On May 12, 2018, the Houston Person Quartet appeared at the Caton Castle, with Houston Person on tenor sax, Lafayette Harris on piano, Vince Ector on drums, and Matthew Parrish on bass. This performance provoked a nostalgic mood, reminding me of the words that novelist William Faulkner put into the mouth of a fictional character: "The past isn't dead," said Gavin Stevens. "It isn't even past."
Of the generation of unhurried big-tone tenor saxophonist influenced by the Master, Ben Webster (1909-1973), the ageless Houston Person (actually, he's 84) is nearly the last man standing. The band's performance of "Everything Happens to Me" showed Houston to be in fine form, sugar-coating the chords of this slow ballad in a halting embrace that quivered around the beat of his solid rhythm section. Houston's subtle intonation conjured up songwriter Tom Adair's poignant lyrics: "...I've telegraphed and phoned/ I sent an airmail special too/ Your answer was goodbye/ and there was even postage due/ I fell in love just once/ and then it had to be with you/ Everything happens to me." Indeed, Houston has the sound of a young octogenarian.
"Duke" Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train" spotlighted Baltimore native Lafayette Harris, a talented pianist who embellished the melody with an economy of notes. And Lafayette is versatile, as evidenced by his sure-footed solo rendition of "Honeysuckle Rose" in the stride piano style (two-handed counterpoint with rhythmic runs) of its celebrated composer, Thomas "Fats" Waller (1904-1943).
Unlike many in this seasoned audience, I'm not old enough to remember when that number was a hit for "Fats." However, Houston's sentimental rendering of a sweet pop tune, "Our Day Will Come," to a Latin beat that featured a nimble bass solo (Matthew rocks!) did remind me of what's missing from Houston's sound since the last time that I caught him in town, in the late 1990s. Of course, I'm talking about his longtime musical partner, the late jazz vocalist extraordinaire, Etta Jones (1928-2001).
Houston Person and Etta Jones were a delightful combination: the peanut butter and jelly of jazz. This class act-- shades of Ben Webster and Billie Holiday-- played for Baltimore's Left Bank Jazz Society's Sunday shows at the old Famous Ballroom so often in the 1970s that it's hard for old-timers to think of one without thinking of the other. In fact, the frequency of those performances was documented in a book I stumbled across, which published the Left Bank's schedule of shows along with a lot of other local jazz memorabilia-- "Music at the Crossroads: Lives & Legacies of Baltimore Jazz" (edited by Mark Osteen & Frank J. Graziano, 2010).
According to the book, between June 30, 1976, and December 31, 1978, Houston and Etta performed for the Left Bank on five occasions. To get a feel for the times, notice that their first show was followed the next week by the "Elvin Jones Quartet." Their second show was sandwiched between "Thad Jones & The Mel Lewis Orchestra" and the "Phil Woods Quintet." Their third show followed the "Chet Baker Quartet" and preceded "Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers." Their fourth appearance came between "Sir Roland Hanna And The New York Jazz Quartet" and the "Sonny Stitt Quartet." And their final 1978 Left Bank appearance was followed by the "Dexter Gordon Quartet."
From the foregoing itemization, three conclusions leap out. First, the current state of the local jazz scene appears so low because it once rode so high. Second, insofar as legends are irreplaceable, attrition is a major cause of our fall from jazz grace. And third, Houston Person walked among the giants of jazz.
Leaning on the "Duke" Ellington songbook in this warmly received performance, Houston's booming tenor sax still swings with gusto to the rhythm of "Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me," with Vince's compact and bracing drum solo thrown into the mix. At the Caton Castle, Houston was preaching to the choir. Nonetheless, there were lots of empty seats.
The "Crossroads" book depicts the diminishing local jazz scene as a problem without a solution. In search of lost passion, the book's editors looked high and low, even quoting Caton Castle proprietor Ron Scott and our own Miss Eleanor Janey. It's a curious problem. At a time when technology allows for widespread and affordable access to top quality jazz (for instance, patrons with smartphones sometimes live-stream Caton Castle performances to Facebook), it is ironic that interest in jazz appears to be on the decline. How could that be?
