High notes 

Four names to follow through three days of non-stop jazz

For one week every year, jazz dominates Missoula’s music scene. Beginning last Monday with Jazzoula and continuing through Saturday with the Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival, the Garden City will play host to at least 40 different jazz acts at four different venues—and that doesn’t include the multitude of high school musicians from across the state being adjudicated for two days as part of the DeFranco festivities. With such a litany of band names and soloists to keep track of, we’re featuring four worthy of extra attention as you make your way through this jumble of jazz. For a full schedule, check the sidebar below.

Def Cartel
A friend who attended the recent Dumpstaphunk show at The Other Side returned raving about a new discovery—and it wasn’t Dumpstaphunk’s famous frontman Ivan Neville or anyone in his new band. Instead, the friend was going on about the local openers, Def Cartel, who played everything from a soaring version of “Georgia on My Mind” with guest vocalist Andrew Gomiller to their usual assortment of experimental jazz improvisations. The buzz-worthy appearance was huge for an otherwise under-the-radar outfit of musicians better known for other projects.

“That show was huge for us because at least half the audience had never even heard of us before and most were seeing us for the first time,” says bassist Bill Pfeifer. “I’m still always getting people coming up and asking about my old band, so it was great to have a night where people could see what Chris and I have been doing since then.”

Def Cartel started last year centered around Pfeifer and guitarist Chris Entz, both former members of local rock band/authors The Hermans. The duo played with a rotating cast of guest musicians (hence the “Cartel” in their name), most often at the Badlander’s Sunday Jazz Martini Night, to mixed results. In January, however, the band’s core members grew to include Sam White on sax and Bryan Bakevitch on keys—they also play with Entz in the current band du jour, Reverend Slanky—as well as drummer Jeff “Rex” Francis. Now a five-piece, Def Cartel are looking to build from its coming out show and ramp up their local presence. 

“What we wanted to do was provide something with a jazz and soul and gospel framework, but would give the musicians plenty of opportunity to improvise,” says Pfeifer. “If Sam wants to take a five-chorus solo, that’s cool, he can do that. That’s where we’re at, and we’re excited as musicians about where that can take us.”

Def Cartel play a special Jazz Night at The Loft Thursday, April 24, at 9 PM. $7/$5 students.

James Morrison
The revered Australian trumpeter is yet another reason to love YouTube: In three different clips totaling about seven minutes, you can catch Morrison playing his instrument upside down, demonstrating a freakishly long exhibition of circular breathing, and opening the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney with a medley that includes a soaring bit of “Waltzing Matilda.” And that’s just the start of more than 35 available online highlights.

A legend in his homeland, Morrison, 48, has played with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, B.B. King and Wynton Marsalis throughout an international career that started with a performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival at the age of 16. He’s known for taking his talents into unconventional forums, such as recording Jazz Meets the Symphony with The London Symphony Orchestra in 1993 and with the London Philharmonic at Royal Albert Hall a year later. Those, unfortunately, can’t be found on YouTube.

James Morrison performs as part of the Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival Friday, April 25, at 7:30 PM in the University Theatre. $22/$17 students and seniors.

Phil Woods
At one time in the mid-’50s, Woods was known as “New Bird,” a reference to Charlie “Bird” Parker and pretty much the highest compliment afforded to a saxophonist. (Interestingly, Woods later married Parker’s widow, Chan Parker.) As you can imagine with such a nickname, Woods played with some of the biggest names in jazz—recording with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins, and appearing alongside Benny Goodman and Quincy Jones, just to name a few. In one memorable story captured in the book, The House that Trane Built, Woods recalls a recording session with Benny Carter for Further Definition, where, among other things, he had the courage to ask Coleman Hawkins for a swig of his personal stash of Scotch. “I was very proud to have been there—that was some glorious history,” Woods said. “That was when giants walked the earth, and I was happy to be amongst them, trying not to get my toes stepped on—or other appendages!”

Phil Woods, now 76, performs as part of the Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival Saturday, April 26, at 7:30 PM in the University Theatre. $22/$17 students and seniors.

Dexter Payne
A founding member of the estimable Big Sky Mudflaps, Payne has since traveled throughout the southern hemisphere to hone his blend of American, Latin and Brazilian sounds on clarinet and alto sax. In particular, he spent more than two years in the mid-’90s touring 11 different countries, including a memorable stopover in Cuba where he played with Ruben Gonzalez and Orlando López Cachao of the Buena Vista Social Club. Now a purveyor of choro, a Brazilian form of music that preceded bossa nova and samba and is often compared to traditional New Orleans jazz, he records with Brazilian composer Thiago de Mello. Both 2004’s Inspiration and 2006’s Another Feeling were praised by Indy music reviewers, and late last year Payne released a new collaboration with de Mello featuring only clarinet, percussion and piano entitled, Disk Tum Derrei. We want to hear it.

Dexter Payne plays the final evening of Jazzoula at the St. Anthony Parish Center, 217 Tremont St., Thursday, April 24, at 7 PM. $10/$8 students.

All that jazz
A full listing of the week’s final three days of jazz music. 

Thursday, April 24

St. Anthony Parish Center, 7 PM
Jazzoula’s last night includes Sky Moose, Cat and the Fiddle, David Morgenroth Trio, Dexter Payne, Hall of Fame Awards for bassist Pete Hand and music educators Hal Herbig and Fred Nelson, and the Basement Boys. $10/$8 students. 

The Loft, 10 PM
Jazz Night featuring Def Cartel. $7/$5 students.
Friday, April 25
University Theatre, 7:30 PM
Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival showcase concert featuring DeFranco, Bucky Pizzarelli, James Morrison and the UM Jazz Band. $22/$17 students and seniors.

Saturday, April 26
University Theatre, 7:30 PM
Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival showcase concert featuring DeFranco, John Allred, Phil Woods and the UM Jazz Band. $22/$17 students and seniors.

St. Anthony Parish Center, 10 PM
A late-night jam session held in conjunction with Jazzoula and the Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival featuring Helena band, Rio. $5.
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