MIKE ECKROTH BRINGS CONTEMPORARY CUBAN SOUNDS TO BROTHER JOHN'S
Mike Eckroth

And now for something somewhat different, the Mike Eckroth Trio playing “contemporary Cuban-oriented Latin Jazz, that’s how I describe it,” said pianist Eckroth, calling from the road as his band works its way toward Tucson for a Memorial Day concert in the jazz room at Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon and BBQ, 1801 N. Stone Ave.

Clear up the mystery of what that description sounds like by going to CD Baby for “Piano and Rhythm,” https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/pianoandrhythm. Then play the selections “Franklin’s Riff” and “Mulatto Blanco.”

The album and Eckroth’s love of Latin jazz covers all the eras. His PhD from New York University is a study of “Early Cuban Piano Improvisation: 1939-1949.”

“I love mainstream jazz, too. I always have,” said the pianist, should there be any question. He grew up in Phoenix, but went to the University of Arizona in the latter 1990s. Right here in the Baked Apple is where he got hooked on playing jazz piano against all those agile Latin percussionists.

In the late ‘90s he was playing weekly at El Prarador in a Cuban jazz band called Ache Pa’Ti, and weekly at the Sweetwater Café in the Sounds of Brazil.

After graduation he moved to Las Vegas, then on to New York City. He toured with guitarist John Scofield to secure his professional standing, and kept working to refine his concept of a contemporary Cuban-oriented Latin jazz sound.

The well-received “Rhythm and Piano” album recorded with a full band was released in 2015. The first several tracks are traditional Cuban jazz, the last several tracks are contemporary.

Bassist Alex “Apolo” Ayala and drummer Joel Mateo, who played on the recording, will be in Tucson with Eckroth.

“I’m not trying to recreate that recording. Everything we play in Tucson will have a more modern harmonic pattern. We’ll be doing some of my original pieces where we can just stretch out freely, as well as a Herbie (Hancock) tune, a Chick (Corea) tune, some Wayne Shorter.

“We’re still a New York band at all times,” Eckroth added with a big smile in his voice. “Sometimes a little intellectual, sometimes in a little groove, you know, like that.”

The Mike Eckroth Trio plays from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on Monday, May 29th, in the jazz room at Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon and BBQ, 1801 N. Stone Ave. Tickets are $22.09 online at http://www.peteswanjazz.com/



 

THERE'S A BIG HEART IN "NEWS OF THE WORLD"

photo by Scott Griessel

From left, Seonaid Barngrover, Steve  Wood and India Osborne opening a scene.

This is the honest truth. Scarcely 12 hours after seeing the Winding Road Theater Ensemble's celebration of unlikely behavior in “The News of the World & Other Stories” by Ron Carlson, there was a Facebook post about a Colorado hunter who was recently attacked in the woods and nearly raped by a lovesick (apparently) Sasquatch.

Clearly there is still some part of our 6 million-year-old DNA that needs these stories. We want to believe, at least a little bit, that people can spontaneously explode, that 90-year-old women can become pregnant, that cows with two udders will give twice as much milk. There is just so much about our world that we will never understand.

That's why Winding Road is here to help, presenting nine personal stories of people who have had exceptional experiences that can't be described with ordinary words. Truly, “News of the World & Other Stories” is not your ordinary theater experience.

Ron Carlson isn't even a playwright. He's a writer with a vivid imagination when it comes to believing the people who claim such impossible stories actually happened to them must have had their reasons.

Or even, in the case of psychic Madame Zelena, had to deal with some real-life consequences when it came to knowing, whether she wanted to or not, the scrambled futures of strangers she happened to touch in a crowded mall or while getting change back from a cash purchase at a convenience store.

Leslie J. Miller is directing Steve Wood, Seonaid Barngrover, India Osborne and Susan Arnold in nine monologue episodes which open and close with tales involving Big Foot.

Actually, “Bigfoot Stole My Wife” is about the wife's husband, who reported the incident. He also added such details as how Bigfoot was respectful enough to let his wife first gather up some clothes in a suitcase, then stole both his wife and his Toyota Celica.



Granted that story does sound a little suspect, but in the closing episode “I Am Bigfoot,” the amorous monster himself (seen only as a silhouette behind a white sheet) admits he likes to party and has discovered women are receptive to his advances.

From a different world comes the “Baby Born with 2000 Year Old Bracelet.” The well-meaning doctor who told the story, whose medical career delivering babies included many touching miracles of birth in difficult situations, was sad that all anybody ever wanted to talk about was the time she delivered the baby wearing that little bracelet.

Making fun of people is not the object here. We can roll our eyes at the paranormal and the people who live there but these players interpret Carlson's stories as human lives touched by circumstances we never suspected.

You will see them, too, and understand in a different light what really might be going on the next time aliens from outer space come calling.

“The News of the World & Other Stories” presented by the Winding Road Theater Ensemble continues through May 28 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, in the upstairs Cabaret Space at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.

Tickets are $25 general admission, $22 seniors, military and students. For details and reservations, windingroadtheater.org