Tulsa Jazz Artist Spotlight: Ahmad Austin

Enjoy-Now jazz print

“Enjoy Now” A Painting by Ahmad Austin

A typical night for Ahmad Austin can be stated in one word: relaxation.  In fact, most of his paintings are done at night when his inspiration comes from the sultry sounds of John Coltrane, a popular jazz legend. When Austin ends his workday as an art teacher, he begins a work of exquisite art that evokes excitement and energy.  Austin states, “It’s almost indescribable how I feel when I’m painting. It’s as if time doesn’t exist. After coming home from an intense day working with elementary students, Austin shows us how he goes from teaching art class to painting jazz…

For more information about this artist click below:

A. Austin Jazz Paintings

http://www.aaustinart.com/gallery/

Tulsa Jazz Music Group Website: http://www.tulsajazzmusicgroup.com

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New Collection of 12,000 Photographs Chronicles the American Jazz Scene

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A donation from the family of photographer and historian Duncan Schiedt captures the music’s “essence”

Photographer Duncan Schiedt shot exclusively in black and white. He wanted to capture the gradients of feeling that jazz evokes, or what he saw as the music’s “essence.” Schiedt once said, “Jazz is a black and white music. Its range, from blinding brilliances to deepest shadings, seems to demand the drama that black and white can so easily provoke.

Schiedt’s family recently donated a body of the photographer’s work to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, some 26-to-30 cubic feet of material that includes more than 12,000 images, both Schiedt’s own images as well as historical photos that the photographer collected. The collection, says the museum’s John Edward Hasse is “one of the largest photo archives in jazz history.”

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/sneak-peek-new-collection-stunning-photos-chronicle-american-jazz-scene-180954831/#ZvAEXgqBMVMV8YSS.99

**Pictured above Duke Ellington with his arm around Billy Strayhorne  1940-1941

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NSU Jazz Ensemble featuring Scott McQuade at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

scott mcquade

 

As far as first-call saxophonist and Northeastern State University director of jazz studies Tommy Poole is concerned, his contemporary Scott McQuade  is a great example of “the perfect working musician.”

It’s not surprising at all that Poole, another busy Tulsa-area performer, is in a position to make that evaluation. The two of them, he says, have “played together countless times, in countless configurations – I don’t know if I’ve played a lot of pop music with him, but we’ve done a lot of straight-ahead jazz and traditional New Orleans-style jazz together, all kind of jazz stuff.”

McQuade, he notes, “just has so many skills and is able to do so much.”

“He can arrange music. He can read anything. He knows any song that you might call out,” explains Poole. “He can play in any style. He can play with a rhythm section, he can play by himself, or he can play in a duo format, walking bass with his left hand and playing chords with his right hand, or playing bass with his right hand and soloing with his right. He’s just got so many skill sets. It’s really good for my young musicians to see someone like that.”Scott McQuade2

Sunday, Poole’s young instrumentalists in the NSU Jazz Ensemble will not only be seeing and hearing McQuade. They’ll also be performing with him. Or, rather, he’ll be performing with them.

“Scott will be playing from the piano chair of the Jazz Ensemble,” says Poole. “The NSU Jazz
Ensemble is going to play by itself, with no guest artists, for the opening song of each half of the concert. Then, beginning with the second song through however many songs we do each half, Scott McQuade will sit at the piano chair.”

Poole adds that he himself will be playing on “one or two numbers,” including an arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Take the `A’ Train” by Rob McConnell, known for his work with the Boss Brass band in the ’70s and ’80s. And three other guest players, he says, plan to be coming along with the 17-piece NSU Jazz Ensemble Sunday.

“Two of them are friends of mine from the Tahlequah area who play great trombone: Dr. Chuck DeShong and Orien Landis,” says Poole. “Chuck used to teach English at NSU – he’s retired now – and Orien is a band director at Tahlequah High School. And then we have Jim Masters, who’s a trumpeter. He graduated with a music degree from NSU a couple of decades ago – a very, very good trumpet player.”

All of these performers will be turned loose on a repertoire that leans heavily toward classics of the big-band era, including “All of Me,” the Duke Ellington standard “In A Mellow Tone,” and Buddy Rich’s arrangement of “Love for Sale.”

