Dave Bayles leads us down the road not taken

The musicians tip jar, accompanied by The Dave Bayles Trio, at The Uptowner Bar. All photos by Kevin Lynch

THE DAVE BAYLES TRIO AT THE UPTOWNER BAR, EVERY TUESDAY

THE DAVE BAYLES QUARTET AT RIVERWEST PIZZA, FRIDAY, JULY 8

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“I took the one less traveled by/ And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken.”

 

Dave Bayles is something of a poet of the drums. Since the drums are the most fundamental of instruments in jazz, and in most African-American vernacular musics, that sort of makes him a poet of musical essences. You can hear and feel the magnetic power of his verse-like cadences in the propulsive swing he generates with other musicians.

This skill is so well established that he’s arguably Wisconsin’s premiere straight-ahead jazz drummer. He’s best-known as the long-time drummer of the all-star sextet We Six. That band comprises faculty of the Milwaukee Jazz Institute, where Bayles is principal percussion instructor. For many years, Bayles has also driven the engine of The Dave Stoler Trio, led by the powerhouse Madison pianist. He’s also backed up many big jazz names, including Peter Bernstein, Rick Germanson, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, Brian Lynch, Brother Jack McDuff, Charles McPherson, Melvin Rhyne, and Phil Woods. Bayles is also now drumming for the resurrected Toty Ramos Latin Jazz Sextet, which played at Riverwest Pizza last week.

 

Drummer-bandleader Dave Bayles at The Uptowner

However, all that implies a well-trod path, gilded with justifiable esteem, along which the heartbeat of modern mainstream jazz strides. Fair enough.

And yet, quiet as it’s kept, the drummer-bandleader has led THE DAVE BAYLES TRIO, an intimate and compulsively exploratory trio gig through the backroads of the pandemic to the present – every Tuesday night at The Uptowner Bar, on the corner of Humboldt Boulevard and Center Street in Milwaukee.

The Dave Bayles Trio, (L-R) Russ Johnson, trumpet; Dave Bayles, drums; Clay Schaub, Bass.

“It is a delightful, creative group that I thoroughly enjoy,” Bayles muses modestly. Yet the trio has built much intrepid synchronicity along the road not taken. They plan on releasing a live album recorded at The Uptowner. 

The regular trio includes the redoubtable and elastically adaptable bassist Clay Schaub. Out front is Russ Johnson, IMO the Midwest’s most powerfully creative and masterful trumpeter – north of Chicago’s Wadada Leo Smith and Marquis Hill, who now actually spend most of their time on the East Coast.(p.s. This Tuesday, July 12, Johnson and Schaub will be out of town. They will be replaced for this week by alto saxophonist Clay Lyons and bassist Doug Hayes.)

Russ Johnson at The Uptowner

So, if you stop by on a Tuesday night, you’ll begin to sense the phenomenon of talent and creative verve that sustains Johnson’s pre-eminence, which he reasserted recently in Madison in an all-star jam session led by the brilliant pianist-composer Johannes Wallmann, to celebrate the retirement of two veteran and beloved Madison jazz radio programmers. That night, Johnson’s trumpet blistered through the firewall of wonder when the music called out for it, and sang seductively at other times.

The informal vibe of The Uptowner is conductive to experimentation and unfettered daring, to venturing a few huge steps beyond.

So, if you want a taste of what the great jazz writer Whitney Balliett once called “the sound of surprise,” stop on by.

The venerable building that houses The Uptowner recently had its roof replaced, and Bayles relates that “someone said that one night we blew the roof off the joint.” Hyperbole? It may not be so improbable. This ship is full-steam ahead. Bayles asserts, “The gig will be going on until the building falls down.”

Here are a few photos of the group at The Uptowner, “workin’ and steamin’ ” into a stratosphere that’s a free ride for all patrons.

Ah, but don’t forget the musicians tip jar.

 

 

THE DAVE BAYLES QUARTET AT RIVERWEST PIZZA: And yet, now that summer is high, Bayles is about to debut a new quartet outdoors, on the beguiling terrace of Riverwest Pizza, 932 E. Wright Street, from 6 to 9 p.m. this Friday, July 8. This quartet features singer Pamela York, saxophonist Chris Medsen, and bassist Jeff Hamann. Bayles hopes to continue this gig, though at intervals less frequent than his trio at The Uptowner.

