Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Wonderful irony - jazz-style

John Hampton Wagner with
Tommy Goodman and bassist Dominic Mancini
You can never be sure what to expect at a jam session, but it is always nice when previously unknown talent rolls into the venue. Tonight, it was John Hampton Wagner, a Ramada Inn Tuesday jam session first-timer, who drew rave audience response with his takes on "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "What a Wonderful World."

Wagner, who goes by the nickname Hamp, is a singer and trumpeter from Dayton, Ohio, where he emcees Sunday Night Jazz Central Jams. After visiting southwest Florida regularly for the past 10 to 12 years, Wagner said he and his wife bought a home in Venice FL and plan to split their year between Ohio and southwest Florida.

Wagner, who now uses a motorized wheelchair as he battles multiple sclerosis, is a fine singer and quite competent horn player. The vocals took high honors tonight because of his phrasing, fluid voice and interesting use of time - stretching notes to great effect when warranted.

Wagner's take on "What a Wonderful World, provided the night's irony, bringing the music full circle - though he didn't know it at the time.

Pianist Tommy Goodman, who is in the Venice jam session's house trio, arranged the iconic version of the 1967 ballad that Louis Armstrong recorded with full orchestra (conducted by Goodman).

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