Friday, January 11, 2013

Keeping jazz tunes alive

Jim Wellen and Shelly Torman
Tenor saxophonist Jim Wellen's quintet took the South County Jazz Club on a refresher tour Friday through the some of the significant music written and/or recorded by some of the world's most powerful reed players.

The band, featuring Shelly Torman on flute and vocals, Dick Reynolds on piano, Dave Trefethen on bass and Johnny Moore on drums drew a sellout crowd to the Venice Art Center's main gallery space.

The wide range of material they covered included Hank Mobley ("This I Dig of You"), Stan Getz (Only Trust Your Heart"), Frank Foster ("Shiny Stockings"), Coleman Hawkins ("Body and Soul"), Sonny Rollins ("St. Thomas" and "Pent Up House"), Ben Webster (Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life"), Gerry Mulligan ("Bernie's Tune") and Charlie Parker ("On a Slow Boat to China").

With Torman adding his soulful vocals, they spent most time visiting the John Coltrane-Johnny Hartman 1963 namesake project ("Dedicated to You" and "Lush Life"). Torman also treated the crowd to his takes on "Our Love is Here to Stay," Nat King Cole's whimsical "Frim Fram Sauce," a bit of Eddie Jefferson ("Bennie's From Heaven"), and "My Foolish Heart" (with a nod to Tony Bennett and Bill Evans).

"Thankfully people are keeping these tunes alive and will continue to," Wellen said.

And he's doing that in fine fashion.

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