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Wednesday, June 23,2010

Hothouse sounds

Series delivers jazz to east side

by Lawrence Cosentino

 


Fresh greens — got ‘em. Zucchini — on the way.


Arpeggios, tst-tst-tsts and voo-voos? Back up the truck.


Getting fresh local goods to city folk is a point of pride at Allen Street Farmer’s Market.


Beginning this week, a new summer jazz series will riff on the farmer’s market idea by distributing juicy, ripe local jazz to the east side of town.


Jazz on the Avenue and at the Market, or JAM, will bring top students, alums and pros from the MSU and Lansing Community College programs to Gone Wired Café (the “Avenue” half) and the Allen Street Farmer’s Market.


(JAM is not to be confused with the newly formed JAMM, the Jazz Alliance of Mid-Michigan, or anything relating to Jelly Roll Morton.)


The series kicks off Friday with a two-hour set by Michigan State University jazz grad and burgeoning trumpetercomposer Mike Sailors at Gone Wired.


The Sailors gig is the first of three performances at Gone Wired, with the Peter Nelson Band slated for July 16 and the Marcus Miller Band dated on Aug. 20.


Jazz duos will serenade the Allen Street Farmers Market July 21 and Aug. 4.


Allen Neighborhood Center director and jazz fan Joan Nelson (mother of Peter Nelson)pointed out that mile for mile, Michigan Avenue hosts more music than any street in Lansing, but not much jazz.


“My God, we have Rodney Whitaker two miles down the street,” Nelson said, referring to the internationally acclaimed bassist and head of MSU’s world-class jazz studies area.


The series may spark a new era of cross-fertilization among the community developers of the east side, the Lansing school district and MSU’s powerhouse jazz program.


Last month, when the Allen Neighborhood Center’s young volunteers put the JAM grant together, Whitaker was a supporter and behindthe-scenes adviser. The Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs agreed to fund the project through its New Leaders Arts Council program.


Besides bringing swinging sounds to the east side, another JAM goal is to plug the area’s university-trained talent into Lansing’s public schools, especially the east side’s Pattengill Middle School and Eastern High.


To set the stage for JAM, trumpet man Sailors and some of his MSU jazz cronies hosted a workshop and master classes June 11 at Pattengill, where principal Kirk Salzman and band director Tawnya Hicks are eager to foster ties with MSU’s jazz professors and students.


The Gone Wired gigs aim to keep up the crosstown momentum. Each set will last about two hours, with a third hour set aside for the headliners to jam with visiting high schoolers.


Sailors, an MSU masters grad who came to Lansing from North Carolina in 2008, wishes he had that kind of experience in high school.


“It’s important for students to see people close to their age who are good,” he said. “The opportunity is rarer than it should be.”


“The high school bands around here are really good — better than where I came from,” he said.


JAM is a youth-oriented project, from the grant-writing team, headed by Allen Neighborhood Center volunteer Meg Sparling, to the promotional poster by local artist Langston Whitaker (son of Rodney Whitaker) and graphic designer Breah Alward.


At Friday’s Gone Wired gig, Sailors will be joined by MSU students John Beshay on tenor sax, Noah Jackson on bass, Ryan Gough on piano and Jordan Otto on drums.


Sailors’ idol and biggest influence is trumpeter-composer Thad Jones — not as big a name as his other idol, Duke Ellington, but a superb trumpeter and co-leader of a 1960s big band that jazz connoisseurs still savor. Last fall, Sailors co-founded the only Michigan big band that plays original music.


For the first half of Friday’s set at Gone Wired, Sailors and crew will play Sailors’ arrangements of 10 tunes by Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. Sailors’ own compositions will fill the second set.


“So many gigs are just showing up and playing standards, which is fine,” Sailors said. “But since this is an event, I wanted to bring out things I’ve worked on myself and give it a theme.”


He laughed. “Or maybe it’s just because I like to run things.”


That’s what they say about trumpet players.


Jazz on the Avenue and at the Market:


Mike Sailors Band


7
p.m. Friday, June 25 Gone Wired Café 2021 East Michigan Ave., Lansing
The series continues at Gone Wired with the Peter Nelson Band at 7 p.m.
July 16 and the Marcus Miller Band at 7 p.m. Aug. 20 The Allen Street
Market concerts (at the corner of Allen and Kalamazoo streets) feature
Jon Beshay and Ralph Tope at 4:30 p.m. July 21 and Royce Phillips and
Matt LoRusso at 4:30 p.m.


Aug. 4. All shows are free.


(517) 999-3921 www.allenneighborhoodcenter.org

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