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January 6, 2013 at 12:47pm

Eight best jazz shows in the South Sound this month

KAREEM KANDI BAND: Get into the groove Jan. 9 at The Swiss. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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These are the eight best jazz shows in the South Sound this month.

Vitamin J Jazz Jam Session

Avid jazz fan and performer Ron Smith continues his Vitamin J Jazz Jam into the New Year. During the Seahawks game today at Traditions Café in downtown Olympia, pianist Brian Kinsella, bassist Steve Luceno and drummer Craig Cootsona provide the core for beginning to advanced level players and singers. 2:30 p.m.

Rich Wetzel's Groovin' Higher Orchestra

Rich Wetzel's Groovin' Higher Jazz Orchestra has been popping up in local bars and restaurants, introducing folks to jazz of years gone by, as well as a few current numbers. Lately, the big band has put more emphasis on the jazz-rock fusion, some hot Latin jazz and some big band rock tunes from Chuck Berry and James Brown. That said, Maynard Ferguson hovers above the band like Obi-Wan Kenobi. Wetzel and crew visit The Royal Lounge's Monday Jazz Series Jan. 7. 8 p.m.

Kareem Kandi Band

Saxophonist Kareem Kandi's sound alone is enough to clear the room of contenders. It is vast, big enough to house the entire Guinness Pint Club at Doyle's, the whole Tacoma School of the Arts music program and half the holdings of the Tacoma Art Museum's Warhol exhibit. Size is not per se of much value if it isn't personal, unique, sacrosanct. Kandi's sound is virtually unrelated to the roomy traditions of soul saxes, honking saxes or deep-chested boudoir ballad saxes. It derives from the classic, free, often enthusiastic tradition of Joshua Redman as filtered through Dexter Gordon and Sonny Stitt, all of whose shadows can be traced-Redman in Kandi's funky organicism, Gordon in his dynamic harmonics, Stitt in the intensity that coats his every note with a Gritty City finish. Kandi has been hanging with organist Delvon Lamarr and drummer Adam Kessler, which has added groovy innovation to Kandi's sound. The Kareem Kandi Band heads back to The Swiss Jan. 9 for another Wednesday open jam session. 7 p.m.

Vince Brown

Many associate the banjo with The Beverly Hillbillies - or rather, bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs strumming its theme song. Vince Brown certainly knows his way around a bluegrass banjo, but he also explores jazz with his banjo, which isn't a big leap from progressive bluegrass. Blending bluegrass, folk, jazz, and other genres, Brown is considered one of the South Sound's foremost banjo virtuosos. The upbeat Brown - who adds his talent to Hot Club Sandwich, Tune Stranglers, Greta Jane Quartet, and plays and teaches guitar, banjo and ukulele in Olympia - strums everything every Wednesday at Swing Wine Bar & Café. 6-8 p.m.

Lance Buller

Trumpeter/singer Lance Buller, who is a reincarnation of Louis Prima, transcends boundaries, transcends styles, is very honest and sincere as a musician and digs high-energy swing songs. He's a showman. Yet, he's all business. And his business is first-class jazz. Catch Buller and his band every Friday at Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge. 7 p.m.

McTuff

Hammond organist Joe Doria and his veteran crew guitarist Andy Coe and drummer D'vonne Lewis - with regular guest saxophonist Skerik - cross the barriers of jazz with powerful keyboards, rhythmic drums, screaming sax and sometimes fuzz-distorted guitar. Improvisational and funky with a whole lotta swagger, the band's epic jams knock the mind into the far reaches of a 1970s version of space and then butt into an uncontrollable groove. The Seattle band drives down Marine View Drive for a stint at the "Jazz LIVE at Marine View" series Jan. 13. 5-7 p.m.

Steve Luceno

This Olympia Latin-American jazz progenitor has added his guitar talent to many a project over the last 40 years, including the beloved Ocho Pies as well as Obrador, Bert Wilson, John Stowell, Joe Baque and Dennis Hastings. Luceno is a bona fide master of his art form, and Washington Center deserves some Latin seasoning, which will not be in short supply Jan. 18 when Luceno, John Croarkin, Phil Lawson and Drew Gibbs enter the Black Box Cabaret Jazz Series. 8 p.m.

Climate Change

It wouldn't be wrong to call them a band of accomplished sidemen, but guitarist Tarik Bentlemsani (Brown Edition), guitarist Ariel Calabria (Rebirth), drummer Michael Olson (Ocho Pies) and vocalist Dennis Hastings sound unmistakably formidable as co-leaders in this feisty pop/jazz collective. Climate Change drops in on the Waterstreet Café's Late Night Series Jan. 25. 9:30 p.m.

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