Perhaps the wisdom of the noted "Pogo" comic strip applies: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
Think about it. Since the advent of recording technology over a century ago, jazz has been the sound of dissent, an individual cry (improvisation) against a stifling orthodoxy, both musically and socially. It's not just a coincidence that big bands flourished during the era of "Prohibition" or that the jazz reformation known as "Bebop" erupted in the era of "Civil Rights." However, the present "Computer Era," as exemplified by social media like Facebook, represents a different kind of oppressive challenge. Now, individual autonomy itself is at stake, having been devalued by many people from priority status ("me") to the middling rank of a choice shared by others ("me too"). That's the price of admission to Facebook's virtual reality; if the whole world is a stage, then Facebook is a show about a show. There, jazz (and much else) can be "Liked," but not loved. In the current slang, jazz suffers from fake fans.
Houston, we have a problem. But the predicament is not hopeless; the spread of smartphone addiction might subside. I suspect that the relative vitality of the jazz scene may be our societal "canary in the coal mine," the advance warning indicator for when the air is becoming too toxic to breathe freely. Music matters. Discerningly, there is no jazz at all in "1984," George Orwell's fictional nightmare vision of a future society where "run amok" technology is in the saddle, riding men.
But we're not there yet. Houston Person and his excellent quartet thrilled a good-sized Caton Castle crowd, even without Etta Jones.
The Houston Person Quartet
THE HOUSTON PERSON QUARTET
THE PAUL CARR QUARTET
May 5, 2018
On April 21, 2018, Winard Harper's Sextet appeared at the Caton Castle, with Winard Harper on drums, Anthony Ware on alto and tenor saxophone, Charlie Sigler on guitar, Vince DuPont on bass, Norman Simmons on piano, and Ted Chubb on trumpet. This group brought rhythm to spare.
As if to underline that point, the show opened with pianist/composer Horace Silver's "Strollin'," a trio selection by the rhythm section, with 88-year-old piano master Norman Simmons showing the way. Even so, Winard's dynamic solo left the impression of a volcano about to erupt.
This show represents a homecoming for Winard, a Baltimore native. Come to think of it, this town has lately produced a lot of talented drummers, including Lee Pearson, John Lamkin, III, Quincy Phillips and Eric Kennedy. By words and deed, Winard was as glad to see us as the sold-out audience was to see him.
After a prolonged absence, Baltimore must give the appearance of an old acquaintance who's down on his luck, out at the elbows and worn over at the heels. Last year, this city proportionately led the nation in murders, and deaths from drug abuse far outstripped the number of homicides. On many city blocks, boarded-up houses exceed occupied ones. With a shrunken job base, public buses lack riders, except for students transported from broken homes to broken schools, and "recovering" addicts en route to and from drug treatment programs. Yes, the return to Baltimore of an accomplished and highly acclaimed native son like Winard was a sight for sore eyes.
On trumpet icon Lee Morgan's "Ceora," Winard showed what the fuss is all about, displaying a style reminiscent of his acknowledged guide, Max Roach, the prototypical "modern" jazz drummer, with a sophisticated approach that busily establishes creative space by manipulating rhythmic time, to which Vince's steady bass fiddle was thoroughly adapted. Winard's deft use of cymbals creates a cascading effect that frames the sound, on this tune simultaneously supplying content and a context for Charlie's gliding guitar licks and Norman's elegantly spare piano notes, teasing the melody.
And Winard has a flair for the sensational. If this were basketball, some of his time changing transitions would be ankle-breaking crossover dribbles. On "Ceora," the horns were also outstanding, particularly Ted's elongated trumpet notes in the fashion of Lee Morgan, as well as the majestic tone of Anthony's soaring tenor sax solo, shades of Yusef Lateef.
