Lunch hour has a little extra on the menu in Battle Creek this week, as the Gilmore Keyboard Festival brings live music to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.    I was able to sneak away today to hear the Greg Spero Trio, and it was really great.   The downstairs presentation room is always comfortable and the acoustics are pretty darn good.   And I always see so many people I know!

Makaya McCraven, Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Battle Creek

Spero is a young guy—not yet 30.   His roots are definitely in the contemporary jazz pianists of the 60’s and 70’s, such as Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, and Herbie Hancock.  Spero told a story about his studies with Hancock.   His music was full of bright colors, peaks and valleys and great emotional range.  But what really impressed me was his ability to mix in his arrangements of standard tunes like “Over the Rainbow”, “Fire and Rain”, and “Blackbird”.    With bassist Junius Paul and drummer Makaya McCraven, he really fired up the audience with an impromptu blues.    And his solid vocals were a great compliment to his awesome piano playing.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is hosting noon concerts all this week, with a variety of styles.  Tuesday features a young player from Cuba.  Wednesday, a young woman will play boogie-woogie and stride piano.  A veteran pianist from Poland is featured on Thursday, and another young lion from L.A. rounds out the week on Friday.

And there’s lots more going on in Kalamazoo too.   I heard 84 year old Jazz Master, Barry Harris on Sunday at WMU.  I’ll never forget that special concert.  Thanks so much to Joe and Donna Stewart for sponsoring that concert, and to all the sponsors that make The Gilmore possible every other year.

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