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UNT Counts on Basie for great Jazz performance

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, directed by Scotty Barnhart, will bring some of the best musicians in the world to perform the Count’s great Jazz music, this Wednesday, February 6, 2019, to University of North Texas’ Murchison Performing Arts Center, from 7:30 to 9 pm.

A former member of the CBO, University of North Texas Saxophone Professor Brad Leali was instrumental in bringing the Grammy-award winning orchestra to UNT. He will be leading a (free) jam session with members of the CBO, and the UNT Jazz Showcase (featuring Rodney Booth), Thursday at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm St., starting at 7 pm.

“It’s impossible to be specific on how many members of the band will be there,” said Leali, who played with the Basie orchestra for eight years.

This group is considered to be one of the most explosive forces in jazz, emerging out of the swing era and lasting still today. The performance is open to UNT community with Ticket Prices: FREE for UNT Students, $5 Student Guest, $10 for UNT Staff/Faculty/Alumni, $20 for General Public.

For more information, call: (940) 565-3815


Can’t wait to get this recording!


Illustration by Jesse Rimler

Last August, I did handsprings (a figure of speech) about the debut CD of Jacob Zimmerman and his Pals, MORE OF THAT; you can read my joyous words here.  The CD impressed me so that I did something — in complete seriousness — that I’ve never done in ten years of blogging, that is, I told readers that if they bought the CD and disliked it, I would buy it back from them and give them their money back.  I was and remain so convinced, and no one has contacted the JAZZ LIVES Customer Service Department.

For this intimate swing session — TV on the radio, perhaps? — Jacob plays alto and clarinet, aided immeasurably by: Matt Weiner, string bass; Josh Roberts, guitar; Ray Skjelbred, piano; D’Vonne Lewis, drums; Cole Schuster, guitar; Christian Pincock, trombone and valve-trombone.

To quote the Blessed Eddie Condon, “Too good…

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City needs your input on mews streets

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Have you heard of the Mews Streets Improvements Project? It will make the second ring of streets outside the square (Walnut, Austin, Pecan, Cedar) more walkable, livable, and accessible. Denton needs your input into this area’s design and function.

Use this link to participate in a short online survey:

The City of Denton – Bike/Walk Denton is offering this survey on its Facebook page. Opening a dialogue in the manner is daunting, but those of us who helped with events on Walnut Street a few years back can give their practical perspective.

City of Denton plans to make the second ring of streets outside the square (Walnut, Austin, Pecan, Cedar) more walkable, livable, and accessible.

* Fun fact: The mews streets got their name from the British definition for a row of stables usually with carriage houses below and living quarters above that were built along a paved street, yard, or court. It was a 17th-century version of mixed-use development!

2014 Oktoberfest on Walnut at sunset.

One comment on Facebook summed up the many challenges experienced during previous events: Keep in mind how this will negatively affect businesses on those streets. Construction time and lack of access in multiple directions could shutter some businesses. If access to dumpsters is an issue, downtown Denton should remove all dumpsters on those streets and have designated areas for trash. All the dumpsters look and smell terrible to begin with and are an eyesore. Downtown McKinney doesn’t have any dumpsters on the main or side streets and all the merchants have adapted.

This blog editor’s opinion sides with the improvements. Downtown will have opportunities to host more live performances and events. Furthermore, pedestrians will have places to sit, converse and enjoy possibly more green space.

Count Basie Orchestra Comes to Denton

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

University of North Texas College of Music Fine Arts Series:
Count Basie Orchestra –
Wednesday, February 6, 2019 7:30 pm
Murchison Performing Arts Center, Winspear Performance Hall
*For tickets to the concert visit or call 940-369-7802.

William “Count Basie” (1904-1984) started his orchestra in Kansas City in 1935 and proceeded to develop and maintain one of the greatest jazz orchestras in music history. With Mr. Basie’s meticulous attention to detail, selecting the very best musicians, and making sure that every tune could be danced to, The Count Basie Orchestra soon became the favorite for everyone to listen and dance to with it’s irresistible Kansas City Swing beat.

Count Basie was able to get many of the greatest instrumentalists and vocalists in jazz to be a part of his orchestra, including Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Sweets Edison, Joe Jones, Joe Williams, Snooky Young, Frank Foster, Thad Jones, Frank Wess, and Clark Terry amongst others.

The orchestra has played many times for Kings, Queens, and other members of Royalty around the world. Appeared in movies, television shows, tv and radio commercials won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once and has 18 Grammy Awards, the most for any orchestra.

