A Weekly Jazzonian Newsletter
January 29, 2018

...is a jazzonian e-newsletter published weekly unless the author is somehow incapacitated. It details the thriving jazz scene in Columbus, Georgia and the surrounding Chattahoochee Valley, written exclusively by Rusty Taylor, the jester-singer for the vocal jazz band Southern Standard Time
Schwob Jazz Orchestra
The award-winning Schwob Jazz Orchestra (SJO) is the flagship ensemble of the Jazz Studies Program. Under the direction of Dr. Kevin Whalen, this 18-piece large jazz ensemble focuses on presenting the best in contemporary and classic big band music. The band is comprised of many of the finest musicians at the CSU Schwob School of Music, and an audition is required entry into the ensemble. The group actively performs for diverse audiences in Columbus and throughout the southern United States. In January 2018, the Schwob Jazz Orchestra will perform as the featured college jazz ensemble at the Georgia Music Educators Conference Annual In-Service Conference in Athens, Georgia.


Welcome to this week's Jazzonian newsletter. Buckle up; I've got some interesting tidbits about the jazz scene in the Chattahoochee Valley. First, I've heard rumors that the Columbus Jazz Society is in the process of bringing back its jazz jam. Details are scarce at the moment, but I can assure you that when I find out more info, I will pass it on. Words alone cannot express my deep yearning that this is true. I've already got my hopes up way too high, so if this does not come to fruition, I'll be as disappointed as a dude answering the doorbell for a grinning man with an oversized check from Publishers Clearing House giveaway, and he asks for directions to another house.

In a previous newsletter, I commented on how Chris Helms sat in with Snakebite Six's last gig at The Loft. For those of you who may not know, Snakebite Six is Columbus, Georgia's local Dixieland Jazz band led by the inimitable Jim Evans. Chris Helms is a local musician and the band leader for Smith Station High School. His main instrument is the sax, which he plays masterfully, but he also plays the piano. I recently contacted Chris and he authorized my announcing that he is, in fact, an official member of Snakebite Six, and that thrills me down to my toenails. I really dig Snakebite Six and Chris Helms. Hopefully, they'll be making toe-tapping music together for a long time. (The small photo above is of the ensemble's Chris Helms and vocalist Jan Humphreys Hyatt.)

It is my understanding that the viewership of the Grammy Awards was substantially down this year. No doubt the reason stems from the fact that contemporary music caters to the least common denominator; it lacks creativity and it is technologically modified so that the human element has been eliminated in favor of visceral angst. That is why jazz is slowly returning to the mainstream; it touches the listener and player on an emotional and intellectual level that emphasizes pathos. Although the Grammy intrigue has softened, it is still commercially viable. Ergo, here are the winners in jazz:

  • Best Improvised Jazz Solo: “Miles Beyond” — John McLaughlin, soloist
  • Best Jazz Vocal Album: “Dreams and Daggers” — Cécile McLorin Salvant
  • Best Jazz Instrumental Album: “Rebirth” — Billy Childs
  • Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album: “Bringin’ It” — Christian McBride Big Band
  • Best Latin Jazz Album: “Jazz Tango” — Pablo Ziegler Trio

Don't forget that every Tuesday from 7-10 pm Central Time, Eighth and Rail sponsors a jazz jam with the Jane Drake Band featuring Jane Drake (vocalist), Taylor Pierce (guitar), Eric Buchanan (drums), and alternating weeks Emory Kidd (bass) and Coleman Woodson III (piano). The jam attracts many musicians regularly, like Chris Helms (sax), La'Roy Bodiford (sax), Jeff Pierre (trumpet), Burdette Becks (flute), Rusty Taylor (vocals), Patrick Bruce (guitar), but there's no telling who may show up. Last week, Lloyd Buchanan (vocals and keys), Skyler Saufley (guitar) and Daniel Bowden (vocals) showed up. The joint was hoppin'. Incidentally, proprietor Mike Patterson makes a few sushi rolls that aren't on the menu but have some serious spice: the Chuck Norris Panties Roll, which has two jalapenos and an habanero... and the Bruce Lee, which adds a ghost pepper. (And, no, I haven't tried the Bruce Lee; the Chuck Norris Panties nearly incapacitates me... but it is so tasty.)