“Then I’m going to throw a curve ball with `Time Remembered,’” says Poole. “`Time Remembered’ is a composition of the great pianist Bill Evans, and it’s a beautiful song. That one is probably the most complex chart we’ll do the whole night.”

Sunday’s playlist also includes “Jive Samba,” composed by Nat Adderley, who played coronet and trumpet alongside his saxophonist brother, Cannonball Adderley, for years.

“They led one of the most influential hard-bop jazz quintets of all time,” notes Poole, “and that song was one of their hits.”

tommy poole12Poole, who’s been in charge of the NSU Jazz Ensemble for the past five years, is exceptionally bullish on this year’s version of the big-band styled group.

“I’ve got a lot of great students, a lot of great improvisers in the band,” he says. “You’re going to hear them get up and play some really good solos. This band is rock-solid, and they get excited about coming up and playing the Jazz Hall of Fame. It’s always a great crowd that comes out, a warm audience and a really fun audience.”

The NSU Jazz Ensemble, with guests Scott McQuade and Tommy Poole, is set to

begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, from www.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 show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2014 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.

 

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Jay Garrett and Sandy Gardner at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

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Vibraphonist Jay Garrett and Vocalist Sandy Gardner

Featured in Jazz Depot Concert

            Tulsa’s Sandy Gardner started singing pop and jazz professionally some four decades ago, when she joined a Colorado Springs-based organization called the Charlie Westfall Orchestra, following a year as a student entertainer at Oklahoma State University. That job indirectly led to another one, singing with a trio at the USAF Academy Officers’ Club in the same city, where she met her future husband, 2013Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Famer Chuck Gardner, and the two began a life in music that continues today.

It continues, in fact, on Sunday, when pianist-composer Chuck plans to sit in with his wife and the evening’s co-star, vibraphonist Jay Garrett.

Playing together is hardly unusual for the Gardners. Sunday’s show, however, not only marks the first time she’s worked with Garrett, but also her first concert ever with a vibraphone player.

“It’s one of those funny things,” she says. “I guess we’ve never been in a city where there was a vibraphonist who played jazz that we could work with. But I think the sound is just delightful. And when Chuck does some of the songs with us, it just adds that extra layer of sound, a chord depth, that you just don’t get with a single piano.”

Working with vibes, and with Garrett in particular, she adds, “is so much fun. We’ve had a couple of rehearsals, and I really like the way he thinks in terms of arrangements. He puts a lot of thought into them, and he’s come up with some really cool ideas.”jay garrett 1

One of the ideas Garrett had was to do the famous Burt Bacharach-Hal David composition “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” as part of a two-tune medley.

“He really, really wanted to do `Raindrops,’ and I’d played it before, but it had never been in my vocal repertoire,” she recalls. “But I got the words, and because he wanted to do another song with it, we’re doing one of Chuck’s originals called `Rainy Day Love.’

“When we made the transition from `Raindrops’ to `Rainy Day Love,” in the rehearsal, I started singing [the up-tempo] `Rainy Day Love’ as a ballad. Chuck and I looked at each other and I said, `Oh, my gosh. Maybe we should have done this as a ballad a long time ago.’ We were blown away by how it changed the whole feel of the song. So we’re doing it a little bit as a ballad, and then the band will swing it. It’s a very nice arrangement.”

Although Sandy is a bassist as well as a vocalist, she’ll leave the bass work to Jordan Hehl on Sunday. Tony Yohe – like Hehl, a familiar presence on the Jazz Depot stage – is the drummer.

“I love to play bass, and I’d love to play a lot more bass,” Sandy says. “But the problem with being both a bass player and singer is that it takes every brain cell you have to do both those things. So you don’t have anyone out front who’s interacting with the audience. That’s an important thing, I think, in a concert, and I’m just not talented enough to do all three.” She laughs. “So I get to just sing, to be the front gal, and let the guys do their thing.”

