Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Jazz for the holidays

Bassist Don Mopsick recruited five other top-flight musicians who now call Southwest Florida home for a concert at the Centennial Park gazebo in downtown Venice FL on Sunday, December 6 combining artful, swinging jazz and holiday spirit.

Lew Del Gatto, Dan Miller, Tony Boffa
The leader, a 19-year veteran of Jim Cullum's Classic Jazz Band, was joined by 25-year Saturday Night Live band alumnus  and New York studio ace Lew Del Gatto on tenor sax; Dan Miller (Harry Connick Jr., Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra) on trumpet; Joe Delaney (who worked with trumpeter Lou Colombo and in the Dick Johnson-led Artie Shaw Orchestra) on keyboard; guitarist and singer Tony Boffa (a longtime entertainer and bandleader in southern Maine); and Philadelphia native Tony Vigilante on drums. Before moving to Florida earlier this year, Vigilante worked in an array of live TV studio bands. touring bands and big bands, and backed, among others, Perry Como, Buddy DeFranco, Maureen McGovern, Della Reese and Ben Vereen. 

  • Miller's soloing was poignant and reflective on trumpeter Thad Jones' best-known composition, "A Child is Born," a ballad written to celebrate the miracle of birth but often finds its way into holiday compilations and performances.
  • Delaney's medley of several Vince Guaraldi compositions and arrangements from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" showcased his mastery of combining tunes.
  • The sextet romped through "A Line for Wardell," a blues in D flat that Miller penned in the spirit of Count Basie's  swinging, blues-steeped vintage band that included saxophonist Wardell Gray. Del Gatto's soloing was outstanding here and on "Three Little Words," a 1930 pop song recorded by Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald, among others.
  • Boffa's supple, understated vocals were showcased on a variety of holiday classics, including "Winter Wonderland," "The Christmas Song," and "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays."
  • The band explored Horace Silver's beautiful jazz anthem "Peace" as an artful balm, welcome because of the many incidents of terrorism and violence dominating the headlines in recent months.
The free event  was co-sponsored by the South County Jazz Club and the Venice Main Street downtown merchants association.

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