by Kerry Skiff
Posted In: Literary
at 01:26 PM | Permalink
Live Jazz at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s Main Branch
There’s nothing like being greeted by the bright echoes of music as you
step inside from the pouring rain. On this particular day I was visiting the
main branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County for the
monthly Jazz of the Month Club performance, featuring the Jamey Aebersold
Quartet. It wasn’t hard to find the musicians, since their tunes bounced all around
the library atrium, and as I slipped into my seat I settled down and let the
warm jazz beats warm my cold body. The Jamey Aebersold Quartet, the third performer in the Jazz of the Month Club,
featured an extremely talented group of musicians, led by an award-winning Jazz
master and educator. Jamey Aebersold, who led the group on the alto sax, received
the 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award, the highest jazz
honor in America. A native of New Albany, Ind., Aebersold has been playing Jazz
for more than 50 years, and has gained international recognition as a Jazz
musician and educator. It was perhaps the educator in him that couldn’t resist
adding tidbits of the pieces and artists they performed.
The quartet played several Jazz tunes, including “Lament” by J.J. Johnson, “Hi-Fly”
by Randy Weston and “In a Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington, one of the most famous
Jazz compositions. As I listened to the lively beats I couldn’t help but look
around at the rest of the audience. While a couple people slept in the back
row, most were intently focused on the performers, nodding their heads, tapping
their toes or even dancing in their seats. Peeking out at passersby, I noticed
a few that were even dancing as they walked, and I saw more than one librarian
sneak a peek between tasks.
At one point, Aebersold pulled a Jamaican pianist into the performance and gave
him a rehearsal for their next song in “be-dos,” singing the melody in
gibberish. As strange as that seemed, Aebersold’s next instruction confused me
further: “There’s a two-bar break on bar…something. You’ll hear it.” While we
all laughed, I couldn’t help but wonder how the pianist could follow those
instructions, but to my amazement he jumped right in without missing a beat,
improvising as if he’d known the tune all along.
As a Jazz enthusiast, it was wonderful to hear the different styles of Jazz
played in a way that drew crowds from all sections of the library. Older adults
sat patiently through the program while younger audiences slipped in and out.
But no matter how long they stayed, all seemed to leave with an expression of
peace and pleasure at the simple but beautiful tunes wafting through the
building. It was evidence of what Aebersold described by saying, “The world’s a
mess. But we can make it better by playing some music.”
Did this event sound interesting? Check out similar programs at the Public
Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s Main Branch:
Cincinnati Music Reprise: Explore the musical history of Cincinnati with
Musicologist Uncle Dave Lewis.
Jazz Jam Session: Enjoy an evening
of jazz with the Blue Night Jazz Band.
Ring in the
Holidays: Listen to a holiday performance by the Pyropus Hand Bell Choir.
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