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Jim Meredith
Jazz 98.5 FM Editor

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Naturally 7

Columbus OH

Naturally 7 is coming to Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday, June 30, 2009, and without a doubt, Columbus, this is a group and performance you will absolutely love! Naturally 7 is an American musical group from the New York area who has honed their craft in the American, Canadian and European marketplaces. They have a distinct a cappella style they call "Vocal Play" and although they sing primarily R&B with extensive beat-boxing, they also put their spin on a number of jazz and pop classics.

I had the pleasure of meeting the group and catching their act when they performed at the 2008 TD Canada Trust–Ottawa Jazz Festival, where they also appeared on the same show with Gladys Knight, Wynton Marsalis, Chic Corea and his original Return To Forever members, Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola and Lenny White. along with many other notable musicians that evening.  They were given a long and rousing standing ovation and the lines that formed to buy their CD stretched almost fifty yards in two separate lines, each!  I’m proud to say that the band members were all as down to earth, well grounded, humble, polite and as respectful as they were talented.

Their act was absolutely amazing and captivated the audience under a perfect Ottawa moonlit evening.  Their individual vocal talents shined brightly and their harmonies were right on the mark.  Even more incredible was their “Vocal Play” talent of imitating the various musical instruments in such a profound way that if you hadn’t been there to see and hear it, you wouldn’t have believed they weren’t being accompanied by a tight instrumental band backing them up.

Without a doubt, these are some bad cats and you won’t want to miss seeing their incredible performance when they take the stage on June 30 as they open for Award winning Canadian artist Michael Bublé’s “Crazy Love Tour”, presented by Nordstrom, at Nationwide Arena.  This is a must see show and well worth the time and money to see them in concert alone.  Of course, you’ll equally love Michael Bublé, so you’re in for a double treat!

As outlined in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Naturally 7 consists of Roger Thomas (musical director, arranger, 1st baritone, Rap), Warren Thomas (percussion, guitar, clarinet, 3rd tenor), Rod Eldridge (1st tenor, scratching, trumpet), Jamal Reed (4th tenor, electric guitar), Dwight Stewart (2nd baritone), Garfield Buckley (2nd tenor, harmonica) and Armand "Hops" Hutton (bass).  Former members are Marcus Davis and Andre Edwards

They spawned two Hit-Singles, a cover of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" which was an international Top-Twenty song (France, Italy) and "Music Is the Key" with German singer Sarah Connor which hit number 1 in Germany and the Top-Ten in Switzerland, Poland and Austria.

The band has now recorded four albums - "Non Fiction", the aptly titled "What Is It" which spawned the #1 German hit "Music is the Key" (a duet with German singer Sarah Connor), "Christmas - It's a Love Story", and "Ready II Fly".  The last contains the radio and You Tube hit "Feel It (In the Air Tonight)".

On July 12, 2007, they performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, together with artists like Al Jarreau and George Benson.  In July 2008 they performed at Quincy Jones' 75th Birthday concert in Montreux and the audience's reception of them attracted the notice of Tavis Smiley, who subsequently invited the group to perform on his television show.

In May, they made their national U.S. Television debut on Ellen and joined Michael Bublé for a guest appearance on The Today Show.

More recently they opened for Jay Leno in Las Vegas and performed at NARM.

On February 4, 2009, they performed "Fly Baby" for the 2009 TED Conference.

On March 18, 2009, they appeared on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," performing "Wall of Sound".

On June 6, 2009, they appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition and performed "Feel It (In the Air Tonight)"

On July 10, 2009, they appeared on The Late Late Show singing with Michael Bublé and performed "Stardust"

On November 20, 2009 they performed Feel It (In The Air Tonight) on Children In Need 2009. - END

Article by: Sax Johnson

Gene "King Saxe" Walker

Columbus OH

Native Columbus saxophonist Gene Walker died July 21, 2014, from several health complica-
tions at age 76.  As a popular sideman early in his musical career, a tour with fellow sax player King Curtis brought Gene the opportunity to open for the Beatles during a 1965 concert at New York’s Shea Stadium.  His career also included gigs with Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, and Neil Diamond.

Though he excelled in the popular musical realm, he loved being a jazz musician.  “It was a badge he wore proudly,” said Ted McDaniel, director of the jazz-studies program at Ohio State University, where Walker earned an undergraduate degree at age fifty and where he became a member of the music faculty. 
Although diabetes and an enlarged heart slowed Walker in his later years, he continued to travel and perform at various venues.  He was well acquainted with the jazz repertoire, having included on his own recordings such standards as ‘Lover Man,” “That’s All,” “Hey There,” and “Parker’s Mood.”  

