CAMPBELL, SWENEY, AND GLAZER PLAY JAZZ DEPOT BENEFIT DECEMBER 7
Back in August, when singers Pam Van Dyke and Annie Ellicott spearheaded their big Jazz Depot fundraiser with a concert full of top Tulsa-area acts, vocalists Jim Sweney and Chris Campbell and pianist-vocalist Jon Glazer were all booked elsewhere.
So they've decided to do their own benefit show this Sunday, with all proceeds going to the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
"Working with Jon Glazer is always a pleasure, and we're grateful for the support that we receive from all our musicians," says Jason McIntosh, Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame CEO. "We work hard every day to foster creativity and build the type of institution where musicians come first."
"We were trying the other day to count how many times we've played for the Jazz Hall," says Glazer. "We were playing there before they left the Greenwood Cultural Center [in 2007], and we usually do one show a year, so I'm thinking we've done at least seven or eight shows."
This one, he says, will be a little bit different.
"The last few times, we've had a rhythm section, but for this one, we're just doing it with the three of us. There won't be any electronic keyboards, either. I'm going to play the grand [piano] all night.
"We're doing a Ray Charles medley, which we've never done before. The only one we've got in it that's a big standard of his is `What'd I Say.' Everything else is real obscure to most people, like his version of `You Are My Sunshine' and a tune Chris found called `Greenbacks,' which is a big-band swing number and a novelty tune. And we've got a Christmas number in there I'm not going to name, but it's Ray's version and it's very soulful."
"Soul," in fact, has been a big part of the Campbell, Sweney, and Glazer style from the beginning. By the time the trio got together, in January of 2004, Sweney and Campbell had been performing for decades, earning reputations as two of the best blue-eyed-soul singers around. Glazer, who'd recently returned to his hometown of Tulsa after a stretch as the keyboardist in Wynonna Judd's road band, began his association with the two in the Sweney-Campbell band, a six-man outfit that included guitarist Steve Hickerson, drummer Robbie Armstrong, and the late bassist Jim Strader.
Sweney, Glazer, and Campbell put the trio together a year or so later. It was a move that seemed both logical and obvious.
"We loved working together, and we thought, `You know, it'll be easier to book a three-piece than a six-piece,'" explains Glazer. "We played smaller venues like Uncle Bentley's, which is now Pickles, over on 51st and Sheridan. But where we really started to get some traction was at the Chalkboard. That's where we found our niche, which was playing nicer restaurants. With just one instrument and three vocalists, we could keep the volume low and still do what we felt was quality music.
"The main thing we wanted to do," he adds, "was emphasize harmonies. So we resurrected things that all of us loved. We all loved the Beatles and their harmonies, and we all loved early R&B - Jim and Chris could sing that stuff so well. I think the thing that's always energized us was being able to rearrange classics in a way that we were doing something different with them. There aren't any other so-called harmony bands around town, bands that really focus on harmonies and play to that strength. But that's our calling card."
Sunday's show, says Glazer, will feature some other songs the three haven't performed in public before, including a few pop standards.
"Jim's pulling out `That's Life,' the Sinatra tune from the '60s," he notes. "And I'm going to be doing a real sweet Nat King Cole tune called `The Frim-Fram Sauce.' When we play at the Jazz Hall, we tend to go for what we jokingly call `extravaganzas.' We've done the back side of Abbey Road, and we've done Billy Joel's `Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,' which is a seven- or eight-minute piece with a lot of different movements. The funny thing is that we've done both of those too many times there, so this time around we'll be doing some different stuff."
The Campbell, Sweney, and Glazer benefit concert is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, December 7, 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.jazzhalltickets.com, or by calling 918-928-JAZZ. 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 the first entry in the Jazz Hall's 2014-2015 Winter Concert Series.