Keep in mind the other area weekly jazz jams listed below. I can vouch for the jam at Venkman's in Atlanta that is hosted by Joe Gransden, which is seriously groovy; every time I've gone, it overwhelms my senses with incredible positive energy, but I've heard that the weekly jam at Red Light Cafe is just as happening. It is hosted by the Gordon Vernick. Also, the jam at 1048 in Montgomery is reported to be an event to experience. In all honesty, the majority of gifted jazz musicians with whom I am acquainted are wonderful human beings. If you haven't experienced a jazz community, check it out. You'll be as smitten as I. If you, dear reader, know of a jazz jam not listed in this weekly e-rag, let me know, and I'll fain add it.

Peace Through Music
Groovy Upcoming Events
  • Saturday, February 3 – The Afro Cuban All Stars at The Rialto Center for the Arts in Atlanta, the Afro-Cuban All Stars band begins at 8 pm EDT. Afro-Cuban All Stars is a Cuban band led by Juan de Marcos González. Their music is a mix of all the styles of Cuban music, including bolero, chachachá, salsa, son montuno, timba, guajira, danzón, rumba and abakua. To visit their website, click here.
  • Friday, February 9 – Diana Krall - Turn Up The Quiet World Tour At Atlanta Symphony Hall.
  • Sunday, February 18 at 4 PM – West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30310 presents Sunday Live A Jazz Experience. Join us for an amazing Sunday afternoon of Jazz with Special Tributes to Roberta Flack & Phyllis Hyman. Featured artists are Wilson “JJ” Miller, Jr; Yvette Moore, Lynette Powers & The Edwin Williams Experience featuring Terry Dukes, Nicole Pringle & Toye. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Sunday, March 25 – Legendary bassist Stanley Clark will start playing at the Atlanta City Winery. Fo' mo' info, click here.
This Week at The Loft
Solar Quintet is returning to The Loft this week with a highly anticipated CD Release Party. These cats play groovy original jazz. Local jazz icon Jan Humphreys Hyatt wrote the following:

A new plateau for Jazz in the New South has been hit by SOLAR quintet with the release of new, original compositions spawned by the ensemble. From Fred’s lyrical tribute to his mother, Beatrice – to Donald’s disjointed, mixed metered innovation Consolamentum – to Elwood’s latin-funk-rock-jazz mixture, Activation this band be-bops, rocks, swings and lunges through impeccably brilliant tunes to groove a new pathway for the art form in the deep South. If change is the only constant and creativity is fostered by change then this group of men have been in motion for some time now. This project is highly creative and filled with such variation of style and form that each listen reveals a new layer in the evolution of the groove. Enjoy every vibe and know that the heart and soul of these awesome musicians was injected into each tune, the crest of each phrase and the syncopation of each rhythmic pattern. Happy listening!
--Jan Hyatt

To check out their first CD, click here.

Upcoming Schedule
Feb 2 - Solar Quintet reunion and CD release party
Feb 9 - Southern Standard Time featuring vocalist Rusty Taylor
Feb 16 - Impressions featuring Nick Johnson on sax
Feb 23 - Reggie Sampson and Friends
I Need A Favor... Please
The next time you go see a live musical group, check out the stage. Does it have a wheelchair ramp leading from the audience to the stage or are their steps? Is there a wheelchair ramp backstage? Is there handicapped parking where the performers load and unload? Chances are that the venue doesn’t provide these accommodations. It’s like this: my biggest challenge as a quadriplegic jazz vocalist is finding accessible stages on which to perform. I was once raised up to a five-foot high stage using a forklift and a wooden palette because the stage was not wheelchair accessible. Fortunately, I didn’t die. Point is that there are few wheelchair accessible stages; otherwise, I’d sing much more often.

It’s easy to see why this isn’t a mainstream problem: there are few “physically challenged” performers, but that’s merely an excuse encouraged by indifference. We handicapped performers exist and are eager to share our dreams with fans who dig what we do. But why are we unconsciously ignored? That’s easy: Being unable to perform even the most rudimentary acts of daily living is a major downer; the wheelchair, quite frankly, is a symbol of lost hope. Let’s face it; it’s a marketing problem, and this is where you come in to save the day.

