Tom Paynter Memorial: Complete Audio

Friends and family of Tom Paynter gathered at the Iron Post on Sunday, July 21, 2019, to pay respects to one of Champaign-Urbana’s leading jazz musicians and composers.

Here is the complete audio from the afternoon. This includes performances by the Brad Wheeler Quartet, with Jose Gobbo, Ben Taylor, and Jeff Magby. Additional musicians sat in this day, including Ivo Braun, Elliott Torres, Justin Kramer, Johnnie Owens, and Tom Cortese.

There was a lot of video shot of the memorial as well. Once it has been edited and distributed, we will announce it here at NaturesTable.net.

Special Thanks to all the musicians who contributed to the afternoon, as well as Jeff Machota for putting the event together, and to Paul Wirth at The Iron Post.


Tom Paynter Memorial – July 21, 2019 (Complete Audio)

Nature’s Table Archive Vol 18: Nebula with Tom Paynter – March 5, 1990

We’re pleased to offer another example of one of C-U’s more complex jazz composers, Tom Paynter. Tom passed away suddenly on May 25, 2019, and the pianist and flutist left behind his vast, impressive body of work. Paynter’s compositions cover a lot of musical territory, from delicate solo pieces to intense, full-on aural assault.

This recording highlights the more complex side of Paynter’s work. The band’s official title is Nebula: The Music Of Diffused Gassers, led by Tom Paynter. The recording is mostly Tom’s original compositions, although there are covers by Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea and Charlie Parker as well.

C-U’s Ben Grosser was one of the musicians in Nebula. Here’s what he had to say about Nebula, and playing with Tom in general:

Nebula, the Music of Diffused Gassers was a quartet in action around 1990-91. Led by Tom Paynter, the group focused on avant-garde / free / experimental jazz, and, as far as I can recall, all of the band’s charts (aside from occasional standards) were written by Tom. The environment Tom created here was quite supportive of experimentation, as evidenced by our flexible approaches to form, the way we blended tunes together, and the multi-instrument roles each member took on. During a performance, any member of the band might tweak the group’s trajectory, even when doing so meant we turned Tom’s carefully crafted chord changes into something, well, less careful. The core group included Alex Lazarevich on tenor sax and bass/Bb clarinets, myself (Ben Grosser) on trumpets and tenor sax, and Danny Deckard on drums and percussion. All but Danny had an occasional turn on the keyboards, and all of us also sang and played wood chimes. Taimur Sullivan [now member of the highly acclaimed PRISM Quartet] sat in on alto sax for part of this session. I should also note that Tom’s synthesizer chops were in full force with this group. He was extremely adept at crafting timbres with his ARP 2600 synth, and could be seen patching new sounds on the fly during performances. This tape may be the only recording of the band. We played a number of gigs at the Table–and also did a live session on WEFT–but I am unaware of any other tapes.

Enjoy this rare recording of Tom Paynter with some extremely forward-thinking and experimental musicians. Please attend the Tom Paynter Memorial on Sunday, June 21, 2019 from 2pm – 6pm at the Iron Post, 120 S. Race St, Urbana.

Nebula: The Music of Diffused Gassers – Led by Tom Paynter. March 5, 1990

Two Tracks by Tom Paynter

Tom Paynter

The C-U jazz community is still feeling the loss of longtime C-U player and composer Tom Paynter, who died May 25, 2019 at the age of 50. A brilliant pianist and flutist, Tom was equally comfortable in straight-ahead jazz, Brazilian music, or the avant-garde.

We were happy to discover just over twenty minutes of Tom’s quartet as filler on a cassette from Gary Peyton’s collection. The only date listed was “Summer 1990.” These two tunes — “Stella By Starlight” and “Song For My Father” — feature Tom on flute, plus Table regulars Peyton on piano and Danny Deckard on drums. The bassist is merely listed as “Kita;” thanks to some digging by Jeff Helgesen, we believe this is Kita Makoto, who was a student at the U of I at the time and played with Guido Sinclair. A mystery trumpet player sits in on the second tune.

Tom was one of a kind. Be sure to attend his memorial at The Iron Post on Sunday, July 21, from 2-6pm, and listen to his oral history interview from November 2016 with Jeff Machota.

Enjoy these two tracks. We have more of Tom’s sets on cassette we’re digitizing and will be posting more of Tom’s music here as soon as we can.

Tom Paynter Quartet – Live at Nature’s Table – Summer 1990

Nature’s Table Archive Vol 17: Chris Lega Quintet – February 27, 1989

Our latest release finds us on a cold Monday evening in Urbana with alto sax player Chris Lega and his group of Table regulars. Lega had played at the Table as early as 1986, and was part of the famous U of I Jazz Band led by John Garvey in the mid-1980s before joining Ray Charles’ band. He went on to play in Chicago, and was part of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra during their 2004 performance at the Chicago Jazz Festival, which was conducted that evening by the great Toshiko Akiyoshi, playing her arrangements.

