Tri-C JazzFest Artist Spotlight: Ernie Krivda
May 21, 2014
Cleveland-born sax legend Ernie Krivda knows jazz, and he knows that different strains of it resonate deeply in different parts of the country.
The Rust Belt? The working class Rust Belt has long had a thing for the bluesy, organ-backed jazz that came out of the early 1960s, Krivda said. That is part of why he and his Fat Tuesday Big Band put together “A Big Band, a B3 and the Blues” for the 35th annual Tri-C JazzFest.
The show’s title “encapsulates what will happen onstage. It’ll be a big band, featuring an organist,” Krivda said. David Thomas will play the Hammond B3, and Mike Cady and Erin Kufel (a former Tri-C Jazz Studies student) will be featured on vocals.
The show will revisit some of the material popularized in the early ‘60s, when jazz musicians Jimmy Smith and Oliver Nelson collaborated on a number of recordings pitching Smith’s B3 organ work against Nelson’s big band sound. The two had a hold on Krivda when he was a young musician.
“That was right in the teeth of the jazz organ era,” Krivda said. “I used to go to this coffee shop before school. There’s Jimmy Smith’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ and ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ on the jukebox. It was great music, tremendous stuff. So we’re going to revisit that whole idea and what impact the blues had on that collaboration.”
That iconic sound “lasted all through the ‘60s, then kind of went away a little bit. But it’s come back, and people have realized why they like it so much,” he said. “Its elements never go away. Everyone likes to listen to music with swinging, rhythmic content. The music is directed at the heart.”
Bandleader Krivda has toured internationally and is the winner of a Cleveland Arts Prize. He began his music studies at age 6, and attended the Cleveland Institute of Music before going on the road.
He has shared the stage with some of the great names in jazz. He was mentored by musicians such as Cannonball Adderley, played in Quincy Jones’ orchestra, and has performed with artists ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Jackie Wilson.
He also is a highly respected teacher and a longtime member of the Tri-C Jazz Studies faculty.
In recent years, Krivda has performed at jazz festivals in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Villach, Austria, Chicago and Washington, D.C. His album Live at the Tri-C Jazz Fest was recorded on Cadence Jazz Records. In 2005, Tri-C JazzFest presented him with its Jazz Legends Award, proclaiming that “Ernie Krivda is the real thing.”
A Big Band, a B3 and The Blues, 2:45 p.m. June 28, Ohio Theatre, PlayhouseSquare, 1511 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. For tickets, call 216-987-4444.