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Tech, all that Jazz

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Blogs are fun and informative, and did I say, fun? But rarely when technology out-paces the editor.

Denton Jazz Chronicles is back, and wow, do we need to catch up!

The 2019 Edition of the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival may have been a bit damp from rains earlier in the week, but started on a beautiful Friday, ending with the Ravi Coltrane Quartet on the Jazz Stage. I was there with many, many more festival and Jazz fans. Righteous night.

Saturday proved to be sunny, warm and wonderful at the fest. Taj Mahal took the Jazz stage for a fantastic headliner set.

Two after-hours Jazz Jams helped red-hot musicians continue their groves at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern and Steve’s Wine Bar. Such a night – both of them.

Steve’s Wine Bar moving on up

The little (itty-bitty) wine shop, at 219 E. Hickory, offers amazing wine, and cigar selections, but has been overwhelmed with listeners and wine aficionados each night a Jazz group plays.

Steve and Karen Severance

This week, owners Steve and Karen Severance will move their wine bar half a block South, to 111 Industrial St. The new space is bigger, newly refurbished and ready for the faithful followers and new visitors.

March blows in with cold wind, red hot Jazz at Sweetwater

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

So what, if the high-temperature tomorrow is 44 degrees. You still can warm up with the great Louisiana cuisine, wonderful people and fantastic New Orleans-style Jazz at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm.

But that’s just the beginning of Jazz music and the new/old Denton landmark:

  • Tuesday, March 5: Annual Fat Tuesday Celebration with Strictly Dixie, the Vintage Jazz Society and an Open Dixieland Jam (7-10 pm); with Special Cajun Menu, and adult beverages  
  • Thursday, March 7: UNT Jazz Showcase featuring Mike Steinel
  • Tuesday, March 12: Sweetwater Jazz Quartet featuring Jim Riggs, Neil Slater, Ron Fink, and Jeffry Eckels  
  • Thursday, March 14: A Taste of Herb – a Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass tribute band
  • Tuesday, March 19: El Nuevo Mi Son, Cuban folk music, directed by David Pierce  
  • Thursday, March 21: QuB’d featuring Brad Leali and Quincy Davis  
  • Tuesday, March 26: Ed Soph Trio featuring Roger Hunt, Corentin LeHir, and Ed Soph  
  • Thursday, March 28: N’Awlins Gumbo Kings – Finishing out the month with more New Orleans-style Jazz, and originals, such as “Coffee Regular,””UFO Saloon.”
N’awlins Gumbo Kings

Trombone gimmick to Big Band standard

Reprinted from

In many ways, the trombone is the most unlikely of standard jazz instruments. At the end of the 19th century, as New Orleans gained its reputation as a thriving music hub, the trombone was often relegated to the back of the proverbial bus – literally. When groups of musicians gathered on horse-drawn carriages (for parades or funeral processions), and later on streetcars, cramped quarters often forced trombonists to sit at the back of the transport carriage in order to have enough room to fully extend their slides.

A very young Trombone Shorty plays while Bo Diddly looks on.
A young Trombone Shorty with legendary guitarist Bo Diddley in 1990
Via NPR: Michael P. Smith/ Courtesy of Troy Andrews

As a result, “tailgate trombones” typically performed facing backward, mainly embellishing the music with performance techniques such as growls, scoops, falls and slides. Even as Dixieland grew in popularity during the first quarter of the 20th century, the new style was headlined mainly by trumpet and clarinet soloists (and pianos, during non-moving performances).

Editor’s Note: Remember Fat Tuesday at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm, on March 5. Yummies and drinkables from 11 am to ? Music with Strictly Dixie, The Vintage Jazz Society and the raucous, conga-line filled Jam goes from 7 to 10 pm.

Trombonists were considered to be part of the rhythm section, and even secondary to percussionists, who often used ordinary household items such as washboards and teaspoons to keep time and embellish the trumpet and clarinet melodies and harmonies.