Lega is joined for this straight-ahead set by Tom Flanigan (trumpet), Gary Peyton (piano), John Hurtubise (bass) and Danny Deckard (drums).

Chris Lega Quintet – February 27, 1989

Nature’s Table Archive Volume 16: Tom Paynter Quartet – June 24, 1988

Volume 16 showcases pianist, flautist and composer Tom Paynter leading a quartet at a Friday Happy Hour gig in June 1988. Tom is equally comfortable hanging out in the avant-garde as well as the inside, straight-ahead world. This session is firmly in the latter category, with Tom on flute.

Paynter played the Table in the “later” period. He was in one of Table regular Guido Sinclair’s last bands, and was one of the musicians who played at Guido’s funeral. Paynter went on to earn a PhD in music from the University of Chicago. Tom’s also hosted a jazz show on WEFT-FM for several years.

The band is comprised of Table regulars and students of the day. Curt Morrison was also in Oscar Sulley’s Bontuku in 1985-1986;  Listen to Curt in Bontuku here. John Hurtubise played bass with almost everybody during his tenure, most notably with trumpeter Jeff Helgesen.

It doesn’t sound like there were a lot of people in the audience. As this was a happy hour gig in June, maybe everybody was enjoying $1 bowls of red beans and rice on the front step.

Tom Paynter Quartet – June 24, 1988

Tom Paynter Quartet
Live at Nature’s Table
Urbana, Illinois
June 24, 1988
Nature’s Table Archive – Vol. 16
Source: Unknown Cassette > ? > WAV > FLAC8
Mixing/EQ done on source tape: None
Recorded by Tom Paynter
Digital transfer by Jeff Machota
FLAC conversion, mixing/EQ and upload by Sean Kutzko
The Band:
Tom Paynter: Flute
Curt Morrison: Guitar
John Hurtubise: Bass
Mike Gould: Drums
(Total Time = 1:21:19)
01: Stella By Starlight (10:00)
02: Serenade To A Cuckoo (10:25)
03: All Of You (9:24)
04: Ode To A Hecklephone (9:21)
05: Autumn Leaves (9:27)
06: Banter1 (0:31)
07: Dolphin Dance (12:18)
08: Windows (8:55)
09: Banter2 (1:43)
10: 500 Miles High (9:10)

Nature’s Table Archive Vol 15: Joel Spencer Quartet – December 16, 1987

From the collection of Brad Wheeler comes this latest addition to the Archive.

Drummer Joel Spencer, now on faculty at the U of I, was a staple in the Chicago scene for many years in the 1980’s and 1990s. He has worked with numerous big names in jazz, including pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines, guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Eddie Gomez, trumpet artists Red Rodney, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Freddie Hubbard, saxophonists Sonny Stitt, Benny Golson, Joe Henderson, Eddie Harris, Wayne Shorter, David Liebman, and pianists Hank Jones and Cedar Walton.

Spencer would come down to Urbana to play the Table regularly. The quartet featured on this recording was a working group out of Chicago, in town for a two-night stand at the Table in December 1987. Guitarist Akio Sasajima was born in Japan and was a regular in the Chicago scene at this time as well. This quartet also featured Table regulars Mike Kocour on organ and Brad Wheeler on sax. Joel recorded two CD’s with this lineup: “Jazz Hit” and “Interior Window.” Both are out of print. More information about this group is in the Joel Spencer oral history interview by Jeff Machota, found here.

The date is in question. The Table calendar shows this band in town on December 9 & 10, but the recording is clearly labelled December 16. Other curiosities that muddy things a bit is an incomplete second rendition of the theme from “Mannix,” and a second “thanks and see you next time” announcement after a “see you next time” announcement at the end of Push and Shove. It would seem that the source tape, long gone at this point, could have been recorded over a different show with the same band.

Regardless, enjoy this great Chicago band playing hot on a cold December night in Urbana.

