Cuyahoga Community College has decided to have a Summer music fest on one of the malls in downtown Cleveland, one of the rare areas that doesn't look like a total embarrassment. Fortunately it's right around the corner from where I work so I was able to go over yesterday and catch the opening act of the whole festival, which was Dead Cat Bounce. I've wanted to see Charlie Kohlhase for quite a while so this was an excellent opportunity. Unfortunately he only plays baritone sax in this setting, although with that caveat aside he was quite good. The group itself was ok but nothing special: Four horn guys and an anonymous rhythm section. They were fine for what they were; the good news was that the sound was outstanding. Unfortunately there weren't many people in attendance at the time but I heard that it picked up for Stanley Clarke and Medeski/Scofield/Martin & Wood; I would've like to have seen the last group but there was no way I was coming back downtown.
Fortunately I ran into a buddy that told me that Lisa Parrott's trio was made up of Chris Lightcap and Gerald Cleaver, so I scurried down there this afternoon for that. I hope some of our Australian posters chime in with some insight because I was *extremely* impressed with the alto sound of Ms. Parrott. She has the sound of Paul Desmond but is very influenced by Ornette as far as playing style, which made for an interesting afternoon of originals (including the opening tune based on an Australian folk song which I can't remember, dammit, but it sounded very familiar) and at least one song by Carlos Ward. I'd seen Lightcap at the Vision Fest before with Whit Dickey's group so I knew what to expect but this was the first time seeing Cleaver, who in the Ornette-influenced songs avoided sounding like Higgins or Blackwell (a trap which a lot of other drummers don't avoid) but instead put his own personal stamp on them. A very enjoyable set that ended up drawing a decent sized crowd for a Saturday afternoon in a festival that is just starting up.