Music News & Reviews

Marion Meadows' smooth-jazz style reflects his music education

Smooth-jazz artist Marion Meadows has been influenced by classical, pop and R&B.
Smooth-jazz artist Marion Meadows has been influenced by classical, pop and R&B.

Marion Meadows

6 p.m. Aug. 7 at Spindletop Hall, 3414 Iron Works Pike. $45, $60. (859) 255-2653.

Listen to the music of smooth-jazz saxophonist Marion Meadows and you can't help but be taken by a sound that is instantly accessible. There is the efficient lyricism of his recordings, as in his 2009 album, Secrets. There are the broad, poppish strides of his playing, as in the way his sax melodies color Jesse McGuire's trumpet work on one of Secrets' standout tracks, Let the Top Down. Most of all, there is the generally sunny disposition of an ensemble sound that is generously influenced by pop, soul and contemporary R&B.

But make no mistake. The sleek outlines of Meadows' playing reflect a serious jazz upbringing. A West Virginia native who grew up in Stamford, Conn., Meadows began classical studies at age 8 and eventually moved on to the prestigious Berklee School of Music.

There also were studies with several profound reed players, including Joe Henderson, Dave Liebman and Eddie Daniels. After working with one of the prime soul/jazz bandleaders of recent decades, Norman Connors, Meadows was discovered while playing sax in Grand Central Station by producer/composer Jay Chattaway. He, in turn, introduced Meadows to famed jazz keyboardist and producer Bob James.

So the music pouring smoothly from Secrets belongs to one name, but it bears the teachings and inspiration of many others. This weekend, Meadows showcases that learned sound when the African American Forum presents its latest smooth jazz concert at a new home, Spindletop Hall.

Dinner begins at 6 p.m. The performance starts at 8.

By the Dozen

Striking up another chorus of summer fun this weekend will be a return visit by Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The long-running New Orleans ensemble, which blends Crescent City brass band tradition with strong elements of jazz, funk and roots-driven R&B, is back in town Friday night for a performance at Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Avenue. The band has collaborated over the years with the likes of Elvis Costello, Dr. John, Norah Jones, Modest Mouse, Bettye LaVette and, for several collaborative albums and tours, Widespread Panic, but this year, the Dirty Dozen is celebrating its own personal history. It is honoring the 25th anniversary of its debut album, My Feet Can't Fail Me Now (8 p.m., $20). Call (859) 309-9499.

Big Appetites

Few arena-rock bands of the past quarter century were more revered than Gun N' Roses during its commercial heyday. Carrying the beat during those glory years — from 1985 to 1990, when Appetite for Destruction established the band as an international sensation — was drummer Steven Adler. He will be town Sunday for two very different appearances. At 6 p.m., he will be at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in The Mall at Lexington Green to sign copies of his new memoir, My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, Drugs and Guns N' Roses. The book recounts mammoth rock-star excesses and the aftermath of addictions that came after being fired from GNR in 1990. Then Adler will journey to Cosmic Charlie's to perform with his band, Adler's Appetite (8 p.m., $12).

Frampton comes inside

In recent years, Peter Frampton has limited his Louisville visits to outdoor performances to the Kentucky State Fair. This weekend, though, the veteran pop stylist — with a career that has taken him from rock-star status with the great Humble Pie and then with his own mid-'70s recordings to a profile as a Grammy-winning instrumentalist for his Fingerprints album — goes indoors Friday night at the Brown Theatre, 315 West Broadway in Louisville. Frampton, who has called Cincinnati home for more than a decade, is touring behind a new album, Thank You Mr. Churchill. It's a semi-autobiographical work that culminates with another outstanding guitar instrumental medley titled Suite Liberte. (8 p.m.; $38, $60). Call (502) 584-7777.