February 28, 2006

No excuse for staying in: This week we celebrate women, jazz and danceable rock

Today begins Women’s History Month. Some vastly important things women have brought us: suffrage, abortion rights, abolition (in part), perspective, the sexual revolution (in part), nurture, birth control, feminism and, around the same time, the Reformation. Also, procreation. That one’s significant.In honor of Women’s History Month, tomorrow the Jazz Factory is featuring an impromptu all-female quartet. Frankly, it sounds fantastic: Bloomington pianist Monika Herzig, clearly Canadian Alexis Marsh on sax, Louisville’s Natalie Boeyink on bass, and Tina Raymond, of Cincinnati, behind the drum kit. It’s a one-time only event, folks, so don’t screw this up. Louisville keyboardist Todd Hildreth plays his usual 5-7 p.m. set beforehand.Also at the Jazz Factory this weekend, a paean to the Mardi Gras time of year. In fact, it’ll take up the club’s whole weekend. The West Market Street Stompers, Jazz Factory regulars for some time now, are the closest thing this city comes to traditional New Orleans jazz band. They’re joined by pianist John Royen, whose resume in the traditional jazz forms is impressive: Bobby Gordon, Pete Fountain, the Dukes of Dixieland. Also on the docket is a N’awlins menu and general ambience.Also from the Jazz beat: Louisville’s legendary and excellent vibraphonist Dick Sisto — perennial host of one of the coolest gigs in town, the Seelbach Jazz Bar’s weekend soirée — hosts the great Gene Walker, once a saxman for Mr. Ray Charles. Per the usual, Walker will be joined by the Dick Sisto Trio. Check it. It’s a good thing Phil Sutton’s mother transferred him to a different Long Island middle school when she did, or else he might never have bumped into Michael Friedrich or gone to the same high school as Ryan McCoy.And we, as a feverish music-loving public, might never have been graced with this trio’s rock agility.Collectively known as Rahim, these childhood friends gigged steadily for six years before releasing the danceable EP Jungles on Frenchkiss Records.Tomorrow they embark on a tour that includes a March 7 show at Uncle Pleasant’s, to build hype for their first full-length, Ideal Lives. After the record drops April 4, Rahim will be on the road, off and on, for eight months.“It’s been worth the wait,” says Sutton, 23.J. Robbins, alum of the legendary D.C. workaholics Jawbox and Burning Airlines (who currently plays in Channels), produced Ideal Lives. A consummate anti-pop songwriter, Robbins has made a name for himself as a producer over the last decade, whittling out records by Texas is the Reason, Kerosene 454 and Black Cross’ Art Offensive.Sutton gushes like a schoolgirl about Robbins’ acumen. “I cannot say enough good things about him,” he said. “He’s pro. He’s got an ear for everything. He never complained once.”Budget constraints and the fact that Robbins’ wife recently gave birth guaranteed that Ideal Lives would be recorded in short order: Thirteen songs were recorded and mixed in little more than a week.To offset the brief timeframe, Sutton said, “We had months of practicing to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible.”Sutton said he considers Jungles, anchored by the ear-grabbing “One at a Time,” a raw introduction compared with Ideal Lives. The new record “is a bit more polished.”The group generally stayed away from political overtones, he said, opting to discuss themes like life and love, except on one song, “10,000 Horses,” which the band posted on its Web site (www.rahimrahim.org) as a teaser track. Sutton, who doesn’t write any lyrics, said it could be perceived as political, “but the lyrics are presented in a very obtuse way.” What excites him most about Lives is that, even though Sutton’s his own worst critic, he loves it. “I’ve been in bands where I’ve gone back and listened to old demos, and I knew it sucked,” he said. “Now I don’t feel like a dork listening to my own band.”The audiences won’t either. —Mat Herron Contact the writers at sgeorge@leoweekly.com and leo@leoweekly.com, respectively.