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.