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Various Artists: J-Curve Cincinnati Jazz Collection Volume II

Jim Santella By

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Recorded one year after volume one, J-Curve’s second Cincinnati jazz sampler matches the high quality of musicianship and free, swinging attitude of the earlier adventure. Its Midwestern United States location makes Cincinnati an unusual candidate for one who has provided a century of hot jazz. However, three features stand out to allow fair competition between New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans, Kansas City, Cincinnati and a few others: (1) the city lies geographically at a point where travelling bands would naturally stop over on the way to some other known jazz center, (2) 20th Century music schools in this town have long been some of the best in the world, and (3) recent recordings offer definitive proof that its present-day jazz scene remains exceptionally healthy.

Trumpeter Mike Wade and saxophonist Kevin Engel lead off volume two with a hard bop quintet called Standard Time doing the "Blues on Interstate 75." Long drives into Lexington, Kentucky and Dayton, Ohio toughen the spirit and serve to help create tough driven jazz themes. The spirit of Cincinnati’s well-rehearsed and well-trained conservatory and a soulful groove come together on a swinging "Bye Bye Blackbird" from singer Kathy Wade and the Ed Moss Trio. John Coltrane’s "Countdown" is a bit of a letdown until flutist Sandy Suskind puts it into the upper register over a Latin jazz montuno, breathing fire along the way. Wayne Yeager’s organ trio backs Ann Chamberlain and Eddie Morgan on "Sunday in New York" with a delightful stroll by his guitarist Andy Brown. Yeager captures that organ combo sound we remember well and still appreciate. John Von Ohlen’s Blue Wisp Big Band performs an outstanding arrangement of Larry Dickson’s "Paging Bettie" that features a forceful and yet lyrical bass solo from Mike Sharfe. The arrangement doesn’t quite catch fire, but it allows for a lot of cool swinging. William Menefield’s lush ballad "B.E. Cos" slows the program down momentarily — it’s deliberately slow and unfinished, offering prayers in memory of Ennis Cosby – before Billy Larkin’s "One More Day" puts a different slant on things with a joyous gospel-tinged celebration. Larkin supplies the piano and Randy Winters supplies the solid drum work, while Eugene Goss offers soulful wordless vocals to capture your thoughts and aim them appropriately skyward. Phil DeGreg’s trio backs veteran clarinetist Joe Lukasik with a strong walking bass and fluid wire brushes in solid support for "Satan Takes a Holiday." Pianist DeGreg sees to it that each member of the ensemble stretches out in solo fashion. Judy James’ fresh cotton-soft alto voice leads the dramatic and stirring "Angel Eyes" with support from the Society Jazz Orchestra before Steve Schmidt’s trio stirs up the classic jazz cauldron with his "Monkyside," a tribute to Thelonious Monk from another creative pianist. Guitarists Cal Collins and Kenny Poole converse in an up-tempo arrangement of "There Is No Greater Love" just before clarinetist Frank Powers and his Classic Jazz Ensemble close the program. "Southern Stomps" is performed as a trad jazz slow walk with tuba, tailgate trombone, and wailing trumpeter Mike Wade (who started off the program) alongside Powers’ expressive clarinet. A crossroads throughout the history of jazz, Cincinnati is halfway between New York and St. Louis or Kansas City, not too far from Chicago and Detroit, and poised on the bank of the same river system that flows to the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans.

Track Listing: Blues on Interstate 75; Bye-Bye Blackbird; Countdown; Sunday in New York; Paging Bettie; B.E. Cos; One More Day; Satan Takes a Holiday; Angel Eyes; Monkyside; There Is No Greater Love; Southern Stomps.Collective

Personnel: Mike Andres, Jim Sherrick- alto saxophone; Herb Aronoff, Kevin Engel, Garrin Webb- tenor saxophone; Joe Gaudio- tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Larry Dickson- baritone saxophone; Sandy Suskind, Matt Constantine- flute; Joe Lukasik, Frank Powers- clarinet; Mike Wade, Gary Winters, Jeff Folkens, Kevin Moore, Al Nori, Jerry Conrad, Brad Goode- trumpet; Clarence Pawn, Eddie Morgan, Bill Gemmer, Jim Pelz- trombone; Max Seigel- bass trombone; Steve Flora- tuba; Andy Brown, Cal Collins, Kenny Poole- guitar; Wayne Yeager- organ; Billy Larkin- keyboards, piano; Khalid Moss, Ed Moss, Pat Kelly, Sam Jackson, Steve Schmidt, William Menefield, Phil DeGreg- piano; Eric Sayer, Bob Bodley, Mike Sharfe, Jim Anderson, Bill Jackson- bass; Melvin Broach, Steve Barnes, Brett Wamsley, John Von Ohlen, Leon Robinson, Randy Winters, Ron McCurdy, Art Gore, Ted Wilburn- drums; Victor Velez- congas; Chris Velez- bongos; Miguel Maldonado- timbales; Kathy Wade, Ann Chamberlain, Judy James- vocal; Eugene Goss- vocal, percussion.

Title: J-Curve Cincinnati Jazz Collection Volume II | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: J Seven


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