Thursday, November 26, 2020

Jazz musicians felled by coronavirus - Chapter 3

Here is part three of our chronological listing of jazz-related COVID-19 deaths from the novel coronavirus, updated as we receive them. Our profound sympathies to their families, friends and fans as we remember their musical legacies.

  • Vibraphonist Ian Finkel died November 16 in Manhattan after a protracted battle with COVID-19. He was 72. Finkel dubbed himself “the world’s greatest xylophonist.” He was also a composer, arranger, musical director and author.
  • Guitarist and educator Bobby Cairns died November 21 in Edmonton, Canada. He was 78. He started playing professionally at age 15 with pianist Tommy Banks. Cairns headed the guitar program at Grant MacEwan College for 38 years. He retired in 2008.
 Here are links to Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CDs by Matt DeMerritt, Tania Grubbs, Mongorama, Douglas Olsen, Ben Rosenblum and Kenny Washington...

 Matt DeMerritt, Fool’s Journey (self-released) 

Los Angeles-based saxophonist Matt DeMerritt's recording debut as a leader is eclectic, exotic and lush. The varying musical textures on Fool’s Journey from this veteran jazz sideman stretch from Asia to South America to the musical funkiness of New Orleans. Favorite tracks are the Crescent City spirited shuffle-beat flavor of “Elixir” and his band’s takes on the three covers: Burt Bacharach’s “A House is Not a Home,” Hermeto Pascoal’s “Montreux” and Joe Henderson’s “Earth.” Standout performances by the rotation of musical supporters here include pianist Sam Barsh, trumpeter Jamelle Adisa (on “Elixir”), guitarists Fabiano Nascimento (on “Montreux”) and Josh Lopez (on “Earth”). Satnam Ramgotra’s tablas set the tone for the other-worldly exploration of “Earth.” 

Tania Grubbs Quintet, Live at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar (self-released) 

The unusual range of music is just as fascinating as the delivery on this recording featuring Pittsburgh-based singer Tania Grubbs. A smattering of jazz standards (Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing,” Bird’s “Ornithology,” Horace Silver’s “Peace” and Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks”) is offset by covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire,” Joni Mitchell’s “Love,” and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” among others. 

Then there’s Grubbs’ take on Stephen Sondheim’s “I Remember” from the quirky made-for-TV musical “Evening Primrose,” which aired on ABC in 1966. On “Hope is a Thing With Feathers,” Grubbs set Emily Dickinson’s poem to her own composition. This recording was at a gig at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar, a West Nyack NY venue that is owned by session pianist David Budway and named for his late sister. The band included guitarist Ron Affif, bassist Jeff Grubbs and drummer James Johnson III. This one is a winner for underscoring that jazz is a process, not a dated swing repertoire. The band puts new jazz twists on significant material from other genres.

Jose Rizo’s Mongorama, Mariposas Cantan (Saungu)  

Los Angeles-based broadcaster Jose Rizo formed Mongorama nine years ago, inspired by the classic Latin jazz sound of conguero Mongo Santamaria’s early 1960s band. This is the nonet’s third recording – and it is a gem. There are two Santamaria-penned tracks (“Mongorama” and “Quindimbia”), Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” (Mongo’s version was a mega-hit), and a bit of Cal Tjader. Five tunes including the title track were co-written by Rizo and trombonist Francisco Torres, the principal arranger who also guests on the most poignant track. That one is “Descarga Ramon Banda.” It is a tribute to longtime band member Ramon Banda, a timbales player who died last year. This was his final recording. Singer James Zavaleta is featured on the title track, a love song whose name translates to “butterflies sing.”The other Mongorama members include saxophonist Justo Almario, flutist Daniel Lozano, violinist Dayren Santamaria, conguero Joey De Leon and pianist Joe Rotondi. George Ortiz succeeded Banda on timbales on half of the project. 

