December 23, 2010

Face the Music: Homage to the King of Pop; celebrate young lions of jazz

By AIMSEL PONTI

I've got one show for you tonight and two for next week. I'll get right to it, after a little holiday magic from Joni Mitchell: "It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees, they're putting up reindeer, and singing songs of joy and peace. Oh I wish I had a river, I could skate away on."

Happy and merry everything to everyone.

Until about five minutes ago, I was unfamiliar with Josh Preston. Fortunately, I am now a fan and am more than happy to share what I found out about him whilst at www.joshpreston.com.

"Landmarks," is a compelling indicator of his music with lyrics like: "Someday our hearts will serve as landmarks and someday this fire will abandon its spark." The main backdrop is a sturdy acoustic guitar and some quiet keys, at least initially. There's a gradual arrival of a new sound, the whispering chimes of electronic origin that wash over the song like waves.

"The Only Town Without a Name," is another one that struck me. "Actress," at just over two minutes and with its persistent piano, is a self-examination of some pretty intense life stuff. "I bum one more cigarette, push back on growing old. We all just rent our bodies, never really have control."

Preston, once a Mainer, calls Nashville home and has just released a new EP. He'll be going on at 8 tonight before the old-time string band Bernie Bouthot Quartet, which makes it's entrance at Blue around 10.

Josh Preston and Bernie Bouthot Quartet. 8 p.m. Tonight. Blue, 650A Congress St., Portland. All Ages. Pass the hat.

Hey all you beauty queens from movie scenes, it doesn't matter, who's wrong or right, just beat it. Beat it on over to Empire on Tuesday night for the third annual Michael Jackson Night. Musicians from Sly-Chi, Grupo Esperanza, Gypsy Tailwind, The Kenya Hall Band, The Cambiata, The No. 9, and Zach Jones will all be on hand and they'll all wanna be startin' something, they've got to be startin' something. It don't matter if you're black or white, if you've fathered Billie Jean's kid or even if you're OK, Annie. Anyone who wants to share the beat of love and ride the boogie is welcome.

Third Annual Michael Jackson Night. 9 p.m. Tuesday. Empire Dine & Dance, 575 Congress St., Portland. Ages 21 and older. $12 in advance/$15 at the door www.portlandempire.com.

Do you hear what I hear? It's jazz, a whole bunch of jazz. So hey all you aficionados, here's a show that's right up your alley. Better yet, it's a two-day mini-festival of contemporary jazz by a roster of young Maine students and recent grads who are home for the holidays. On Wednesday night it's the Jas Walton trio with Jas Walton from Newcastle on sax, Ross Gallagher from Blue Hill on bass and Jeff Wetherell from Cape Elizabeth playing drums. Also performing is the Kristin Slip Quartet with Kristen Slip from Windham on vocals, drummer RJ Miller from Brunswick, Ross Gallagher on bass (again), and Dov Mansky from Bar Harbor on piano.

The show will also be presented on Dec. 30 at the same time and location, featuring The Dan Glaude Quartet with Dan Glaude on sax, Hassan Muhammad on piano, Oliver Watkinson on bass and Pat Morrison on drums. Also performing that night will be The Devin Grey Trio with Devin Grey on drums, Liz Kosack on piano and Jesse Healy on bass.

Maine has become fertile territory for growing jazz musicians, thanks in large part to the dedicated middle and high school band directors, music teachers and The Maine Jazz Camp. See and hear them shine for two nights in Portland.

Dimensions in Jazz presents "Young Lions." 7 p.m. Wednesday (and Dec. 30). Memorial Hall, Woodfords Congregational Church, 202 Woodford St., Portland. All Ages. $10 at the door. Call 828-1310.

Aimsel Ponti is a Portland freelance writer. Contact her at:

aimselponti@yahoo.com

 

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