Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In walked Mike...

One of the cool things about a jam session is that you never know who may show up and enhance the proceedings - above and beyond the regulars. Such was the case last night at the South County Jazz Club's weekly jam at Allegro Bistro in Venice FL.

Goodman, Mainieri, Mancini, Hassan, Ellison
Mike Mainieri, a longtime fixture in jazz fusion and the New York and studio music scene, popped in - and ended up playing five tunes over the course of the three-hour jam. Between the two men, club fixture Jack Fanning’s vibes never had such an extensive workout at Allegro.

Mainieri treated the crowd to his swinging and shimmering touch on a variety of standards, including “The Days of Wine and Rose,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “When I Fall in Love” and “Moonglow.” The big treat - the simpatico and shared support  when he dug into “Autumn Leaves” with Tom Ellison on alto sax and the house rhythm section (Tommy Goodman on piano, Dominic Mancini on bass and Dane Hassan on drums). Goodman reminded Mainieri that they’d done studio work together back in the day.

Mainieri, who turns 75 this July, cut his jazz teeth with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in the 1950s, then worked with Buddy Rich, Benny Goodman and Wes Montgomery, among others, before becoming one of the Big Apple’s busy studio musicians. He founded the fusion group Steps Ahead in 1979. His colleagues over the course of the band’s various iterations included saxophonist Michael Brecker, drummers Steve Gadd and Peter Erskine, bassist Eddie Gomez, pianists Don Grolnick, Warren Bernhardt and Eliane Elias, and guitarists Chuck Loeb and Mike Stern.

Mike heard about the South County Jazz Club jam from his brother Marty, who lives in neighboring North Port. Mike and his wife Dee were visiting - and starting to house hunt in the area for an eventual move south. He’s already found new fans at Allegro.

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