Douglas Olsen, (self-released) 

Trumpeter Doug Olsen has a winner on his debut recording as a leader. He and his band of southern New England jazz cats swing mightily in this session, which includes both hard bop and Latin jazz material. Olsen wrote six of nine tunes on 2¢. The session’s three covers are Dizzy Gillespie’s “Algo Buena” (also known as “Woody ‘n’ You”), Cuban trumpeter Gendrickson Mena Diaz’s “Miles Rumba” and the Howard McGhee-Fats Navarro twin-trumpet burner “Boperation.” Olsen’s slowed-down, Latinized version of that bop standard features the leader and Yaure Muniz on the trumpets. 

The ace rhythm section includes pianist Tim Ray, bassist Dave Zinno and drummer Mark Walker. Olsen’s other bandmates on various tracks include saxophonists Dino Govoni and Tucker Antell, trombonist Angel Subero and conguero Ernesto Diaz. Olsen and Govoni (on alto sax) go head to head on the leader’s bop heater “Rat-Race.” The ballad “Una Para Ti” showcases Olsen’s beautiful flugelhorn playing and Ray’s inventive piano artistry. Olsen may feel like he’s added his “two cents” to the extensive jazz tradition, but this one is worth his weight in gold.

Ben Rosenblum Nebula Project, Kites and Strings (One Trick Dog) 

Ben Rosenblum’s Nebula Project is one of the most intriguing young ensembles to emerge in recent years. The native New Yorker’s sextet, augmented by three more players on a few tracks, digs into both Rosenblum originals and three mightily varied covers on Kites and Strings. The overall sound is distinctive, spotlighting Rosenblum’s skills as a composer, arranger, pianist and accordionist. His band mates include trumpeter Wayne Tucker, guitarist Rafael Rosa, reed player Jasper Durz, bassist Marty Jaffe and drummer Ben Zweig. Vibraphonist Jake Chapman, trombonist Sam Chess and pianist Jeremy Corren join on two tracks apiece. The covers include Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” from West Side Story, the traditional Bulgarian folk tune “Izpaved” and Neil Young’s ballad “Philadelphia.” Favorite tracks: “Kites and Strings,” the edgy “Fight or Flight” and his Cedar Walton tribute, “Cedar Place.” That said, it’s all very fine. 

Kenny Washington, What’s the Hurry (Lower 9th)  

The title of Bay Area-based singer Kenny Washington’s new CD is fitting indeed. He’s 63, has been making music professionally and stunning audiences for 35 years, yet this marks his debut as a leader. He’s also a native of laid-back New Orleans. So, what’s the hurry? No need to rush things. He has honed his artful craft for four decades, and is admired for his deep respect for the lyrics and ability to put his own stamp on songs as his reputation has grown well beyond the West Coast. Favorite tracks here: his soulful take on Duke Ellington’s “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ but the Blues,” the bossa classic “No More Blues,” “Invitation,” and the finest modern-day cover of the ballad “Here’s To Life.” The latter tune was first recorded by Shirley Horn and then became a concert staple for Joe Williams. Kenny does them both justice with a fresh imprint.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Live jazz in times of uncertainty

Wednesday, November 4, brought the first live jazz concert that I’ve been able to hear in person in nearly eight months. The last was in early March.

This road trip was to Artis Naples, where the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra resumed its concert series last month – with careful attention to pandemic protocols.

Dan Miller
Rather than perform to two packed shows in the more intimate, 275-seat Daniels Pavilion, Artis Naples moved the performances next door to the 1,600-seat Hayes Hall. Temperatures were checked at the entrance, masks were required for the audience, staff and musicians, and the roughly 200 people who turned out were given seats far apart from each other. It felt a bit odd yet comforting, at the same time.

The resident sextet’s concerts usually feature a special guest soloist. West Coast singer Kenny Washington was due to make his third appearance in the series, which is now in its 11th season. But the audience found out at the start of last night’s show that he was not there.

Lew Del Gatto
The show went on with NPJO  veterans Lew Del Gatto on tenor sax, Dan Miller on trumpet, Glenn Basham on violin and harmonica, Jerry Stawski on piano, Kevin Mauldin on bass, and Mike Harvey on drums. With one day’s notice that Washington wouldn’t make it this year, the band put together a fine program featuring interesting arrangements and superb playing on some of the players’ favorite tunes.

