What’s Going On During the Week In My Neck of The Woods – Blues and Jazz Events in Essex County (June 2016)
By Gregory Burrus
As mentioned in a previous post, a number of truly great events have occurred since my last update of 'What’s Going On" in My Neck of the Woods. Previously I pointed out major events in the areas of Jazz, Blues, and Art like the NJBA Blues Muse 2016, the upcoming SOMA Studio Tour 2016 and a few other events in the article What’s Going On My Neck Of The Woods - Essex County Events, June 2016.
Today I want to give an update on the recurring events that happen every week or every other week through during June in the Jazz, Blues and Art arenas. I think these and other community events in/around Essex County, NJ are important in that a lot of these musicians come out because they love to play. Some play for a nominal fee, yet they show up every week to learn and play the best they can. Some come even after being extremely proficient because they love to entertain the crowds. So take a look at what follows, feel the passion and hit the local joint, have dinner, have a drink and cheer them on.
Al Gold Blues at Hat City Kitchen Blues Jams
Looking for some live music on a Sunday Afternoon? Al Gold has been running Blues Jams for all his life it seems. Going on its 6th year at Hat City Kitchen, Al Gold doesn’t just run the Hat City Kitchen Blues Jams; he also promotes them with his design business Al Gold Design. Besides the beautiful posters, he runs a jam that folks come to from around the tri-state area every other Sunday. Bring your instrument, get on the list and you are guaranteed to have a great time because the food and the folks at Hat City Kitchen know how to keep their customers happy. The audience claps, listens, cheers and dances to the blues as they really appreciate the Sunday Al Gold Blues Jams. Learn more and catch up with them at https://www.facebook.com/hatcityk/
Glenn Franke Big Band
Ready to get rid of those Monday Back-to-Work Blues? Glenn Franke Big Band runs every Monday out of SuzyQue’s BBQ & Bar in the big room. Glenn Franke, who loves the Big Band genre, plays trombone in the Big Band and of course conducts this local Big Band on Monday nights in West Orange, NJ. It’s a sixteen-piece big band and it’s not uncommon to see some greats of the past pop in and play. On a few nights, it was a treat to meet the legendary Slide Hampton sitting in the audience enjoying the music. You will have a ball and you will be transported by the music back to the days of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s really big bands. You can read more about the Glenn Franke big band in my review on JerseyIndie.com.
Big Time Spenders
Want to get a Blues Fix on a Tuesday? Big Time Spenders is a blues, rock, and more quintet that brings in many highly in-demand special musical guests. The Big Time Spenders’ music roams through many genres such as classic R&B, blues, rock & roll, and more. The band consists of Big Mike DeVita on harmonica and vocals, Andy Riedel on guitar and vocals, Gerry Gladston on keyboard and vocals, Phil Butler on bass, and Glenn Johnson on drums. The guys play almost anything you want, as it is a very friendly atmosphere. Some nights, folks sit in and it just becomes a dance music fest.
Check out a short snippet from a recent session:
The venue is Bunny's Sports Bar in South Orange, NJ, which has some great delicious food, affordable drinks, and now the musical entertainment of Big Time Spenders. They play every other Tuesday, starting at 9pm. Learn more about when the Big Time Spenders play at https://www.facebook.com/events/452023748301263/.
Ricalton’s Village Tavern Jazz Tuesdays
How about a serious jazz fix on Tuesday? Ricalton’s Village Tavern conducts a Tuesday Night Jazz Series that features some of the best, high profile jazz musicians around the area. Conducted in a private and very intimate room, interaction with the musicians is guaranteed. I have seen and heard, this year, many great ones:
- Guitarist, composer, and arranger Bob DeVos, who is hailed as "a brilliant, knowing bebop player, a master with a sound to die for." Bob Devo plays and records extensively with the legendary Hammond B3 organ groups: Richard "Groove" Holmes-Sonny Stitt, Jimmy McGriff-Hank Crawford, and especially Charles "The Mighty Burner" Earland’s last group with Eric Alexander and Jim Rotondi, then later with the modern B3 players including Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joey DeFrancesco, and Mike LeDonne among others.
- Another time it was saxophonist/composer/arranger/bandleader Virginia Mayhew who has been an active participant in the New York jazz scene since 1987, worked the halls of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and more and has played with renowned artists from Earl “Fatha” Hines, Cab Calloway, Frank Zappa, James Brown, Norman Simmons, Al Grey, Junior Mance, Joe Williams, Chico O'Farrill, and Marlena Shaw to Toshiko Akiyoshi, Kenny Barron, Leon Parker, Ingrid Jensen and Claudio Roditi.
