'Fe-brrr-ary' Frosty Fun

At the time of this writing temperatures are lingering in the 40s! I must imagine that by the time this February column hits the streets winter will have finally arrived in earnest. I would be remiss therefore in failing to offer my annual encouragement. With the advent of my favorite secular holiday, Groundhog Day, the promise of Spring is already upon us!
The calendar of events for the next few weeks has broad appeal from the mainstream to the truly outré  — all geared to lure us out of the cozy comfort of home and into the clubs and concert halls for the love of music and its recreational power.

Big shows from UMS

The University Musical Society has a pair of strong offerings scheduled. Jazz fans are encouraged to consider checking out the amazingly dynamic a capella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock at Hill Auditorium Fri. Feb. 17 at 8pm. They bring three decades of performance history, blending folk, soul and jazz elements in tight harmonies. Remarkable voices and strong material involve the audience in visceral ways. These folks can be spellbinding!

The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra & Wynton Marsalis return to Hill Auditorium Weds. Feb. 22 at 7:30pm. The current tour, honoring trumpet master Wynton's 50th birthday, will draw material from the wide range of music he has scored for big bands. The star studded ensemble may also dig into its renowned book of modern jazz arrangements of Monk, Mingus and other titans of the music.

All aboard The Ark!

The Ark always seems to bring some jazz appeal to their eclectic bookings. Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade are slated to appear (look out!) Fri. Feb. 13 at 8pm. She’s a Baltimore native based in NYC who brings keen jazz skills playing her 1940s archtop guitar. The band features second guitar, bass and drums and plays mostly original material. She’s been called “a musical chameleon”, drawing comparisons to Peggy Lee, Willie Nelson and Tom Waits. Wow!

Saxophonist Mark Hershberger fronts the ever energetic Global Jazz Project Tuesday Feb. 7 at 8pm. Always fun and funky, with arrangements tilted toward world music, the current lineup includes percussionist Jerry LeDuff and guitarist Bastian Triipe.

KCH Kaleidoscope

The Kerrytown Concert House schedule always ranges from the delightful to the adventurously outré. Gotta admire that, eh? From the second column comes the EAR Duo with EMMI Thurs. Feb. 2 at 8pm. The Electro Acoustic Reed Duo spotlights saxcat Michael Straus and bassoonist Dana Jenson. They will feature compositions of Peter V. Swendsen. The pair collaborate with interactive wind and string robots(!) from Expressive Machines Musical Instruments. The remarkably fluid duets have been described as “liquid harmony.” Truly strange and intriguing stuff. Video clips of the performance may be viewed at the KCH website. The Hot Club Of Detroit is an internationally acclaimed gypsy swing outfit fronted by guitarist-leader Evan Perri and accordion maestro Julien Labro. They will be joined by special guest violinist Zack Brock at KCH Weds. Feb. 8 at 8pm.

For truly international adventure consider the piano recital of Roman Stolyar, Weds. Feb. 15 at 8pm. Described as a Siberian master piano improviser, available video clips remind me of cats like Burton Greene, Matthew Shipp, and Ann Arbor expatriate Craig Taborn. Should be mesmerizing and revitalizing! Lots more piano is assured at Mr. B’s Annual Birthday Bounce Sat. Feb. 18 at 8pm. Beloved pianist Mark Lincoln Braun offers a conceptual pairing with the drawings of John Pappas. Braun commissioned portraits of blues and boogie woogie giants. He’ll interpret their material and tell stories. Sort of a boogie woogie blues “Pictures At An Exhibition”!

Check the KCH March calendar for gigs from Turks Head Knot (contemporary)  and piano trio dates from Ellen Rowe and John Shea, both featuring bassist Paul  Keller and drummer Pete Siers.

UM School of Music Lecture and Jazz Festival

The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance are sponsoring  a Musiclogy Lecture by Susan Thomas of the University of Georgia. She will present ‘Transnational Ventriloquism: Hearing Voices in Contemporary Cuban Popular Song’ at Burton Memorial Tower, Room 506 Fri. Feb. 3 at 5pm. Heady subject matter focuses on the many influences shaping modern Cuban Song.

The 2012 University of Michigan Jazz Festival hits Sat. Feb. 11 at 8pm. The collegiate and high school players will be interacting with Detroit jazz legend and trombonist Curtis Fuller, and now-generation trumpeter Sean Jones. Open to the public.

Adios and Thanks In Advance!

That’s all the news that fits for this issue. I won’t return to these pages til April so let me optimistically thank you all in advance for supporting the jewel of jazz in Southeast lower Michigan, WEMU 89.1FM during our Spring Fundraiser for 2012! Coming to your doorstep in March! Muchos gracias, and adios! 

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