Big Rock Jazz Fest – Fall for Jazz – Wingspan

The Mike Tracy Jazz Quintet featuring Renato Vasconcellos will perform at a number of fall jazz festival.  The Louisville Jazz Society Newsletter contains articles on Big Rock Jazz Fest and Tyler Park – Fall for Jazz events.  In addition, a review of newly released CD WINGSPAN (Sea Breeze SBJ-3092).


Mark your calendar now!
By Patty Bailey

On Sunday, October 3rd 2010, the Louisville Jazz Society will sponsor the 11th annual Big Rock Jazz Fest in Cherokee Park as part of the Week in the Highlands.  This is a free concert in Cherokee Park produced by the Highlands-Douglass Neighborhood Association with additional sponsorship from local businesses and generous individuals.

This year’s lineup features three local bands: 

Steve Crews’ Black Cat Band, the Mike Tracy Quintet, and the Walnut Street Blues Band. The music will begin at 2 PM with each group playing a 90-minute set, and wrapping up at 7 PM.

Steve Crews’ Black Cat Band is an 8-piece ensemble that performs arrangements of early American jazz and Chicago era Dixieland music, a style made popular by jazzmen such as Bix Beiderbecke and Jelly Roll Morton. Crews played trumpet in the high school marching band at St. Xavier and while piano is his main instrument, Steve revived his trumpet playing skills while performing with Jamey Aebersold promoting jazz in area schools. He and the other musicians in the Black Cat Band have had a blast putting this group together and have developed a loyal following around Louisville. Who knew that tooting a few notes for the kids would lead to a new passion for Steve?! Besides Crews on cornet, they have Paul Davis, trombone; Greg Walker, banjo/guitar; Hubert Griffin, Jr., drums; Gary Falk, tenor sax; Joe Spain, tuba; Roslyn Mattingly, clarinet; and Megan Gebert, vocals. To quote Steve Crews… It’s impossible to harbor a sad thought when you are playing or listening to this style of music.

Big Rock Headliner this year will be The Mike Tracy Quintet. This is a seasoned jazz group consisting of musicians that Mike Tracy has recorded and performed with over the past few years. Tracy will be blowin’ hot licks, cool jazz and smooth tones from his saxophone while the rhythm section lays down the groove and harmony. You can expect to hear original tunes with a Brazilian flair as well as some standards. The rest of the quintet (all accomplished practitioners of the jazz arts) will be comprised of Brazilian keyboardist, Renato Vasconcello; Louisvillian Craig Wagner, guitar; Doug Elmore, bass; and Mike Hyman, drums. (See musician bios in ?Fall? for Jazz in Tyler Park article on page 5 of this newsletter) Be sure to check out Tracy’s most recent CD entitled Wingspan released earlier this year at

The Walnut Street Blues Band was founded by guitarist Foree Wells in 1989 with his sons Michael (guitar), Greg (keyboard and horns), and Foree III (drums). The father/sons team enjoyed performing around Louisville and at regional blues festivals for a number of years. Michael and Greg lead the band now that includes vocalist Artie Wells, drummer Jerry Harshaw, and bassist Donny Bridges. They have been influenced by west coast and Chicago style blues, and artists such as Buddy Guy, BB King, Gatemouth Brown, and Lonnie Brooks. The Walnut Street Blues Band currently performs at local venues such as Molly Malone’s, Jim Porter’s, Captains’ Quarters, and the upcoming Garvin Gate Blues Festival in October. The band’s demanding schedule has included gigs in Atlanta, Chicago, Memphis, and of course, Louisville.

Michael Wells has performed with Clarence Carter and toured with James Peterson. Earlier this year Artie Wells, received a Women in Music Award from Actors Theatre of Louisville. She was honored along with 13 other African-American women in the Louisville community who have made significant contributions to music.

So pack your chairs or blankets, load the kids in the car, arrive early and join us for what is sure to be a fine afternoon of jazz and blues at Big Rock in Cherokee Park. The first 250 people to arrive at the site will be offered a chance in a free raffle. See you there!

(Directions: Taylorsville Road to Valletta Road. Go to the end of Valletta and you are there. However the parking at Big Rock is very limited so for hassle-free parking, go to Douglass and Ellerbee, where you can park at Adath Jeshurun Synagogue and take the free trolley down to Big Rock.)

FALL for Jazz in Tyler Park

Sunday October 10, 2010 4-6 pm
By Jeanette Westbrook

The Louisville Jazz Society in conjunction with the Tyler Park Neighborhood Association and Eighth District Councilman, Tom Owen, are pleased to announce the first of an annual series of free jazz concerts to be held in Tyler Park. Be sure to mark your calendars for what is sure to be an exciting return of LIVE JAZZ to Tyler Park. The first concert will be held Sunday, October 10th from 4-6 PM in the lower section of Tyler Park featuring the music of Mike Tracy and The Louisville All-Stars featuring Renato Vasconcellos, keyboards & piano, Craig Wagner, guitar, Doug Elmore , bass, and Mike Hyman, drums.

Mike Tracy is an internationally known jazz saxophonist. He is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at U of L and is widely known as one of America’s foremost jazz educators. Renato Vasconcellos, pianist, hails from Brasilia, Brazil where he is director of the University of Brasilia’s Popular Music and Jazz Program. He holds a graduate jazz degree from U of L’s School of Music and is back in Louisville for this concert. Craig Wagner, guitar, is well known in Louisville among music lovers who are familiar with his eclectic guitar skills. Across the musical spectrum from jazz to classical, Craig is known as the consummate musician. Doug Elmore, bass, is Orchestra Director for Floyd Central High School in Indiana. He is well- known locally as a first class bassist in jazz and classical styles. One might find Doug conducting his student orchestra in a performance of a Mozart symphony in the morning and laying down a bass line for Giant Steps with a jazz group in the evening. Mike Hyman, drums is a native Louisvillian. Mike began playing drums at an early age when it quickly became apparent that he had a special gift for music. During his career, Mike has performed with an amazing array of jazz greats including Joe Henderson, Stan Getz and Gary Burton to mention but a few.

Tyler Park is located at 1501 Castlewood Ave. Louisville, 40204 (Baxter Ave. & Tyler Park Dr.). Simply Grand Pianos will provide a fabulous grand piano for the concert and the sound system will be provided by Andy Westbrook. Be sure to bring your own beverage and seating for this first concert, as we get up to speed for next year’s concerts when we hope to have all the amenities. This event is sure to be thrilling as Tyler Park serves as a natural amplifier for beautiful music, on a beautiful day, in a beautiful city park. See you there!