Monday, May 27, 2013

Jazz Juvenocracy winds down in style

Bit Risner
Barring a reunion concert a few years down the road, Sarasota-area jazz fans likely have seen the last of the fine teenage band Jazz Juvenocracy - unless they travel to Europe for the septet's three-week jazz festival and club tour in July.
Jazz Juvenocracy closed out its 2012-13 concert series at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center Saturday night with Rhapsody, Rhythm and Romance on Saturday night at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center, then held its last weekly jam on the season on Sunday nighr at the Broadway Bar in downtown Sarasota.

The Glenridge concert, with a strong assist from the Fuzión Dance Artists, was a wonderful way to celebrate the band's love of the wide range of great jazz over the past century, as well as add an instrumental jazz touch to music from the rock music genre. The jazz material ranged from Scott Joplin ("Maple Leaf Rag") to music associated with Louis Armstrong King Oliver's "West End Blues"), George Gershwin ("I Got Rhythm"), Billie Holiday ("Lover Man") and Django Reinhart ("Nuages") to Charles Mingus ("Goodbye Pork Pie Hat") and the recently departed Dave Brubeck ("Blue Rondo a la Turk"). 

Kaiser, Gray, Shepard, Cowan (partially hidden)
Favorite moments: the trumpet plus rhythm section take on Matt Dennis' classic ballad "Angel Eyes," which offered alternating poignancy and fire from trumpeter Bit Risner, and a fine duo take on Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" by guitarist Mackenzie Gray and saxophonist Thomas Shepard. The band's version of the Lennon-McCarty hit "Blackbird" was a fascinating solo dance showcase for Fuzión's Jahrel Thompson.

Besides Gray, Risner and Shepard, the current group includes drummer Ronan Cowan, vibes player Cole Hazlett, bassist Lamont Kaiser, pianist Aaron Lehrian, and violinist and reed player Mario Santana.

The band's European tour, July 3-19, includes major festival appearances in France, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands (see the Jazz Juvenocracy website for details), as well as a few scattered club dates

The band was formed six years ago and this edition is known as Jazz Juvenocracy 6.0. Five of its seven members will be off to college in the fall. Their are no successor musicians identified to take their places.

Area trombonist and music educator Greg Nielsen was the group's music director for the first three years. He says the band has pretty much run on its own ever since, with a lot of support from parents, loyal volunteers and its current music director, drummer Frank Williams.

At Saturday's concert, Nielsen said he doesn't expect the band to continue other than perhaps a reunion concert by its dozen or so alumni at some point. "The talent pool they've had is amazing. When you thought you had the best talent, and someone leaves, someone almost always replaced them with better talent.

"They're all ready to go on and do their own thing," he said. "They're all ready to go to college, and go in their own directions. That's good. That's how everything develops."

The band closed out its Rhapsody, Rhythm and Romance concert with a Nirvana medley that began with pianist Aaron Lehrian's solo take on "Lithium" and roared to a finish with a most-appropriate full band take on "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

"People say jazz is dead, but they've been saying that for a long time," said 16-year-old Jazz Juvenocracy co-founder Bit Risner. "But as long as 10-year-olds start their own jazz bands and people are willing to support them, jazz is here to stay."

No comments:

Post a Comment