Squashed Grapes – May 21, 2014
Skip Spiro’s Little BIG Band
Squashed Grapes – May 21, 2014
Squashed Grapes – May 21, 2014
Skip Spiro’s Little BIG Band
Karl Hunter “Organ’ic” Quartet
3/22/14 – Squashed Grapes
Karl’s thoughts on the gig:
Last night’s KH quartet gig was awesome!!! Jimmy Calire, Mario Calire, and Hans Ottsen killed it. Jimmy brought his B3 and from the moment we saw it in the back of Jimmy’s van there was a hushed reverence. I’ve never seen a B3 with so much character. Both aesthetically and aurally. The power and sound of the organ was so fun to play off of. Especially when played by Jimmy. Mario’s drumming was so groovy and tasty. His technique and style are a joy to watch. I had the best vantage in the place, right next to him. He reminds me of all the reasons I love drums and drumming. Hans played one amazing solo after another and accompanied Jimmy’s playing perfectly. Jimmy even sang a couple of tunes and sounded amazing. I had no idea he had such a great voice. Plus Jimmy brought a bunch of his original tunes to the plate that seemed custom fit to this band. The guys all played their collective arse off. On top of that the show sold out! I can’t wait to do this again and I want thank the guys and everyone who came out. What a blast! My new friend Pam did a blog post with pictures from the gig on her site VenturaRocks. Thanks Pam! Much love to all who shared this awesome night. Thank you so much!
Karl Hunter – Jimmy Calire – Mario Calire – Hans Ottsen
Written by Karl Hunter and originally posted on Facebook 3/20/14
So, the first KH quartet,back in November, was in the fusion vane. We played a bunch of Herbie Hancock tunes and went ballistic. It was a wild ride and a whole lot of fun! Rufus Philpot, Aaron McLendon, and Andy Langham killed it. It was amazing! I’m still listening to the recordings!
The second installment of the Karl Hunter Quartet is going to explore another one of my favorite sub-genres of jazz, the organ trio/quartet. One of my favorite musicians is Jimmy Smith. His playing is firmly rooted in the blues. But there is something about his phrasing on the B3 organ that is so unique. I’ve been listening to Jimmy a lot over the years and he did a lot if great records with amazing tenor players.
We had a rehearsal last night for Saturdays “organ”ic quartet gig and it went great. Jimmy Calire brought a bunch of his tunes and they are really great. Plus, I brought in some of my favorite Jimmy Smith classics. I brought all my horns with me, soprano, alto, tenor, Bari and I couldn’t put my tenor down. It just sounds so good in that organ setting. I’m really excited about Saturday’s gig. It’s going to be great!
Speaking of great, Mario Calire, Jimmy’s son, and an amazingly tasty drummer, sounds great, and always instinctively gets what each tune requires. He always keeps musicality at the forefront. His grooves always feel so good and make it so easy to play over. It’s no wonder that Mario was picked up to play with the Wallflowers at such a young age. His knowledge of the proper styles and grooves in jazz and Latin music is amazing and I look forward to learning a lot from him.
Hans Ottsen is also amazing and such a intuitive musician. Guitar has so many functions in Jazz and Hans knows precisely where and how to play each functionality. It’s a delicate balance between showcasing your own personal voice and serving the music and I’m learning a lot from Hans’ playing as he balances both beautifully. I love how his playing is both cerebral and inventive, and at the same time he’ll throw in that perfect phrase that fits the groove and genre to a tee. A perfect balance of paying respect and moving jazz forward.
When I moved back into the “805” about 5 years ago, I settled in Ojai. And without fail, when I met someone, and mentioned that I was a musician, the response was always, “Oh, you must know Jimmy Calire.” Well, I didn’t at first, but I’m so glad I do now. Jimmy has been in the Ojai area for many years, he originally hails from Buffalo NY and came out to our sunny shores when he played with the band America. I always liked when I heard an America song. I knew they had a few hits etc. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy shared a bill with America several years ago, and while sitting on the side of the stage I was blown away by how many hits they had. One amazing hit after another. There wasn’t one song in their entire set that I didn’t know well. So I finally met Jimmy and got to hear his B3 organ playing and was blown away. A lot of piano players dabble in organ, but Jimmy is the real deal and makes it sing. He has tons of experience and it shows when he plays. He has the knowledge of harmony and passing chords that you don’t just learn playing real-book tunes in the practice room. You can tell Jimmy learned his craft the right way, on the bandstand.
I’m feeling so much gratitude to be able to play jazz with so many great players lately. Jazz is a language, and there is no better way to become more articulate then to immerse yourself in the conversation.
If you are free this Saturday and would like to hear a few things we have to say musically, come down to Squashed Grapes in Ventura. It’s on Main Street, a half block east of Seaward. The experience there is amazing and the folks that work there seriously could not be any nicer or supportive. It really is a Ventura treasure. We start at 7:00. I hope you can join us.
(Editor: Call Squashed Grapes for ticket availability: 805-643-7300. Also, while you’re at it, see our review & photo gallery for Karl’s last performance at Squashed Grapes).
Could not believe how incredibly fun these cats were!!! They’re called the Barrelhouse Wailers and you’re not going to want to miss them the next time they play here in Ventura! Loved the Hot Jazz they were serving up!
