Harrell a stellar opening act for Place for Jazz

Versatility, power and lyricism: Tom Harrell has the whole package, and a cool band. Saxophonist Way

It’s almost the end of summer, and what an odd time on our music calendar — with the last of the outdoor shows as indoor venues do more. Hats off to the clubs that had to fight all summer for audiences against so many freebies, and adios to Jillian’s, Savannah’s and the Albany Bayou. In a Jukebox of odds and ends, let’s start — why not? — on Facebook.

Got many wishes around my birthday last month, including this very nice pat on the back from photographer Tim Archibald, a student of Marty Benjamin at Union: “Your writing on music defined my youth in the Capital District. Thanks for being so good at what you do!” And thank you, Tim.

That same day, I got a friend suggestion for singer Peter Wolf, likely via John John Burke, roadie deluxe to Wolf and NRBQ. I may pass that along to my wife, Ellie. Wolf kissed her hand backstage at the Palace years ago after a J. Geils Band show and she wouldn’t wash it for days.

Focus on Harrell

Former colleague Carlo Wolff Facebooked this about Tom Harrell, who opens the season on Friday at A Place for Jazz (First Unitarian Society of Schenectady, 1221 Wendell Ave.). “I’d never seen trumpeter Tom Harrell before Labor Day Weekend, when I caught him in a quintet led by the great bop saxman Charles McPherson at the Detroit Jazz Festival. He looks like a lost preacher, or is it a Wild West lawman? He goes out when he’s playing, and lives way inside when he’s not. A singular talent and a great musician.” As usual, well put, Carlo — and a great booking by A Place for Jazz.

Harrell has played it all, from the big bands of Stan Kenton, Sam Jones and Mel Lewis and his own Grammy-nominated “Time’s Mirror” to bristling post-bop with Phil Woods to lyrical cartoon music with Vince Guaraldi and too many other collaborations to count: 260 albums in all, plus nearly 30 of his own.

Versatility, power and lyricism: Harrell has the whole package, and a cool band. Saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Johnathan Blake will be with him at A Place for Jazz; and they play on his new album “Number Five.”

Harrell has previously played the Van Dyck and other area venues, always impressively. Show time is 7:30 p.m. — earlier than past seasons. Admission is $15, $7 for students. Phone 393-4011 or visit www.aplaceforjazz.org.

Lowdown on Lowe

With Nick Lowe coming to The Egg next Tuesday, I asked Carlo to help me remember Lowe’s past gigs here. (Click here for Gazette music writer Brian McElhiney’s fresh insights on Lowe.) Lowe played here in the late 1970s with pub-rock pioneers Brinsley Schwarz at JB Scott’s, where — as former Knick News music writer Steve Webb just told me — Lowe later led his own band, Cowboy Outfit, featuring keyboardist Paul Carrack.

Webb said a fall 1978 gig by Rockpile (bassist Lowe, guitarists Dave Edmunds and Billy Bremner and drummer Terry Williams) opening for Van Morrison at the Palace was canceled when Edmunds had voice problems. Edmunds had no voice at all at a 1980 University at Albany Rockpile show where, Webb recalled, Lowe told him backstage (just before John Lennon and Yoko Ono released “Double Fantasy”) “Say what you want; Paul McCartney has always made more interesting records than John Lennon.”

Lowe also played in another all star crew: Little Village with John Hiatt, Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner.

Maybe strangest of all, Lowe is among the musicians who married daughters or stepdaughters of Johnny Cash, along with Marty Stuart (Cindy), Rodney Crowell (Rosanne) and John Leventhal (also Rosanne). Lowe was married to Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter and Carl Smith.

Lowe plays on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Eleni Mandell opens. Tickets are $29.50. Phone 473-1845 or visit www.theegg.org.

Eck is everywhere

If Nick Lowe has been conspicuously good at being in cool bands over time — though he prefers the wrong Beatle in my opinion — Michael Eck is extra-good at being in several bands at once. Eck knows I appreciate his peripatetic ways, so he sent me his September schedule: 24 gigs with 7 bands, solo gigs and a workshop or three.

Tonight he’s on a free Albany Music Coalition Songwriting Workshop, “Structure & Arrangement,” with Meagan Duffy (Hand Habits) and Matthew Loiacono (Matthew Carefully, Rosary Beard and the reunited Kamikaze Hearts) at 6:30 p.m. at Fuzz Records (209 Lark St., Albany). Phone 729-4566 or visit www.fuzzrecordshop.com.

On Friday, Eck plays with the Ramblin Jug Stompers at 8 p.m. in a free show at Brunswick Barbecue & Brew (3925 Route 2, Troy). Phone 279-9993 or visit www.brunswickbbq.com.

On Saturday, he plays with Ampersand at 1 p.m. at Lindenwald, the Martin Van Buren Historic Site (Route 9H, Kinderhook), another free show. Ampersand is well-named — as many as 12 musicians playing old-time music.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, Eck and the Ramblin Jug Stompers play Uncle Marty’s Adirondack Grill (2830 Route 43, Sand Lake). Phone 674-4080 or visit www.justsayuncle.com.

Later on Saturday, at 8 p.m., Eck plays solo at the Old Songs (37 Main St., Voorheesville) tribute “Songs of Woody Guthrie.” George Wilson, Bill Spence, Debra Burger, and Roger Mock & Mark Shepard are also on the bill, a benefit for Old Songs. A lasagna dinner starts the evening at 6 p.m., show time is at 8. Dinner and concert are $25 ($15, age 12 and under); concert only is $15 ($5, age 12 and under). Phone 765-2815 or visit www.oldsongs.org.

But wait, there’s more: On Monday, Eck and his compadres in the Ramblin Jug Stompers play McGeary’s (Clinton Square, Albany) in a 7:30 p.m. free show. Phone 463-1455 or visit www.mcgearyspub.com.

Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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