Glenn Basham
Gems included Ben Webster’s “Did You Call Her Today?,” an extended blues exploration of Monk’s “Straight No Chaser,”  and a Jazz at the Philharmonic-style ballad medley in which four of the players were featured as it coursed between tunes. Del Gatto opened with “Body and Soul,” Mauldin’s arco bass mastery provided a beautiful contrast on “My Funny Valentine,” Basham was featured on chromatic harmonica on “Autumn in New York,” and trumpeter Miller brought it all home with “These Foolish Things.”

Dan Miller
Stawski’s spotlight feature came when the trio dug into Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “The Red  Blouse,” a lesser-known bossa nova (samba) from his 1967 album Wave. The sextet closed out the evening with a rollicking take on “Caravan” that spotlighted Harvey’s drumming.

For various reasons, perhaps including hesitance to travel during the COVID-19 situation, has impacted the sextet’s 2020-21 series. The first three scheduled special guests cancelled. Artistic director Del Gatto has been able to replace one of them. But we'll see what happens as the season progresses.

Trumpeter Randy Sandke, who relocated a couple of years ago from New York City to nearby Venice, will be the sextet’s special guest on December 16.

“Hopefully the rest of our guests will show up,” Del Gatto told me today, “but who knows?”

Stawski, Mauldin, Del Gatto, Harvey, Miller, Basham
 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Some good news for a change, near and far (updated)

Amid all the economic pain and uncertainty this year for jazz musicians, clubs and festivals due to the pandemic, there is some good news to share.

It comes on distant and local fronts, as we continue to await how the “new normal” affects the arts long term.

First, from Europe:

On September 2, Denmark’s iconic venue, Jazz Club Montmartre in Copenhagen, announced it was closing and laying off all staff. Management said it was economically impossible to keep operating with a diminished audience. Sad news, indeed, for a venue that opened in 1959 and had featured an array of global jazz talent. Saxophonists Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster and Stan Getz all moved to Copenhagen because they so liked the club’s vibe.

However, last week, Montmartre’s board of directors announced it will reopen the venue beginning November 3rd with safe-distancing precautions. Board chairman Michael Christiansen said a large anonymous private donation and special coronavirus support from the City Council means the club will be able to operate through at least 2024. The city commitment is 1 million Danish krone (nearly $158,000 USD) annually for four years.

Christiansen said the club will be able to repay all debt and survive long term. “This rescue plan will secure an even stronger presence, both with regards to attracting the very best from the world elite … and developing a lot of new talents.”

Second, from Southwest Florida:

Aside from a small number of musical opportunities at local restaurants up and down the coast, the Southwest Florida jazz scene has been in limbo since early March. No festivals, no live indoor concerts.

However, Artis Naples is resuming its All That Jazz concert series that features the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra, a sextet that brings in a variety of featured guests throughout the season. Instead of performing in the more intimate, 275-seat Daniels Pavilion, the series moves next door to the much larger (1,600 seat) Hayes Hall, where seating with safe distancing will accommodate about 250 people. As usual, there will be separate admission shows each night at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. All patrons will get their temperatures checked upon arrival. Face masks are required.

Here is the All That Jazz schedule for this 11th season:

  • October 14: The sextet performs the music of George Gershwin
  • November 4: singer Kenny Washington
  • December 16: trumpeter Randy Sandke
  • January 20: tenor saxophonist Billy Harper
  • February 10: Italian-born, New York-based guitarist Pasquale Grasso
  • March 3: singer Denise Donatelli
  • March 31: alto saxophonist Dick Oatts
  • May 12: NPJO celebrates the Charlie Parker centennial.

The Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra resident sextet includes tenor saxophonist (and artistic director) Lew Del Gatto, trumpeter Dan Miller, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Kevin Mauldin, drummer Mke Harvey and violinist Glenn Basham.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Just because we can...

As  the addage goes, just because we can doesn't mean we should.

I can only speak specifically about Florida,  where the governor proclaimed on Friday, September 25 that it is time for business as usual. After six months of varied restrictions to minimize the spread of COVID-19, he gave businesses the green light to get back to doing business at pre-pandemic levels.