The band features David Leoncavallo on Bass; Wayne Philipp on guitar/banjo; Jim Wade on Tuba; Diamono Andreo on drums; Curt Ingram on Cornet; David White on Mandolin/Harmonica; and the amazing vocal stylings of Karen Parkhouse (missing, Alethea Lamb on clarinet)
VenturaRocks.com has made it our mission to help Ventura’s music scene come to life. A local musician who has been gigging on Main Street for over 40 years recently commented that this is the best of times. I agree. But I think it can be even better.
I’m not going to lie, I’m still learning a lot about the music scene. I don’t pretend to know it all, but there are a few things I know for certain and one of them is that individuals who create art are among the most worthy in our society. They make life bearable. They create beauty, and soulfulness. Without art, life would be dull. Just look at your surroundings, Ventura is beautiful. Yes, the hillsides, two trees, the ocean and our rivers are amazing, but aesthetically speaking, we have a lot of beauty within our town too. Well kept homes, well-designed buildings, historical landmarks are preserved, we have art on display, we have music in our venues, we have people volunteering their time to improve conditions…it’s really quite amazing what we have in our town. If you take the time to look, I think you too will find that it’s truly beautiful.
I know I tend to look at the glass half full and sometimes you have to dig in deep and confront issues you’d rather not. I’m no Pollyanna and I know our society has a long ways to go: We have homeless panhandling and not accepting a hand up. Crime rate and drug abuse (usually going hand in hand) continues to plague us. The economy is slowly recovering but jobless rate is still a problem and City services to continue to take a hit.
But I knew something could be done to make a difference in this town, and helping the economy and supporting our musicians, by helping to promote your gigs just felt like the right thing to do. I still believe that 100%.
Creating harmony, affinity and beauty and making someone feel better should never be overrated. People coming together and listening to music that moves them and inspires them, that’s something magical.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a punk show to work out the aggressions as much as the next person, but I also love our jazz, I love our rockers, I love our folk heroes who bear their souls each and every performance. You guys are so incredible!
You get it right? Artists are important to our society.
So that being said, I want you to know where I’m coming from as I carefully broach the subject of exploitation. And while yes, at least 90% of our promoters are FABULOUS, there is a bad element out there that has landed on our radar and we’re at a crossroads on how to deal with them. These are the promoters who have no intention of paying the bands who play at their events, yet they’re making money off of them. That my friend is called exploitation. Worse yet, there are the promoters who ask the bands to pay them to be a part of their event.
Of course there will always be the argument that the band will get exposure they normally wouldn’t get. I can absolutely get that, IF you’re opening up for Green Day at the Ventura Theater; or you’re about to play in front of thousands of people at one of the bigger shows. Or being a part of an event like Local Rock Picnic where everyone is doing their part to pull off an event for the “greater good”. And of course there’s the newer artist coming on the scene who needs to prove their own worth and I wouldn’t begrudge them playing for exposure to get the ball rolling.
I’m not walking in your shoes, so I try not to judge. But know this, I have your back and I’m watching out for you.
Also, we might as well confront the fact that a number of venues do not pay their musical talent. That’s a hard one. We know the economy is getting better, so we hope their purse strings are loosening up. If the artists help increase business, then they should be compensated!
And while we’re at it, the venues who do provide music and no cover? Patrons need to put in exchange with them as well! Buy dinner. Buy a beverage or two. Because if everyone were to show up and then not pay for anything, I promise you this, these guys WILL GO OUT OF BUSINESS.
So in conclusion…Artists are what make this society a joy to be a part of.
If you are an artist, do not underestimate your worth. We don’t. You are worthy and we are here to help you.
Kudos to our venues for embracing jazz!
Ever since California 66 went out of business, there hasn’t been a solid jazz scene here in Ventura. It’s been way too long. Since CA 66, you’d see from time to time jazz trios pop up at Wine venues or at the Pierpont Inn and definitely at Sidecar, but we have too much talent here in Ventura to have an occasional gig at a random venue. But now, we do have a jazz renaissance occurring. Squashed Grapes has been heavily supporting jazz, and of all places, Amigos has come on board. Jazz is becoming more common and we’re delighted to see over the past six months that Zoey’s, W20, and now Bombay’s are taking this unique American art form for a test drive.
And as this renaissance is occurring it’s quite interesting to see our local talent collaborating and restructuring their lineup. It not unusual to have guest players sit in, or to feature musicians from L.A. or from other parts of the country or world. At this point, I would normally list off local musicians, but I know I will leave some off, and so I won’t. But know that you guys kick ass. Yea, I know it’s jazz…but you really do ROCK!
And to be frank, jazz is completely therapeutic. To sit in a lovely environment, with friends, sipping a glass of nice wine while listening to extraordinary musicianship…well, it takes you to a different place. And sometimes you’ll be so connected to the players as the band will be working on a particular piece that the room becomes a part of the process and they become engrossed and their instantaneous feedback of appreciation with applause and cheering after a solo, well, it’s just amazing…yea, there’s definitely passion with jazz.
And whether it’s Avant-garde jazz, Nu jazz, Latin jazz, or traditional jazz, we know it’s an acquired taste. And so we hope that our venues will continue to support this art form as patrons become accustom to where they can DEPEND on jazz. Because as the saying goes, “Build it and they will come.”
We invite you out to support our jazz scene. See you there!
The Ventura Jazz Collective played their first of what we hope is many gigs to come at Amigos. Band featured Pablo Plasencia on bass, Garrett Miller on drums, Franklin Murphy on keyboards and Patrick Martin on Saxophone.