Chuck, says his wife, is having so much fun working with Garrett and the rest of the group that his original role in the show has expanded.chuck and Sandy web Lg

“At first, he said he just wanted to do one or two songs, but at each rehearsal, he’s done more and more, They wanted to do a little bit of a [George] Shearing thing, the piano and vibes, so we’re doing `Don’t Blame Me,’ which has a really nice Shearing sound. And, of course, `Lullaby of Birdland.’ It’s fabulous to listen to those guys play together.”

Other planned tunes for the evening range from the Gershwin number “Soon” to Duke Ellington’s “Just Squeeze Me.” Drummer Yohe brought in an instrumental, “Recado Bossa Nova,” which Sandy says “just cooks,” and the group also plans its own take on classic big-band numbers like Benny Goodman’s “Don’t Be That Way.”

“I think we’ve got about 14 tunes or so,” she notes. “We’re going with fewer songs, and going more in depth with the ones we’ve got.”

Gardner, Garrett, and the group are set to begin at 5:00p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, 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, from www.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.

The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2013 Autumn 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 the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameis 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.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

 

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Annie Ellicott and The Mike Cameron Trio at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

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Annie Ellicott, Mike Cameron Trio Team Up for Sunday’s Jazz Depot Show

For Sunday’s Jazz Depot show, the latest offering in the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame’s Summer Concert Series, high-profile vocalist Annie Ellicott is set to appear with saxophonist Mike Cameron’s trio, which features Scott McQuade on keyboards (and keyboard bass) and Jared Johnson on drums. Although this will only be the third official pairing of Ellicott with the Mike Cameron Trio, they’ve been doing a substantial amount of jamming together, making Sunday’s show a logical extension of the informal musical alliance that began several months ago.

“I’ve been sitting in a lot with them on Wednesday nights, at their jam sessions at the Cellar Dweller,” says Ellicott, “and the nature of a jam session is listening closely to each other, so we got off on the right foot when we started collaborating [at the sessions] and doing our practicing in front of an audience. A jam kind of lends itself to a heightened awareness of the sounds going on around you.”

“Mike has been talking about booking gigs for us as the Mike Cameron Trio featuring Annie Ellicott for a while,” she adds. “We’ve even had pictures taken and stuff. So I jumped at the chance of getting them on board for this concert.”annie and mike cellar dweller

What makes working with this particular band so much fun for her? Ellicott is quick with an answer.

“It’s the players,” she says. “They’re very good at playing anything. I can call any song, and Scott’ll say, `What key?'” She laughs. “And there we go. That’s fun.

“There’s just a cool vibe, too — with an air of spontaneity to it. The solos are high-energy, very alive, and I feel like my scatting has a unique energy with the trio. I think it’s because of the high energy of the trio and the interaction between players, the listening that goes on, being able to bounce off some little line Scott throws in. Then Mike Cameron will mirror a line I’m doing, and I’ll mirror him. It’s very interactive. Very jazzy.”

Of course, Ellicott, a veteran of the Tulsa jazz scene, had an idea of what to expect when she started jamming with them in the first place.

“I’d seen Jared play for many years at Ciao [the late Tulsa restaurant and jazz venue], and I met Scott McQuade shortly after he moved here from Canada [in 2008],” she says. “Scott and I have worked together a ton. And Mike Cameron – like the rest of them, I know him just from being a Tulsa musician.”

No stranger to the Jazz Depot, Cameron produced a show there last fall celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Oklahoma-born saxophone great Don Byas as well as one in February saluting Patti Page. In April, he was the featured artist in the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame’s Jazz Composer Series.

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McQuade has been a major presence at the Depot almost since his arrival in town. And Ellicott has been seen and heard there over the past few months with, among others, fiddler Shelby Eicher and guitarist Mark Bruner, vibraphonist Jay Garrett and his Vibra Hawks, and in the adventurous jazz re-imagining of Pink Floyd’s classic rock LP Dark Side of the Moon.

There may not be any Pink Floyd in Sunday’s repertoire, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be adventurous. Ellicott expects it to include not only jazz numbers like Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” and Blossom Dearie’s “Blossom’s Blues,” but also a couple of French tunes, including the signature song of famed diva Edith Piaf, “La Vie en rose.”