"Moanin'," pianist Bobby Timmons' swinging standard in march time, caught me by surprise because Anthony's alto sax introduction employed the melody of "Amazing Grace," the Gospel hymn. Previously, the abrupt ending on Horace Silver's "God is the Greatest" (I think I heard that title correctly) had created the sensation of a trap door opening. Also, sassy and affecting vocal selections by Winard's 16-year-old daughter, Kameelah Harper, brought more unexpected pleasure. Improvisational jazz is, according to a book title by the late music critic Whitney Balliett, "the sound of surprise."
In music and life, we sometimes unwisely limit ourselves by fixating on external regularities at the expense of the spontaneous, inner meaning of things. Exalting form over substance, so to speak. I've heard this expressed humorously in a story about the olden days when a country bumpkin on his annual city visit got tipsy and bought new pants and shoes before taking a boozy nap on the side of the road. A horse-drawn wagon comes along, and the driver shouts to the sleeper, "Move your legs out of the road before I run over them!" Awakened, the bumpkin looks at his new pants and shoes without recognizing them and responds, "Drive on, those are not my legs."
Poor fellow, he didn't understand that the clothes do not make the man.
Anyway, this band was both woke and sober on "Coexist," Winard's original composition that's the up-tempo musical expression of an alternative hope for our modern day confusion of tongues. Indeed, Winard opined that listening to such bracing jazz is a cure for what ails us. Alas, there are too few listeners. Anthony and Ted chimed in, trading riveting riffs before Winard soloed, his frenetic yet measured balance of beats emphasizing the propulsive power of a solid rhythm section that, all night long, led from behind.
I particularly enjoyed The band's performance of the Horace Silver compositions because I am a fan from way back. One of the first jazz albums I ever bought was Horace Silver's "Song for My Father." Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" and John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" were also in my start-up record collection. These recordings all featured excellent drummers: Roger Humphries, Jimmy Cobb, and Elvin Jones, respectively. Indeed, in African musical tradition, the drum has pride of place.
On this night, Winard Harper's rousing sextet brought some real charm to Charm City.
Last night (Saturday, April 21, 2018), Caton Castle was honored to have the Winard Harper Sextex event. The musicians were Norman Simmons(Piano), Ted CHubb(Trumpet), Anthony Ware(Saxophones), Charlie Sigler(Guitar), Vince Dupont(Bass), Winard Harper(Drums). In additional, we had the pleasure of welcoming vocalist Kameelah Harper, Winard Harper's beautiful and talented daughter. The groups performed jazz classics, and original compositions. Check out some of the event videos below and on You Tube.
On April 7, 2018, the John Lamkin "Favorites" Jazz Quintet appeared at the Caton Castle, with John Lamkin, II, on trumpet and flugelhorn, Michael Hairston on tenor saxophone, Bob Butta on piano, Michael Graham on bass, and Jesse Moody on drums. Smooth as aged bourbon, this band's vintage vibe packed a punch.
A longtime music educator (University of Maryland Eastern Shore) and a transgenerational presence on the local jazz scene, John Lamkin, II, stirred recollections of past masters of the trumpet (for example, Miles Davis on "Seven Steps to Heaven") and of the flugelhorn, with a style similar to Art Farmer on John's original composition, "Transitions." Note: John is not to be confused with his namesake son, John Lamkin, III, an outstanding drummer who frequently performs at the Caton Castle.
But the jazz master whose presence loomed large in this show was pianist/composer Horace Silver, whom John credits as a major influence. On Horace Silver's "That Healin' Feelin'," the band played a swinging brass chorus behind a quirky Latin beat, offset by a rhythmic piano that searchingly soloed: Quintessential Horace Silver. The groove seemed to inspire Bob Butta, another local jazz fixture, who wandered his keyboard for licks to match Jesse's explosive drums, with subtle cymbals timed to a beat that kept pace with Michael's shifting bass lines, fitfully.
Horace Silver was one of those musical pioneers responsible for "bebop," the jazz phenomenon that emerged in the 1950s. Along with trumpeter "Dizzie" Gillespie, saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker and others, innovators deconstructed the big band sound into its constituent elements, then re-packaged it in small group arrangements that emphasized individual improvisation, foremost. This coincided with advances in recording technology which improved the quality, format and distribution potential of the music.