Joel Spencer Quartet – December 16, 1987

Joel Spencer Quartet
Live at Nature’s Table
Urbana, Illinois
December 16, 1987
Nature’s Table Archive – Vol. 15
Source: Unknown cassette/recorder > Brad Wheeler’s remastered CD >
WAV > FLAC 8
Mixing/EQ done on source tape:
Recorded by unknown
Digital transfer by unknown
FLAC conversion, mixing/EQ (none) and upload by Sean Kutzko
The Band:
Joel Spencer – drums
Brad Wheeler – sax
Akio Sasajima – guitar
Mike Kocour – organ
(Total Time = 80:59)
01: Theme from “Mannix” (12:36)
02: I Know IT’s Wrong (13:51)
03: Arise and Shine (15:13)
04: Theme From “Mannix” – incomplete (6:18)
05: Goodbye Again (10:05)
06: Briar Patch (8:21)
07: Push and Shove (14:34)
Uploaded by permission of Brad Wheeler

 

 

Nature’s Table Archive Volume 14: Sorgum – May 14, 1988

Another warm spring night at the Table, another chance to record Sorgum. I made this recording with PZM mics on the back wall of the seating area, and it came out really well.

First recording here at Nature’sTable.net that features Tim McNamara (sax) and Tom Flanagan (trumpet). Guitarist Lamont Parsons also makes a cameo, sitting in on the first two tunes of the second set. Too bad I ran out of tape before The Way I Feel ended… sorry ’bout that, Tom.

Enjoy!


Sorgum – May 14, 1988

Sorgum
Live at Nature’s Table
Urbana, Illinois
May 14, 1988

Nature’s Table Archive – Vol. 14

Source: Sony home cassette recorder> Radio Shack PZM microphones taped to the back wall >
Maxell UDXLII-90 cassette > WAV > FLAC8

Mixing/EQ done on source tape: Normalized to -1dB;

Recorded by Sean Kutzko
Digital transfer by Doug Berkman and Sean Kutzko
FLAC conversion, mixing/EQ and upload by Sean Kutzko

The Band:
Russell Cheatham – Hammond B3 Organ
Charles Tripp – Guitar
Walter  “Jelly” Hines – Drums
Tom Flanagan – Trumpet
Tim McNamara – Tenor Sax
Special guest: Lamont Parsons – Guitar on “Tough Duff” & “Mellow Mood”

(Total time = 2:31:37)

Set I (56:51)
01: Driftin’ (11:49)
02: Banter1 (2:07)
03: Morris The Minor (13:55)
04: …Killer Joe (13:17)
05:Mama Told Me (12:34)
06: Band Intros

Set II (1:34:46)
07: Set II Intro (2:29)
08: Tough Duff (14:27)
09: Banter2 (1:05)
10: Mellow Mood (15:10)
11: Banter3 (0:45)
12: Jive Samba (12:32)
13: Banter4 (0:37)
14: Nica’s Dream (15:07)
15: Banter5 (1:08)
16: A Real Good ‘Un (13:07)
17: …West Coast Blues (10:51)
18: The Way I Feel… (7:28)

Set notes:
1) Tape flips before “Killer Joe” & “West Coast Blues”
clips the intro of each song

2) Tape ran out during Tom Flanagan’s solo during “The Way I Feel”

Notes by Sean:
My friend Geoff Applebee had just acquired these Radio Shack PZM mics and
I wanted to try them out. Sorgum was playing that night at the Table, so
what better way to try them out? I took my home tape deck out of my stereo
cabinet, threw it and the mics into my backpack and biked down to the Table.

PZM mics need a flat surface to mount them to, so I set up in the back of the
kitchen, on the prep table by the storage area. Ran the mics to the back wall
on the opposite side of the storage area and let the tape roll. I was amazed at
the bass response that came through on this recording.

Lamont Parsons came to the show, and Chuck let him sit in for the first two
tunes of the second set. Lamont used Chuck’s guitar and amp; he didn’t bring
his own gear. This was the first time I recall hearing Lamont.
I think this is also the only recording I made that has Tim McNamara and
Tom Flanagan.
Just another spring night at the Table, full of great music, a Gondolette
sandwich, and a few Augsburger Darks. Life was good then!

***
Part of the Nature’s Table Archives Project
More information on Nature’s Table can be found online at:


http://www.40north.org/jazzthreads/jazzyarns/naturestable.html
http://www.cujazz.org/natures_table/
“I Used To Play, Work or Hang At Nature’s Table” group on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17787069962

Nature’s Table Archive Vol. 12: Ron Dewar Quintet – August 27, 1980

Volume 12 takes us back to the early days. Jeff Machota recently received several tapes from pianist Joan Hickey, including this gem of her playing with Ron Dewar in a quintet setting. We don’t know much about the lineage of the recording, but it sounds pretty good for being 35 Dewar-Tableyears old!

Thanks for the tapes, Joan!

