Plainsong: The Illiana (Illinois-Indiana) Club of Traditional Jazz (like the Rag™) is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. The club will mark its anniversary with a bash Oct. 24-25 at the Holiday Inn, Willowbrook, Ill. About three dozen international stars (and maybe even you!) will perform. ICOTJ has been one of the Rag's strongest supporters, and many of its members have been long-time subscribers which we deeply appreciate. Happy 35th and many more to come. There will be a warmup for the event Sept. 21 at the Glendora Ballroom with Doug Finke's all-star Dixieland band and a followup there Nov. 16 with the Midiri Brothers. And down the road, the club's annual Christmas party is Dec. 14, www.illianajazz.com; JazzEddy@aol.com.
The Fall membership drive of KBEM/88.5, Minnesota's jazz station, runs Oct. 3-12. If you live in the Twin Cities area, why not sign up for a stint taking pledge calls? It's fun, you'll meet staff and fellow-sister jazz nuts, and the free food ain't bad, either, jazz88fm.com; (612) 529-5236. Those elsewhere might consider doing likewise when your jazz station has its membership drives. And all of us should become members of our local jazz stations. Of course, none of them plays as much trad, ragtime, swing or big band as we might wish, but with more support from us, they just might. Wife Leslie Johnson and I have been KBEM members for many years.
KBEM's Big Band Scene, a twice-weekly treat hosted by big band maven and Twin Cities Jazz Society president Gerry Swanberg Aug. 24 presented highlights from a recently released package of 1960s gems by Wisconsin native Woody Herman and his bands, well worth checking out on the KBEM website. I'm by no means a Herman completist but I do have one fave from his later, modern bands: Live at Montreux.
A news release from ace Minnesota publicist Pat Courtemanche announced that "Leigh Kamman, the legendary radio broadcaster whose career spanned more than 65 years of jazz, will be celebrated at the Artists' Quarter, St. Paul, Minn. Sept. 28 with `A Tribute To Leigh Kamman: Urban, Suburban & Way Out.' With a house band led by pianist Laura Caviani, many musical guests will perform, and Leigh will be on hand to share a few memories"
Live jazz in Minnesota "has benefited immensely from Kamman's role as eloquent radio messenger and will be the focus of the tribute," the release continued. "Organizers plan to pay tribute to Kamman's entire career including his early days in New York and his years on KSTP (Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn.) and Minnesota Public Radio but promise that `the bebop will outweigh the speeches.'" (What, no trad or ragtime? Kamman, well into his 80s, loves them!)
"Wendy Plaster, an organizer of the tribute, said, `This is going to be a relaxed and fun musical event that will be a chance to say thanks to a man who has done so much for jazz and jazz musicians. I know a lot of Leigh's friends and fans haven't had a chance to celebrate his incredible career and what better way to do it than with a party and some great live jazz?'" The Kamman caper will start at 7p.m. at the AQ, 7th Place and St. Peter in the Hamm Building downtown St. Paul, (651) 292-1359, www.artistsquarter.com
Full disclosure: I've known Kamman since 1960 when we worked together at KSTP in the Twin Cities until I left in 1965. For 27 years, I was his volunteer Jazz Calendar reporter on MPR. K+amman is writing a history of jazz broadcasters and says it's coming along nicely. (Who's going to write a book about him?) Stay tuned and check out MaryAnn Sullivan, his worthy successor, and her Jazz Connection on Saturday nights, 9 p.m.-midnight, Central Time, mpr.org.
The Artist's Quarter also will be the site of the first concert of the Twin Cities Jazz Society's new "Jazz from J to Z" season Sept. 21, 7 p.m. with Joan Griffith, Laura Caviani, Lucia Newell, Gary Gauger and Clea Galhano holding a record release party for their new Sambanova CD. The remainder of the TCJS schedule includes Doug Haining (MaryAnn Sullivan's husband) and Charmin Michelle Oct. 4; the University of Minnesota Jazz Ensemble I Oct. 16; Chris Thomson and his band Nov. 6; Arne Fogel and Friends Dec. 21; The Jack Brass Band (featured recently in the RAG) Jan. 11; vocalists Lisa Ammons, Dorothy Doring and Vicky Mountain Feb. 28; Tanner Taylor and Friends March 22; the Out to Lunch Quintet April 16 and the Century College Jazz Ensemble May 17. FFI on concert themes, venues and admission: TCJS' Lee Engele, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yet Another Chinese Olympic Record!: Use of the Chinese violin and other traditional Asian instrumentation proves there's more than one way to play such time-honored favorites as Ellington's "Come Sunday," "Mount Harissa Prelude" and "Mount Harissa," plus Billy Strayhorn's "Isfahan" as you will hear on Ten by Anthony Brown's Asian-American Orchestra, Water Baby Records, www.anthonybrown.org or email@example.com (a very timely post-Beijing Olympics release.) If you're in the San Francisco Bay area, the band promised to make Sept. 11 a day of celebration---its 10th anniversary---at Yoshi's.