Monday, October 8, 2012

Swinging the oldies with fresh arrangements

Johnny Varro
The Florida edition of pianist Johnny Varro's Swing 7 opened the Charlotte County Jazz Society's 2012-13 season tonight by giving a swinging vitality to vintage jazz material. Material that would be "no later than the '60s. That's beyond our time," Varro told the Charlotte Cultural Center audience.

The Port Charlotte FL concert featured tunes that Varro borrowed heavily from the Duke Ellington and Count Basie Orchestra songbooks, along with material composed by W.C. Handy, Jelly Roll Morton, Al Cohn, John LaPorta, Frank Foster, Benny Carter and Mel Powell, among others. Even Frederic Chopin made it into the mix.

The band featured trumpeter Charlie Bertini, trombonist Jeff Lego and saxophonists Rodney Rojas and Terry Myers in the horn section, with bassist Mark Neuenschwander and drummer Eddie Metz Jr. rounding out the rhythm section.

The playing was top notch from start to finish, with Rojas standing out on the band's soaring version of Ellington alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges' "You Need to Rock." Rock they did, swinging mightily of course.

The series of monthly concerts runs through April.

Johnny Varro's Swing 7


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