The role of the trombone began to change when Weldon Leo “Jack” Teagarden (1905-1964) burst onto the jazz scene as a soloist in 1920, touring first with Peck Kelley’s “Peck’s Bad Boys,” then moving on to tour as a soloist with Doc Ross’s Jazz Bandits and the Original Southern Trumpeters before forming his own group, Basin Street Blues. As three- and four-piece combos gave way to the big bands of the late 1930s and 40s, four-player trombone sections became a standard feature the format, together with saxophone, trumpet and rhythm sections.

Today, a century after Jack Teagarden’s revolution, artists such as Wolter Wierbos, Rob McConnell, Slide Hampton, and many others have made the trombone an indispensable feature of the world of jazz. Tune in to our Swing & Big Band, and Swinging channels and get to know this versatile, and occasionally cheeky, instrument!

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Glendale Dr. trio plays Sweetwater Grill & Tavern

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Tuesday, February 19th

Enjoy the musical forces of fiddle-meister Dale Morris, Jr., superb guitarist Glenn McLaughlin, and Drew Phelps (the hardest-working bassist in Texas) play a variety of Gypsy Jazz, Western Swing and Country on Sweetwater’s patio stage, 115 S. Elm St., Tuesday, February 19, from 7-9 pm.

Drew is friend with both Dale and Glenn; having met Glenn “a good ten years ago,” while touring with the Quebe Sisters; and Dale, “about five years” while working with Dave Alexander at the upscale (now closed) Stampede 66.

“We found we had real good chemistry as a trio,” said Drew. “And we wanted to work together again.”

About Dale Morris, Jr.

An award-winning fiddler from the age of six, Dale grew up around the contest circuit influenced by Benny Thomasson, Orville Bums, The Solomons, The Franklins, Joe Venuti, Keith Coleman, Buddy Spicher, Tommy Jackson, and a few others. He attended the Fiddlers’ Frolics for the first time at the age of six and remembers the encouragement given by Cliff and Velda Fryer in his early contest years.

Dale Morris Jr. on fiddle and Gerald Jones on guitar perform at the faculty concert at Acoustic Music Camp in Arlington, Texas, Aug. 6, 2015.

Upon graduation from high school, Dale went to college on a music scholarship and performed with the jazz band at Weatherford College, in Weatherford, Texas. Dale has spent time in Branson, playing with World’s Favorite Hobo, Boxcar Willie, and Marty Stuart and The Hot Hillbilly Band touring the US and Canada.

In 2001, he started touring with country music legend, Ray Price. Thus far his work with Ray has led to numerous television appearances and tours with Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson as part of the Last of The Breed Tour. His music has appeared on motion picture soundtracks, television jingles, and music videos. Dale is a highly sought after studio musician and has recorded with such artists as Charley Pride, Deryl Dodd, John Mayall, Bob Wills Texas Playboys, Ray Price, Marty Stuart, Chuck Rainey, and many others.

About Glenn McLaughlin

Glenn resides in Fort Worth, where he continues his professional freelance music career playing solo performances, fronting his own groups, and joining others such as The Ginny Mac Band (Ginny Mac is his sister!), The Gypsy Playboys, Gypsy Cattle Drive, Johnny Case Trio, Mikki Daniel, Bobby Dade Band, Joe Savage Band.

He has shared stages with the likes of The Texas Playboys, Tommy Allsup, Asleep at the Wheel, Hot Club of Cowtown, Woody Paul (Riders in the Sky), Ricky Turpin, Johnny Gimble, Tommy Morrell, Joey Carter, Brave Combo, Leon Bridges, The Sidekicks, FUMC Big Band, Johnny Mack, Randy Rheinhardt, Stas Vanglevski, Rapidgrass Quintet, Roy Williams, and others.

Glenn McLaughlin.

