Provizer's Jazz Notes
Jazz Notes, 10-25-12
Anat Cohen, performing Oct. 27 at Mizel Arts and Culture Center
Sometimes a good story is good story regardless of its accuracy. For this week, a story to keep in mind goes back to 1911 and the Original Creole Jazz Band led by bassist Bill Johnson. According to the tale, the New Orleans band was performing in Shreveport, Louisiana when Johnson broke his bow. So, for much of the night, Johnson plucked his instrument, producing such a novel sound that playing the bass pizzicato (plucked) style has been the norm in the music ever since.
This week jazz fans get to see where all this has led when bassists Buster Williams, Ron Carter and Michael Moore pay a visit. Add in area-based bassist Ken Walker, who also performs, and you have a bass bonanza that get even better when you add in the appearance of clarinetist/saxophonist Anat Cohen and chromatic harmonica player Gregoire Maret during the week.
Buster Williams gets things started on Thursday evening when his Something More quartet hits Mount Vernon Country Club in Golden. Born in Camden, New Jersey in 1942, Williams learned bass and drums from his musician father. After listening to Oscar Pettiford, he knew what direction to take.
At the start of the 1960s, the bassist was working with Jimmy Heath and the dueling saxophonists Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt. Moving to Los Angeles for a spell, Williams could be found in the Jazz Crusaders and groups with Bobby Hutcherson and Harold Land. He then spent a number of years with singers such as Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, Dakota Staton and Nancy Wilson.
He also worked with Herbie Hancock, Mary Lou Williams and fellow bassist Ron Carter (of whom we’ll hear more in a moment). Then, in 1982, the bassist joined with Ben Riley, Charlie Rouse and Kenny Barron to form the Thelonious Monk tribute group Sphere that had a long and reappearing run.
There was much more as well, like the Timeless All-Stars with Cedar Walton and Billy Higgins along with Land and Hutcherson. Williams also formed his own Something More band at the close of the 1980s – a group that helped shape any number of outstanding young players.
The version of that Something More band at Mount Vernon Country Club has some very well-known musicians. There’s Patrice Rushen on piano and Leon Ndugu Chancler on drums along with Mark Gross on saxophone. Rushen, mentored by Quincy Jones, is well leading figure in her own right as a player and a pop-oriented vocalist. She’s worked with everyone from Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter to Carlos Santana and Janis Jackson.
Rushen has also worked with drummer Chancler whose resume is long and diverse as well, including the Crusaders and Herbie Hancock. And to close a circle, he (like drummer Brian Blade and the plucked bass) was born in Shreveport. Williams deep, woody sound is on stage at 8 p.m. There is the terrific Mount Vernon buffet before the performance starting at 6 p.m. ($45.95 for dinner and the music, $20 for the music alone, 303-526-0616).
On Friday, it’s the modern day harmonica wiz Maret at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison in Lakewood, with his quartet. Born in Switzerland, Maret has earned a major reputation with Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny. You always find his name near the top of the list when it comes to the miscellaneous instrument category in the DownBeat “Critics Poll.” Maret and company play at 7:30 p.m. ($20/$18 students and seniors, 303-987-7845).
Moving on to Saturday, it’s Anat Cohen at the Jewish arts festival known as JAAMM. When the Israeli-born Cohen came out on top in this year’s DownBeat poll of critics from across the globe, she gathered more votes than any other winner in any other category. On top of that, she also topped the list as the rising star on tenor saxophone. She’s impressive and she will have with her a band that features Shai Maestro on piano, Orlando Le Fleming on bass and Ziv Ravitz on drums (interestingly enough, during this tour’s stop in Seattle, Denver-raised Rudy Royston was on drums). She will also have her brother Avishi Cohen on trumpet. And in this year’s DownBeat survey, he was number one in the rising star trumpeter category. Cohen has been of this event in years past and she is a player. She performs at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center at the Jewish Community Center, 350 S. Dahlia at 8 p.m. ($25-$35, maccjcc.org/jaamm, 303-316-6360).
And there’s something more. On Sunday, Ron Carter brings his master bass to the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. in Boulder, for show at 8 p.m. ($25-$47.50, 303-786-7030). With Carter, there’s the fine, Canadian-born pianist Renee Rosnes (whose husband Bill Charlap recently appeared at Dazzle), Payton Crossley on drums and Rolando Morales-Matos on percussion. What do you need to say about Carter who has gone a long way in defining modern bass playing and who is featured on thousands of disc. And Rosnes has worked with many folk including Wayne Shorter (who like Carter was part of Miles Davis’ second great quintet).
\ On Saturday, the day before Carter hits Boulder, bassist Michael Moore joins the trio led by guitarist Dale Bruning at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln, at 7 and 9 p.m. ($15, 303-839-5900). Bruning is among the real treasures of this area – a point highlighted by his new double CD on the Jazz Link Enterprises label, Just between Us, that has Moore on bass and Bruning’s former student Bill Frisell. While Frisell won’t be at Dazzle on Saturday, Paul Romaine will, rounding out the trio with his drums.
Moore has worked with a large number of artists from Woody Herman to Freddie Hubbard, Jim Hall, Chet Baker and Marian McPartland (to name a few). And he is currently part of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Bruning is a master and his new CD covers just about base there is.
And on Friday, it is bassist Ken Walker’s sextet making its monthly visit to Dazzle at 7 and 9 p.m. ($12/$8 students). While has decided to stay settled down here, he is very talented player who has frequently been asked to go out on the road by major players.
Dazzle also has guitarist Sean McGowan on Thursday with his quartet at 7 and 9 p.m. ($12/$8 students) and pop singer Kenya Johnson on Sunday at 6 and 8 p.m. ($15). On Monday and Tuesday, the club on Lincoln features two nights of music from the Colorado Conservatory of the Jazz Arts at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. This training ground for students, so closely associated with drummer Romaine, simply does a great job.