Annunciation School’s 100th Birthday Celebration on Saturday!

AnnunciationThis Saturday, March 1 Annunciation School will host its 100th Birthday Dinner/Silent Auction. The event will take place at the Clovernook Country Club from 6:30 – 11:00 pm and will include cocktails, a sit down dinner and a silent auction. Musically the evening will be a treat as well, with the Steve Schmidt Jazz Ensemble performing. Steve has been a fixture of the Cincinnati jazz scene for decades, and it’s cool that this member of Annunciation’s 1970 graduating class can show the alma mater some of what he’s learned since graduating! Also, Claudia Taylor has put together a PHENOMENAL SILENT AUCTION for the event; there’s more information on that here.

Culinarily speaking, the evening starts with cocktails and hot hors d’oeurves being passed. The sit down dinner is: Mixed Greens Salad with Cranberry & Feta, Both Chicken Alouette & Beef Tenderloin, Medley of Mixed Vegetables, Custard Potatoes, fabulous rolls & butter, and ending with Dark Chocolate Mousse w/Raspberry Sauce.

Reservations AND Payments MUST BE IN by Thursday 2/27. $75/Person or $600/Table of 8. Mail your Payment to Lynn Overbeck Hughes, 583 Wirham Pl., Cincinnati, Ohio, 45220. Call Lynn @ 513-961-3034 for more details.  SCHOOL PARENTS: feel comfortable giving your reservation and payment to fellow Event Chairs, Claudia Taylor & Chris Morsch. Payment and Reservations must be in by Thursday, 2/27.

Finally, here’s footage of Steve Schmidt performing the very beautiful Miles Davis composition, “Nardis:”


Josh Ritter and Gregory Alan Isakov on Tuesday

Gregory Alan IsakovOn Tuesday, February 25 the Taft Theater will present a double-header of seasoned Americana artists with headliner Josh Ritter and opening act Gregory Alan Isakov.  Singer-songwriter Ritter, whose new album The Beast In Its Tracks will be released March 5 on Pytheas Recordings, will be doing a spare, stripped-down all acoustic set, and you can expect the same from Isakov.

The Taft has been hosting all sorts of Americana concerts lately, including the Jason Isbell show I wrote up afterwards, and one of the things you’d hope for in an all-acoustic show – great sound – was present, as well as the classic charm of the Taft.

Here are videos of a couple of the more well-known songs by both performers for Tuesday’s concert:


Film Premiere of Global Water Dances – Cincinnati

Global Water DanceThe film premiere of Global Water Dances-Cincinnati will take place this Sunday, February 23, at 5:30pm at Mayerson Hall at Hebrew Union College. Remember how steamy it was in June 2013? A vibrant group of Cincinnati area dancers, musicians, and artists presented Global Water Dances–Cincinnati to an audience of 100s on Serpentine Wall and 1000s in kayaks on the lovely Ohio River. Dripping in the 10 am, 95-degree sun the performers pooled all their energy and resources to create an engaging, inspiring enviro-arts event. The Global Water Dances-Cincinnati Film is the result of 100s of hours editing the 4-camera hi-definition video shoot and sweetening the live recorded audio. A brief synopsis of Global Water Dances of other countries will also be shown. It will make you feel warm again! Admission is free; donations are gratefully accepted. A reception will follow.

Global Water 3 Global Water 4 Global Water 5

Great Beauty at The Esquire

great-beauty-3Playing now at the Esquire Theatre, The Great Beauty (La Grande Belleza) features 2 hours and 17 minutes of beautiful camera work and quite often stunning scenery. Appropriately enough it focuses on “the beautiful people” in the social and artistic circles in contemporary Rome. The camera work, symbolism, decadence, grotesques, bold juxtapositions between the ancient and the present, and many other details call to mind films by another Italian director, Frederico Fellini. The moral of the story—for what starts out seeming like more like an impressionistic portrait ends up unveiling a narrative that makes a point—might also have been at home in a movie by Fellini. What the main character, Jep Gambardella, learns is that being at the social epicenter of one of Europe’s most glamorous cities doesn’t add up to much in the end.