In spite of that shift, let's hope we've learned a bit more about the need for caution - and continued precautions. Masks may no longer be required, but they sure are a good idea. Heck, the considerate folks in Japan have been wearing them in public for decades to avoid catching - or passing on - airborne germs that can cause colds, flu, viruses, what have you.

While some restaurants that offer live music here in Southwest Florida have been resuming live music with socially distanced tables, masks for servers and patrons, etc., let's hope that they don't rush to undo all of those sensible precautions.

As individuals, we should still tread with care. It just makes sense, no matter how much we love the way music in live settings warms the heart and touches the soul on some nights.

Arts and culture have been  hit particularly hard this year. By my count there have been more than 40 jazz-related COVID-19 deaths around the world. The number could be much higher but we'll never know for sure. I'd sure hate to see that toll rise further.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Exploring conflicts between our digital and natural worlds – through music

Composer, bandleader and NEA Jazz Master Maria Schneider’s creativity knows no bounds. Her stellar music, voiced by her longstanding Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, has drawn on many influences and inspirations throughout her career.

Maria Schneider backstage at Newport, 2017

Some of her earliest intricate and colorful works were prompted by memories of imaginary monsters conjured up in her Minnesota childhood. A formidable string of recordings by her 18-piece big band start with 1994’s Evanescence (Enja), in part a tribute to her mentor, the late Gil Evans.

Her newest project, the two-disc recording Data Lords, is just out as her fifth project on the ArtistShare label, the world-‘s first crowd-funding internet arts platform. It is a very strong departure from her Grammy-winning 2015 release The Thompson Fields. 

Data Lords is about “the impact that the data-hungry digital world has had on our lives,” Schneider says, and the natural world that has long been rooted in her music.

Disc One, titled “The Digital World,” focuses on the oft-unsettling digital side of the equation. The composition titles pretty much speak for themselves, though Schneider has penned thoughtful notes in the CD booklet that speak to the inspirations behind and intent of each work. The compositions on “The Digital World” are: “A World Lost,” “Don’t Be Evil,” “CQ, CQ, Is Anbody There?,” the other-worldly “Sputnik” and “Data Lords.” That title track takes aim at the giant data companies that track the minutae of our everyday lives as artificial intelligence increases its hold.

Disc Two, “Our Natural World,” celebrates the magic and beauty of the physical world around is and is a balm for what Schneider describes as "the relentless noise of our digital world.” Those tracks are “Sanzenin,” inspired by the lush, meditative gardens surrounding Kyoto, Japan’s Sanzen-in Buddhist temple, the artful “Stone Song,” “Look Up,” “Bluebird,” and two Ted Kooser poetry-inspired pieces, “Braided Together” and “The Sun Waited For Me.”

Standout soloists on this project include accordionist Gary Versace, guitarist Ben Monder, alto saxophonist Dave Pietro, baritone saxophonist Scott Robinson, soprano/alto saxophonist Steve Wilson, tenor saxophonists Donny McCaslin and Rich Perry, trombonists Marshall Gilkes and Ryan Keberle, and trumpeter Mike Rodriguez.

“Look Up” is a clever piece that features Gilkes and pianist Frank Kimbrough. As its melody spirals up, this is a musical reminder to indeed look up: up at the sky, up at the birds or, as Schneider says, “simply at each other.”

In other words, look up from those laptop, iPad and smartphone screens once in a while -- and savor the things around us that aren’t plugged in to something. Except your music player, of course, because this powerful project deserves repeat listenings.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

CDs of Note Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CDs by The 3D Jazz Trio, Artemis, Mayita Dinos, theTNEK Jazz Quintet, and Bernard Purdie, Christian Fabian & Ron Oswanski….

3D Jazz Trio, I Love to See You Smile (DIVA Jazz)
Six years ago when they were backing dancer Maurice Hines’ show Tappin’ Through Life, drummer Sherrie Maricle, bassist Amy Shook and pianist Jackie Warren discovered they had an incredible, instant musical simpatico. Their creativity abounds on this project, I Love to See You Smile. Power drummer Maricle is better known as leader of the all-woman Diva Jazz Orchestra, but she has also put together smaller ensembles from withiin the big band’s ranks. This is one of them. Everything in this varied program swings with joy, from the Randy Newman-penned title track to the traditional Scottish folk song “When You and I Were Young, Maggie.” Favorite track: their take on “Besame Mucho,” the famous bolero by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez. Warren’s lush classical-styled intro sets up the band’s romp. The Cleveland-based pianist has chops and creativity galore – and they are on full display here.

