It is one of those weeks where it does not pay to stray far beyond the borders of Harvard if you want good jazz. What more could you ask for than Betty Carter and Dizzy Gillespie playing in the friendly confines of Mather House? They are here as part of the Artists in Residence program of the Office of the Arts. The program presents a great opportunity for musicians and music lovers to listen to Carter and Gillespie teach, sing and play. They will be conducting a master class today at 2 p.m. in the Mather House dining room, and again tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the same place.
Don't expect a concert--Gillespie and Carter are here to help Harvard musicians learn about the music. But do expect to gain some insight from these two great veterans about a number of jazz eras.
If you are not familiar with the work of either musician, Dizzy gained prominence with Charlie Parker-inspired bebop about 30 years ago, and Betty has been singing some of the sweetest ballads since the early 1950's. Dizzy is a funny guy, who teaches a class in the manner you wish that most of the stuffed shirts around here would teach: breezy, anecdotal, and educational. Betty Carter, is by her own admission, a worker--someone who did not have the natural vocal abilities of a Sarah Vaughan. But she worked at it, and accomplished as much. (I know I'm sounding like a p.r. man for these master classes, but you have to admit this is a great opportunity to catch two masters).
The pickins aren't as good around town. Unless, that is, if you are into the sellouts. Why be euphemistic? Donald Byrd used to play with Coltrane. Now he's playing with a bunch of no-talents and he's beginning to take after them. If you are so inclined you can see trumpeter Byrd and his Blackbirds at Paul's Mall tonight through the 20th. I guess Byrd is making a lot more money these days, but musically he is nowhere.
It may be worth it to take the trek out to Sandy's in Beverly this week (about a half hour from here via Route 128) to see Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. Sandy's has been having some good acts lately--especially booking trumpeter Woody Shaw for that one night stand last Monday. Herb Pomeroy moves in their next Monday with his 16-piece jazz orchestra.
Locally, the 1369 Jazz Club is featuring Interface and Animation through the weekend. The 1369 is what the Jazz Workshop should be. It is low-key, as is everything else in Inman Square, homey, and cheap. A fifteen minute walk on a nice day.
Upcoming is the Chick Corea concert, May 15, at the Orpheum. Tickets are $7.50 and $6.50. It might be wise to purchase them now. Corea is a big Boston favorite. It's good to see that the advertisements for this concert feature bassist Stanley Clarke. Poor to see that reed man Joe Farrell is not featured, however. Clarke and Farrell are top-flight musicians who should be doing more stuff on their own.
Next Tuesday jazz and blues singer Joe Williams begins a six day stint at Sandy's. Further in advance, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, the man who used to play three instruments at once better than most can play one, will be in for a week May 10-15 at the jazz workshop.
Also Norman Connors comes to town Sunday, April 24 and the Charles Mingus quintet stops in on Saturday, April 30 at Morse Auditorium. More details on those later.