There are two ways he envisions escaping from the emptiness he’s beginning to feel. One is to finally enter into a relationship with a woman; the other is to write his second novel. As a young man he had published a novel that, while it seems unlikely that he put his heart and soul into it (or anything else for that matter), was probably better than he realized, and in any case it received enough attention to give him a toehold into elite social circles. Quickly he turned to a less demanding and more socially rewarding brand of journalism that had him rubbing shoulders with the beautiful people and leading a life that would be the envy of many of us. So why does it all feel so hollow in the end? In part, perhaps, because many times “the art world” has so little to do with art and in fact has little substance.

Matt Wilson Quartet Plays CCM Sunday

GatheringCallOne of the most in-demand jazz musicians in America is coming to CCM this Sunday, February 9 at 4pm. Matt Wilson is a drummer who’s played with all the Who’s Whos but also loves to lead; in fact, he’s headed a quartet since 1996. Released a couple weeks ago on the Palmetto label, Gathering Call features special guest artist John Medeski from Medeski, Martin and Wood on piano. The record’s split almost evenly between standards and originals, and I’m intrigued by Wilson’s choice of standards. “Main Stem” and “You Dirty Dog” are definitely lesser-known Ellington compositions, and “Pumpkin’s Delight” was penned by tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, who, in spite of extended work with Thelonious Monk, remains relatively obscure. (He played at the Blue Wisp once, incidentally, back in the O’Bryonville days.) It’s a treat to hear these overlooked compositions in a small-group setting (drums/bass/cornet/sax & clarinet/piano).

Much of the press about Wilson has focused on his eagerness to make the jazz experience less stuffy and more fun. In his words, “We perform music that is not afraid to challenge AND entertain.”  Makes sense to me; in fact, while listening to Gathering Call I’m reminded of some earlier incarnations of Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition, whose music was both playful and adventurous. In any case, Wilson’s quartet show at CCM should smoke. Here’s the full skinny per the CCM website:

4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9
• Jazz Series •
Jazz Ensembles
Scott Belck and Dominic Marino, music directors and conductors
Featuring guest artists Matt Wilson’s Arts and Crafts Ensemble

Location: Corbett Auditorium
$12 general, $6 non-UC students, UC students FREE.

And here’s a video of the Matt Wilson quartet performing “Rear Control:”


Last Night at the Taft

Height-heightening hairstyles notwithstanding, she's the tallest of 'em all.
Height-heightening hairstyles notwithstanding, Holly Williams is the tallest of ’em all.

Often at concerts the venue is mostly empty when the opening act begins and what crowd there is seems disinterested. At the Taft Theatre last night, however, most everyone who was coming had taken their seats by the time Holly Williams walked out on stage—and the opening chords of her first song, “Drinkin’,” brought cheers of recognition.

Armed only with her acoustic guitar, another acoustic, and an upright bass (that and the voices of the people playing), Holly delivered a strong eight-song set that confirmed her reputation as a refreshingly unvarnished and unaffected country singer boasting a rich, soulful voice that’s equal parts painful and sensual and that exudes a “been-there” quality. She knows how to write songs—“Drinkin’,” “Railroads,” “The Highway,” and “Waiting on June” were definite highlights—and she also knows how to sing John Prine, as the sole cover of the night made clear. Another thing you don’t associate with opening acts—good clean sound—helped ensure that this was an opening act people would remember. Incidentally, Holly is the granddaughter of Hank Williams, daughter of Hank Jr., and half-sister to Hank III. We call that “lineage” back where I come from.

The headliner was Jason Isbell, who I had seen recently on Austin City Limits.  His latest record, Southeastern, is a more subdued affair than some previous efforts, and, rightly or wrongly, his performance on the television show seemed flat to me. Last night at the Taft I got it, though. It helped that the sound was fantastic—the best I’ve heard at the Taft. Sitting there 13th row dead center, I was so impressed that I ended up complimenting the sound man on the way out. The mix brought out the subtleties as well the dynamics of a band that was locked in from the first note. Aside from the drummer, everyone stood even with Jason (as opposed to the norm, where everyone’s behind the lead singer), which seemed to suggest that this was a band as opposed to a solo artist backed by accompanying musicians. Drummer Chad Gamble killed it, btw—laying a rock-solid foundation but never resembling a metronome, which can make for a long night of listening. This was a Monday night and the day after the Super Bowl, but plenty of beer and mixed drunks were sold and consumed by a crowd that between songs wished Jason happy birthday so many times the show began to feel like a birthday party.

I filmed Holly Williams singing John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery,” and here ‘s the video. (Please note that the music doesn’t start until about 1:20 in, so I recommend jumping there right off the bat.)