About Drew Phelps

Bass player Drew Phelps grew up in North Texas — in Denton to be exact. Playing bass guitar while in junior high school, he was turned onto the music of the Allman Brothers and Freddie King. It wasn’t until he entered college that he turned to bass. During the 1980s, he hooked up with veteran modern jazz musicians like James Clay and Nuradeen Fameen. Awarded a scholarship to the School of Fine Arts at the Banff Centre in Canada, he went on to study with modern bass player Dave Holland. Along the way, Phelps has recorded with a variety of groups, playing a variety of musical styles — the Dixie Chicks, Dallas jazz pianist Dave Zoller, and fusionist and hard bopper Ronald Shannon Jackson. He released his debut album Round to It in 2000.

Quebe Sisters Band “Take the A Train” – 2010

For many years, Drew played bass for The Quebe Sisters Band, whose music was influenced by Americana, Progressive Western Swing, Jazz-influenced Swing, Country, Texas-Style Fiddling, and Western

Old fashioned Jazz jam session at Sweetwater tonight

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Tonight: Feb. 7 at 7-10 pm

Members of the Count Basie Orchestra will be joining Brad Leali and his quartet, plus the University of North Texas Jazz Showcase, featuring trumpet professor Rodney Booth for an impromptu, old-fashioned jam session on the patio at Sweetwater Grill and Tavern, 115 S. Elm St. (No cover for this event.)

Crawfish is back on the menu at Sweetwater!

“I don’t know how many musicians will show up,” said Leali. “Its impossible to be specific.”

Leali introduced members of the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra as family, during a sold-out performance Wednesday night at the Murchison Performance Hall. He played with the band for eight years. Leali cautioned the Jazz students in attendance that performing to one’s potential requires working in a professional band.

About the

  • Saturday, the CBO will play at Scat Man Lounge, 111 West 4th Suite 11 Ft Worth, TX, hosted by Saxophonist Shelley Carrol.
  • Director Scotty Barnhart and vocalist Carmen Bradford will be in attendance Sunday for the Grammy’s. The Count Basie Orchestra has received its 20th Grammy Nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album 2019 with “All About That Basie.”
  • Watch on Feb. 10, on CBS –

“In the history of Jazz music, there is only one bandleader that has the distinction of having his orchestra still performing sold out concerts all over the world, with members personally chosen by him, for over 30 years after his passing. Pianist and bandleader William James “Count” Basie was and still is an American institution that personifies the grandeur and excellence of Jazz. The Count Basie Orchestra, today directed by Scotty Barnhart, has won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once, won 18 Grammy Awards, performed for Kings, Queens, and other world Royalty, appeared in several movies, television shows, at every major jazz festival and major concert hall in the world. The latest honor is the critically acclaimed release in 2015 of A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!, the very first holiday album in the 84-year history of the orchestra. Released on Concord Music, it went to No. 1 on the Jazz charts and sold out on Amazon! Special guests include vocalists Johnny Mathis, Ledisi, our own Carmen Bradford, and pianist Ellis Marsalis.”

About Brad Leali

Professor of Jazz Saxophone Brad Leali’s “… solos are sparkling and Cannonball Adderley influenced” (Evening Standard, London). “Saxophonist Brad Leali was among the most soulful and exciting I’ve heard recently” (New York Times). With a unique style and sound, which echoes the influences of his past, Brad Leali is one of the most notable saxophonists of current times. A native of Denver, Colorado, Brad was raised in the Baptist Church. In addition to gospel music, he spent countless hours listening to the music his parents played (Coltrane, Cannonball, Bird, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and Nancy Wilson). It’s no wonder that at a very young age, he was able to combine gospel, jazz, and R&B into his playing.

About Rodney Booth

Rodney Booth has been an active professional musician for over 30 years. A native of El Paso, Texas, he began his professional career at age sixteen as a trumpet player in his father’s bands. He received his degree in Jazz Studies at the University of North Texas and was a student of Don “Jake” Jacoby. Rodney was a member of the renowned One O’Clock Lab Band.

Rodney Booth has been an active professional musician for more than 30 years. A native of El Paso, Texas, he began his professional career at age sixteen as a trumpet player in his father’s bands. He received his degree in Jazz Studies at the University of North Texas and was a student of Don “Jake” Jacoby. Rodney was a member of the renowned One O’Clock Lab Band.

