Mar 06, 2015 - J3 BAND BRINGS JAZZ AND BLUES TO THE JAZZ DEPOT STAGE SUNDAY
“It got started when we were doing a jazzy-type show for Copeland's, the restaurant out here [in Tulsa] for three or four years,” explains guitarist-vocalist Rick Gill. “We played there from the Sunday it opened until the Sunday it closed. We were a three-piece jazz group, made up of the piano player, the bass player, and myself, so I just called it J3.
“We traveled around a little bit, did some different things in some different places, and the name kind of stuck – even though, sometimes, it's more like J6.”
That'll be the case on Sunday, when Gill plans to have a drummer, saxophonist, and – he hopes – an organist on the gig with the J3 trio. The organist is Dan Dennehy, owner of the Hammond B-3 that's been set up at the Jazz Depotfor a while.
“I've always wanted to be on stage with a real Hammond B-3 player – playing a real Hammond B-3,” says Gill. “Since that's his Hammond there at the Jazz Hall, I don't think it'll be too much trouble. We'll just get it up on stage and chain him to it.”
It helps, he adds, that Dennehy and J3 pianist Jack Wolfe – whom Gill calls “one of the finest piano players I've ever known” – have performed together.
“They know one another and they swap off. One'll start on the piano and then go to the organ, and the guy playing organ will go over to the piano.”
In addition to Wolfe and Gill, the core J3 band includes bassist Doug McDuffie.
“He's my partner in crime; we've been together for 15-16 years,” says Gill of McDuffie. “Just about any configuration I dream up, he's part of. He never drops a beat. When he sets something, you could start a metronome, come back an hour later, and he'd still be in click with that metronome. Every drummer I've ever had – and believe me, I've had a bunch – say that he's the easiest guy to play with they've ever seen.”
Scott Mariner, another of Gill's longtime musical cohorts, is set to be on drums Sunday. “The amazing thing I found out about Scott recently is that he can hang with those jazz guys at the Jazz Hall jam sessions,” Gill says. “He's played [blues] with [Scott] Ellison, with [Steve] Pryor, and he can play jazz just like he plays blues. I've just really come to appreciate what he can do with the drums.”
Gill, an Illinois native, came to Tulsa by way of Ohio some 25 years ago. Although he'd started playing while he was still in grade school, he became, he says, “kind of dormant for a long time” after taking up residence in Oklahoma.
“Then, I got talked into this country deal about '94,” he recalls. “It was called Raintree County, and it lasted about 14 months. It grew from a five-piece band, which I thought was workable, to a 12-piece band, which wasn't. It was one of those cases where high ideals, plans, and aspirations met with reality.”
With the dissolution of that band came another stretch of musical inactivity for Gill, by his choice.
Then, “a friend of mine I was working with started telling me about a blues jam in a little town north of Bartlesville – Dewey, Oklahoma. I kept saying I wasn't interested, but after about three weeks he asked if I could give him a ride up there.”
After repeated requests, Gill finally agreed. And then, as he remembers it, his friend said, “Well, why don't you just throw your stuff in the car while you're at it?”
“To make a long story short,” says Gill, “that was the beginning of me getting back into music.”
He's played a ton of blues since then, but at Sunday's show, he notes, “We're talking about standards. We're talking about throwing in a Miles Davis tune. And we always get requests to do `Georgia'; Jack and I have worked out a nice arrangement. Rob Harper, my sax player, gets out and plays that thing, and he's so smooth and so tender that it makes you weak in the knees.”
“Rick is such an important part of our weekly jam sessions,” says Jason McIntosh, Oklahoma Jazz Hall of FameCEO. “He’s a great friend to the Jazz Hall, so it’s great to see him take the Jazz Depot stage.”
The J3 Bandis set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, March 8, 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 a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2015 Spring Concert Series.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameis 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 the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.