Physical handicaps are wrapped in lugubrious imagery, but not every moment of life in a wheelchair is steeped in mournful decay. Believe it or not, I laugh every day… some days more than others, but if life were perfect, I, for one, would take a bite of forbidden fruit to find some excitement from the decay of entropy (the hypothetical tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity). What I’m trying so desperately to connote here is the fact that having a physical challenge can, at times, be fun and inspirational. What we need is positive imagery, and here’s where I ask for a favor from you, dear reader, and it has to do with social media, more specifically, using the ubiquitous #hashtag: will you help by coming up with a #hashtag meme that has positive connotations for the handicapped and send it to me. This could be fun. Maybe I can come up with prizes for creative contributions. Regardless, this could be the beginning of a social movement that witnesses an outcry of creative energy by talented people who have difficulty overcoming the obstacles that are hidden from people who can hop out of bed running full tilt. By the way, I’ve come up with a possible #hashtag meme that might work: #FantastAbility. What do you think?

The gauntlet has been dropped. Do you accept the challenge? Please reply to this email with as many suggestions as you want, and challenge your friends as well. Let’s see if we can extend this conversation internationally. (Actually, when you send in your suggestions, include the name of your hometown city. We’ll see how far this request goes.) Let’s make the wheelchair a symbol of fun… or grace… or intelligence… or, dare I say it? Let’s make the wheelchair Sexy!

Jazz Poetry

Langston Hughes, February 1, 1902 - May 22, 1967

Oh, silver tree! 
Oh, shining rivers of the soul! 

In a Harlem cabaret 
Six long-headed jazzers play. 
A dancing girl whose eyes are bold 
Lifts high a dress of silken gold. 

Oh, singing tree! 
Oh, shining rivers of the soul! 

Were Eve's eyes 
In the first garden 
Just a bit too bold? 
Was Cleopatra gorgeous 
In a gown of gold? 

Oh, shining tree! 
Oh, silver rivers of the soul! 

In a whirling cabaret 
Six long-headed jazzers play. 
This Shouldn't Be Funny
I sang with Ted McVay last Friday at the Equality Performing Arts Center in, obviously, Equality, Alabama, and what a ride. We didn't know it, but Equality, Alabama doesn't have any landmarks that designate it as a city... or township... no traffic lights, no town hall, no police department, not even a sign welcoming one to the city... nothing. In fact, our electronic map couldn't even find it. We were lost and anxiously low on gas, so we asked our electronic map for directions to the nearest gas station, and it found one about ten miles from where we were. We had forty-five minutes before the show, and we had to set up. Time was pressing on us like a bad dream.

Fortunately, we found a gas station of sorts. It had the rectangular gas pumps that were popular in the 70s, so we filled up. We asked them about Equality, Alabama, and, wouldn't you know, we were in Equality. How fortuitous, right? So we asked about the Equality Performing Arts Center. It was just two buildings over... in the antique shop adjacent the volunteer fire department. That was all there was to Equality. Nothing more. No wonder we couldn't find it save for the guidance of ethereal puissance... call it what you will. 

Unfortunately, I had promoted this gig more aggressively than I have promoted anything else in my entire life... ANYTHING! I used social media as aggressively as a malnourished hyena's stalking a wounded calf, electronically notifying as many people as I could that I was going to broadcast the gig using 'facebook live.' Yes, I was ready to broadcast the concert of original music throughout the Universe at the speed of light. Except...

The Equality Performing Arts Center in Equality, Alabama has no Internet connection! No lie. I never dreamed of even thinking about asking if the public venue had Internet connectivity. Ted was setting up for the gig, and I was in the back trying to setup the computer for our 'facebook live' debut. What saddens me most is that I polluted my facebook group "Make Concert Stages Wheelchair Accessible" with requests for folks to experience our synergetic auricular thaumaturgy. It is my intention to use this platform as the social media epicenter to disseminate a much wider outrage that too many stages are not wheelchair accessible. I have been inspired to use 'facebook live' to broadcast my singing in such venues and hope that by recognizing the concern, powerful people who are capable of making changes will see that it is not an insurmountable cost... that it may bring in additional revenue from fans of talented performers who need assistance with acts of daily living... like ambulating. 

