Nature’s Table Archive Vol 9: Boneyard Jazz Quintet – February 9, 1990

Volume 9 of the Archive keeps us in the later days of the Table. This is another from trombonist Morgan Powell’s collection of recordings; Morgan gave us quite a few recordings from his collection to help get the NTAP off the ground, and we’re glad he did!

This iteration of Morgan’s “Boneyard Jazz Quintet” is heavy on the ‘bone. Indeed, no other horns are present at this gig. While Morgan plays his slide trombone, the group also features Mike Gabriel on valve trombone.  Gabriel once turned down an offer to play in Woody Herman’s  band in the early ’60s, choosing a career in academia instead. Mike is now in St. Augustine, Florida, and still playing; you can find recordings of his current group here. This is also the first recording in the NTAP to feature the electric bass of Glenn Scheutz, a longtime Champaign-Urbana musician. Glenn’s gigging down in Austin, TX these days.

This is a nice, clean recording with a good balance of instruments. Hope you enjoy it!
The Band:
Morgan Powell: Slide Trombone
Mike Gabriel: Valve Trombone
Woody Woodward: Piano
Glenn Scheutz: Electric Bass
Bill French: Drums

Boneyard Jazz Quintet – February 9, 1990 (NTA Vol 9)

Nature’s Table Archive Vol 8: Russell Cheatham and Friends – May 24, 1990

Updated January 24, 2015

I originally released this set (NTA Volume 8) on December 21, 2014 as “Mitch Paliga Quintet, May 23, 1990.” It turns out that date and band is likely incorrect. Bear with us for an explanation.

This was originally thought to be a recording of the Mitch Paliga Quintet from May 24, 1990. The source tape came from Jeff Machota’s collection and was labeled Mitch Paliga 5/23/90.

The recording sounded very well-balanced to me, and was a cut above the standard “boom box on the bandstand” recording a lot of  our material comes from. The recording levels in Audacity were pretty even, the visual audio wave patterns looked remarkably even and well-formed in the audio editing software, and it sounded like the recording was a couple cassette generations away from the source tape. There was also approximately 60 minutes of usable material, with 30 minutes of very distorted audio on the remainder of the recording. It sounded like digital noise to me, the kind where a digital tape machine misreads the material. This digital noise, coupled with a very uniform, clean wave pattern on the recording, led me to believe it was recorded by Paul Wienke for airing on WILL-FM at a later date, and he’d had some sort of digital error when recording the second set.

However, a few weeks after posting the show, there developed two rubs:

1) Mitch Paliga had no recollection of this gig, which would be strange if he was the bandleader.

2) My theory of the source of the recording was questioned by Jeff Helgesen, who played on this gig.

Mitch, Jeff Helgesen and Scott Frillman are listed as personnel this night, and all agree that the lineup is correct. Jeff Machota found the monthly flyer advertising the coming shows, and saw that Russell Cheatham and Friends was booked on Saturday, May 24, the day after Paliga was headliner.

Then, a rather nice thing happened: Paul Wienke chimed in out of the blue, and stated he didn’t record the gig. While it turned out my theory on the recording source was completely incorrect, it’s far better to have concrete information.

The common accepted information among the musicians who played the gig is that this is the Russell Cheatham and Friends gig from the next night, May 24, 1990. The recording is likely what Jeff Helgesen speculated: a recorder of unknown origin set up on the front table. Jeff Machota had the source tape in his personal collection; it was likely he asked the original recordier for a dub of the tape, which was made shortly after the gig, and either he or the original recorder simply mislabeled it.

In any case, the statements I made at the time of the original posting are still true.  We find Scott Frillman playing baritone sax. This is the first recording I’ve heard that has Scott on bari, and he’s certainly doing a great job with it. Second is Russell Cheatham playing in a group that’s not Sorgum. While I’m an unabashed Sorgum junkie and love the funk-jazz they made, it’s great to hear him in a more bop and standards-oriented group, too. Jeff Machota told me this gig occurred when Sorgum guitarist Chuck Tripp was out of town, hence the different lineup.

So, my apologies for getting the info wrong the first time. Even with all of the collective brain power used to try and get as many of the details on these tapes correct, there will no doubt be some mistakes along the way.

The Band:
Mitch Paliga – alto, tenor, soprano sax
Jeff Helgesen – trumpet
Scott Frillman – baritone sax
Russell Cheatham – organ
Danny Deckard – drums
Russell Cheatham and Friends – May 24, 1990 (NTA Vol 8)



Nature’s Table Archive Vol 7: Peter “Madcat” Ruth – November 9, 1985

Volume 7 of the NTAP gives us our  first “national” act. Down from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Peter “Madcat” Ruth is one of the best harmonica players around.  He studied harmonica with Big Walter Horton in the late 1960’s and toured with jazz legend Dave Brubeck in the 1970’s. By the early 80’s Madcat had gone out on his own, and put on one hell of a show wherever he went.

Madcat appeared at the Table numerous times, as early as 1980. I remember eating there one afternoon in October 1985, and I asked Terry who this guy was; they were making a big deal about him on the Table schedule and on WEFT-FM. I was 18 and just learning about blues and jazz, thanks to both of those places. “He’s great,” Terry simply said. “Just be here.” I was, and brought the recording gear. Madcat was gracious and let me record, and I’m really glad he did. He opened my eyes that night, and I learned how to play a couple tunes on guitar from listening to these recordings that have been a part of my own acoustic sets for many years. Somehow, his LP “Madcat Gone Solo” ended up in heavy rotation on my weekly show on WEFT after this night.

There are three recordings of Madcat at the Table that we’ve found so far: two of my masters and one that just showed up from 1980 in the collection of Jeff Helgesen.

When we started putting together this site, I emailed Madcat to ask if he would allow us to post the tapes we have of him up here.  Here’s what he wrote:

Dear Sean,

I always had a great time at Nature’s Table.
I knew it closed, and I saw Terry one time after it closed, but I did not know that he died…  He was a fine fellow.

Yes, I would definitely like to hear any recording of any of the shows I did at Nature’s Table.

And, yes- you have my permission to put these recordings on your website and share them on line.

Peace & Joy,

Peter Madcat Ruth

So, Madcat, thanks a lot for the great music, the permission to post the tapes here, and the great bright yellow t-shirt with the harmonica-playing feline that I wore until it fell apart.

Madcat is still playing tons of music around Ann Arbor. If you like what you hear on these recordings, please be sure to visit his website and support the man.

Peter “Madcat” Ruth – November 9, 1985 (NTA Vol  7)

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)

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.