Regardless, this quartet promises to be a breath of fresh air, in the best sense.

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April showers Wisconsin with good music and wise words from Craig Taborn, Dave Stoler, and the Earth Poets and Musicians

Pianist-composer Craig Taborn. Courtesy Down Beat

Craig Taborn, solo piano, Café CODA, 1224 Williamson St., Madison, 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14. $30. For tickets:

Apr. 14, 2022 | CRAIG TABORN PIANO SOLO (BlueStem) | 7 PM

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Earth Poets and Musicians, The Coffee House, in Plymouth Church, 2717 E. Hampshire St., Milwaukee, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16, in . Donations will benefit the Indian Prairie Project via the Milwaukee Audubon Society. Pre-registration is required due to ongoing COVID concerns. Register Here

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Dave Stoler Trio, Blu Nightclub, Pfister Hotel, April 22 (Earth Day). No Cover.

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If you are anywhere in southern or central Wisconsin right now, be alerted: pianist Craig Taborn,  will give a solo piano concert at Café CODA in Madison tonight, at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14.

The Minnesota native has a load of contemporary and cutting-edge jazz performance and recording credits. After early influence from heavy metal and contemporary classical music, he discovered how such dynamics might reflect the profound cross currents of jazz when he assimilated pianist-composer Cecil Taylor’s brilliant 1985 orchestral album Winged Serpent (Sliding Quadrants). 

From there, Taborn proceeded to learn the jazz idiom, and eventually work with James Carter, Tim Berne, Roscoe Mitchell, Chris Potter, Dave Holland, John Zorn, Vijay Iyer, Kris Davis among others. In Madison, you’ll likely hear a generous sampling from his most recent ECM solo album’s Shadow Plays. These are mostly storytelling vignettes of certain concerns and concepts he values (“Bird Templars” or “Now in Hope”) or he thinks need highlighting (“Conspiracy of Things” or “A Code with Spells”).

For example, the album opener, “Bird Templars,” in a minimalist pulse, acts out the fluttering life-breath of a bird, with basso notes and tender, increasingly tensile interactive treble phrases that gradually suggest the growing symbiotic relationship between bird protectors and their aviary friends.

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The Earth Poets and Musicians (pictured at top) will perform their 35th annual Earth Day concert on Saturday, April 16. The event will also include ecologist Jim Uhrinak (lower left) and and poet/singer Margaret Noodin (lower right) who is an Indigenous studies professor at UWM and and Director of the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education.

Then on Saturday, the interdisciplinary Earth Poets and Musicians will present their 35th annual concert to celebrate Earth Day ( which actually isn’t until Friday, April 22) at Plymouth Church. It will feature Jahmes Finlayson, Holly Haebig, Suzanne Rosenblatt,  Harvey Taylor, ecologist Jim Uhrinak, and poet/singer Margaret Noodin who is an Indigenous studies professor a and Director of the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education. Here’s a Youtube of a TEDxUW-Milwaukee Noonan presentation:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddyFh1Rdho4&t=65s

This event will focus this year on the Indian Prairie Project, and reclaiming awareness and appreciation of the Indigenous Menominee Community. Donations will benefit the Indian Prairie Project via the Milwaukee Audubon Society. The event will be streamed at 7:30 p.m. and archived for later access. Check the website the week of the concert to see if the show will be live.

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Finally, if you’re planning (like me) on helping clean up your city’s natural spaces on Saturday, April 23 with Milwaukee Riverkeepers, you might fortify your body and spirit the night before (Earth Day evening) with a heaping helping of the Madison-based Dave Stoler Trio: protein-packed, hard-swinging, straight-ahead jazz, at Blu Lounge, at the top of the Pfister Hotel, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave., in Milwaukee, from 7 to 11 PM, Friday, April 22. (There’s no cover, so don’t forget the musicians’ tip jar).

Pianist Stoler’s straight-ahead bona fides (powered significantly by his long-time trio mates, bassist Chuck Ledvina and drummer Dave Bayles) don’t suggest his range and versatility. The Madison native assembled his own full jazz orchestra for a tribute concert of the music of the great composer and arranger Thad Jones a few years back for the Isthmus Jazz Festival.

