pianoforte

Mon August 31st – Kim Cusak and Paul Asaro

Kim Cusack playing

When popular music made sweeping changes in the 1950s, Kim Cusack decided there probably wasn’t much future in playing the music that he and his fellow high school musicians turned out in the dance band they had. Highly impressed by the work of the Salty Dogs Jazz Band, at the time a band made up primarily of Purdue University students, Kim decided this was the kind of music he wanted to play. And not too many years later, he found himself playing clarinet in this very band. And after over fifty years he’s still this venerable band’s clarinetist.

Being from Chicago, Kim had the opportunity of playing with some notable elder statesmen of jazz such as trombonists Albert Wynn, Floyd O’Brien, and Georg Brunis, trumpet player Bob Schnoffer, cornetist Wild Bill Davison, and pianists Art Hodes, Art Gronwall, and Eurreal “Little Brother” Montgomery. Kim spent a summer working a steady 5-night a week job in a trio led by Little Brother.
Kim has worked and recorded with a number of other bands such as various groups under the leadership of the late marvelous cornetist Ernie Carson; Gene Mayl’s Dixieland Rhythm Kings, with whom Kim spent eight grueling weeks in Alaska; the Ted Butterman / Bob Sundstrom Gold Coast Jazz Band, which toured with Phyllis Diller; and James Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band – awesome!

Having left the Chicago area, Kim no longer plays with these bands on a regular basis: Red Rose Ragtime Jazz Band,, Petra’s Recession Seven, and the Chicago Cubs Dixieland Band, of which he was a charter member.

Currently he can be heard most often at various festivals around the country with Bob Schulz’ Frisco Jazz Band and Ray Skjelbred’s Cubs.

Tues September 1st – Bethany and Willie Pickens

WilliePickensNeighborhoodNights

Willie Pickens is one of Chicago’s most in-demand jazz pianists. A former faculty member of the American Conservatory of Music, Mr. Pickens has performed with a wide variety of internationally recognized jazz artists. Among those with whom he has toured and/or recorded are Elvin Jones, Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Eddie Harris, Wynton Marsalis, Quincy Jones, Louis Bellson, Bunky Green and Red Holloway.

Wed September 2nd – Rob Clearfield

Rob Clearfield

“His unhurried tempos and deliberate right-hand lines stood in sharp contrast to the work of many other under-30 jazz musicians who confuse speed with excitement and noise with drama. Clearfield, on the other hand, allows his music to speak straightforwardly and in its own time.”

-Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune


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