Beebop introduced an element of individual self-consciousness and assertiveness that corresponded to a distinct mood in post-World War II urban culture, as evidenced by the audience it attracted. The new attitude was summed up in the title of a 1964 album released by a tough Philadelphia tenor saxophonist, Hank Mobley: "No Room for Squares."
Beebop and its alternately cheerful and brooding progeny still resonate because the individual alienation--estrangement from a larger whole-- that it speaks to is still prevalent. The lyrical beauty of John's eccentrically titled composition, "All The Steps You Take While Walking Through Your Brain," with Michael's hard-tone tenor sax out front, reminds us of the power of jazz to change the subject; to force us to look away from the mirror. Engaging music imposes order on the mind, if not the world. That's no small thing. Order, someone has said, is a tightrope over the abyss of disorder.
But jazz speaks only to those with ears to hear. There's an insightful comic strip in the Sunpapers (does anybody else still read the Sunpapers?) about adolescent absurdity called "Zits," which bears upon the subject of waxy ears. In one episode, the juvenile protagonist, Jeremy, was frustrated about his inability to write blues lyrics for his teenaged garage band because he had no experience of suffering. Then inspiration struck: He determined to write a blues song about the suffering of never having suffered-- fake blues.
Like the biblical "Prodigal Son," the Jeremys of the world may yet "come to themselves" and realize that as to the blues, lyrics are optional. Then they might experience the exhilaration of a bluesy jazz composition like saxophonist Houston Person's "Why Not," as admirably performed by John Lamkin's "Favorites," or John's original jazzy blues number entitled, "Clear Choice." Without a doubt, jazz has the power to enrich the lives of those with ears to hear.
The late Robert "Kaki" McQueen is a case in point. A well-known street character who added spice to his West Baltimore community, "Kaki" was a painter and graphic artist. He sported Rastafarian dreadlocks and could always be found among the afro-centric drummers on Sundays at Druid Hill Park. At most any public celebration of the black community, "Kaki" would offer his art products (for example, originally designed calendars that highlighted the birthdays of black notables) for sale on the most generous of terms; as in, "Pay me when you get it."
And "Kaki" loved jazz, particularly John Coltrane and Miles Davis. So it was fitting that among the soft music I heard playing in the background during the "family hour" at his recent funeral (age 71, I think) was "So What," from Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" (1959), the best selling jazz album of all times.
So what, indeed!
March 24, 2018
Tim Green's quartet appeared at the Caton Castle on March 24, 2018, with Tim Green on alto sax, Allyn Johnson on piano, Hamilton Price on bass, and Quincy Phillips on drums. With advance sale tickets priced at $15.00, the half-filled house got way more jazz than we paid for, including sit-in performances by vibraphonist Warren Wolf on drums and the teenaged Dorsey siblings, Ebban and Ephraim, on alto and tenor sax, respectively.
Hamilton Price, an outstanding bassist, is a newcomer, but the other band members are fan favorites at the Caton Castle. With a playlist devoted to the music of saxophonist Wayne Shorter, I probably wasn't the only one with "Footprints," a signature composition, on my mind. The band did not disappoint. Hamilton's crisp bass line defined the pulse of this tune-- "Dum-Dum-Dee- Dum," "Dum-Dum-Dee-Dum"-- and the Dorsey siblings played an opening chorus wherein each made a mature solo statement before Tim displayed the customary brilliance of his alto sax, especially on high notes. All the while, Allyn's piano rhythmically shifted the melody in response to (or propelling) Quincy's insistent drumbeats. Tim even got the audience involved, gesturing with a microphone for us to repeat after him: "Dum-Dum-Dee-Dum."
Likewise, Tim showed his familiarity with Wayne Shorter's wide-ranging songbook on "Penelope," a slow tempo tune that could be called a ballad, with Allyn vamping a shadowy refrain behind Tim's sensuous riffs. And again, Hamilton's bass line was pronounced.
