1. When Al Strong leads a jam session, he leads a jam session: His first monthly jam session at the Durham Hotel on Thursday was memorable. Al got players (mostly NCCU students) involved right away, including tap dancer Jabu Beal--who was spontaneously joined by a clogger from a nearby party table--& two singers, including EJ Thorne, who did a soulish version of "Misty" backed by a solid funk beat. I'll try to find out what the future of the jam is.
2. It's smart to add young vocalists to your band: Actually it's smart of add a vocalist period. Al Strong had NCCU student Tyra Scott join him Saturday night, & Kobie Watkins & Branford Marsalis had NCCU grad Autumn Rainey as the feature vocalist singing '30s favorites & rarities. Both performances were among the best I've heard at Sharp Nine, especially those singers.
3. The WNCU online calendar isn't doing it these days: Until they get produce a fuller calendar on time, I'll experiment with the listings below, noting who's playing where weekly as long as I can keep up with it. Let me know what you think!
Monday: Imbibe has its second anniversary tonight, including that of the duo of trumpeter Danny Grewen & pianist Robert Griffin ( aka Griffanzo). Their fun will only be amplified by the anniversary party.
- Sharp Nine has its monthly--& not yet sold out--NC Jazz Rep Orchestra (NCJRO) concert, a mecca for big band fans 8p.
- Pianist Allison Weiner has her weekly duo at the Eddy Pub 6:30p in Saxapahaw (http://theeddypub.com/events-2/).
- 2nd Wind presents the weekly gig of Yeaux Katz, Carrboro's best jazz bar band 7p.
- The Empress Room has pianist Gary Brunotte 7:30p.
- C Grace has its "New Music To Us" with John Troy 9p. As intriguing as this title is, I have yet to catch up with this.
- Jazz At the Mary Lou starts its spring semester jam session--aka the Oldest Jam Session In Durham--9:30p in Mary Lou Williams Center next to Page Auditorium next to Duke Chapel. Starts & finishes late but fills you full of local jazz.
- Raleigh's Vinos Finos has its weekly gig in the Kevin Golden jazz duo 6:30p.
- Imbibe has pianist Ernest Turner's weekly jazz jam 8p. It's worth going just to hear Ernest play.
- Brasa Steak House in Raleigh's Briar Creek shopping center has pianist Gary Brunotte 7p.
- NYC-based trumpeter Will Caviness, backed by pianist Eric Hirsh's trio, is at Sharp Nine 8p. What I've heard of Caviness on YouTube is a sweet, attractive sound.
- Durham's Cuban Revolution (next to the Bulls park) has its weekly gig 9:30p.
- Raleigh's Irregardless Restaurant has its usual double, featuring guitarist Daniel Delorenzo 6p & the Al Strong quintet 9p. Al's coming off a great performance at Sharp Nine.
- Sharp Nine has trumpeter Brandon Lee (leaving soon for NYC) & his sextet of Greensboro-based musicians--including monster young pianist Sean Mason & fine bassist Steve Haines.
- C Grace has saxophonist Gregg Gelb's quartet 9p.
- Durham's West End Wine Bar has its weekly gig 4p
- Chapel Hill's West End Wine Bar has fine guitarist Brad Maiani & his trio 7p. I will be there, though both Wine Bars have great listening ambience.
That's it for this week (until some venues/performers update their February calendars). I hope this is useful...