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The truth is Sun Ra had a book of “hits.” That is, if you know Sun Ra’s music, you’re probably familiar with “Saturn,” “Enlightenment,” “Velvet,” “Rocket Number Nine Take Off For the Planet Venus” and “We Travel The Spaceways.” These staples of his marathon live performances, Ra’s music was, as he said, concerned with “the potential future, which I call the alter destiny, realizing that earth is getting over into what you might call different isolated armed camps, and if people don’t get something in common quick, well, they’re not going to have anything at all.” So, to Ra, “Musicians really represent the harmony department of the universe.” Right on. Hear Sun Ra’s music on Jazz From Blue Lake here: www.bluelake.org/ondemand
After his May 9, 1966 session for “East Broadway Run Down,” Sonny Rollins didn’t return to the recording studio until 1972, though his touring flourished, especially in Europe. Bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones joined the saxophone colossus, and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard contributed on the epic title piece heard on Jazz From Blue Lake found here today: www.bluelake.org/ondemand
September 14, 2016 The Jazz Datebook: Timely Hits: Friday and Saturday, September 16th and 17thfrom 7 to 11 p.m. pianist/vocalist Robin Connell leads her trio in the Garden Court Bar at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, 187 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids. Phone: (616) 774-2000. Sunday, September 18th at 3 p.m., Grand Rapids area saxophonist Johnny Gist plays a mix of jazz, Soul, and R&B at Spring Lake District Library, 123 E Exchange St, Spring Lake. Phone: (616) 846-5770. Sunday, September 18th at 7 p.m., the Mark Kahny Trio, with Kahny’s piano and voice, Mark Weymouth, drums, and Mike Lutely saxophones and flutes, plays the Unity Center For Spiritual Growth, 6025 Ada Dr SE, Grand Rapids. Monday, September 19th at 6:30 p.m. The West Michigan Jazz Society presents their Jazz Gumbo Showcase Monday Night Concert Series with vocalist Amy Williams Quintet, including Mark Kahny, keys; Freddy DeGennaro, guitar; Rob Jewett, bass and Bob Thompson on drums. This Monday night series is held at The Guest House, 634 Stocking Avenue NW, Grand Rapids. Doors open at 5:30 for those with accessibility issues, all other sat 6. See www.wmichjazz.org. Wednesday, September 21st at 7:30, bassist John Hebert joins the Western Jazz Quartet for “Live and Interactive!” at the Dalton Center Recital Hall, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo. Hebert’s played with Andrew Hill, Mary Halvorson and Fred Hersch. Tickets through the Miller Auditorium box office at (800) 228-9858. Wednesday, September 21st from 8 to 11 p.m., young jazz trumpeter Brad Fritcher opens a west Michigan tour with special guest Olin Clark, at the Speak EZ Lounge, 600 Monroe Avenue, Grand Rapids. See www.speakezlounge.com. Thursday, September 22nd at 7 p.m. Swingtooth, featuring guitarists Lee and David Middleman, bassist Chris Cudworth, keyboardist Rick Stephens, and percussionist Pat Eickenroth, percussion. At Vander Mill, 14921 Cleveland St, Spring Lake. Phone: (616) 842-4337. Friday, September 23rd at 9 p.m., trumpeter Brad Fritcher brings his improvisational flair to Mexicains Sans Frontieres, 120 Division Ave S, Apt 226., Grand Rapids. Fritcher’s band Moods will record their new album from the 22nd to the 25th, and to hone their music to a new level, they’re touring our area during the recording project. (616) 427-5432. Saturday, September 24th, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. pianist Brad Mehldau and saxophonist Joshua Redman play the Dalton Center Recital Hall, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, as part of the Fontana Music Society’s Jazz Series. See www.fontanamusic.org. $5 rush seats available to students and anyone age 25 and under with a valid ID. (269) 382-7774. Saturday, September 24th from 7-10 p.m. Brad Fritcher’s Moods appears at Vander Mill, 14921 Cleveland St, Spring Lake. With Patrick Booth on saxophones, Moods includes guitarist Travis Swanson, bassist Joe Vasquez and drummer Jonathan Taylor. Information from 616-842-4337. Saturday, September 