Another Nugget Discovered

Jeff Machota sent me a copy of a mish-mash of Guido Sinclair stuff on two cassettes. While there are a lot of cuts and edits, the bulk of the material is of Sorgum backing Guido for  a Happy Blues Band gig n June 29, 1985.

At the end of one of the sets, Guido lets Sorgum play a few of their own tunes while he takes a break. It’s smoking!

This 30-minute MP3 snippet I’m posting is mostly the Sorgum Trio: Russell Cheatham on organ, Chuck Tripp on guitar and Walter “Jelly” Hines on drums. A tenor player joins them for the last tune, who I believe is Kevin Kizer…at least that ‘s who Guido announces is playing at the end of this stuff.

Emulsified Bird Jank >
Drum Solo >
The Yodel >
The Way I Feel (w/ Kizer?)

A nice little tidbit for you on this Saturday afternoon. This show won’t be released to the Archive soon; too many things to sort out on it first. But I’ll have a nice surprise coming out later today.


Nature’s Table Archive Vol 6: Ron Dewar Quartet – September 28, 1980

Another tape from 1980 makes its way early into the Archive. Saxophonist Ron Dewar has been associated with jazz in Champaign- Urbana since the late 1950’s, when he played in John Garvey’s band.  He played at the Table many, many times with lots of folks and in many styles.

I freely admit I don’t know the players on this set. Except for Dewar, the only name I recognize is Guido Sinclair, who sits in during track 2, Cole Porter’s “I Love You.” That’s the fun thing about cataloging all these tapes; I knew I’d hit a lot of stuff I’d never encountered and folks I never heard of, and this one of many that I’m sure will turn up.

The lineage of the cassette is unknown. It’s from Jeff Helgesen’s collection, but he didn’t tape it, nor do we know how far removed from the master tape it is. Helgesen’s tape is labelled “Tape 2,” but only one side of a 90-minute cassette is all Helgesen has found so far. The recording sounds quite good. Now if only we can figure out the name of the first track, as well as the first name of the drummer!

*update September 26, 2014* Thanks to Scott Mordecai for identifying the first tune! “Grand Valse (Waltz of the Demons)”

Ron Dewar – Tenor Saxophone
David Onderdonk – Guitar
Dan Delorenzo – Bass
“Davis” – Drums (First name unknown)

Special guest: Guido Sinclair, alto sax on track 2
Ron Dewar Quartet – September 28, 1980 (NTA Vol 6)

Nature’s Table Archive Vol. 5: Quintet – May 1980

Volume 5 of the Nature’s Table Archive Project is another recording from the Morgan Powell collection. In fact, it’s the oldest recording made at the Table we’ve found so far. Nature’s Table opened in September 1979, but didn’t start hosting live music until early 1980, so this tape was made just a few months after Terry opened the stage to musicians. Quite a find! We also get a nice little artifact on the tape: the sound of a cash register! Most of us don’t ever remember a cash register being there.

Quintet features the Ray Sasaki/Morgan Powell combo again, accompanied by electronic music master Sal Martirano on acoustic piano. The bass player and drummer are a bit of a mystery, but both Powell and Sasaki feel comfortable with their guesses: Pat Castle (bass) and John Meyes (drums).

This is a solid set and a pretty good recording! We don’t know the title of track 7, however. If you know it, please contact us and let us know.

Quintet – May 1980 (NTA Vol 5)

Making Headway

Things continue to develop here at Just a couple days after the web site went live, I received an email from Scott Schwartz, Director of the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at the University of Illinois. Scott informed me they were clued in to what we were up to by my friend and one of C-U’s finest musicians, Paul Kotheimer. Schwartz said he was quite interested in the Nature’s Table Archive Project and wanted to talk about using material from NTAP as part of their collection on the Champaign-Urbana music scene, which was being spearheaded by Assistant Archivist Rory Grennan. After emailing Jeff Machota and Jeff Helgesen, I decided to fly out to C-U this past weekend and get everybody together for an in-person meeting and figure out how to proceed.

Several of us met at Crane Alley this past Saturday afternoon during a torrential downpour: Jeff Machota, Jeff Helgesen, Morgan Powell, Paul Kotheimer, Scott and Rory from the Sousa Archives and myself. We’ve agreed that that there is a lot of common ground here, and we’re all pretty excited that this music and other artifacts from the Table have a chance to be preserved for a long, long time. We’re still working out the details, but we’re all moving together in the same direction now.

I also posted the first of what I hope to be many oral histories of folks who played or worked at the Table. Check out this great interview with Nature’s Table regular Guido Sinclair, recorded in May 1987 by Paul Boyev. Thanks for sharing this recording, Paul.

That’s the latest. I hope to have another recording posted soon. Now if I can just find some time to get the site looking better!


