Monday, July 28, 2014

Grading the 2014-15 Season of Jammin' at the Gem

I'm disappointed but not surprised by the bookings for the 2014-2015 season of the American Jazz Museum's Jammin' at the Gem series.  After witnessing legendary artists ranging from Jimmy Cobb to Joe Lovano play to a disturbing number of empty seats year after year, the forthcoming season doesn't include anyone of their magnitude.  Instead, organizers have doubled down on the proven draw of smooth jazz. 

Brian Culbertson
January 24, 2015
Brian Culbertson may look like he spends more time preening than practicing, but the keyboardist's groove-based version of smooth jazz is effective.  His latest album features contributions from Jonathan Butler, Steve Lukather and Lee Ritenour.
Grade: B-

Gerald Albright
February 14, 2015
I know where I'll be on Valentine's Day.  The sultry smooth jazz of Gerald Albright is tailor-made for the holiday.  The saxophonist's insinuating music is a staple of the quiet storm format.
Grade: B+

Terri Lyne Carrington
March 21, 2015
I'd be vastly more excited about the booking of Terri Lyne Carrington's Mosaic Project had I not attended an underwhelming concert by the drummer's band at Jazz Winterlude in January.  (The Plastic Sax concert review is here.)
Grade: B

Joe Locke Quartet
April 18, 2015
Until I set about composing this post, I didn't even know what Joe Locke looked like.  I've long thought of Locke as the most prominent jazz vibraphonist not named Gary Burton or Bobby Hutcherson.  I suspect Locke would struggle to fill the Blue Room let alone the 500-seat Gem Theater, but I'm looking forward to his appearance.
Grade: B

Marilyn Maye
May 23, 2015
I don't think I'll ever forget Marilyn Maye's antics at the Gem Theater in 2010.  (The Plastic Sax concert review is here.)  The ageless vocalist is always delightful.
Grade: A-

I conducted similar exercises for the 2013-2014 season here, the 2012-13 season here, the 2011-12 season here, the 2010-2011 season here, the 2009-2010 season here and the 2008-2009 season here.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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