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Review: 'The History of Jazz'

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The History of Jazz
3 stars
The Cabaret at the Columbia Club, April 22

Jazz history is excitingly in 'the present' and ever evolving with Rob Dixon's Indy Jazz Fest Band featuring vocalist Cynthia Layne. Their multimedia "History of Jazz" program, presented in the intimacy of the Cabaret at the Columbia Club, took us into the world of "seeing the rhythm, feeling the melody," from Louis Armstrong's swinging, high-stepping "When the Saints Come Marching In" to Dixon and Layne's newly written introspective ballad (whose chorus went, "looking for life's meaning, making one's own sunshine").

The sweep forward - from Armstrong creating his exhilarating new sound early in the 20th century, to more recent movements such as be-bop and free jazz - gives us a sense of our collective social and cultural history spanning over 100 years.

High points touched on Count Basie's jumping style, Benny Goodman's swing, Duke Ellington's elegance, Miles Davis's "cool," John Coltrane's blues and Freddie Hubbard's avalanche of rhythm.

Experiencing jazz from its roots and up through its trunk, limbs and leaves with the virtuoso ensemble playing by Dixon (saxophone), Keith McCutchen (piano), Frank Smith (bass), Kenny Phelps (drums), Bill Lancton (guitar) and John Vander Gheynst (trumpet) is as much a visual delight as it is auditory. Layne's range and depth are equally amazing. Rob Bohn created the graphics; Allison Horton delivered the narration.

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