I had shamelessly promoted the gig throughout the morning, even sent the communiqués to celebrities who have far better things to do than to listen to a quadriplegic's harmonizing with a singer/songwriter who has unique talents, not to mention my importunate invitations to family members and friends who have more important things to do other than wait by their respective computers for a concert that couldn't be broadcast simply because the Internet connectivity that I ignorantly thought to be ubiquitous isn't really everywhere; there are, in fact, many areas that simply don't have the technical luxuries I so insouciantly take for granted, but that's how psyched I am about my singing with Ted. It is infectious, and I am desperate to share it with as many people as possible because, quite frankly, none of us is promised tomorrow. Of course, we'll try again to broadcast our next gig, hopefully in the not too distant future. 

As a side note: Ted and I sang well. Sure there were a few minor glitches, but there were also moments of magic, not only for our blending voices but for the quality of Ted's songwriting. It's interesting from my personal perspective to witness folks reactions to my singing: when they first realize that I am going to sing on stage, they are naturally skeptical, but when they hear my voice, the dulcet sonority juxtaposed against my obvious lack of physical prowess transmogrifies doubt into near reverence, plus Ted has a knack for melody and for lyrics that can be poignant or funny. After the gig, a few audience members told us that we sounded like Simon and Garfunkel. You can't imagine how much that geeks me. I'm prouder than a peacock with L.E.D. feathers. 

Although our first attempt to broadcast internationally failed miserably, there was no loss of life. Ted and I will try again. I am also more determined to focus attention on accessible concert stages. Every Tuesday, the Eighth and Rail has a jazz jam in Opelika, Alabama from 7-10 pm Central Time. I generally make the gig unless I die during the week, so I am going to ask Mike Patterson, the proprietor (who has booked my vocal jazz band twice within the past six months and who goes out of his way to assist me in any way to facilitate my singing at his warm and cozy venue)... I will ask Mike if I may broadcast the weekly jam on my band's facebook page (@SSTJazzVocalist). Hopefully, we can raise awareness to the cause, and we can inspire the construction of new concert venues with wheelchair accessibility. 

I have a gig on February 9th with my vocal jazz band Southern Standard Time at The Loft in Columbus, Georgia from 7-9 pm Eastern Time, and I plan to broadcast it via 'facebook live,' so keep your eyes peeled for more info. Incidentally, The Loft's owner Buddy Nelms not only built a relatively inexpensive wheelchair ramp to the stage (that can be used by roadies to facilitate the transfer of heavy electronics), but he also installed an elevator... an obvious testimonial that accessibility is symbiotic to both entertainer and entrepreneur. (Can I get an 'Amen! or maybe an 'A-woman!) 

I am really confident that 2018 will be a groovy year of revolution. Women, especially women of color, will become political juggernauts; Jazz will replace kitsch in the mainstream of the musical industry; and concert stages will become wheelchair accessible.

By the way, if I'm ever invited back to sing in Equality, which doesn't seem that far fetched, I'm going to ask for gas money; it's about a two-hour drive from my house.

Peace Through Music
Weekly Area Jams
Eighth and Rail
Every Tuesday 7 - 10 pm CT
The Eighth and Rail in historical downtown Opelika, Alabama is the venue for a wildly groovy weekly jazz jam as hosted by the Jane Drake Jazz Band. It's a cozy celebration of life that has become a buzzing collection of jazz-loving fanatics gathered together in a coterie of peaceful, fun-loving positive energy. I am downright proud as a peacock with enhanced LED-flashing feathers to participate in the jam on a regular basis, and I really love it! Proprietor Mike Patterson makes the wonderful sushi and Miss Tiffany keeps the affable atmosphere at a lovely level of emotive satisfaction. Plus... they serve an awesome cheesecake that'll make you wanna slap yourself so hard as to tell horrific knock-knock jokes to mimes. No lie. We have really talented musicians come in from the bi-state area: Auburn, Montgomery, Tuskegee, Columbus, LaGrange, Fort Valley, et al. The jam begins at 7 pm and ends at 10 pm CT. Hopefully, I'll see you there.

