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As we noted last week, April is Jazz Appreciation Month across the nation—and here, thanks to the jazz aficionados who launched Jazzanooga to celebrate all things jazz in the Scenic City this month.
You’ll find a month-long schedule of jazz music events at various locations around town—including a free lunchtime concert on April 17 at Miller Plaza—on the group’s website, jazzanooga.com. But besides April, Chattanooga is not a very jazz-centric city. You’d be hard-pressed to find a club or restaurant hosting a quality jazz band on a regular basis in the city. And besides the overnight syndicated mainstream jazz program hosted by Bob Parloacha on WUTC-FM, you won’t hear jazz very often on local airwaves.
Thankfully, the fine folks at Barking Legs Theater are working to bring Chattanooga a slate of quality live jazz performances throughout the year. And this week is particularly noteworthy at the intimate Dodds Avenue theater.
Jazz at Barking Legs returns this Saturday, April 13, with a special performance by the Champian Fulton Quartet. Fulton is a young New York City-based pianist and vocalist who has already released five CDs, garnered stellar reviews and toured the world. The jazz programming at Barking Legs at times runs to the outer limits, but this one is straight down the middle. Fulton is a spunky, swinging classic-jazz throwback in the Diana Krall/Jane Monheit mode, but with a breezier style all her own. If you like classic, swinging jazz, or simply enjoy tunes from the “Great American Songbook,” expertly played and sung, you’ll love this show.
On Monday, April 15, Barking Legs hosts a first when they bring Ezekiel’s Wheels Klezmer Band to the theater. If you aren’t familiar with Klezmer music, it’s a music with roots in eastern European jewish culture, a joyous, uplifting dance music filled with the sounds of clarinet, strings and horns. Richard Winham writes about the band this week in the second half of his column featuring conservatory-trained musicians on Page 10.
In the weeks to come, Barking Legs’ jazz offerings will include the Kevin Roberts Quartet featuring Nial Djuliarso (a McCallie graduate who is making his mark on the New York jazz scene), the Matthew Shipp Trio and the Evan Cobb Quartet interpreting the music of the great Horace Silver. Every show will feature the theater’s Steinway grand, which is newly restrung and sounding better than ever, according to Bruce Kaplan, who owns the theater with his wife, dancer Ann Law.
So take advantage of jazz the month in Chattanooga—at the various Jazzanooga-sponsored events and at Barking Legs. Both are reviving the spirit of America’s true musical art form. For more information and schedules, visit barkinglegs.org and jazzanooga.org, and pick up The Pulse each week for updates and previews.