Jazz Feed

Jazz Preview: Kevin Eubanks at Birdland/ Vijay Iyer and Friends at The Greene Space

EubanksPhoto Credit: WEMU

Kevin Eubanks might be best remembered for the 15 years he spent as the bandleader on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but his career as one of today's leading jazz guitarists goes all the way back to the early 1980's, when he played with such luminaries as Art Blakey, Slide HamptonMcCoy Tyner and others. Eubanks is appearing all this week at Birdland in support of his new release, East West Time Line with an all-star lineup featuring Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Dave Holland (bass), and Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums). Tickets and info on the Birdland website.

Polymath pianist Vijay Iyer keeps a pretty busy schedule, but that didn't stop him from accepting the directorship of this year's Ojai Music Festival in California, where he's curated a lineup that reflects his own varied interests in jazz, classical and beyond. Tomorrow night at the WNYC Greene Space, Vijay offers an Ojai preview with several of this year's performers, including composer-trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, drummer-composer Tyshawn Sorey, violinist Jennifer Koh, and pioneering composer/scholar George Lewis. Tickets and info available on the Greene Space website.


John O'Hurley at the Café Carlyle

John O'Hurley Cafe Carlyle(Photo: David Andrako)

"The definition of a Celebrity is that you're allowed to do what you otherwise have no business doing." - John O'Hurley

Anyone fan of Seinfeld remembers Peterman, Elaine's pompous, larger-than-life boss who appeared on the sitcom from 1995-98. And what they probably remember the most about Peterman is his distinctive voice, which apparently was modeled after "'40s radio drama, combined with a bit of a bad Charles Kuralt."

Turns out the real Peterman, John O'Hurley, sounds a lot like the character in real life, which I discovered when I saw O'Hurley make his Café Carlyle debut last week. O'Hurley calls his show "A Man With Standards," referring to both songs by Henry Mancini, Hugo Peretti, Anthony Newley and others, and the gentlemanly manners that have been all-but-forgotten. Like Peterman, O'Hurley's show is peppered with anecdotes from his own colorful life, like the time he found himself in Frank Sinatra's Palm Beach home and, when asked to sing, performed one of Sinatra's own songs: Joe Raposo's "You Will Be My Music." (After an awkward silence, Sinatra told O'Hurley: "You sounded good.")

O'Hurley was long-winded at times, and he's not going to win any accolades for his singing voice, which was powerful but uneven. (Backing O'Hurley were Steve Rawlins on piano, Ron Vincent on drums, and Rusty Holloway on bass.) But, it's still an impressive, entertaining show, filled with unique stories from O'Hurley's New England upbringing, his years on The Young and the Restless and Seinfeld, and his more recent forays into reality TV with Dancing with the Stars and the National Dog Show. And, just when you thought you couldn't take any more of his pomposity, O'Hurley remind you of how he's fought and scraped for his success, with his perseverance eventually landing him on the biggest cabaret stage in New York. I guess I'd feel pretty good about myself, too. 

O'Hurley appears at the Café Carlyle through Saturday April 8, which is currently offering a special 2 for 1 deal without food and beverage minimums Tuesday-Thursday. Reservations and info on the Carlyle's website, or call +1 212 744-1600.

More pics on the photo page

Big Ears Festival 2017 Recap

ACME Big Ears 2017

"I think the unexpected nature (of Knoxville) gives the festival a certain relief that it wouldn't have if it was where everybody expects it to be."

- Ashley Capps, Founder/Artistic Director, Big Ears Festival

When most people think of Knoxville - if they think of this east Tennessee city of less than 200,000 at all - they might think of the University of Tennessee, which has its main campus in town, or of the surrounding Appalachians, which gave us both moonshine and Dolly Parton. But, for some time now, Knoxville has transcended its relative obscurity with its outsized cultural offerings: it has its own orchestra, its own art museum, and in the past year alone, more than two dozen restaurants and breweries have opened downtown.

But, if there's one thing that's put Knoxville on the international map more than anything over the past few years, it's the Big Ears Festival, the ear-bending festival of new and adventurous music that just wrapped up its sixth edition this past weekend. This was my third consecutive Big Ears, and everything seemed both bigger and more accessible this year. Indeed, it was difficult to walk anywhere in downtown Knoxville without feeling that you were in the middle of a musical theme park. I mean, where else can you bounce from jazz pianist Matthew Shipp, to Meredith Monk, to Wilco? And, that was just on Friday.  

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