- Another great Tuesday night has Tomoko Onno who has performed at Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall, The Blue Note, Sweet Basil and The Lenox Lounge in Harlem, in addition to appearing on live radio broadcasts by WBGO and WNYC, and ABC TV's Good Morning America. She has performed and/or recorded with Slide Hampton, Claudio Roditi, James Spaulding, Rufus Reid, The John Lee Quartet, The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni Big Band and Sherry Maricle and the Diva Jazz Orchestra. So, we’re talking serious jazz musicians that play around the world and in Ricalton’s Village Tavern, too. The bands will often times take selections from the audience and play tunes that will make you start moving your happy feet. The food is very good and drinks reasonably priced, so check them out at Ricalton’s Village Tavern.
Mike Lee Hat City Kitchen Jazz Jams
It’s hump day and you need a break. How about a Wednesday jazz jam? Love jazz? Then you will love Mike Lee’s Jazz Jams. Running every Wednesday for the last four years, Mike Lee gets the best, the newest, and the up-and-coming musicians of the area. The format is a house band consisting of some of the best worldwide musicians, as Mike Lee has been playing jazz for over 30 years. He knows loads of folks who come in and play, such as:
- Don Braden who began at 15 and as a high schooler played in the McDonald's All-American High School Jazz Band, went to Harvard University from 1981 to 1984, and studied Engineering but also played in the school's jazz ensemble. He played with The Harper Brothers, Lonnie Smith, and Betty Carter and toured with Wynton Marsalis, Roy Haynes, Tony Williams, Freddie Hubbard, J.J. Johnson, Tom Harrell, Art Farmer, and the Mingus Big Band.
- Lenny White began his career in local groups and playing regularly with Jackie McLean in the late 1960s. In 1969, he first appeared on Miles Davis' historic recording on Bitches Brew and later, in 1970, he played with Freddie Hubbard on Red Clay before joining Chick Corea’s Return to Forever and Azteca in 1972.
- I also saw on many nights Steve Turre, an American jazz trombonist, a pioneering musical seashell virtuoso, a composer, arranger, and educator at the collegiate-conservatory level, for fifty-two years. As a studio musician, Turre is among the most prolific living jazz trombonists in the world. As a member of a television orchestra, this is Turre's thirty-second year as trombonist with the Saturday Night Live Band.
- In addition, after the first hour, Mike gets some of the best area-wide musicians from the local colleges and jazz schools. It’s not uncommon to see Jazz House Kids (Montclair, NJ), or William Patterson University or Rutgers University students up on the stage ready to play. Let’s put it this way, it’s a Jazz Jam after the first hour, if you have your act together, then grab your instrument and come out Wednesday after 8pm and have some fun at Mike Lee’s Hat City Kitchen Jazz Jams.
John Lee Trio and Friends
John Lee Trio plays every Thursday at SuzyQue’s BBQ and Bar in West Orange, NJ. Running four years now, this trio runs their weekly gig interspersed with road gigs as they appear on their calendars. The house trio band is:
- John Lee, a bassist, composer, educator and producer. John Lee is the co-founder of Jazz Legacy Productions and also serves as the Executive Director of the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars and All-Stars Big Band. A resident of South Orange, NJ, John has played in the bands of Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, McCoy Tyner, Larry Coryell, Joe Henderson, and Dizzy Gillespie.
- Dave Stryker got his start with Jack McDuff and Stanley and was voted in once again this year to the Downbeat Critics Poll. Dave Stryker’s new CD, Messin’ with Mister T, is a celebration of the man he worked with for over a decade, Stanley Turrentine.
- Tommy Campbell, the drummer, is dedicated to growing the legacy of Jazz and is not limited to the stage. He has created Stirling Studios to produce music that can dip deep in the roots of jazz. "There are things you learn playing for extended periods of time with folks like Dizzy Gillespie, John McLaughlin, Sonny Rollins and Kevin Eubanks that can’t be learned in a traditional school environment."
So these professional musicians, the John Lee Trio, play every Thursday. When you get a chance, check them out as it’s also not uncommon to see some huge big time musician filling in when one of them goes on the road. You can find out more about the John Lee Trio at https://www.facebook.com/johnleetrio and their schedule at http://www.suzyques.com/happenings/
So, that’s what’s happening concerning recurring events during the week. Check out my major events article on JerseyIndie.com and come on out, look me up, and have a good time.
Now that we covered some of the major events and recurring weekday events, next up: some really great reviews of some truly awesome Friday and Saturday weekend events in Jazz and Blues and more coming your way this summer.
About the Writer
Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians and local art exhibitions. On a regular basis Gregory promotes art, music, business, history, government and local community events through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photo journalism. Gregory Burrus resides in beautiful, historic town of South Orange, New Jersey, the home of beautiful gas lamps, many historic buildings, some wonderful old trees, the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Seton Hall University, South Mountain Reservation and many gorgeous, vibrant, growing communities in the surrounding North Jersey towns and cities of Essex County. Having fun living life while helping others. Need me to cover your event just let me know. Connect with Gregory Burrus: Facebook | Google+ | YouTube | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Vimeo
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