Eighth and Rail
Venkman's Jazz Jam
Every Tuesday starting at 8 pm ET
Venkman's is a nightclub in Atlanta, a venue that Joe Gransden uses for his weekly jazz jam. This is where the Who's Who of the Atlanta Jazz Scene come together to dazzle us mortals. It's free and starts at 8 pm ET. Fo' mo' info, click link below. I've participated in this jam a couple of times, and I love it as well. Joe Gransden always welcomes me with a smile that will melt antarctic glaciers in the middle of winter, which, oddly enough, is during June through August... when it's so hot and humid in middle Georgia that my toenails sweat. Nevertheless, Joe's band often includes keyboardist Kenny Banks (sometimes Kevin Bales), drummer Chris Burroughs and bassist Craig Shaw, and these cats kick it. When I find the transportation, I'm going.

Red Light Cafe Jazz Jam
Every Wed at 8 pm ET

I have not been to the weekly jazz jam at Red Light Cafe, but it is hosted by the Gordon Vernick Quartet, and I am a huge fan of Gordon's, so I'm planning to go soon, and when I do... Ha! I'm very likely to get excited. Fo' mo' info, click here.
Apache Cafe in Atlanta
Every Wed at 9:00 ET

Al Smith's Midtown Jam Session @Apache Cafe!  Contemporary Jazz , Soul, R&B vocalists jam Session. Featuring live band led by keyboardist Al Smith! Vocalists are invited to sign the list and jam with the band, musicians can sit in too... a must attend! Different Dj spinning on the back patio each week! SPECIAL GUEST HOST EVERY WEEK! Doors open at 9pm and list-sign up is at 9pm. Event admission, the day of, at the door, is CASH. Fo' mo' info, click here.
Brin's Wings in Montgomery
Every Wed from 6 to 9:00 CT

Brins Wings in Montgomery presents Coleman Woodson Jr. Jazz Jam from 6-9 CDT. No cover. Fo' mo' info, click here.
La Salle Bleu Piano Bar in Montgomery
Every Wed from 6 to 9:00 CT

Jazz jam La Salle Bleu Piano Bar, 9 until, no cover. Fo' mo' info, click here.
The Suite in Columbus, GA
Every Thursday at 9:00-11:30 ET

Thursday, January 11 from 9-11:30 p, EDT Live Jazz - Big Saxy Thursday, The Chemistry Project Band starting at 9 pm at The Suite Bar and Grill.
Irish Bred Pub in Montgomery
Every Sun at 9:30-12:30 CT

Third Thursday jazz jam session at the Irish Bred Pub Montgomery, 78 Dexter Ave, Montgomery, Alabama 36104, Corner of Dexter Ave and Perry St, 3 blocks from Capitol. Fo' mo' info, click here.
1048 Club in Montgomery
Every Sun at 9:30-12:30 CT

The 1048 Cafe is in Montgomery, AL. The weekly Jazz Jam led by Sam Williams, 9 pm CDT, $5 cover. I don't really know that much about it, but the 1048 has a jazz jam every Sunday from 9ish 'til whenever. Apparently the jam draws some incredible musicians. Fo' mo' info, click here.
The Suite in Columbus, GA
Every Sun from 6:00-11:30 ET

Michael Johnson and the Silent Threat Band plays at The Suite in Columbus, GA from 6-11:30 pm ET at The Suite Bar & Grill, 5300 Sidney Simons Blvd. Fo' mo' info 'bout the band, click here.
Piccolo's Lounge, Auburn

It's not a jam, but the Piccolo lounge offers a comfortable, clubby environment. Leather club chairs, a cozy fireplace and comfy banquettes serve as a relaxing getaway. Enjoy a single malt scotch and relax and unwind from a hectic day or meet friends to hear live jazz every Friday and Saturday night, of non-home football game weekends. Fo' mo' info, click here.
A Little Lunch Music at Jule Collins Smith Museum, Auburn University
On Thursdays at Noon, make a lunch date with our region’s finest musicians. A Little Lunch Music is an informal, come-and-go performance presented by JCSM and coordinated by musician Patrick McCurry. You can sit in and listen to the entire performance, dine in the Museum Cafe from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT, browse the Museum Shop or explore the galleries.
When the lunch program resumes, I'll let you know.

