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Soundbites: UB jazz faculty gives Buffalo something to boast about

Let’s take a moment to tip our hats to the abundance of talent filling the University at Buffalo Jazz Department.

While conventional wisdom suggests that serious students of jazz might want to head to Miami, Boston, or even Rochester, right here in our own back yard, absolute giants of the form are training the next generation of jazz greats while simultaneously enriching the local music scene with top-of-the-heap live performances.

Another in a long line of these takes place at 7:30 p.m. March 29, in the Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall on UB’s North Campus. The UB Faculty Jazz Quartet – featuring faculty members George Caldwell, Bobby Militello, Sabu Dawoud Adeyola and John Bacon, Jr. – will be joined by non-faculty (but also awesome) musicians Andy Weinzler and John Hasselback.

That whole killer ensemble will back guest Derrick Gardner, a trumpeter whose roots in the post-bop of the 1960s led to remarkable tenures with bands led by Harry Connick, Jr. and Frank Foster, as well as his ongoing gig with the Count Basie Orchestra, where he plays alongside Caldwell. (The ensemble will reprise the program at Pausa Art House (19 Wadsworth St.) at 8 p.m. March 30.

It does seem true that we sometimes take for granted the level of virtuosity that is presented to us as a no-limit feast on a regular basis here in town. The Gardner concert is the sort of program that would command in excess of $75 per ticket in markets like New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and San Francisco. By contrast, the UB show will cost you $15. And if you hang around, you might even get to grab a word with Militello afterward.

The late jazz giant Dave Brubeck, left, and Buffalo's own Bobby Militello at UB's Center for the Arts. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News file photo)

That UB jazz students are being offered the opportunity to indulge in the tutelage and mentorship offered by musicians like Adeyola (a protégé of the iconic bassist and composer Charles Mingus), Caldwell (a veteran of both the Basie and Duke Ellington Orchestras), Militello (Dave Brubeck’s saxophonist of choice from 1982 until Brubeck’s death in 2012) and Bacon (composer, percussionist, bandleader, collaborator with the likes of Roswell Rudd, Lester Bowie and Bobby Previte) is a beautiful thing. That they all simultaneously shape the future of the form through their influence as educators while being active participants in a vital music scene is something that demands celebration.

Short Spins: A trio of next generation jazz musicians led by guitarist Drew Azzinaro, and featuring bassist Ed Croft and drummer Roy Hangen, plays the Quarter (26 Virginia Place) at 9 p.m. March 29 ... Vin DeRosa and band play soulful pop, neo-soul, rock and R&B at 10 p.m. March 29 in Thin Man Brewery (492 Elmwood Ave.) ... The renowned touring Jimi Hendrix tribute Experience Hendrix comes to the Seneca Niagara Casino Events Center on March 30. This time around, the fether of modern electric guitar playing will be celebrated by Billy Cox (Jimi Hendrix Experience/ Band Of Gypsys), guitar wizard Joe Satriani, Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Doug Pinnick (King’s X), Chris Layton (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble), Mato Nanji (Indigenous), Kenny Aronoff, the Slide Brothers, Henri Brown, Kevin McCormick, and Taj Mahal. Tickets start at $49.

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