Summer Season Concludes-Autumn Concerts Begin | Norman Provizer's Jazz Notes

Sep 21, 2017

Mighty Mongo Santamaria
Credit KOSU

It’s another one of those weeks at Dazzle, in its new downtown location on Curtis Street, when you can visit the club on any night and find a substantial national artist on stage. It all begins on Thursday with pianist Benny Green and his trio playing 6 and 8:30 p.m. In modern jazz history, the two premier groups that have the strongest record as a training ground for up-and-coming young players are singer Betty Carter’s trio and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. And that’s exactly how Green established his reputation, first with Carter and then with Blakey.

Of course, that would not be the end of things. For example there were pianist’s stints with bassist Ray Brown and a number of others. There were also his own outings on Blue Note and later Telac Records. His latest release is Happiness: Live at Kuumba. The hard-driving, post-bop pianist is joined on Thursday by bassist David Wong and drummer Carl Allen (303-839-5100).

Then on Saturday and Sunday, a different kind of trio moves into Dazzle, 1512 Curtis. For 20 years, three superb players have joined forces in an organ trio that has drawn considerable attention. Those players are guitarist Peter Bernstein, Hammond B-3 man Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart (who you can catch on a number of discs, including a live 2011 recording from Small’s in New York and their most recent outing Ramshackle Serenade).

On their own, each member of the trio has established a strong musical track record. Stewart and Golding share a connection with guitarist John Scofield, while Stewart and Bernstein share one with saxophonist Joshua Redman. This threesome is an enormously strong group whose members create their own organ-trio sound. The band is on stage on Saturday at 6:30 and 9 p.m. On Sunday, the sets are at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Then the group is off to San Francisco and SF JAZZ.

Before we leave organ trios, the people who caught drummer Jeff Hamilton’s organ group with Akiko Tsuruga and guitarist Graham Dechter earlier this month at Nocturne were treated to a fiery band that swung like crazy. During the same month, there’s now an organ-trio with its own style that will still make you jump with joy.

After the weekend, on Tuesday and Wednesday, guitarist James Blood Ulmer finally makes it to Dazzle after an earlier scheduled appearance was cancelled. Born in South Carolina, Ulmer, rooted in church music, headed off to Pittsburgh when he was 17 where (back to the Hammond B-3) he sat in with Jimmy Smith and Groove Holmes. Then, in Detroit, he did the same with Big John Patton.

In 1971, Ulmer headed to New York where he eventually connected with Ornette Coleman and the saxophonist’s harmolodic approach to music. Before the 1970s ended, Ulmer recorded Tales of Captain Black (an album that included Coleman), followed by Are You Glad To Be in America? and Black Rock. In the early ‘80s, he recorded three discs for Columbia and continued his unique blend blues (including vocals), jazz (he recorded with saxophonists such as George Adams and David Murray), free-rock, R&B and Ornette-influenced sounds. That package, all rolled into one person, is on display at Dazzle on Tuesday and Wednesday at 6 and 8:30 p.m.

Along with all of this, Dazzle also has the fine saxophonist John Gunther performing on Friday at 6:30 p.m. Gunther’s band for this occasion has Brad Shepik on guitar, John Hadfield on drums and special guest Fourat Koyo on guembri (a three stringed instrument). Shepik and Hadfield have been part of Gunther’s Safari Trio and have impressive credentials ranging from Paul Motion and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra to Yo Yo Ma and the Silkroad Ensemble. Gunther, who heads jazz studies at CU Boulder and has been a part of New York’s downtown scene, became interested in the Gnawa music from Morocco and spent times there. That’s the connection with Koyo.

On Saturday, Gunther, Shepik and Hadfield with Heath Walton and Tom Amend added on move over to Nocturne, 1330 27th St., for the John Coltrane birthday celebration at 7 p.m. (303-295-3333). The great saxophonist was born on Sept. 23 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina.

Also on the subject of birthdays, the Gift of Jazz’s Blind Tiger Series marks the centennial of Mongo Santamaria’s birth on Sunday at the Mercury Café, 2199 California, at noon. Ritmo Jazz Latino provides the sounds (

In Five Points, Friday offers up a Food, Wine & Jazz Fundraiser from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. And on Sunday, KUVO’s On Stage feature has the music of the Brazilian pianist Joao Donato and his trio at 4 p.m.

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James Blood Ulmer
Credit Downtown Music Publications