He’s also the co-founder and keyboardist of the coolly ebullient 16-member Steely Dan tribute band Steely Dane, and has long held up the pianistic end of the Tony Castaneda Latin Jazz Sextet, and The Ben Ferris Octet and The Darren Sterud NOLA Tribute Band.

Among national and regional musicians in the know, he’s highly esteemed. Quiet as it’s kept, Stoler’s recording, Urban Legends is a classic of its kind, and remains available on cdbaby.com. and Spotify, and features drummer Billy Hart, bassist Ron McClure and tenor saxophonists Rick Margitza and Rich Perry, of the Maria Schneider Orchestra.

Stoler performs regularly with his trio and quartet at Smalls Jazz Club in New York City.

And if you miss this Friday date, the same trio will be performing at Blu on Saturday night at 7 p.m., under the guise of The Dave Bayles Trio, with a completely different repertoire. Actually, this might be the most seasoned working jazz piano trio in Wisconsin. Stoler, Bayles, and Ledvina served as the house band for about a decade in the night club atop the rotating Hyatt Regency Hotel in Milwaukee. So they may have unparalleled experience performing at high altitudes (for downtown Milwaukee). And answer me this: How often you can get “nosebleed” seats that are only a few feet away from the stage area?

Color your music Blu next weekend.

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Trumpeter Jamie Breiwick’s hungry brain cooks up another musical feast


He’s the father of four young children, an educator and jazz musician, but Jamie Breiwick is one artist who didn’t let the Pandemic slow him down. He’s about to release his third album in recent months, and more is right around the bend. And yet, it’s not nearly as repetitive as it might seem, as all three albums have different instrumentation, personnel and varying styles.

The Jamie Breiwick Trio presents a trio of album release events in Milwaukee and Chicago, this weekend.

The events highlight the new album The Jewel, recorded live at The Dead Poet in New York, with drummer Matt Wilson and bassist John Tate, and available to purchase at the events.

The first event is in Milwaukee at Blu, at the scenic top of The Pfister Hotel, 424 E. State Street, on Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. The second Milwaukee performance will be at Saint Kate — The Arts Hotel, 139 E. Kilbourne Ave., at 7 p.m. Saturday. 

The third event is at The Hungry Brain, 2319 Belmont Avenue, at 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19, in Chicago.

Breiwick also released, in recent months, albums with his jazz-hip-hop trio KASE and and Duets with bassist Tim Ipsen, and with more coming soon. Quite clearly, this artist is eating up musical real estate right now like a hungry-brained monster.

The trio at Blu will be bassist John Tate, who recorded the album, and drummer Devin Drobka, one of Breiwick’s most gifted and loyal collaborators. Leading Milwaukee drummer Dave Bayles will perform at Saint Kate.

The trio at Hungry Brain will be all three recording participants including bassist Tate and acclaimed drummer-bandleader Matt Wilson.

Trumpeter Jamie Breiwick has demonstrated great versatility with recent recordings with his hip-hop jazz ensemble KASE (pictured above), the album “Duets” with bassist  Tim Ipsen, and the new album “The Jewel,” a straight-ahead collection with acclaimed drummer Matt Wilson, focusing on compositions by many jazz greats.  Courtesy OnMilwaukee.com Above photo by Brian Mir

Wilson is a prolific recording artist as a leader, with his latest album, Honey And Salt (Music Inspired By The Poetry Of Carl Sandburg), receiving a myriad of accolades. As an accompanist he’s recorded with, among many others, Charlie Haden, Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, Lee Konitz, Hank Jones, Frank Kimbrough, Larry Goldings. Anat Cohen, and Paul Bley.

This blogger (Kevin Lynch) had the honor of writing the liner notes to the recording, so I know how good the music is (I’ve also heard Breiwick’s Duets album and the one with KASE.).

At this point, the album, on Ropeadope Records, will be available at the events as download cards. Physical CDs will be available at a later date.

Breiwick’s new album is distinguished by one of the most diverse and fascinating collections of compositions by modern jazz composers in recent memory, including Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Pharaoh Sanders, Sun Ra, Carla Bley, and longtime Milwaukee jazz star Buddy Montgomery. Breiwick added one original, the title tune, The Jewel. 

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