Artemis, Artemis (Blue Note)
Two years after a stunning main stage performance at the Newport Jazz Festival, the all-woman supergroup Artemis has made its recording debut. The band is named for a Greek goddess who was an explorer and goddess of the hunt. The globally rooted band includes pianist and musical director Renee Rosnes, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Noriko Ueda, drummer Allison Miller and singer Cecile McLorin Salvant. All of the material here was written and/or arranged by the band’s six instrumentalists. Favorite tracks: Miller’s fierce opening track “Goddess of the Hunt,” the Rosnes-penned “Big Top,” the Rosnes-arranged Stevie Wonder hit “If It’s Magic,” featuring Salvant on vocals, and the band’s transformative take on Lee Morgan’s instrumental jazz chestnut, "The Sidewinder.” This version is more pensive and teasing than the funk-driven original. This is a September 11 release.

Mayita Dinos, The Garden Is My Stage (Dash Hoffman)
Puerto Rico-born, Los Angeles-based singer Mayita Dinos’ debut recording is a garden of musical delights. How cool that she’s a renowned landscape designer by day – and jazz singer by night. She was able to blend those two passions on this session, which was produced by singer Cathy Segal-Garcia. Every tune here has a nature or garden theme or reference. The opening track is also the most intriguing. Dinos set her own words to Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology.” Other gems: getting back to the garden) through Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock,” honoring the rose in “Spanish Harlem,” a run through Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower” and, quite naturally, Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.” Dinos wrote the melody for an ethereal voice-and-bass duet with Gabe Davis that digs into the Federico Garcia Lorca poem “La Lola.”

Purdie-Fabian- Osmanski, Move On! (Consolidated Artists)
This one throws a different twist into the organ trio concept, which usually involves Hammond B-3, drums and either guitar or saxophone as the third instrument. Here we have B-3 player Ron Oswanski and bassist Christian Fabian teamed with the legendary funk drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie. Besides five Fabian originals, they put their funky stamp on diverse covers of Tower of Power’s “Can’t You See (You’re Doin’ Me Wrong),” Duke Ellington’s “Love You Madly,” Miles Davis’ classic “So What” and even “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Producer and principal composer Fabian’s “Got Groove (Pt. 2)” is my favorite, but every track is distinctive and drenched with energy from these three creative melodic improvisers. The result is the funkiest jazz recording I’ve heard so far this year, and it will be hard to beat in that regard.

The TNEK Jazz Quintet, … Plays the Music of Sam Jones (TNEK Jazz)
This is a mighty fine – and long overdue – concept recording. It pays homage to music of Sam Jones, a bassist and composer best known for his work in the 1950s and ‘60s with the Adderley Brothers. He also worked fat various times with Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson and Cedar Walton – and in the late 1970s co-led a New York big band with trumpeter Tom Harrell. Jones, a Jacksonville FL native, died in 1981. Washington DC-area saxophonist Ron Kearns produced this session, assembling some of his favorite players. Bassist Kent Miller is joined by pianist Darius Scott, drummer Greg Holloway, and saxophonists Antonio Parker (alto) & Benny Russell (tenor and soprano). The unusual band name is an anagram of bassist Miller’s first name. They put their own spin on a range of Jones compositions, from the best-known “Unit Seven” (long the unofficial Cannonball Adderley band theme song) and “Del Sasser” to “Biittersuite,” “Some More of Dat” and the ballad “Lillie.” This hard-swinging recording winds down with Kenny Barron’s “Tragic Magic” from Jones' 1979 trio recording The Bassist. Barron was in that band.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Remember this date - 66 years ago in jazz history

Yes, it has been 66 years.

On July 17, 1954, something happened in Newport, Rhode Island that made an indelible mark on jazz history - and in the scope of popular music presentation as we know it today.

Before Woodstock, before Coachella, before Monterey, there was Newport.