Nature’s Table Archive Vol 4: Team Concept – July 19, 1990

Volume 4 of the Nature’s table Archive takes us to a hot summer night in July 1990. Trombonist Morgan Powell and the quintet leaned heavily on the classic jazz repertoire, with plenty of music from Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis.

Team Concept – July 19, 1990 (NTA Vol 4)

The Band:
Ray Sasaki – trumpet
Morgan Powell – trombone
Donnie Heitler – piano
Dan Anderson – bass
Bill French – drums

Thanks to Morgan Powell for the source tape.

Nature’s Table Archive Vol 3: Jeff Helgesen Quintet – October 4,1990

Volume 3 of the Nature’s Table Archive is a compilation of the Jeff Helgesen Quintet. The entire evening was recorded by WILL-FM engineer Paul Wienke, who made this compilation to air on WILL’s Saturday evening jazz program. This recording is direct from Paul’s masters; it was not recorded over-the-air.

From Jeff Helgesen’s collection.

The Band:
Jeff Helgesen: Trumpet
Scott Frillman: Tenor Sax
Gary Peyton: Electric Piano
Adam Davis: Bass
Danny Deckard: Drums

Nature’s Table Archive Vol 2: Bontuku With Oscar Sulley – August 9, 1986

Hi folks-

Volume 2 of the Nature’s Table Archive is now on We will take you to Champaign- UrGhana, Illinois with this recording.

Bontuku with Oscar Sulley features west African-inspired music, led and composed by Oscar Sulley. A native of Ghana, Oscar spent a lot of time in Illinois and Champaign-Urbana in particular, teaching and drumming. This band featured many of the horn players also playing jazz gigs at the Table and around town at other jazz venues as well.

Bontuku with Oscar Sulley’s high-energy sets made for a lot of happy dancers. Enjoy it for yourself!

Available in FLAC and 192kbs MP3.

Nature’s Table Archive Vol. 1: Sorgum April 5, 1986

Hi folks-

The first show in the Nature’s Table Archive has been uploaded to the Internet Archive: Sorgum, recorded April 5, 1986

This show had been uploaded to the Archive previously, but a tune was missing from the final project due to space restraints on CD. Now the complete show is available .

You can download the show in lossless FLAC format, which will require you to either have a media player that can handle FLAC files or convert them to WAV to burn onto a CD. We also have MP3 files you can stream or download. This will be the standard way shows are presented.

More shows to follow.



Happy Sunday! We’re still working on getting the site up and running, and looking good. This will be evolving over time.

More importantly, though, is that we’ve been transferring some tapes to digital. There’s a lot of material to sort through just from tapes from Sean Kutzko’s recordings. In addition, trombone player Morgan Powell has provided us with many recordings from his collection. So we have a lot of material to work on to get started.

Here’s a few MP3 samples of what’s coming in the future.

Sorgum – March 15, 1986  “Emulsified Bird Jank”


Team Concept – July 19, 1990 “So What”
Ray Sasaki – trumpet; Morgan Powell – trombone; Donnie Heitler – piano; Dan Anderson – bass; Bill French – drums


Bontuku with Oscar Sulley August 9, 1986  “Fire”



Sean Kutzko

Welcome to Nature’s

It’s been a long time now, and not many remember how it was in the old days, not really. Not even those who were there to see and hear it as it happened, and who shared, night after night, the mysterious spell created by the talk, the laughter, grease paint, powder, perfume, sweat, alcohol, and food — all blended and simmering, like a stew on the restaurant range, and brought to a sustained moment of elusive meaning by the timbres and accents of musical instruments… -Ralph Ellison, “The Golden Age, Time Past”


Twenty three years later, and I still miss the Table. Lots of us do. If you were there, no further explanation is necessary. If you weren’t, just know it was an incredible place: great food, a wide cast of characters, an unparalleled  sense of community.  There was the cooking, the art, the front steps, the Augsberger Dark.

And the music… that incredible music.

Much has been preserved from Nature’s Table over the years. The bread and chocolate chip cookies and so many other treats are still available, thanks to the Nature’s Table Cookbook. The cookbook, photos,  schedules and lots more are available on Jeff Helgesen’s excellent site full of memories and history. But the music… that’s been elusive.

After talking for years about developing a site devoted to preserving the music recorded at Nature’s Table, it’s finally happening. Former Table employee Jeff Machota, long-time Champaign-Urbana taper Doug Berkman and myself have finally teamed together to try and collect and archive as many of the recordings made at this wonderful place as possible.  Many recordings were made there over the years. Some were great, some weren’t. But that was the beauty of the Table; it was a place where you could go and try.

None of this would be possible without the help of those who made the recordings in the first place.

We’re just getting this going. It’s going to hopefully be a long-term project, so bear with us while we take our first steps and figure all of this stuff out. Relax, have a Gondolette and some red beans and rice, and watch us get this off the ground.