Local jazz hub opens season with old-school funk

The Half Note Jazz Club – Athens’s focal point for mostly imported live jazz music and various splinter styles nightly during the winter – opens its doors for the new season with New York old-school funk act Milo Z this Friday night. Milo Z, a regular performer at the venue in recent years, plays a one-week residency through October 20. The one-week residencies, a pattern that has run unbroken throughout the season at the venue, will, in coming weeks, continue with veteran pianist Cedar Walton from October 21 to 27, and a younger Brazilian artist, Badi Assad, October 28 to November 3. Through his regular performances at the club over the past few years, New Yorker Milo Z and his dynamic backing band have built a cult following. Fusing jazz, funk, hip-hop, rock, and old soul reminiscent of groovy 1970s acts such as Sly and the Family Stone, War, Kool and the Gang, George Clinton’s two innovative acts Funkadelic and Parliament, as well as more contemporary artists, among them Prince and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Milo Z has offered nights of scintillating entertainment at the Half Note. Comprising a band of natural performers and, it should be noted, accomplished musicians, Milo Z and his six-member backing band find their true strength on stage – sometimes off it, too. Concert-goers at the band’s previous Half Note shows may recall band members threading their way through the crowd and onto the back bar for jamming at either end of the room. Milo Z’s week of shows will be followed by the pianist Cedar Walton, a significant figure in jazz over the past five decades. Walton, who will perform in Athens as the frontman of a trio, has recorded literally hundreds of albums since the 1950s. He is considered one of the jazz circuit’s leading sidemen of the post be-bop era, and has also written and recorded some majestic work of his own, including standards such as «Mosaic,» «Ugetsu,» and «Bolivia.» Walton’s association with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers between 1961 and 1964 ranks as a career highlight. He had gone into that collaboration having already worked with Kenny Dorham, J.J. Johnson, Art Farmer and John Coltrane. Other collaborations, following Walton’s Jazz Messengers period, include Abbey Lincoln, Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley. Besides all the side activity, Walton has offered great work of his own from the mid-1970s onward. Young Brazilian act Badi Assad, pronounced «Budgie Asatz,» will take over at the Half Note on October 28 for seven consecutive nights. The singer-guitarist, who will be accompanied by two other musicians on bass and percussion, emerged a little over a decade ago as one of the many promising contemporary Brazilian acts on the world music circuit. Assad has won over crowds on the strength of her impressive musicianship, which she likes to combine with a tantalizing stage show that employs plenty of body input. Her material ranges from pure jazz to pop. Moreover, the artist has offered interesting covers of songs by major acts, old and new, such as the Beatles, U2, Bjork and Yann Tiersen. To date, she has shown an eagerness to absorb a diversity of styles for material of her own, a cocktail that blends rock, jazz and bossa nova. Half Note Jazz Club, 17 Trivonianou. For bookings and further information, tel 210.921.3301. Entrance fee, inc. one drink, 30 euros (students, 20 euros). Starting time: 10.30 p.m. (Monday to Saturday), 8.30 p.m. (Sunday).