The first Newport Jazz Festival, actually dubbed the American Jazz Festival that inaugural year, was held July 17 and 18, 1954 at historic Newport Casino, a stately tennis venue now known as the International Tennis Hall of Fame, along toney Bellevue Avenue.

A temporary bandshell, covered in thick cardboard, was erected on a berm overlook the tennis courts. As Burt Goldblatt recalled in his book, Newport Jazz Festival, The Illustrated History, the music kicked off at 9:18 that Saturday night when guitarist Eddie Condon's Dixieland band dug into the trad jazz classic "Musktat Ramble."
Newport Jazz Festival, 1954*

Other featured performers that inaugural weekend included singers Lee Wiley, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday; the Modern Jazz Quartet; and bands led by trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, saxophonists Lee Konitz, Gil Melle and Gerry Mulligan, guitarist Johnny Smith, and pianists Oscar Peterson, George Shearing and Lennie Tristano. It closed with an explosive set by drummer Gene Krupa's trio. A few jam sessions and all-star mixing and matchings were thrown in for good measure. 

The festival that first year was estimated to have drawn a combined weekend crowd of 13,000.

Newport was the granddaddy of outdoor American music festivals that were quick to follow.

And all because Newport socialite Elaine Lorillard and her tobacco-heir husband, Louis, wanted to do something to enliven the stodgy summer scene. They hired George Wein, who wan Boston's Storyville jazz club, to produce the event.

Wein, now 94, is still at it. He oversees the Newport Festivals Foundation, a nonprofit that he and other forward thinkers created a few years ago to keep the Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival alive well into the future. 

Like so many other events near and far, the 2020 edition of the Newport Jazz Festival was shelved because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The many fans and supporters - and the musicians themselves, are waiting to see how the "new normal" will affect this large-scale outdoor gathering going forward. As a relative latecomer, I've been attending the Newport Jazz Festival annually since 1981, the year Wein brought the storied event back to Newport after a nine-year absence. 

Some history on that 1972-1980 absence
Gate crashers and bear-swilling rowdies not content to listen from the hillside, stormed Festival Field on Saturday July 3, 1971. bring that year's event to a premature end. Ironically, Dionne Warwicke was on stage singing "what the World Needs Now Is Love" when the fences came crashing down. Wein took his concept to New York City. 

The festival returned to Newport in 1981 as the city's movers and shakers realized times had changed - and the event could be held at a more controlled setting, Fort Adams State Park, located on a peninsula across Newport Harbor from the downtown business district.
  
      *photo courtesy of Newport Festivals Foundation archives.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Thanks, Freddy, for the jazz connection

The fine pianist and singer Freddy Cole died Saturday, June 27, at age 88 at his home in Atlanta. He had been struggling with cardiovascular issues for a while.

His manager, Suzi Reynolds, called him Mr. Magic. "He wove a web of sonic beauty with every note and kept listeners silently breathless with his casual, elegant storytelling...," she reflected Sunday via email.

Freddy Cole
While working for many years in the immense shadow of his far-famous elder brother, Nat King Cole, Freddy had his own powerful vibe. There were smoky vocal similarities between the two men (Nat was 12 years his senior and died in 1965), but Freddy became a jazz vocal master of distinction. He performed here, there, and seemingly everywhere, for well into seven decades.

I had several opportunities to hear his performances through the years. The Cape May Jazz Festival in 2004, Newport Jazz Festival in 2013 (where he opened for his niece Natalie Cole, and with the Naples (FL) Jazz Orchestra in 2014, come to mind. But the most impactful, for me, were the first couple of gigs many years earlier.


This was back in the mid-1960s. My parents took me to a little lounge on the western fringe of Albany NY. The names of the club and the strip mall in which it was located now escape me. But Freddy was an annual regular there on his performance circuit at the time. A few nights later, or perhaps the next year, I went back with two or three classmates and our dates after junior prom, just to hear Freddy. Not-your-typical after-prom party for a bunch of high schoolers.

Little did I know at the time that this first live jazz exposure, with Freddy performing solo, would whet my appetite for jazz in the way it has. 

But it sure did.

Here's a link to my review of his Naples appearance for JazzTimes.