Devil May Care

No cares for me 
I'm happy as I can be 
I've learned to love and to live 
Devil may care 

No cares and woes 
Whatever comes later goes 
That's how I'll take and I'll give 
Devil may care 

When the day is through, I suffer no regrets 
I know that he who frets loses the night 
For only a fool thinks he can hold back the dawn 
He who is wise never tries to revise what's past and gone 

Live love today, let come tomorrow what may 
Don't even stop for a sigh, it doesn't help if you cry 
That's how I live and I'll die 
Devil may care

Written by Bob Dorough, Terrell Kirk • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group
Video of the Week

John McLaughlin Chick Corea Blue Note "Miles Beyond" with Victor Wooten. John McLaughlin won this year's Grammy for Best Improvised Jazz Solo. Enjoy.
Jazz Association of Macon
We Promote Jazz in Macon
and Middle Georgia
Our purpose is to:
Encourage and support creation, presentation, and preservation of jazz music.
Support the creation of new audiences for jazz music.
Provide education and information about jazz.
Encourage young musicians to learn and appreciate jazz.
Develop a network among local and regional jazz advocates.
Increase awareness of jazz events and musicians in our community.

To read their blog, click here.
Area Musicians
Actually, this is a link to a page of my personal website, but it makes it much easier t maintain. It is a dynamic list of area musicians that will, hopefully, be continually updated until I can no longer do it. If you are a musician who is not listed or you are listed but with invalid info, please let me know, and I'll make the appropriate revisions. Thank you, and click here to visit the link.
High Museum of Art: Atlanta Jazz
Live jazz in the Robinson Atrium at the Atlanta High Museum of Art every 3rd Friday of the month. Fo' mo' info, click here .
On-line Radio
  • WCUG 88.5 Cougar Radio - Columbus State University.
  • KUNR 88.7 Reno, Nevada.
  • KNCJ 89.5 Reno, Nevado.
  • Saturday Night Jazz hosted by Scot Marshall and Dallas Smith (Columbus, GA native) - Scot and Dallas bring their rich musical experiences together in "Saturday Night Jazz" to feature music which ranges from the latest releases to jazz classics and occasional recordings by local artists, as well as announcements of upcoming local jazz events in the Reno-Tahoe area. "Saturday Night Jazz" is supported by the Reno Jazz Orchestra and For the Love of Jazz. Dallas' program airs on KUNR (kunr.org) from 10pm-12am PST/1am-3am EST. The 9pm-1pm EST broadcast is on KNCJ (streaming via the kunr.orgwebsite).
  • WCLK 99.1 Atlanta's Jazz Station, Clark Atlanta University.
  • Adore Jazz - Adore Jazz makes listeners relax, feel, think and smile through listening to the finest vocal jazz.
  • WTSU 88.9 Troy State University - Ray Murray's Jazz Radio Show Saturday nights at 10 pm Central Time.
  • WVAS 90.7 Montgomery - Jazz, Blues, News, and views.

I reckon that's it for now. I hope you enjoyed this week's proffering, and I'll see you next week. Same Bat time. Same Bat channel.

Peace Through Music
Social Media Experiment

In an ignorant attempt to exploit social media to expand my personal fan base, I've created this section to list hashtags and other metadata that might auto-magically give more access to the newsletter I write. Hope it works.

#SouthernStrategy #QuestForBest #GroovicusMaximus #FantastAbility #WheelChairistotle #SCI #Handicapplication #Impairistotle #MuscoviteMarionette #BlackLivesMatter 
#Wheelcherry #RudePundit #MakeStagesAccessible 

@SSTJazzVocalist @frangelaDuo @JoeGransden @AtlantaMagazine @VenkmansATL @rudepundit @MalcolmNance @EricBoehlert @CharlesPPierce @StephMillerShow @JohnFugelsang @Thom_Hartmann @ anniesellick  @TheRealTBone