Ecclesiastes said that to everything there is a season. But then he never tried, year-in, year-out, to find the most stellar big name jazz in Buffalo.
The old Statler Hilton Downtown Room had something that might actually be called a jazz season by someone who wasn't laughing up his sleeve. But that's about all.
No more. There is -- courtesy of Mark Goldman's Calumet Arts Cafe and Bobby Militello's Tralfamadore -- something that might actually be called a jazz season. And it shapes up to be absolutely spectacular.
It begins two weeks from now and continues through a great jazz spring.
Before the next eight months are over, Buffalo will get a chance to hear, among other things, the two most exciting young pianists in jazz (Jacky Terrasson, Eric Reed), jazz singers from the Four Freshman to Mark Murphy to Susannah McCorkle, great saxophonists David Fathead Newman and Joe Lovano and a historic jazz series called Miles After Miles, in which some of Miles Davis' greatest living sidemen bring their own groups to the Calumet.
It is that series, which begins Nov. 6 with the ensemble led by Jimmy Cobb and ends April 6 with a quartet led by formidable alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, that is one of the most unusual and most promising and artfully programmed ever to grace Western New York.
The jazz season of 1998-99:
Friday -- Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers in the Calumet, served with suitable latin food.
Saturday -- Jacky Terrasson, the great Ahmad Jamlian conceptualist among current jazz pianists in the Calumet. Terrasson was scheduled to perform there earlier in the summer but was literally washed out when heavy rains in New York City grounded all outgoing flights.
Sept. 17 -- Percussion minimalist Leon Parker in the Calumet. Parker's career rose in tandem with Terrasson's (each has played in groups with the other). He is traveling now with a unique one-man percussion program, somewhat akin to Bobby McFerrin's amazing solo voice recitals.
Sept. 25 -- The venerable Four Freshman in the Calumet.
Sept. 26 -- Joe Lovano, one of the most acclaimed of current jazz saxophonists, with the NOJO Jazz Orchestra in the Calumet.
Oct. 2 -- Haunting and beautiful Canadian singer Carol Welsman makes a return engagement to the Calumet.
Oct. 9 -- Giacomo Gates, a singer in the antic Eddie Jefferson scat tradition, in the Calumet.
Oct. 9 -- Singer Diane Schuur in the Tralfamdore Cafe. Schuur, too, was scheduled to perform earlier in the summer but postponed her date.
Oct. 16 -- Singer Mark Murphy in the Tralfamadore Cafe. Of all jazz singers, Syracuse-resident Murphy has been one of the most frequent visitors over the decades.
Oct. 17 -- The quartet of Daivd "Fathead" Newman in the Calumet. Newman started out as one of the two leading soloists of Ray Charles' band but has been a soul jazz favorite since.
Oct. 18 -- Gerry Gonzalez and the perennially avant-garde Fort Apache Band in the Calumet.
Oct. 24 -- Jazz singer Barbara Daniels at the Calumet.
Oct. 30-31 -- Singer Susannah McCorkle, whose local claque for Calumet appearances rivals that of Marian McPartland in the old Statler Hilton Downtown Room.
Nov. 3 -- Acoustic jazz fusion group Acoustic Alchemy in the Tralfamadore Cafe.
Nov. 6 -- The ensemble of drummer Jimmy Cobb begins the "Miles After Miles" series in the Calumet. Cobb was the drummer on "Kind of Blue," quite possibly the most famous modern jazz record and certainly one of the few perfect jazz records ever made.
Nov. 13 -- Singer Jeanie Bryson, who is the daughter of Dizzy Gillespie and sounds it, in the Calumet.
Nov. 23 -- The trio of phenomenal young pianist Eric Reed in the Calumet. He was a former Wynton Marsalis sideman until his disc "Pure Imagination" became one of jazz favorites of the past year.
Dec. 4 -- The second "Miles After Miles" concert in the Calumet with a quartet by bass player Dave Holland, one of the most revered musicians in current jazz.
Dec. 5 -- The local favorite Gap Mangione Big Band in the Calumet.
Dec. 11 -- Energetic singer Nancy Kelly in the Calumet.
Jan. 8 -- The Third "Miles After Miles" concert in the Calumet featuring a quartet led by alto saxophonist Gary Bartz, most famous for his extraordinary '70's recordings with his NTU Troop.
Feb. 5 -- A quartet led by guitarist Mike Stern in the Calumet. A "Miles After Miles" concert.
March 5 -- A quartet led by the most Milesian of current trumpet players, Wallace Roney in the Calumet. Roney is married to jazz pianist Geri Allen and, in Miles' ailing final years, was the trumpet player chosen by him to spell him during concerts taken from his old masterpieces with Gil Evans. A "Miles After Miles" concert.
April 6 -- The Kenny Garrett Quartet, the final "Miles" concert in the Calumet. His stint with Miles was brief but his powerhouse recordings under his own name have given him one of the strongest reputations among young players in current jazz.