On Saturday, singing takes center stage when the 2nd annual SongBird Vocal Jazz Fest takes place at the Muse Performance Space, 200 East S. Boulder Rd., in Lafayette. The event begins at 9 a.m. and offers daylong workshops with clinician vocalist Rachel Caswell. The event wraps up on Saturday at the Muse with a 7:30 p.m. concert that showcases the vocal talents of the singers involved in the SongBird workshops, including Caswell.
Before the Saturday event in Lafayette, vocalist Caswell stops by Dazzle, starting at 6:30 p.m. with pianist Jeff Jenkins and a group that includes violinist Sara Caswell. The singer’s current CD We’re All in the Dance features her with strong players such as pianist Fabian Almazan bassist, Linda May Han Oh and guitarist Dave Stryker.
Following Rachel Caswell on the Dazzle stage on Friday at 9 p.m., the terrific pianist Art Lande offers his Dream Band that has Johannes Weidenmueller on bass, Shane Endsley on trumpet and the Los Angeles-based Tina Raymond on drums. Lande is among the residents of the area with an international reputation, while bassist Weidenmueller has worked with a imposing list of folk including Hank Jones, Joe Lovano and John Abercrombie. Trumpeter Endsley, who is teaching at MSU Denver, is also part of the widely recognized band Kneebody.
Lande’s Dream Band is also performing in Boulder at Caffé Sole, 637R S. Broadway at 7 p.m. on Saturday. And on the subject of pianists, Neil Bridge is at Caffé Sole on Friday with music to mark his 90th birthday at 7 p.m.
Back at Dazzle, the younger piano monster Emmet Cohen takes the stage on Saturday starting at 6 p.m. with his trio that has Evan Sherman on drums and Yasushi Nakamura on bass. Among other things, Cohen is the producer/pianist for the Masters Legacy Series that has so far released discs featuring Ron Carter and Jimmy Cobb. He is also a member of Christian McBride’s Trip City Trio.
Back to singers for a moment, Heidi Schmidt is with Expeditions at the Muse on Friday at 7 p.m., PHIE is with the Whimsy of Things at Dazzle on Thursday at 7 p.m. and last, and certainly not least, Mary Stallings is at Dazzle on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. with pianist Eric Gunnison and companions. Stallings emerged in the late 1950s. In 1961, she recorded a popular jazz album with vibraphonist Cal Tjader. Then, from 1969 to 1972, she was with the Count Basie Orchestra. After focusing on family, Stallings returned to the scene in the 1980s and has a number of releases on the HighNote label. Her current effort is the Smoke Session, Songs Were Made to Sing.
Finally, keep in mind that “Songbird” is a tune written by Christine McVie that appeared on Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 Rumours disc. But the most fascinating thing about the song is its connection to singer Eve Cassidy, who died at the age of 33. Two years after her passing in 1996, Cassidy’s version of “Songbird” became a giant hit in the United Kingdom and worked its way back to America. I had not heard of Cassidy until a student of mine from the Washington, DC area brought her to my attention. Since then, I can hear her influence across the vocal spectrum.