Ron Dewar Quintet – August 27, 1980 (Nature’s Table Archive Vol 12)

Ron Dewar Quintet
Live at Nature’s Table
Urbana, Illinois
August 27, 1980

Source: Unknown cassette recorder/mics > unknown cassette generation >
Maxell UD-90 cassette > WAV > FLAC8

Mixing/EQ done on source tape: None

Recorded by Unknown
From the collection of Joan Hickey
Digital transfer by Jeff Machota
FLAC conversion, mixing/EQ and upload by Sean Kutzko

The Band:
Ron Dewar – Sax
Lin Halliday – Sax
Joan Hickey – Piano
Marlene Rosenberg – Bass
Mike Friedman – Drums

(Total Time = 94:02)
01: Woody N’ You (9:29)
02: Like Someone In Love (9:00)
03: Banter1 (0:19)
04: Summertime (7:01)
05: Trane’s Blues (15:07)
06: Pent-up House (11:50) [tape flip at 5:50]
07: Walkin’ (7:43)
08: Valse Hot (7:58)
09: How Deep Is The Ocean (14:44)
10: After You’ve Gone (10:27)

Nature’s Table Archive Vol. 11: The Spores – September 22, 1989

Volume 11 finds us on a hot, late-summer Friday afternoon, hanging out on the Table’s front steps for a happy hour rock gig. If you try hard enough, you can smell the red beans and rice mixed with Augsburger Dark and some chips and salsa drifting out the front door along with the music.

I was hesitant to put a show of my own band in the NTAP; it just felt self-indulgent somehow. However, Jeff Machota told me The Spores were just as much a part of history as any other band, so I finally agreed. Besides, it dawned on me later, that it’s hard to ask other musicians to post their recordings of a time when they were younger and less-experienced musicians and still developing their chops if I’m not willing to post my own music of my younger, less-experienced self out there, too. In the interest of fairness and equality, here ya go.

The Spores were constantly in a state of flux. Personnel changes were always occurring; we had anywhere from six members to, at the largest, ten pieces, including a four-piece horn section (tenor and alto sax, trumpet and trombone). Our musical backgrounds came from everywhere: Jazz, Punk, Grateful Dead, Steely Dan, African, Soul. We were all over the musical map, playing the whitest rendition of tunes by The Meters, and then throwing down feedback and an African talking drum solo during the Motown classic “Respect.”

Spores gigs had this feeling of split reality. The summer of 1989 involved a lot of extremes for a few of the members, which are probably best left out of print. It was about just being in the moment, playing whatever we could muster together at the time. We worked hard, practiced regularly, and grew a lot as musicians, but the non-lethal chaos surrounding the summer of 1989 kept shows sufficiently random that you never knew quite what to expect when you got on the bandstand. It was strange that a group so seemingly random developed a following of any kind whatsoever, but we did….only at Nature’s Table. To those regular attendees, thank you.

On this hot September afternoon, our main vocalist Laura Leonardo was stricken with a flu-like crud, so she stayed at her apartment and slept. As a result, we changed our name to White Dopes On Funk for the gig and played a lot of standards and jazzier stuff we normally wouldn’t do. Four of Joe’s original tunes are on this recording: Blue Funk, Bossa Nervosa, The Ride, and Geeks For Armageddon. He knew how to write.

The Spores – September 22, 1989 (Nature’s Table Archive Vol. 11)

The Band:
Joe Sejud: Guitar, Vocals, Percussion
Sean Kutzko: Congas, Percussion, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Dave Tcheng: Keyboards, French Horn, Percussion
Larry McMillian: Bass
Taimur Sullivan: Saxophone, Percussion
Ben Grosser: Trumpet, Percussion
Matt North: Drums

Nature’s Table Archive Vol. 10: The Last Straw – January 27, 1990

Well hey, we’ve hit double-digits in the recording archive! Great news all around, and thanks to all the folks who have brought recordings forward to post here.

Volume 10 came to us through outreach. Guitarist Tim McKeage heard about what we’re up to and very kindly gave us all this little nugget from his group, The Last Straw. This comes from Tim’s collection, and I’m glad to see another non-jazz recording make the archive.

The Last Straw was… I don’t know what you’d call them. Folk? Country? Alt-Country? All I know is they were fun and a hoot, and my band, The Spores, was fortunate to play a couple of double-bills with them, including  Nature’s Table PA benefit (the Mango Zowies were also on that bill), and a gig in Chicago where the memories have all but faded away.

So good to have a recording with Karen Lee Larson on it, and hearing Thad Bales on banjo after a very long time is just great. Hope you enjoy it.

The Last Straw: January 27, 1990 (NTA Vol 10)

The Band:
Paul Budin: Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocals
Tim McKeage: Lead Guitar, Vocals
Alton Patches: Bass, Vocals
Karen Lee Larson: Violin, Vocals
Thad Bales: Banjo, Vocals
Matt Quirk: Drums, Vocals