Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Bobby van Deusen show



When you’ve got a piano marvel in the house, you wind him up and let him go – and then go along for the ride. That was the case Thursday when clarinetist Bud Leeds brought his quartet to the Venice (FL) Art Center as part of the South County Jazz Club’s matinee concert series.
 
Bud Leeds, Bobby van Deusen
The marvel was Bobby van Deusen, a ragtime and stride specialist who lives in Pensacola but was in the area for this weekend’s Suncoast Jazz Classic. Van Deusen will perform at the weekend-long trad jazz event in Clearwater with the Barbary Coast Dixieland Show Band. 

Bassist Don Mopsick, a 19-year member of the Jim Cullum Jazz Band, and drummer Tony Martin, who had worked with van Deusen previously in New Orleans, rounded out Leeds’ band.
Bud Leeds

Most tunes in the Leeds and van Deusen repertoires turned into medleys of some sort. 

The afternoon’s standout moments:
  • Van Deusen’s two ragtime features. In the first set, he premiered Richard St. Clair’s frisky 1989 piano rag, “Iron Filings,” which was written in 1989 by the Harvard-associated composer, who is best known for a range of classical, choral, sacred and concert band pieces. Van Deusen said "Iron Filings" had never been recorded or even performed before. Near the end of the final set, van Deusen played Johnny Guarnieri’s “Virtuoso Rag,” a complex, extended piece into which van Deusen seamlessly inserted snippets of TV theme songs.
  • Leeds was featured on “Stranger on the Shore,” a mega-hit for British clarinetist Acker Bilk, who passed away earlier this month. The band followed it with a seamless transition into “Am I Blue.”
  • A tribute to late Sarasota bassist Ernie Williford included an instrumental take on his signature vocal feature, Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia on my Mind.” 
Van Deusen was a fixture in New Orleans for many years, working with Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, The Dukes of Dixieland, and on the Delta Queen riverboat. He seems to never stray far from the piano. He was playing musical bits and pieces during the intermission - and long after concert-goers left the building. The music is in his blood.
Bobby Van Deusen, Bud Leeds, Tony Martin, Don Mopsick

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