Savannah has a long history of producing (or at the very least harboring) some truly noteworthy jazz artists. It would seem that Laura Lalo Friedman is on her way to joining that club.
The Savannah native was turned on to the vibraphone in high school, and upon graduation, enrolled at the Berklee School of Music graduating Summa Cum Laude.
Flush with that recognition, she relocated to New York City (one of the hubs of the professional jazz world), and since then, has made a modest name for herself as one of the more adventurous and fresh vibes players on the international scene. Shes gigged with famed percussionist Cyro Baptista (Sting, Cassandra Wilson), been featured on NPRs Weekend Edition, and was dubbed the Vibe Queen by The Village Voice.
Then, acclaimed magazine Jazziz named her one of the 20 Fine Vibists in the world, and she racked up hard-won endorsements from both mallet and instrument manufacturers.
As a player, she is steeped in tradition, but unafraid to steer her craft into uncharted territory. Shes experimented with electrifying her vibes, and treating them with various electronic effects, which finds her achieving a sound closer to that favored by such prog-rock mainstays as King Crimson and Gentle Giant than the more straight-up approach of someone like the late Milt Jackson.
When she returns home, its usually for a solo recital. In the past, shes packed this coffeehouse to the gills with friends, family, and plain old fans who all walk away shaking their heads in disbelief at the dexterity and speed she displays on such a notoriously tricky instrument.
A few hours before this show (at 4 pm), shell be interviewed and play live on SCADs increasingly popular internet radio station (www.SCADRadio.org or downtown at 1520AM). Sun., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean - ALL AGES.
The Vulgar Bulgars
Hank Weisman runs The Savannah Folk Music Society, where he books a variety of eclectic, roots music acts through town on a regular basis. As a result, hes often contacted by artists on tour in search of a fill-in show.
Such is the case with this interesting synagogue show by a folk combo.
Weisman says that once he learned of The Vulgar Bulgars open date he contacted Rabbi Arnold Belzer, and in short order the two had cooked up a gig for the group and cooked up some ethnic delicacies for the audience as well.
Billed as an evening of good food for the stomach and the soul, the event begins with an old-fashioned New York deli dinner (corned beef, pastrami and tongue with all the trimmings), and is capped by a live show from a festive group known as Virginias premiere exponents of Klezmer.
Their repertoire includes classic tunes and time-honored melodies, as well as contemporary, Klezmer-influenced originals. For those unfamiliar with this lighthearted style of acoustic dance music, it draws liberally from both Israeli and European folk, as well as from American blues and jazz, and traditional Balkan melodies. Its an infectious, exhilarating blast of sacred hymns and hopped-up party music often with Hebrew lyrics.
If youve never had the pleasure of attending a Klezmer concert, you dont know what youre missing, and nows as good a time as any to introduce yourself to this most unusual genre.
The show itself is $10, but if youd like to partake of the food as well, its an extra $8. Reservations for dinner are due by Wednesday the 23rd, so hurry! Call Lauree at (912) 233-1547. Sat., 8:15 pm (dinner served at 7 pm), Temple Mickve Israel - ALL AGES.
Tony Williamson & Jeff Autry
This time around, luthier and promoter Randy Wood welcomes back Williamson (commonly regarded as one of the finest mandolinists alive today), and Autry (considered one of the top 5 flatpicking guitarists in America). Both are known for their stunning agility, timing and taste.
Tony was last in town to take part in Woods annual two-night Low Country Bluegrass Jam Session, which was easily one of the most enjoyable live music experiences Ive ever had in Savannah. I cant offer Randys venue or his choices in booking anything less than my highest recommendations. While most of his shows sell out in advance, that has less to do with widespread knowledge of his efforts than the size of his room, and the great word of mouth his efforts command.
This place is still the best-kept secret in the area despite my repeated attempts to preach the word. Do yourself a favor, and try this show on for size. Its a cozy venue without smoking or alcohol, where everyone shuts up and lets the music take center stage. Theres even a killer BBQ joint next door, so what more could you want? Charge $15 tickets at (912) 748-1930. Sat., 7:30 pm, Randy Woods Concert Hall (Bloomingdale) - ALL AGES.