UNT Counts on Basie for great Jazz performance

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, directed by Scotty Barnhart, will bring some of the best musicians in the world to perform the Count’s great Jazz music, this Wednesday, February 6, 2019, to University of North Texas’ Murchison Performing Arts Center, from 7:30 to 9 pm.

A former member of the CBO, University of North Texas Saxophone Professor Brad Leali was instrumental in bringing the Grammy-award winning orchestra to UNT. He will be leading a (free) jam session with members of the CBO, and the UNT Jazz Showcase (featuring Rodney Booth), Thursday at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm St., starting at 7 pm.

“It’s impossible to be specific on how many members of the band will be there,” said Leali, who played with the Basie orchestra for eight years.

This group is considered to be one of the most explosive forces in jazz, emerging out of the swing era and lasting still today. The performance is open to UNT community with Ticket Prices: FREE for UNT Students, $5 Student Guest, $10 for UNT Staff/Faculty/Alumni, $20 for General Public.

For more information, call: (940) 565-3815


Can’t wait to get this recording!


Illustration by Jesse Rimler

Last August, I did handsprings (a figure of speech) about the debut CD of Jacob Zimmerman and his Pals, MORE OF THAT; you can read my joyous words here.  The CD impressed me so that I did something — in complete seriousness — that I’ve never done in ten years of blogging, that is, I told readers that if they bought the CD and disliked it, I would buy it back from them and give them their money back.  I was and remain so convinced, and no one has contacted the JAZZ LIVES Customer Service Department.

For this intimate swing session — TV on the radio, perhaps? — Jacob plays alto and clarinet, aided immeasurably by: Matt Weiner, string bass; Josh Roberts, guitar; Ray Skjelbred, piano; D’Vonne Lewis, drums; Cole Schuster, guitar; Christian Pincock, trombone and valve-trombone.

To quote the Blessed Eddie Condon, “Too good…

View original post 173 more words

City needs your input on mews streets

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Have you heard of the Mews Streets Improvements Project? It will make the second ring of streets outside the square (Walnut, Austin, Pecan, Cedar) more walkable, livable, and accessible. Denton needs your input into this area’s design and function.

Use this link to participate in a short online survey:

The City of Denton – Bike/Walk Denton is offering this survey on its Facebook page. Opening a dialogue in the manner is daunting, but those of us who helped with events on Walnut Street a few years back can give their practical perspective.

City of Denton plans to make the second ring of streets outside the square (Walnut, Austin, Pecan, Cedar) more walkable, livable, and accessible.

* Fun fact: The mews streets got their name from the British definition for a row of stables usually with carriage houses below and living quarters above that were built along a paved street, yard, or court. It was a 17th-century version of mixed-use development!

2014 Oktoberfest on Walnut at sunset.

One comment on Facebook summed up the many challenges experienced during previous events: Keep in mind how this will negatively affect businesses on those streets. Construction time and lack of access in multiple directions could shutter some businesses. If access to dumpsters is an issue, downtown Denton should remove all dumpsters on those streets and have designated areas for trash. All the dumpsters look and smell terrible to begin with and are an eyesore. Downtown McKinney doesn’t have any dumpsters on the main or side streets and all the merchants have adapted.

This blog editor’s opinion sides with the improvements. Downtown will have opportunities to host more live performances and events. Furthermore, pedestrians will have places to sit, converse and enjoy possibly more green space.

Count Basie Orchestra Comes to Denton

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

University of North Texas College of Music Fine Arts Series:
Count Basie Orchestra –
Wednesday, February 6, 2019 7:30 pm
Murchison Performing Arts Center, Winspear Performance Hall
*For tickets to the concert visit or call 940-369-7802.

William “Count Basie” (1904-1984) started his orchestra in Kansas City in 1935 and proceeded to develop and maintain one of the greatest jazz orchestras in music history. With Mr. Basie’s meticulous attention to detail, selecting the very best musicians, and making sure that every tune could be danced to, The Count Basie Orchestra soon became the favorite for everyone to listen and dance to with it’s irresistible Kansas City Swing beat.

