation following two hours of contemporary jazz that ranged from bop to breathtaking.
The audience of 223 began filling the UW Union Theater venue early. Clayton told the crowd that, “Madison seems like a hip place.” His presence added to our hipness. The sightlines at the Institutes for Discovery hall were poor but the acoustics were fine and, judging by the bopping heads during every selection, Madison is hip, indeed.
“Art is wherever you find it,” says Stephen Wade. Wade, a Grammy-nominated musician, acclaimed author and noted folk music historian will be in Madison April 16th. He’ll be talking about his adventures in finding that art and his new book The Beautiful Music All Around Us at the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Wade has dedicated his long career to promoting and preserving the original folk music that came mostly from the hills and farms of Kentucky, Tennessee and other rural southern places. It is music that today is little heard and not always well remembered but Wade’s passion for the music – and his passion for preservation – may carry a lesson for jazz people.
In jazz we worry because today’s masses ignore our music, past and present. The historic folk music that Wade promotes was mostly unheard when it was being created. Wade believes that great music was being made by the pickers and players of a century ago. We ignore that heritage at our own peril.
Early recordings had “the sounds of life that frame the song,” Wade told me. “You can hear chickens, roosters crowing, clocks ticking, neighbors talking and trucks going by” in those early-era field recordings. “These records were born in (the real world) rather than commerce,” Wade said, meaning the recordings were done on porches and in living rooms, not in recording studios.
Gerald Clayton’s new CD, Life Forum, came out Tuesday.
Gerald Clayton brings acclaimed new music to UW Union Theater Saturday night. Clayton is touring in support of his just-released album, Life Forum. The no-reserved-seats concert is in the Town Center at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.
My first quick reaction – the CD was released on Tuesday — is that Clayton’s composing is maturing. The melody structures seem stronger. Life Forum is Clayton’s first release for Concord Jazz and follows 2011’s highly acclaimed Bond: the Paris Sessions. His trio is supplemented on the CD with trumpet, alto and tenor. Most songs are mid-tempo and sans swing.
The following items were listed in the April newsletter of Madison’s newest jazz organization, “The Greater Madison Jazz Consortium.”
Madison Jazz Jam (MJJ), one of the Jazz Consortium’s founding member organizations, will hold its second annual Plant Sale fundraiser on Saturday, 5/4/13. More details will be posted on the MJJ site later in April.
Sun Prairie High School’s Jazz Ensemble I has been chosen as one of the 15 national finalists out of over 100 competing bands in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2013 “Essentially Ellington”competition. The finals will be held on May 11-12 in New York City, and will be broadcast live on the Internet at www.jalc.org. The school will hold a benefit concert on Sunday, 5/5/13, to help raise the roughly $20,000 needed to send these terrific student musicians to New York. The concert will feature Jazz I and guest vocalist Kyle Ketelsen performing the music of Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra. For details on concert time and venue, visit www.spbb.org/jazz as the concert date draws near. In the meantime, congratulations to jazz program director Steve Sveum and his students!
Bebo Valdes was one of the 20th century’s most influential Cuban music masters. He was 94 when he died recently in his adopted home of Sweden and was largely unknown in this country. He fled his Cuban home 53 years ago, never to return. But when I spent eight days among Havana musicians last year I found Bebo’s name was known everywhere and his musical influence obviously remains strong.
Wayne Corey stands across from Chucho Valdes’ Havana home, a home
Bebo Valdes never saw in a city he permanently fled in 1960 after the Castro revolucion.
Other Madison fans and musicians may share my sense of loss for a jazz legend we never saw. Madison has historic ties to, and interest in, Cuba. Musical stylings adapted many decades ago by Bebo Valdes are still present in the sounds of Madison’s Latin jazz groups. Bebo’s son, the equally-legendary-but-more-famous Chucho Valdez, played a stunning concert to a sold-out crowd at UW’s Union Theater a decade ago. Chucho tours the world but still lives in Havana. I had my picture taken across from his house, a home, sadly, his father never saw. Continue reading
by guest author Mark Ramirez.
For quite some time, I’ve been wondering why Madison doesn’t have a larger jazz scene. Given the size of the city and the number of talented musicians in town, we still have a significant shortage of venues that support jazz. If you look in a given neighborhood, this music does not have much of a presence. I live on the east side of Madison. Where can I go to hear or play jazz in my neighborhood? Recently, I started exploring options from the point of view of a patron who is looking for a local club, restaurant or tavern that supports live jazz performance.
The Bourbon St Grille deck overlooking the Yahara River is a great place to hang out in summer.
Over the last few months, I’ve been talking with the management at Bourbon Street Grille in Monona about establishing a jazz venue at that location. I’m pleased to report that they have agreed to open up Wednesday evenings for jazz starting this next month. If things go well, there is also a potential to add more performance options on the weekend. I will help to organize the musicians and bands for the evenings. For now, we’ll start with one band in April. As the audience base becomes more established, I would like the venue to feature a variety of performers from trios to big bands. Continue reading
Jazz vocalist Kevin Mahogany will perform April 10th from 5 – 8 pm at the Brink Lounge as part of Jazz at Five’s annual fundraiser. Tickets are $12 advance / $15 day of show and are available online at www.jazzatfive.org and www.thebrinklounge.com.
I enjoyed hearing Kevin in concert a few years back. He has a charming stage personality, loves to swing, and can go from a breathy whisper to a huge deep baritone in an instant. It was a great concert and I’m sure this will be, too, even more so because Kevin will be backed by the Johannes Wallmann trio. Johannes’ trio has been honing their chops most Saturday nights at The Fountain and they sound terrific.
Here’s a sample of Kevin and below that is more information about him.