Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jazz and improvised music simplified

Jim Rea

Jim Rea is known mainly for bluegrass and other forms of roots music. He's not foremost a jazz musician, but he functioned as one on Friday night at Patton Alley Pub.

At "Jimmy Rea’s Springfield Real Book Release Party," he debuted the second edition of his compilation of tunes written by local musicians. He assembled a core band to play some of the 42 songs in the book, and many other musicians sat in. 

It was wonderful to see how readily the musicians responded to the book.

Rea's most important role for the evening was emcee/coordinator. However, by the end of the night, the musicians took over the event with an hourlong blast to the finish of groove-based jams. With this set-up and follow-through, the evening wildly exceeded expectations.

It was amazing to see dancers crowding the tight area in front of the stage, responding to top-shelf jazz tenor players Brandon Mezzelo and Grant Maledy as they roared away.

In hindsight, the evening was a simple idea, and it worked beautifully. Cheers to Jim Rea for having a vision and taking a chance.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ozarks wines pair with elite pork fare

Lots of empties — a good sign

Missouri Pork Producers' annual Taste of Elegance last night, in which top chefs knock themselves out creating extreme pork dishes while Ozarks Food Harvest extends appreciation for its volunteers and donors, also featured wines from southwest Missouri.

Folks from OOVVDA and Whispering Oaks poured their wine, as well as wines from Lindwedel. Great pairings:

Whispering Oaks semi-sweet Vidal (fruit and moderate tang) with seared rack of pork, duo of sweet and Peruvian pomme purée, root beer fig demi, lardoon braised Brussels sprouts and bacon fat foam — Chef samuel Cousins, Fire and Ice

Lindwedel Norton (smooth with understated spice) with Big Easy Creole spiced pork chops with Andouille sausage bread pudding, crispy kale and Merlot and dried cherry reduction — Chef Christopher Freeman, Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks

OOVVDA Chambourcin (giant berry flavor) with Polish pork rouladen with rotkol and potato latkes with bacon — Chef Cory Jefferson, Cook's Kettle

Of course, toward the end of a sampling of 10 dishes, almost any wine pairs really well …