Jan 26, 2014 - Campbell, Sweney & Glazer Combine with Jon Glazer Trio for Encore Jazz Depot Performance
A dozen years ago, following a stint as Wynonna Judd’s keyboard player that took him all over the country and into the studios of network television shows, Jon Glazer returned home to Tulsa, where he began exploring anew the local music scene. Among the people he found were vocalists Jim Sweney and Chris Campbell, two of the best-known exponents of what has come to be known as the classic Tulsa Sound. Since the ‘70s, Sweney had been performing and recording as a solo act and with a dizzying variety of groups (including such well-remembered aggregations as Tulsa County and the Cream Cheese & Jive Band), while Campbell had led one of the city’s legendary rock ‘n’ roll acts, the Mystery Band.
It didn’t take long for these three veteran musicians to begin a collaboration.
“Jim and Chris had decided to put together a big band, and I got the call,” remembers Glazer. “It was me, and [the late bassist] Jimmy Strader, with Robbie Armstrong on drums. And to this day, it’s the best band I’ve ever played in – just a terrific band.”
Unfortunately, the changing face of live entertainment – and, particularly, club owners’ unwillingness to pay what it’s worth – kept the band from having the long run it deserved.
“It was just too hard to book a six-piece band in Tulsa,” Glazer explains. “We were all losing money. That’s why I left when I did, and that’s why they broke it up when they did. It was just the money.”
Glazer stayed about a year before leaving to take a regular gig at the Hard Rock Casino’s C-Note Lounge, where he had a five-year run. It took another year before Campbell and Sweney threw in the towel. But even while the Sweney-Campbell band was still extant, Glazer, Sweney, and Campbell found a way to continue their musical partnership.
“We liked being together so much that we decided to do a trio, a harmony trio, with me being the only instrumentalist,” says Glazer. “We started booking wherever we could, weeknight gigs. I don’t remember when we started doing shows at the Jazz Hall, but I know it was in the old location on Greenwood. And, typically, we’ve done about one a year there ever since.”
The most recent Campbell, Sweney & Glazer performance at the Jazz Depot was staged in November of 2012. And for that show, the Jazz Hall of Fame’s Jim Rhea got the idea of adding bassist Alan Ransom and drummer Chuck DeWalt, who play with Glazer in the Jon Glazer Trio.
It worked so well that the Depot’s doing it again this year, And while the group is also bringing back a few songs that received good buzz last time – including an absolutely otherworldly version of the Zombies’ `She’s Not There’ – the three vocalists have also added some brand-new material.
“There’s a young artist named Allen Stone who’s a tremendous R&B singer, and we’re doing a real uptempo number of his called `Sleep.’ Jim sings the hell out of it,” says Glazer. “We’ve got a Maroon 5 song called `Sunday Morning’ that Chris is going to sing, It’s not as harmony-based, but it has a wonderful groove that’s almost jazz, almost swing. It’ll feature our rhythm section, Chuck and Alan.”
Glazer, meanwhile, will be taking lead vocals on a new arrangement of “Here Comes the Sun,” which he and his wife first heard back in October as a part of the Cirque du Soliel Beatles show, Love, in Las Vegas.
“Both of us turned to each other and said, `That’s a perfect arrangement for Jim and Chris and me,’” recalls Glazer.
In addition to those tunes, he says, “We figured with it being less than a week after Martin Luther King Day, we’d do `A Change is Gonna Come.’ And we’ll have `Try A Little Tenderness’ and Ray Charles’ `I’ve Got A Woman.’”
Of course, Sweney, Campbell, and Glazer have been delighting area audiences with their versions of those songs for years. And it seems pretty likely they’ll be doing them for several more.
“We find musical and personal refuge in each other,” explains Glazer. “Jim and Chris are honest, deal, sweet guys who just want to make the best music they can. They’re kindred spirits, because that’s all I want to do, too. I want to be around good people and do the very best work I can do.”
The Campbell, Sweney & Glazer/Jon Glazer Trio show is set to begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, January 26, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, from www.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.
The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2013-14 Winter Concert Series.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.