Today, under the leadership of its Director, Scotty Barnhart, The Count Basie Orchestra is traveling the world celebrating its 84th Anniversary and continuing the excellent standards in swinging and shouting the blues with precision, and continuing to be “The Most Explosive Force In Jazz”.

From The Count Basie Orchestra website

Brad Leali
Brad Leali, Professor of Saxophone.

Spoiler Alert!
Karen Meredith with Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm St., tipped off this writer that Brad Leali, who played with the Count Basie Orchestra for many years previous to his Professorship at UNT, will jam with some of his former bandmates at Sweetwater, Thursday, Feb. 7 from 7-9 pm. No cover.

Tonight: Hernandez’s Holiday Hangout

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Thursday, December 27 (tonight), join the live-music throng at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm Street from 7 to 9 this evening for the 2018 edition of the Hernandez Holiday Hangout.

“Relax and enjoy the living room vibe for our DFW/D families who are not traveling


Bubba and Ricky Hernandez at Casbeers.

and sticking around town. Hernandez originals as well as R&B Rockish chestnuts or whatever comes to mind (“beauty marks” and all) in a round-robin, you-call-it, sink-or-swim format.

This laid-back event co-stars Bubba and Ricky Hernandez, with Robert Bacigalupe, Alan “Big Al” Emert and maybe a few surprise-guest performers … and that could mean you!

So please, come hangout! Dance, sing, be merry and happy!”


The 2015 Holiday Hangout.

About Bubba

Combining delectable, danceable compositions, provocative vocals, and hip motivating grooves, Cenobio Xavier “Bubba” Hernandez III boldly defined his sound as a 20-½-year member of the two-time Grammy Award-winning polka rock band, Brave Combo. Today, he continues creating fresh, alternative-world music.


Bubba’s Latest Release.

His first solo disc, Grammy-nominated Polka Freak Out featuring accordionist Alex Meixner, rocked Germanic, Polish, Serbian and other eastern European polka styles with Tex-Mex. His second album, Dancing En Fuego, had Hernandez combining old school funk and effortlessly bending genres like middle-eastern, lounge and traditional Latin styles such as cumbia, salsa, conjunto, mariachi, and banda with rocking guitars, funky drumming and pumping bass.

Hernandez has stretched his considerable talents to embrace both his past and the future. A fourth-generation musician, he allows himself to indulge his Mexican heritage while at the same time building a cultural bridge.BubbaDentonJazzFest

“My grandfather, Cenobio I, came to Texas from Mexico to play in the orchestra pit for the silent movies in the early 1920s. With over 100 compositions to his credit, we were fortunately surprised when his piece “Recuerdos” was placed in the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer as well as in the Oscar-winning documentary, The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years after the music had been mostly dormant for 50 years.”

Considering such a pedigree, it comes as little surprise that Bubba’s own credentials include 30 ongoing years of touring nationally and internationally, appearances in True Stories, The Simpsons, and Late Bloomers. His compositions are featured in radio, television and film including such movies as Day Break, Bullet, Quick, Fools Rush In, Tortilla Heaven, The Ballad of Ezequiel Hernandez, and The Lord of Illusions. Hernandez’s productions also include a children’s album All Day Fun with Miss Polly (Maynard). His future projects include collaboration with percussionist/engineer John Bush of Eddie Brickell and New Bohemians.

Bubba travels and performs with Robert Hokamp and Jimi Tunnell on guitars and rounded out by regional players wherever they go.


Jazz and wine make it happen

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Wednesday, December 19:

Tonight: Mario Cruz at Sweetwater

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Please drop Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm St., 7 to 9 pm, for an evening of Holiday music … arranged from Mario’s  “nutty brain!” No cover, great food, great venue and great people!

(For more about Sweetwater, visit:

Joining Mario Cruz on sax will be Sergio Pamies – keys, Jeffry Eckels – bass, Matt Young – drums and Gale Cruz – vocals.

About Mario

As a student of the University of North Texas School of Music and member of the acclaimed “One O’Clock Lab Band,” Mario was introduced to a vast “think tank” of superb teachers and ensembles. He was also exposed to a great community of serious student musicians from all over the country and the world, and many have had continued music success in the professional music world. Mario used this opportunity to arrange and compose many jazz pieces that were performed and recorded by various ensembles.