“We’ll also be doing a song people might recognize if they’ve seen the [2001 French film] Amelie,” she says. “It’s an instrumental song, and I’ll be using my voice as an instrument, to harmonize with it.”

Asked if the show will carry a distinctly French flavor, Ellicott laughs.

“Well, those are the only two [French numbers] we’re doing,” she says. “But they’ll make it seem like it does.”

The Mike Cameron Trio featuring Annie Ellicott is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, August 18, 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.

The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s Summer 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.

 

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Sandy Gardner and Pam Van Dyke Crosby at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame!

Sandy Gardner and Pam Van Dyke Crosby Headline Celebration of Mother’s Day

One had a musical mom, one didn’t. But both Sandy Gardner and Mothers DayPam Van Dyke Crosby are quick to acknowledge the positive effects that their mothers had on their careers and their lives in general.

According to Pam, the two well-known vocalists will be “singing songs for our moms, for all moms, to celebrate moms,’ in this Sunday’s special Mother’s Day event at the Jazz Depot.

“Both of our moms were very supportive,” says Pam. “My mother’s name was Althea Butler, from Pond Creek, Oklahoma, and she was my voice teacher and accompanist for many years. Along with being a voice and piano teacher, she directed a lot of choirs. And she always encouraged me.”

“My mother couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, and she’d be the first to tell you that,” adds Sandy with a laugh. “But she was a typical mother — `you can do anything, you can be anything’ – and an amazing role model. She’d been a stay-at-home mom, but then she became a single parent with four children, ages 11 to one, and had to go back to work.

“She went to work in the accounting department at Skelly Oil Company [in Tulsa], and in ’64 or ’65, Skelly offered certain employees the opportunity to take a computer-programming course, to teach them how to use this new thing called the computer. My mother was the only woman who signed up; the rest were men. And the men were all able to spend part of their workdays studying for this thing. Not my mother. She had to do her regular job.

“So they all had to take a test at the end of the course. And my mother made the highest score,” adds Sandy. “She truly blazed a trail for so many women of my generation just by being brave enough to do all of that.”

Later, when Sandy and her pianist-arranger husband, Chuck Gardner, began performing together, Kalita, her mother, “was always front-row center” when the Gardners performed in her vicinity.

“She had a very special person she was in love with,” recalls Sandy. “They were unable to get married, but she totally loved this person, and he loved her. Their song was `Tenderly.’ So I’m definitely doing `Tenderly’ at this concert.”

For her part, Pam remembers her mother’s fondness for George Gershwin compositions, as well as Hoagy Carmichael and Sidney Arodin’s “Up A Lazy River.”

“She taught me a lot of Gershwin songs,” says Pam, “and she played `Up A Lazy River’ until she couldn’t play anymore. So I’ll do that and a couple of Gershwins –`Summertime,’ which was one of her favorites, and `Our Love Is Here to Stay.'”

In addition to doing tunes that their own moms loved hearing, Pam says that the two plan to sing some numbers that are favorites of Jazz Depot moms-including Duke Ellington’s “Caravan,’ which is tops with Jeanine Rhea, a tireless volunteer for the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. They’ll be accompanied on the show by Chuck Gardner on piano, Bill Crosby on bass, and Wade Robertson on drums, and in addition to their solo numbers, they plan on sprinkling in a few duets.

“One tune that I’ve wanted Pam and me to do together for a long, long time is `[Stompin’ at the] Savoy,'” says Sandy. “You really don’t hear it as a vocal often, but it’s got some great words [by big-band-era lyricist Andy Razaf]. The problem is, the way it’s written, it’s hard to sing it as a single voice. When you sing the word `Savoy,’ it kind of holds, and another line starts. That’s why we thought it would make a great duet.”

The pair will combine their voices on other tunes, too, but Sandy’s cagey about the details.

“We have some real fun stuff planned for this little event,” she says. “We’ve got one duet that’s just going to be a hoot, but I can’t give it away. So it’ll have to be a surprise.”

Sandy Gardner and Pam Van Dyke Crosby’s Mother’s Day concert is set to begin at 5p.m. Sunday, May 12, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Tickets can be purchased at the depot, from www.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-1008. 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.

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.

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