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Jazz On Edge Volume 1

At the inaugural edition of Jazz On Edge, the Claire Courchene project played their first live gig together, and the Eastside Combo appeared having not played their own music onstage in three years. 2008 was also the premiere Orlando appearance of New York trumpeter Brian Groder, having just been proclaimed as a Downbeat "Top Ten for 2007" for his CD Torque with Orlando's own Sam Rivers and Trio.


Equally fluent on trumpet and flugelhorn, Brian Groder draws on the entire jazz tradition, as well as world music influences, to create compositions critics have called "Music not only for today, but also for tomorrow." Brian played with Grammy-nominated bassist Doug Mathews and drummer Dru Betts


The whole purpose of Jazz On Edge is right here, in the Eastside Combo. Gigging for parties and weddings is a way to make a living as a musician ... playing your own music, full out, is the way to stay alive. This young combo takes straight-ahead jazz and turns it on its ear. Eastside Combo is Kevin Stever (bass), Derrick Harvin (piano), Fred Green (trumpet) and Willie Rast (drums) 


A jazz double-threat on two unlikely instruments (trombone and cello), Claire Courchene has been playing since she was two, and has shared a stage with players as diverse as Christian McBride and Wayne Bergeron to Kanye West and Burt Bacharach. Joining Claire onstage was Chris Davis (keys/synth), John Krasula (guitar), Greg Jungbluth (bass) and Mike Schialabba (drums).


  • Trumpeter Brian Groder is a New Yorker, but there's plenty of Central Florida at the heart of his latest jazz disc, Torque.

    Groder, who performs Saturday at the "Jazz on Edge" series at Taste in College Park, teamed for the 2005 album with jazz icon Sam Rivers, bassist Doug Mathews and drummer Anthony Cole. The result was 14 challenging, freewheeling tracks recorded at Mathews' home studio in Orlando. If that weren't enough, the concept was hatched during Groder 's 1998 residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach. That's a mighty long gestation period. "Yeah, I've been working with that same stuff since 1998, been fooling with that stuff on the piano," Groder says by phone from his New York home. "It took a little bit, but, hey, I'm a Capricorn. I take the glacial approach, and I just tinker away."
    In the meantime, Groder befriended Mathews, sitting in with Rivers' Rivbea Orchestra when it was still stationed at the now-defunct Will's Pub. Groder will team with Mathews and drummer Dru Betts on Saturday, with Orlando's Eastside Combo and cellist Claire Courchene as openers. "I just hit it off with Doug and then spoke to Sam," Groder says. "He told me, 'If you ever wanna do anything, give me a call.' " In the best glacial spirit, Groder waited about a month before taking him up on the offer and "after a bit, it just came together."
    Writing credits are diverse on Torque, involving different combinations of the core studio band. Most of the songs were improvisations captured spontaneously, Groder says. "I do enjoy playing with a wide range of instrumentalists and vocalists, where you can listen closely, get inside their heads and get a feel for their parameters for improvisation."
    Although the music is strictly instrumental, Groder says that much of his inspiration comes from reading, particularly the sci-fi genre. "I probably read way too much,' says Groder , who inherited his interest in sci-fi and reincarnation from his father. "I write notes in the margins of books and circle things, transcribe certain sentences and keep them in a folder with scraps of musical ideas. "I've written a few compositions based on a title or a concept I was reading about,' he says. "A great writer has a flow. With Fitzgerald and Tender is the Night, that's a ballad, a love song. Jack Kerouac's On the Road? Groder hears be-bop. "You see those shared characteristics in architecture and all the arts," he says. "I love going to museums, but the last thing I'll look at is the title. Sometimes, I don't even want to know. "You look at a great piece of art, and it has a harmonic structure or rhythm. They all tell a story and that's what holds our interest."
    Groder 's next project is already under way, with plans for release in 2009. Another glacial evolution. "You may think you know how long it takes," Groder says, "but it takes a lot longer."

freelance writer

As a writer on assignment, I've traveled to Italy, Scotland, England, New Orleans, California and New York City, with a specialty on all things Orlando. Whether it's a story about Arts & Crafts houses in Florida or new styles in computers, a Mounted Police squad or alien abduction insurance, I've written it. Environmental issues, music, movie and theater reviews and in-depth conversations with legends in jazz. Interviews and personality profiles are my specialty.


My plays take place on buses and in bars, in hotel rooms and government offices, farmhouse kitchens and jazz stages. 56 productions and readings of my plays from coast to coast and in three countries since 2001; creator of House Theater Project and the year-long 13in13 series of shows.

food writer

Florida Magazine Association Award winning food writer and Orlando restaurant critic. James Beard Foundation judge, knowledgable champion of world cuisine and avid advocate of undiscovered chefs. I can write about the front of the house of a restaurant as well as the kitchen with equal expertise. Founding member, goFLA/SunshinePlate Central Florida.

jazz producer

Producer of the Jazz On Edge series, spotlighting new and original jazz from Central Florida since 2008, showcasing the best that Central Florida has to offer in jazz to appreciative audiences, giving creative hometown and nationally-known musicians a place to perform their own music, without boundaries, in person and online. Chair of Alternative Programming, Timucua Arts Foundation.