I've heard Tim Green perform at the Caton Castle on many occasions over the years, and I never tire of hearing his distinctive sound. In an exaggerated way, jazz improvisation separates the singer from the song, giving free reign to creative impulses. Though his repertoire changes, it is Tim's individual stamp that essentially makes every performance fresh. When not eloquent, he's glib. Musically and otherwise, a strong personality is never boring.
So, it is welcomed news that Tim will soon be imparting his methodology to music students in the Peabody Conservatory's jazz curriculum as a newly minted faculty member. Hats off to Tim, and to two other Caton Castle regulars who will be joining Tim in those lofty ranks: bassist Kris Funn and vibraphonist Warren Wolf (drummer/composer Nasar Abadey was already there), all under the direction of trumpeter Sean Jones.
Talk about an all star quintet!
While these lucrative and prestigious day jobs are an unmixed blessing for the recipients ("Nice work if you can get it," sang Billie Holiday), I can't help but wonder what it says about the state of jazz as a performing art when the best talent is preoccupied with teaching theory while live audiences dwindle to a relative trickle at the few remaining jazz venues, like the Caton Castle. Let us hope that the post-beebop musical quest for beauty via academia does not follow the same pattern as the phony philosophers' ivory tower quest for truth, which resulted in lots of professors of philosophy, but few actual philosophers in the Greek sense. Socrates' famous dictum--"The unexamined life is not worth living"-- has nothing to do with mid-term and final exams.
Jazz is a spiritual eruption in the midst of Western culture, an admixture of sounds and constructs from the Eastern and Southern hemispheres. The music of "Satchmo," "Duke," "Bird" and "Trane" sprang from a marriage of convenience between a written and an oral tradition. It was no love match, with the ear and the eye always on the verge of aesthetic divorce.
Jazz has never had a popular following in the manner of, say, rock and roll music; but now its enthusiastic niche audience seems to be waning. It is telling that the Caton Castle is the last classic jazz club in town. But this musical stagnation is not peculiar to jazz. It reflects a more general trend. For instance, sold out arenas for a geriatric Mick Jagger (age 74) and the "Rolling Stones," wheezing lyrics that parody erstwhile hits, like "Time Is On My Side," show that rock and roll, too, has become stagnant, if not fossilized. Indeed, is the rock and roll museum in Cleveland, Ohio really a tribute to that genre of music, or an epitaph on it?
Like rock and roll, jazz is the product of a youthful spirit, and must be recreated in every generation if it is to thrive. As someone who has served my time (student daze) in academia, it's still an open question for me as to whether "higher education" fosters or frustrates creativity. But I was there long ago, back when there were only two genders, before "fair" speech trumped free speech. The current collegiate mania for "safe space" leaves me wondering: Safe space for what?
For better or worse, the future course of the form/content of jazz and academia's role in it will have a lot to do with the commitments of thoughtful young artists/teachers like Tim, Kris and Warren. While live jazz performances may not proliferate as before, some permutation of the art form will no doubt persist. The digital communication revolution will see to that. Imagine a future where your self-driving car transports you and your significant other robot ("Keisha") to a virtual Miles Davis 2.0 concert. Can you envision that? #MeToo.
Some years ago, a local group of jazz enthusiasts sponsored a series of concerts-- "Jazz in Cool Places"-- using architecturally significant church buildings as venues. I caught pianist Joann Brackeen at a Lutheran church on St. Paul Street and saxophonist Bobby Watson at another Lutheran church near city hall. As a born-again Christian, I felt a certain unease at the use of Christian symbols as a backdrop for secular entertainment. "Sacrilegious" is too strong a word, but the feeling tended in that direction. From today's perspective, I'm not sure whether my uneasiness was primarily about the Spirit of God or the spirit of jazz. Clearly, it is the latter that is in mortal peril.
But hope springs eternal. In the introduction to his book, "At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene" (2010), the late jazz chronicler nonpareil Nat Hentoff contradicts those pessimists who doubt that there will be enough committed listeners to sustain a jazz future because, he says, "New listeners, and the emerging players among them, are being nurtured in schools, including elementary and middle schools, and, most important, in colleges and music schools, where an increasing number of jazz elders are teaching eyewitness jazz history."
