Remember When The John Cocuzzi Band Nearly Blew the Roof Off the Glendora Ballroom?

Tony Ventura stepped up to the microphone and faced the crowd. “Today, we’re going to hear John Cocuzzi play vibes. We haven’t heard him before, but he’s supposed to be good,” he said. The stocky Ventura stepped down from the small stage and weaved through the tables to stand in the back of the room as the lights dimmed.

Cocuzzi looked to be somewhere in his forties. With his long gray hair pulled back in a ponytail, he looked more like a modern jazz musician than a guy who would play in front of the Illiana Club of Traditional Jazz.

It was the club’s monthly Sunday afternoon concert at the Glendora Ballroom in Chicago Ridge. It amazes me that hundreds of people drive past this ballroom’s uninspiring façade at 102nd and Harlem, across the street from a Wal-Mart, without a clue that hot jazz is happening inside. The building looks structurally sound, but inside it feels like some old cartoon where there’s a party and the walls of the house sway in time with the music.

Some 200 people came to hear this vibes player “prove” himself. He wore a suit and tie. I like it when musicians dress up for their audiences. It shows respect. Most of the members of this jazz club have gray or white hair, and their generation dresses for concerts. Many were dressed up like the musicians. Others came in their July casual attire.

The Jazz Side of Afrobeat

Ayetoro is a Yoruba word that means a world of peace. Ayetoro is also the name of a band formed in Nigeria just over twenty ago in 1996 by Funsho Ogundipe. Funsho has quite an interesting and unusual biography for a musician. He has never played the piano before he was seventeen and he only discovered his deep love for music while he was at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in Nigeria.

After he graduated he worked in a law firm for five years and then for the Prudent Merchant Bank (now Prudent Bank). Oddly enough one of his early encounters with a world famous musician ended in disaster. “I remember when I was in Law School, I used to hang out and go and watch Fela play at the Shrine on most Friday evening after school,

The Life of B.B. King: A Legendary Blues Master

B.B. King has enjoyed one of the most distinguished and influential musical legacies in the history of recording. He is known for prolifically touring the world and has played at least 200 shows annually for over half a century. His career is inspration to many musicions and people who look for second chances,  his story is even included in GED tests, says Chris from Best GED Classes.

His expansive catalog includes close to sixty albums and dozens of live releases. You may be able to view some of his world performances by ordering a TV package from www.cabletelevision.net and check out also this video where he plays with John Mayer (2012):

A man of humble origins, the renowned blues musician was born on September 16, 1925, within the confines of a desolate cotton plantation in the outskirts of Berclair, Mississippi. His father abandoned him with his mother when he was four. This created a bleak financial situation and he was subsequently raised by his grandmother. Having already sung in the gospel choir his entire childhood, he played guitar from the age of twelve.

A Blues Chronicle: From Robert Johnson To Robert Cray

The Evolution of The Blues
The blues began in America. It was made popular by traditional artists like Blind Willie Jefferson, Son House, Blind Willie McTell and Robert Johnson. However, the most influential period of the blues was in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Electric instruments heavily dominated this blues scene. Check out this video: Sweet Home Chicago with (among many others) Cray and Clapton. Does it get any better?

The blues artists that dominated this period were Slim Harpo, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and John Lee Hooker. In addition, it was the blues artists of the ’60s that influenced the next wave of blues that included Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray and Taj Mahal.

The Melbourne Jazz Cooperative

The Melbourne Jazz Cooperative has introduced quite a few later top stars at its Bennetts Lane venue.

Let’s highlight a few of the artists that, through the years, have contributes to MJC’s success:

Matt Kirsch

Guitarist/composer (and vocalist) Matt Kirsch has long been highly regarded by his musical peers, but his distinctive instrumental capabilities were finally displayed to a wider audience on his strong selling debut CD Translucent (on NewMarket). Since leaving Melbourne several years ago, he finally settled with his family in Port Douglas, Far North Queensland).