24th at 7 p.m., pianist/vocalist Robin Connell leads her Jazz Connection Ensemble, specializing in the compositions of Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis and Horace Silver, at New Harmony Hall, at New Harmony Hall, 401 Stocking Ave NW, Grand Rapids. Phone: (616) 233-9186, or on the web, www.harmonybeer.com . Joining Robin are saxophonist Mike Frost, guitarist Neil Gordon, bassist Chris Kjorness and drummer Eddie Eicher. Saturday, October 1stat 7 p.m. Brad Fritcher’s Moods debuts new original music with Olin Clark, Nicholas Bracewell and Joe Vasquez at New Harmony Hall, 401 Stocking Ave NW, Grand Rapids. Phone: (616) 233-9186, or on the web, www.harmonybeer.com . Thursday, October 6that 7 p.m. Chicago area bassist/bandleader Matt Ulery leads his trio with special opening act The Underground Circus at Rockford Brewing Company, 12 E. Bridge St., Rockford. Matt’s pianist Rob Clearfield recently appeared on Blue Lake Public Radio (see www.bluelake.org/ondemand under “Studio Performances”). The Underground Circus, a local music collective featuring pianist Dutcher Snedeker, saxophonist Caleb Elzinga, trumpeter Brad Fritcher, guitarist Justin Wierenga, bassist Justin Avdek and drummer Mario Copeland, is releasing their first recording at this event. More from http://rockfordbrewing.com/ or (616) 951-4677. Friday, October 7th at 8 p.m. the College of Fine Arts at Western Michigan University presents Grammy award-winning jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker with the Western Michigan University Jazz Quartet, WMU's vocal jazz ensemble Gold Company, as well as the University Jazz Orchestra for a jazz showcase at St. Cecilia Music Center in Grand Rapids. Information and tickets from wmich.edu/jazz. Monday, October 17th the Chet Baker inspired cool jazz vocals of Libby York with the Terry Lower Quartet in the Jazz Gumbo Showcase at The Guest House, 634 Stocking Avenue NW, Grand Rapids. Information from the West Michigan Jazz Society, www.wmichjazz.org, and more from www.libbyyork.com Thursday, October 20th at AZIZA, a jazz super band including bassist Dave Holland, saxophonist Chris Potter, guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke and drummer Eric Harland at The Wharton Center for the Performing Arts, Michigan State University, East Lansing. See www.whartoncenter.com/events/detail/aziza. Sunday, October 23rd at 3 p.m., The Adventure Music Series returns to the LaFontsee Galleries with John Lindberg and Wadada Leo Smith: Celestial Weather Midwest Duets. LaFontsee Galleries, 833 Lake Drive SE Grand Rapids. This concert is supported by New Music USA, through a generous contribution from Joseph A. and Nancy Meli Walker. See https://www.newmusicusa.org/projects/john-lindberg-wadada-leo-smith-celestial-weather- midwest-duets/. For tickets www.adventuremusic.org . The phone number at the LaFontsee Galleries is (616) 451 – 9820. The LaFontsee Galleries are wheel chair accessible. To find LaFontsee Galleries please see, www.lafontsee.us/. Friday, October 28th at 7:30 p.m. bassist/educator and jazz great Rodney Whitaker plays The Block with his quartet. The Block is an intimate 120 seat theater/bar above Unruly Brewing Company, 360 W. Western Ave, 2nd Floor, Muskegon, MI. (231) 726-3231 or www.theblockwestmichigan.org. For more on Rodney Whitaker, http://rodneywhitaker.com/ Thursday, December 8th, Grammy Award winning vocalist Cecil McLorin Salvant kicks off the Jazz Series at St. Cecilia Music Center, 24 Ransom Ave. NE, Grand Rapids. See: www.scmc-online.org/2016-17-jazz-series/. Saturday, March 18th at 7:30 p.m. the popular jazz guitar duo of Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo appear at The Block, an intimate 120 seat theater/bar above Unruly Brewing Company, 360 W. Western Ave, 2nd Floor, Muskegon, MI. (231) 726-3231 or www.theblockwestmichigan.org. And for more on the artists, http://frankvignola.com/ . Thursday, March 23rd, 13 year old piano prodigy Joey Alexander appears in the St. Cecilia Music Center’s Jazz Series with his trio. More from, http://www.scmc-online.org/2016-17-jazz-series. Thursday, March 30th, 2017, The Hot Sardines return to the Wharton Center For the Performing Arts, East Lansing. See: http://www.whartoncenter.com/events/detail/the-hot-sardines . April 21st, 2017, the Wayne Shorter Quartet appears in the Cobb Great Hall of The Wharton Center For the Performing Arts, East Lansing. See: www.whartoncenter.com/events/detail/wayne-shorter-quartet. Saturday, April 29th, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. vocalist Dee Daniels performs at at The Block, an intimate 120 seat theater/bar above Unruly Brewing Company, 360 W. Western Ave, 2nd Floor, Muskegon, MI. (231) 726-3231 or www.theblockwestmichigan.org. Here her at http://www.deedaniels.com/ Thursday, May 4th 2017 the San Francisco Jazz Collective plays the music of Miles Davis at St. Cecilia Music Center, 24 Ransom Ave. NE, Grand Rapids. More from www.scmc-online.org/2016-17-jazz-series. Regular Hits: Mondays from 8 to 11 p.m. pianist/vocalist John Shea swings downtown Grand Rapids from the front window of The Republic, 45 South Division, Grand Rapids. With bassist Warren Jones III and drummer Fred Knapp, John presents a wide variety of jazz and songbook standards. www.republicgrandrapids.com. Mondays from 6 to 10 p.m., Fridays 7 – 11 p.m. and Saturdays 6-10 p.m. The What Not Inn features a revolving cast of local musicians each weekend and Mondays hosts a jam session open to musicians and vocalists. See the full schedule here: www.whatnotinn.com. The What Not Inn is located at M89 and the Blue Star Highway, 2405 68th Street, Fennville, MI. (269) 543-3341. Mondays, Lee and David Middleman play guitars with Chris Cudworth, bass, Rick Stephens, keyboards and Pat Eickenroth, percussion, as Swingtooth, anchoring the Monday night jam session at Rockford Brewing Company, 2 East Bridge St, Rockford. See www.rockfordbrewing.com or phone (616) 951 – 4677. Tuesdays, 7:30 – 10:30, there’s an open mic jazz jam session at The Grand, 22 Washington, Grand Haven, MI. (616) 847 – 8944. Wednesdays from 7 to 10 p.m. The Tom Hagen Trio with vocalist Rick Reuther have been appearing at Noto’s Old World Italian Dining, 6600 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids for more than 13 years, the longest continuous jazz hang in west Michigan. (616) 493 – 6686, or www.notosoldworld.com. Wednesdays, House of Music Entertainment at The B.O.B., 20 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, 49503, occasionally features jazz and blues. More from www.thebob.com/houseofmusic . Thursdays at 7 p.m. a variety of jazz bands rotate the schedule at The Book Nook and Java Shop, 8744 Ferry Street in Montague. See www.thebooknookjavashop.com and click on the calendar for Thursday night. Fridays at 7 p.m., “It’s a Friday Thing” features vocalist Kathy Lamar with pianist Bob VanStee and drummer Kevin Jones at Noto’s Old World Italian Dining, 6600 28th Street S.E., Grand Rapids. See www.notosoldworld.com or call (616) 493-6686. Fridays, 7 p.m. the John Shea Trio plays at the J.W. Marriot Hotel, 235 Louis Street N.W., Grand Rapids. (616) 242 – 1448. Saturdays at 7:30, pianist John Shea leads his trio at Noto’s Old World Italian Dining, 6600 28th Street S.E., Grand Rapids. See www.notosoldworld.com or call (616) 493 – 6686. Sundays, September 18th and October 2nd, at 11 a.m. saxophonist Mike Frost and guitarist Mike Hyde play the Sunday Brunch Series at J.W. Marriot Hotel, 235 Louis Street N.W., Grand Rapids. (616) 242 – 1448. Sundays from 2-4 p.m. the River Rogues traditional jazz band (see www.theriverrogues.org ) alternate weekends with the Bill Huyge, Jeff Beavan, David Schock trio at the New Harmony Hall, 401 Stocking Ave NW, Grand Rapids. Phone: (616) 233-9186, or on the web, www.harmonybeer.com. Sundays at 7 p.m. Randy Marsh’s Sunday Night Jazz Hang at The Speak EZ Lounge, 600 Monroe Avenue N.W., Grand Rapids (616) 458 – 2689. A fun jam session celebrating a 3rd year anniversary Oct 18. Student jazz musicians under 21 with a parent or legal guardian have a chance to play from 8:15 until 9:00 p.m. Anyone under 21 has to leave at 9 pm. The host trio plays from 7:00 - 8:00. www.speakezlounge.com. First Sunday of every month from 5 to 7 p.m. the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra plays Founders Brewing Company, 235 Grandville Avenue S.W., downtown Grand Rapids. The GRJO is the region’s premier professional jazz orchestra. Information from www.grjo.com.