Indeed, a case could be made that the jazz cup is really half full, not half empty. On this night, Tim Green's sizzling quartet would be Exhibit A.
The WARREN WOLF QUARTET featuring Warren Wolf (Vibes), Allyn Johnson (Piano), Eliot Seppa (Bass), Quincy Phillips (Drums) introduced the Caton Castle Jazz audience to the remarkable vocalist Imani Grace Cooper (February 3, 2018).
Check out the videos clips from this great musical event!
(November 18, 2016)
The Quincy Phillips Quintet was phenomenal. If you haven't see this group, as a jazz lover you are doing yourself a disservice. Exceptional talent. Marie
I looked forward to Saturday's show ((Nov. 19) featuring drummer Quincy Phillips and two other alumni from the Baltimore School for the Arts: pianist Allyn Johnson and bassist Kris Funn. They did not disappoint. You can detect the influence of jazz icon Art Blakey on Quincy's style, both as a drummer and as an ambassador for the art form, always promoting excellent side-men (or women, in the case of Gabrielle Murphy, an alto sax sensation he introduced to the Caton Castle a while ago).
In addition to Allyn's steady hand (both familiar and new) at the keyboard, Kris Funn was just fun to watch, plucking intricate bass lines with such animated bodily movements that a questions arose in my mind: Is Kris playing the bass or is the bass playing Kris? Quincy showcased the music of Freddie Hubbard, as delightfully interpreted by trumpeters Theljon Allen and Freddie Hendrix, along with the energetic Antonio Parker on alto sax.
Highlights abounded. Theljon and Allyn's duet on "Up Jumped Spring" stands out, but my favorite was New Jersey based Freddie Hendrix's flugelhorn rendition of "Lament for Booker." That tune was written by Freddie Hubbard in tribute to Booker Little, a great trumpet player who was struck down in the flower of youth. It was a masterful performance of a master's homage to a master. That's the sort of thing you can expect when Quincy Phillips shows up. Greg L.
(November 4, 2016)
Chelsey Green and the Green Project shows it all from standards to modern day hits, the Green Project blend effortlessly. But make no mistake it's Chelsey Green that bonds it all together. Her ability to roller coaster you, is a dynamic that few artist posses. The ability to allow an artist such as this to perform without the hindrance of time constraint is what puts the Caton Castle at the top and lets Chelsey Green and the Green Project pull out all the stops and completely take the audience for a most enthralling ride. One in today's world of concert going is a rare breed indeed. Louis M.
I attended a jazz concert at Caton Castle that was one of the best shows I have seen in quite a while. The jazz concert featured Chelsey Green, a phenomenal musician who delivered a performance that moved the crowd with a variety of selection from different genre.
I could not beat the price, food, and atmosphere at Caton Castle. Rhonda W.
I'm just saying... this was an awesome show. Never have I seen a violin performance so dynamic. The Audience was engaged. They are always welcome at the Castle. If you weren't there, you missed it! Yvonne B.
Caton Castle does it again!! The Green Project was fantastic. Ms. Green provided the virtuosity we have come to expect. She is a terrific entertainer and her original compositions were outstanding. High energy and sensitivity. Big Fun. Hurry Back.
Sharon Clark featuring Paul Carr (October 29, 2016)
Caton Castle. What a gem! In an age when jazz has become marginalized for the mainstream, it is nice to know authentic jazz still exists and has great fan support. I recently had the privilege of experiencing the talent of true performers, the Sharon Clark Quartet. Having been unknown to me, I was overwhelnmed by the vocals and instrumentation. I can't wait to see these professionals again at the Caton Castle. Until then, i will have to keep them in my memory and, of course, collect the CDs.
Let's not forget. Such a show could not have been fully appreciated without the wonderful food, audience, staff, and atmosphere that are known to be the Caton Castle. Keep up the great work. I WILL be back!
