The Union Recorder

April 29, 2014

CURTAIN CALL: Lots of music hits town this week

Tom Toney
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — “Baby, take me down to Duke’s Place, Wildest box in town is Duke’s Place, Love that piano sound in Duke’s Place.”

Well, we’re into another of those weeks with so much stuff going on, I literally can’t keep up. In fact, some events I really can’t even get to in this column but luckily they have been covered in other sources (such as the U-R Friday supplement “The Ville” — make sure to check it out).

This week, we’re starting off with some of my favorite-type music going on tonight, April 29, at Amici in downtown Milledgeville. There will be live jazz starting around 7:30 p.m. and going ‘til at least 9:15.

There is almost nothing I enjoy more than live music and my favorite setting by far is in a club/bar type venue.  So some small combo jazz at Amici Café is just about as good as it gets!

The Georgia College jazz improvisation classes, under the direction of Chris Enghauser and Maureen Horgan, will be the groups in performance. There is no cover charge as this gig counts toward their final exam! Now there’s a final exam I definitely see a practical aspect to.

They will perform a variety of tunes from a plethora of different composers including Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and many others. Some of the songs on tap include “C Jam Blues,” “Mr. PC,” and “Blue Bossa.”   

This is going to be a great show. And hey — it’s Two for Tuesdays at Amici, which means you can enjoy some mighty fine food at a mighty fine price.

I definitely say check it out.

But the jazz doesn’t end there. On Friday, Georgia College’s annual Jazz Fest will take place on the GC front lawn. This is happening in conjunction with First Friday in Milledgeville.

In fact, there will be various bands playing around downtown this Friday, so as you stroll around the streets, you may hear a variety of different musical sounds emanating from various street corners.

Yeah, I know ... you often hear that anyway. But these are actually SCHEDULED to be there.

The official GC Jazz Fest kicks off at 5 p.m. with performances featuring the jazz bands from Baldwin High School and Oak Hill Middle School. Then around 6 p.m., a couple of small jazz combos will take the musical stage — including at least one of the aforementioned jazz improvisation classes.

At 7 p.m., the GC Jazz Band will come on board. Now at most previous Jazz Fest events, the GC Jazz Band performs for about 30 to 40 minutes and they feature highlights from their fall and spring “official” concerts.

You may recall the most recently scheduled jazz band concert — spring 2014 — had to be canceled. According to director Cliff Towner, much of that concert will be performed during this year’s Jazz Fest festivities.

So you can probably expect at least an hour of great music from the GC Jazz Band Friday night, in addition to the other fine musical mosaics taking place.

Bring your blankets, lawn chairs, coolers, and Mickey Mouse ears and enjoy the ambiance!   

But the music doesn’t end there. On Saturday evening, the Georgia Military College Steinway Concert Series will present OPUS X, starting at 8 p.m. in the Goldstein Center.

No, just because the name “Opus” is in there does not mean it has anything to do with a beloved penguin character from the comic strip “Bloom County.”

OPUS X is a gathering of four acclaimed classical soloists from all over the world, unified by their talent and ambition to challenge the musical boundaries of classical and modern music.

OK, so much for the press release stuff. OPUS X consists of four beautiful young women who come from a variety of backgrounds and can play the britches off their respective instruments.

You’ve got lovely Lone Madsen on clarinet, tempting Tanja Zapolski on piano, klassy Kristina Reiko Cooper strumming a cello (sorry... “k” is tricky), and charming Caroline Campbell fiddling away on violin.

They will be performing a few original pieces and a fascinating mix of tunes from other composers, including “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla, “Brahms Hungarian Dances,” “Cinema Paradiso” and “Stairway to Heaven.”

And no! I did not make that last one up! They are scheduled to perform Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”  

That was never one of my favorite Led Zep pieces — too long and too draggy. That’s why I played it at 78 rpm back in 1977 when I was a disc jockey at WUVT-FM - damn thing was over in less than two minutes!

But I am definitely looking forward to hearing how these gals interpret this rock anthem amidst the Debussy and Mozart.

General admission is $20 for adults and $10 for students with ID. Tickets will be available at the Goldstein Center on the evening of the concert, but I would advise giving a call to the GMC Office of Advancement at 478-445-0202 to reserve seats in advance.

And there’s still more music. On Monday, May 5, the Milledgeville Singers Guild (MSG) will present its spring concert at the First United Methodist Church on Log Cabin Road starting at 7 p.m.

There is an absolute cornucopia of songs being performed by the MSG in this spring’s concert. Hmm — “plethora” and “cornucopia” in one column? Not bad!

Among the tunes on the program are “Shenandoah,” “Cabaret,” “Edelweiss,” “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Blue Skies.” Now there’s some mighty fine music.

The song scheduled to be performed that particularly caught my eye, however, is “Ain’t Misbehavin’” by the great Fats Waller, one of the most prolific composers for a very brief period of time (late 1920s through his death in 1943), and the absolute master of the stride piano style.

Fats is one of my all time favorite musical personalities (and he had more personality than a dozen average individuals). A musical revue was produced in 1978 called “Ain’t Misbehavin” and featured his music along with some of the other great black composers and musicians during that period of time known as the Harlem Renaissance.

In fact, perhaps you noticed a “theme” among many of the songs I mentioned from this MSG program. Theatrical and movie tunes are definitely featured throughout the overall concert scheme.

Admission is free.

I told you there was a lot this week. And I’m still not done! Amidst all this music, there is theater taking place as well. Granted, it’s musical theater but it does involve scripted dialogue as well as tunes.

The Baldwin High School Theatre program will present “Grease,” running Thursday through Saturday. Show time for all three performances is 7 p.m.

“Grease” is a really fun play. I saw the original national touring company performance of it back in 1972 at the Mosque in Richmond, Va. and fell in love with it. I was really into rock and roll of the 1950s at that time and this play just captured that era so perfectly.

Imagine my disappointment years later at the movie version, which pretty much trashed the play in order to create starring vehicles for John Travolta and Oliva Newton-John.

Well, forget that monstrosity (I know ... young girls LOVE it!) and come enjoy the BHS version of the theatrical production. It’s directed by the awesome Anna Brock with musical direction provided by Kathy Carroll.

And watch out for Milledgeville Player veteran Sandy Dimon as one of the Pink Ladies. Or is she playing the evil teacher Miss Lynch? Oh well, guess you’ll have to head to a performance to find out.

Tickets are $7 and are on sale at the door. That door, by the way, is at the Baldwin Fine Arts Center located at BHS.

One of the tunes being performed tonight by the jazz improvisation classes is “C Jam Blues.”  Composed by Duke Ellington, this song later had lyrics added and vocal versions were performed by various artists, often with the Ellington band. They included Ella Fitzgerald, Teresa Brewer, and Louis Armstrong and the tune sort of morphed into “Duke’s Place.”

“Saxes do their tricks in Duke’s Place, Fellas swing their chicks in Duke’s Place, Come on, get your kicks in Duke’s Place.”

Catch you on the flip side.

Tom Toney can be reached at