While studying commercial arranging and studio production at the University of Miami, Mario had the good fortune to work many gigs with jazz great Jaco Pastorius, then the bassist for “Weather Report.” He subsequently went on the road and recorded with Jaco and the “Word of Mouth” Orchestra. Featuring an “all-star” band that included harmonica virtuoso “Toots” Thielemans, Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer and Peter Erskine, this experience proved to be an invaluable musical inspiration. However, it was joining up with the legendary rock-fusion group “Blood, Sweat and Tears” that paved the way for Mario to make his move to the New York music scene. Several years of paying “dues” opened other professional doors such as world tours with Bruce Springsteen, Joe Cocker, Dave Edmunds, Natalie Cole and blues artist Willy DeVille. This experience set the ground work for an extensive resume of TV, jingle and motion picture studio work as a player. In addition, Mario has written and arranged many compositions that have been used in TV shows, commercials, jingles and movie soundtracks; recorded on his and other artists’ CD’s; and performed by many academic and professional jazz and symphonic ensembles.

After 25 years in New York, Mario returned to his Texas roots in the Dallas- Ft. Worth area, and continues his music adventure, using his life and music experience to cultivate his unique, eclectic style. He continues a busy performance schedule, performing at many Texas area jazz clubs and festivals as well as giving clinics and concerts … and still plucks out tunes from his mom’s piano.


Tonight in Denton …

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Sweetwater Grill & Tavern: 115 South Elm St., Denton, Texas



Le Not So Hot Klub du Denton at Andy’s. File Photo.


7 pm – Mr. Joe’s Dixieland Band. Led by Mr. Joe Pinson, thhis band of Dixieland Jazz musicians keeps things fun and lively.

8 pm – Le Not So Hot Klub (du Denton). Led by Thad Bonduris, Le Not Sos – a loose collective of musicians wanting to preserve, protect, and defend the right to play Django Reinhardt-style music together – celebrate the First Tuesday back at Sweetwater.

Steve’s Wine Bar: 219 E. Hickory St., Denton, Texas


Ginny Mac

Ginny Mac performing with her faithful accordian.


8 to 10 pm – Ginny Mac is Back! Ginny Mac, singer and accordian artist brings her sultry performance to Steve’s Wine Bar for a relaxing evening of wine, food from area restaurants (ordered by customers), and intimate conversation.

Tuesdays and Thursdays they got Jazz

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm, has opened their doors and now offers Live Jazz on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 7 to 9 pm.

For the full menu, visit:

Tuesday, November 27:

The free entertainment, booked by co-owner Karen Meredith, doesn’t skip a beat with A Taste of Herb bringing their Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass jams to the Patio Stage, Tuesday.

A Taste of Herb playing Tijuana Taxi at Dan’s Silverleaf.

Band members:
John Wier – Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Danny O’Brien – Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Robert Hokamp – Guitar
Alan Emert – Bass
Tex Bosley – Drums
Tony Donate – Percussion

Thursday, November 29:

Oh, snap! Start your weekend early listening to QuB’d with Brad Leali and Quincy Davis, Thursday from 7 to 9 pm on the Sweetwater Patio Stage.

Listen to “Travels” by Quincy Davis, The Aaron Diehl Trio @ The Player’s Club, NYC:

Here is Brad Leali’s Spotlight

Stay tuned for the December lineup of fantastic Live Jazz and other musical treats. Have a plate of chips and queso for me …

Dixieland band facts according to Ron

By Ron Fink
Drummer, Band LeaderRonFinkBand

1.   In 1910 the New Orleans Times-Picayune described Dixieland music as “hotter than a boiling pot of rice.”
2.   Later, a Times-Picayune columnist wrote that Dixieland was the “happiest of all music.”
3.   The first recording of Dixieland music was made in 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jass Band.
4.   Louis Armstrong’s complex, multi-layered intro to the widely acclaimed 1928 recording of “West End Blues” set the standard for what jazz music could be, and would become.
5.   As the term “Dixieland” became politically incorrect, the music began to be described as “classic jazz” or “traditional jazz.”
6.   Legendary New Orleans cornetist Buddy Bolden played with a handkerchief over his right hand so other players couldn’t “steal his licks.”
7.   The Dukes of Dixieland, a popular group started in the 1950s in New Orleans by the Assunto family (father and two sons) remains active today.
8.   Turk Murphy fronted a band for many years at a San Francisco club named “Earthquake McGoons.”
9.   The Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, held over Memorial Day weekend, features more than 150 Dixieland bands from around the world and attracts more than 100,000 visitors

10.  Ron Fink’s great Dixieland Jazz Band will perform this Sunday, 4 November, from 2:30 – 5:30, at the new/just-opened side of the fabulous Free Man Cajun Cafe & Lounge, 2626 Commerce St. Dallas, featuring a larger stage, new sound system, spacious dance floor, indoor and patio seating … plus the same great food, drink, and ambience.

Be there or be square!