Summer may be a couple of months away, but jazz fans can get a jump on the season Sunday, when Pam Van Dyke Crosby and Friends bring their Jazz on A Summer’s Night – Late CD release party to the Jazz Depot.
Recorded live on June 10th of last year at the late Tulsa restaurant and jazz venue Ciao Baby, Jazz on a Summer’s Night – Late is a companion piece to Jazz on a Summer’s Night – Early, which debuted at a similar Depot event last October.
“We’re going to play tunes off both the albums Sunday,” says Pam’s husband Bill Crosby, the well-known Tulsa bassist who produced both discs. “We’ll have the same guys in the band that we had when we did the recording – except for [drummer] Tony Yohe. He’s having knee-replacement surgery, so Wade Robertson [percussionist on both CDs] will be playing drums. We’re going to go ahead and set up some conga drums, and if Tony feels like coming in and playing a little percussion, we’ll be happy to have him do it.”
The discs – and the show – feature the kind of crowd-satisfying, sure-handed jazz that fans of Pam, Bill, and their cohorts have come to expect. While some of the selections come from bop legends like Miles Davis (“Ornithology”) and Sonny Rollins (“Oleo”), the group makes each number accessible to audiences without sacrificing one whit of musical integrity. Straight-ahead tunes like the above alternate with such evergreens as “Long Ago and Far Away,” “Skylark,” and even an inventive arrangement of Glenn Campbell’s 1977 pop-country hit “Southern Nights.”
“It’s jazz, and but it’s fairly commercial from the standpoint of what some people are doing in jazz, some of the fusion-type bands,” says Bill with a chuckle. “They don’t care whether anybody likes it or not. We kind of mix it up, and we want the audience to like it, you know.”
“Southern Nights,” along with most of the other selections on the new disc, were arranged by Scott McQuade, who also contributes on piano and accordion. A native of Canada, McQuade spent more than a decade based in Florida, playing cruise ships and other venues, before arriving in Tulsa in 2008. After meeting and working with him, Bill says, “I got serious about doing a record.”
In addition to their band of McQuade, drummer Yohe, and bassist Bill, the Crosbys added Robertson and saxophonist-clarinetist Tommy Poole, another one of the area’s top-drawer jazz players (in addition to being the Director of Jazz Studies at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah) to the recording group. Showing the versatility typical of the area’s working musicians, Robertson has played with everyone from Hank Thompson to the Temptations, and can be heard on, among other discs, the live Chet Baker album Out of Nowhere.
“We added Wade and Tommy Poole because we wanted to beef up the band [for the recording],” explains Pam. “We’ve been working with Scott, too, and he’s such an inspiration that we wanted to be sure to have a recording with him and that band.”
When it comes to credits and careers, the Crosbys hardly have to take a back seat. Native Oklahoman Pam began her time in the music business touring nationally with the venerable Sammy Kaye Orchestra, one of the longest-lived aggregations from the big-band era, Returning to Oklahoma after more than four years on the road, Pam soon found herself in demand for appearances at clubs, festivals, and theatrical productions – a demand that continues to this day.
Bill, who grew up in Oklahoma, has been a major presence on the Tulsa jazz scene for decades, occasionally touring nationally as well as backing celebrity performers like Marilyn Maye and Don Cherry in their local appearances. Founding members of the Tulsa Jazz Society, both Pam and Bill work tirelessly to increase awareness of live jazz in the Tulsa area – something that the two Jazz on A Summer’s Night discs and Sunday’s show will certainly help.
“Part of the reason for doing this [recording] is to kind of have it as part of our heritage,” says Pam, “something that we did that’s really us. We’d also like to sell some of them,” she adds with a laugh.
The Pam Van Dyke Crosby and Friends CD Release Concert is set to begin at 5:00
p.m. on Sunday, April 28, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, fromwww.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5. Refreshments will be available for purchase.
The event is a part of the Jazz Hall’s Spring Concert Series.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.