Bill Evans’ Soulgrass to Headline Jazz in June 2015



Grammy Award-winning saxophonist and producer Bill Evans and his band, Soulgrass, will headline Jazz in June 2015 with their inimitable blend of funk, rock, rhythm and groove.

The free, three-day music festival, now in its 32nd year, is scheduled for June 18-20.

Evans made his debut on the international music scene in the 1980s at age 21 with the legendary Miles Davis. He calls Soulgrass a melting pot of quintessential American music — funk, rock, rhythm and groove.

“I started touring with my own band in 1990,” Evans said. “From the very beginning, every band I have led has grooved hard, regardless of the instrumentation, vocal or otherwise. It introduced me to all these other forms of music.

“Soulgrass takes everything I love and puts it in one place,” he added. “Each musician in the band is very well versed in all kinds of music and has to be able to change it up on a moment’s notice. I use a banjo (Ryan Cavanaugh), singing drummer (Josh Dion), guitarist (Mitch Stein) and bass player (Dave Anderson). The music has no boundaries and it grooves extremely hard. The combination of Josh Dion’s vocals along with the saxophone continually evolves.”  In an interview with JamBase before an upcoming series of performances at the Blue Note in New York, Evans said the band’s music is different every set. “When we solo, it’s never the same, ever,” he said. “That’s a good thing. Never boring. That’s why we studied jazz for so many years – so that we could speak the language on the highest level.”

Bill Evans’ Soulgrass is slated to headline Jazz in June’s “Jazz in the Park” Saturday, June 20, at Andrews Park, 201 W. Daws St.

Brooklyn sax-and-drums dance music trio Moon Hooch is scheduled to headline Jazz in June’s Friday, June 19 concert, “Jazz Under the Stars” at Brookhaven Village, 3700 W. Robinson St. Moon Hooch released its second album, This Is Cave Music, in September 2014. The title refers to the term Moon Hooch coined to describe its unique sound: like house music, but more primitive and jagged and raw. The sound developed around an organic approach to playing electronic dance music.

Wenzl McGowen (tenor sax, baritone sax, contrabass clarinet, electric wind instrument), Michael Wilbur (tenor sax, soprano sax, vocals) and James Muschler (drums, percussion) met as students at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. They started busking – or street performing – in New York’s subway platforms, and the underground dance parties they whipped up got them banned from Brooklyn’s Bedford Avenue station.

“The three tackle what is typically jazz terrain with a rock-like ferocity,” ABC News said of Moon Hooch. “The result is a very cool, edgy record born out of mathematical focus and rhythmic perfection.”

Nathan James & the Rhythm Scratchers is slated to headline the festival’s “Blues Under the Stars” Thursday, June 18, at Brookhaven Village. The band’s original sound combines 1920s acoustic blues, 1960s soulful R&B, amplified juke joint hill country and 1950s uptown blues. The band, whose influences range from Tampa Red and B.B. King, to James Brown and the Famous Flames, is composed of Nathan James, who has created a musical identity with his self-taught skills, homemade instruments and LED-lit “Washtar Gitboard” (guitar and vocals), Marty Dodson (drums and vocals) and Troy Sandow (upright and Fender bass, harmonica and vocals).

The trio has played at festivals around the world, including the Eutin Blues Festival in Germany, Copenhagen Blues Festival in Denmark, Delta Blues Fest in Italy and The Waterfront Blues Festival in Oregon.

Other artists scheduled to perform at Jazz in June 2015 are:

June 18: Kalo, which has a unique hybrid sound is inspired by jazz, R&B and roots rock and is known for the husky, modulated voice, edgy appearance and sporadic, in-your-face guitar rips of its Israeli-born lead singer, for whom the band is named

June 19: Oklahoma crowd-pleaser Kyle Reid & the Low Swingin’ Chariots, bringing the sweet sounds of New Orleans jazz, gypsy jazz and western swing

June 20: Culture Cinematic, a collaborative mix of such varied genres as electronica, hip-hop, jazz, R&B, soul and funk; The Nichol Quintet, led by University of Oklahoma assistant professor of saxophone Jonathan Nichol; and the Norman High School Jazz Combo, a group of next-generation jazz artists.

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Spend Valentine’s Day with Jazz in June!

Jazz in June’s annual fundraiser, Meet Me on Bourbon Street, is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 — Valentine’s Day — in conjunction with the annual Norman Mardi Gras Parade. Join us for fabulous food, marvelous music and the positively phenomenal parade! Save the date now and stay tuned for additional information here and on Jazz in June’s Facebook page.   MMOBS 2015 Save the Date copy