A Near East Side Columbus native, Walker’s love for the saxophone began when, as a child, he’d sneak into shows at the Lincoln Theatre and at neighborhood clubs. When asked about the key to his successful career, Walker once replied humbly, “The magic is doing what your God tells you to do.  I never became fabulously rich, but at least I’m entertaining people.” 
One of Walker’s childhood friends was the Columbus saxophonist Gene knew as “Ronnie,” but who later became known as Rahsaan Roland Kirk.  According to Kirk’s biography, “Ronnie” called up Walker one day and asked him to take him to a local music store.  At that store Kirk purchased an old saxophone-like instrument that he called his “manzello.”  Not long after that, Kirk also acquired another saxophone-like instrument that he called a “stritch.”  Kirk’s flair for showmanship, combined with his exotic instruments and a string of recordings on Mercury and Atlantic records, boosted him to international jazz stardom.  Jimi Hendrix once called Kirk “my favorite musician.”

Kirk could be said to have acquired a bigger inter-
national reputation than his childhood friend.  Yet, when jazz artists are evaluated in terms of expressive-
ness, honesty, and genuine soul, Gene Walker stands near the top.  Roxie Ball, in her liner notes accom-panying Gene’s Last Night In Manhattan cd, writes these words:  “ . . . beneath the form is the magic of Gene Walker, his soul, and his heart.  The band lives through each song and every pause, every inflection is important.  So listen well and listen often.  You will be the richer for it.”

Article by: Jim Meredith

Michael Buble'

Columbus OH 

Wednesday evening Michael Bublé made a return appearance here in Columbus.  This time instead of performing in a theater, Bublé had to hold an audience's attention in an arena.

If you think that's an easy task, try visualizing, imagining and then comparing a 2,827 seat theater, as he had appeared in earlier at the Palace Theater, to Nationwide Arena which holds up to 20,000 people when configured for a concert.  Got that visualization in your head now?  Continued ...

Who’s Who – An historical perspective of jazz in Columbus

Columbus OH 

I was commis-sioned to write this article relative to exploring the historical perspective of jazz in Columbus and where it is today. From my own personal knowledge about the past, the present and my vision of the future, I concluded there is a tremendously important story to tell here but, it would require more information than this small article could contain.

Columbus has a storied and vibrant history of providing jazz music to the world.  Columbus has also given of itself.  The same holds true in giving many of its favorite sons and daughters to the music genre we love and call jazz.  The musicians who have contributed to this magnificent art form are not only talented, but good wholesome, humble and respectful souls, as one would expect coming from the Columbus area.

Make no mistake, Columbus is not New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago, Los Angeles or New York but it cannot be forgotten or be denied as having produced a plethora of jazz musicians that helped shape and twist this genre to make it what it was yesterday, what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.

To many, when Columbus is mentioned, the legendary and talented, unmistakable voice, grace and style of Nancy Wilson comes to mind first, along with such names as Rusty Bryant and Hank Marr.  However, there were many talented jazz musicians that came before Ms. Wilson and the other aforementioned musical giants.  This article will not include those that came before but, because of them, scores of others have followed and they deserve more than a mention.  Yes, we could say that Ms. Wilson and the recent others mentioned, are and were certainly leaders of the pack, and deservedly so.  I salute you before going any further.

The history of America where African Americans are concerned and the physical, social, political and economic roads traveled to get here helped shape and make Columbus a crossroads for music.  Whether this is true because of Slavery and its consequences, the constitutional amendment of 1896, Plessey vs. Ferguson that made separate but equal the law of the land, the depression, World War I or II, the 1954 Brown vs. The Board of Education, Topeka Kansas, decision that reversed the notion of separate but equal being constitutional, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, or the exodus from the south to find a better living environment and work in the North, for whatever the reason, Columbus had many venues that supported and hosted jazz, specifically in the Black community, on the financially and vital thoroughfares bordering, adjacent to, or along Mt. Vernon Avenue and Long Street.

Further in support of this notion, as taken from information contained on the Columbus Lincoln Theater website defining the history of the Theater, it is written that,  “In the 1930s and '40s, downtown Columbus' near east side was home to an affluent African-American business and entertainment district, known today as the King-Lincoln District.  At the time, segregation actually fueled the commercial and cultural development of the area, as African-American consumers could only patronize the African-American businesses in the neighborhood.  As a result, a thriving, self-sufficient community developed which celebrated its cultural heritage and created its own opportunity.”

“The community came to the Lincoln for the latest films, vaudeville, and her signature specialtyjazz.  From the 1930s to the early 1960s, the King-Lincoln District was known nationally as a major jazz center, and the Ogden Club (later renamed the Lincoln Ballroom) on the second floor of the building became one of the most popular venues in the country for live jazz. Since downtown hotels served "whites only," traveling African-American musicians and performers were housed in King-Lincoln hotels, many just blocks from the Lincoln.   Continued ...