Just off the release of their new CD -- "Soulful Serenity"-- Sharon and tenor saxophonist Paul Carr exuded an easy familiarity. "I Could Have Told You," a ballad from the new disc, displayed both performers in fine fettle. Paul showed himself to be a laid-back Texas-born journeyman as contrasted with,say, the boisterous Booker Ervin, the late trailblazing tenor from the Lone Star State.
As for Sharon, her vocal range and elasticity, from operatic to bluesy, makes comparisons to Sarah Vaughn inevitable. Sharon doesn't just sing a lyric, she emotes it. And the rhythm section was exceptional; featuring Chris Grasso, Sharon's regular pianist; Lenny Robinson, a frequent headlining drummer at the Castle; and Michael Wheeler (I hope I heard that right), who glistened, particularly on a duet with Sharon in the introduction to an up-tempo rendition of "Falling In Love With Love."
I've seen Sharon perform at the Castle many times. She is so versatile. Pop, soul, rock; Sharon can give to any musical genre a jazzy turn. However, it's her treatment of jazz standards that really moves me. Like when she opened the second set (after an interlude performance by the adolescent Dorsey siblings, flashing precocious be-bop chops) with one of Miles Davis' signature tunes: "Stella By Starlight." Yes, there were stars aplenty at the Caton Castle last Saturday night.
John Lamkin III with Billy Pierce (October 15, 2016)
True believer! I really enjoyed the show. It took me back to the old' days at the Famous Ballroom. Mainstream jazz - the way its supposed to be. Art Blakey is the messenger. Thanks John Lamkin III and Caton Castle! You boys cooked! Gilbert R.
A phenomenal show tonight. John Lamkin III & company performance was absolutely engaging. The atmosphere they created wooed everyone in the audience at Caton Castle. A show no jazz lover should miss. Winfied K.
The musical legacy of Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers goes back to the 1950's with the group featuring Horance Silver, Clifford Browing, and Lou Donaldson. That legacy was on display big time during John Lamkin III 3rd annual tribute to Art Blakey tonight at Caton Castle.
A packed house who frequency on it's feet, yelling with great joy as alto sax Mark Gross, trumpeter DeAndre Shaifer,pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Kris Funn, and drummer/leader John Lamkin III were joined by messenger alum tenor sax Bill Pierce smoked through the Blakey 'book' with songs like One by One, Moaning, Along Came Betty, and ETA among many others.
In the Blakey style, Lamkin III set a fierce pace to several of the tunes however, the band was up to the task. The presence of Bill Pierce added to the musical festivities since, as chair of the woodwind department at Berkley School of music he taught both Lamkin III and Gross. Judging from the audience reaction, teacher and students were all on the post graduate levels. To quote Charles Funn "it was like New York in here". Robert L. F.
Paul Car & Jamie Davis (September 24, 2016)
The show was fantastic! Paul Carr pulled it all together with a wonderful tribute of John Coltrane. Jamie Davis swooned my heart with his sexy voice and flamboyant personality. Loved it. Looking forward to the next show. Glenda B.
I've never been in such an environment. The audience, these were John Coltrane aficionados - everyone enjoyed themselves. ENCORE!! Robert T.
George Coleman & Harold Mabern (September 10, 2016)
"NEA Jazz Master George Coleman and great piano legend Harold Mabern led their quartet, featuring Joe Farnsworth and Alex Chaffy, in wonderful, swingin' sets of Jazz standards, classics, ballads, and jump tunes. The tunes included: This I Dig of You, Ceora, It's Easy to Remember, Up Jumped Spring, What a Difference A Day Makes, Road Song, Rakin' & Scrapin', Happy Together, and My Favorite Things. Philadelphia piano great Orrin Evans sat in for Mr. Mabern on Straight No Chaser and Cherokee. Joe and Alex both showcased their soloing skills on many of the tunes. This was truly a memorable sold-old performance by two Jazz greats that was thoroughly enjoyed by the Caton Castle crowd!!!" Kenneth C.
Excellent- all the member of the band played very well, played to the crowd. George Coleman played like the master he is. Caton Castle always delivers. Tony M.
Great Show, top entertainment. Great atmosphere. Great chicken wings. Sam M.