Count Basie was able to get many of the greatest instrumentalists and vocalists in jazz to be a part of his orchestra, including Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Sweets Edison, Joe Jones, Joe Williams, Snooky Young, Frank Foster, Thad Jones, Frank Wess, and Clark Terry amongst others.

The orchestra has played many times for Kings, Queens, and other members of Royalty around the world. Appeared in movies, television shows, tv and radio commercials won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once and has 18 Grammy Awards, the most for any orchestra.

Today, under the leadership of its Director, Scotty Barnhart, The Count Basie Orchestra is traveling the world celebrating its 84th Anniversary and continuing the excellent standards in swinging and shouting the blues with precision, and continuing to be “The Most Explosive Force In Jazz”.

From The Count Basie Orchestra website

Brad Leali
Brad Leali, Professor of Saxophone.

Spoiler Alert!
Karen Meredith with Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm St., tipped off this writer that Brad Leali, who played with the Count Basie Orchestra for many years previous to his Professorship at UNT, will jam with some of his former bandmates at Sweetwater, Thursday, Feb. 7 from 7-9 pm. No cover.

Tonight: Hernandez’s Holiday Hangout

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Thursday, December 27 (tonight), join the live-music throng at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm Street from 7 to 9 this evening for the 2018 edition of the Hernandez Holiday Hangout.

“Relax and enjoy the living room vibe for our DFW/D families who are not traveling


Bubba and Ricky Hernandez at Casbeers.

and sticking around town. Hernandez originals as well as R&B Rockish chestnuts or whatever comes to mind (“beauty marks” and all) in a round-robin, you-call-it, sink-or-swim format.

This laid-back event co-stars Bubba and Ricky Hernandez, with Robert Bacigalupe, Alan “Big Al” Emert and maybe a few surprise-guest performers … and that could mean you!

So please, come hangout! Dance, sing, be merry and happy!”


The 2015 Holiday Hangout.

About Bubba

Combining delectable, danceable compositions, provocative vocals, and hip motivating grooves, Cenobio Xavier “Bubba” Hernandez III boldly defined his sound as a 20-½-year member of the two-time Grammy Award-winning polka rock band, Brave Combo. Today, he continues creating fresh, alternative-world music.


Bubba’s Latest Release.

His first solo disc, Grammy-nominated Polka Freak Out featuring accordionist Alex Meixner, rocked Germanic, Polish, Serbian and other eastern European polka styles with Tex-Mex. His second album, Dancing En Fuego, had Hernandez combining old school funk and effortlessly bending genres like middle-eastern, lounge and traditional Latin styles such as cumbia, salsa, conjunto, mariachi, and banda with rocking guitars, funky drumming and pumping bass.

Hernandez has stretched his considerable talents to embrace both his past and the future. A fourth-generation musician, he allows himself to indulge his Mexican heritage while at the same time building a cultural bridge.BubbaDentonJazzFest

“My grandfather, Cenobio I, came to Texas from Mexico to play in the orchestra pit for the silent movies in the early 1920s. With over 100 compositions to his credit, we were fortunately surprised when his piece “Recuerdos” was placed in the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer as well as in the Oscar-winning documentary, The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years after the music had been mostly dormant for 50 years.”

Considering such a pedigree, it comes as little surprise that Bubba’s own credentials include 30 ongoing years of touring nationally and internationally, appearances in True Stories, The Simpsons, and Late Bloomers. His compositions are featured in radio, television and film including such movies as Day Break, Bullet, Quick, Fools Rush In, Tortilla Heaven, The Ballad of Ezequiel Hernandez, and The Lord of Illusions. Hernandez’s productions also include a children’s album All Day Fun with Miss Polly (Maynard). His future projects include collaboration with percussionist/engineer John Bush of Eddie Brickell and New Bohemians.

Bubba travels and performs with Robert Hokamp and Jimi Tunnell on guitars and rounded out by regional players wherever they go.