Thursday, October 3, 2013

Brotherly jazz – a special musical bond [updated]

Philadelphia has a wonderful lineage of jazz siblings. Just as the Jones brothers (Hank, Thad and Elvin) burst onto the jazz scene from Pontiac, Michigan, and the Marsalis clan emerged from New Orleans to make their mark on jazz, Philly gave jazz Jimmy, Percy and Albert “Tootie” Heath; Wallace and Antoine Roney; and Kevin, Robin and Duane Eubanks. 

It also was the birthplace of jazz brothers Dominic and Joe Mancini. Bassist and alto saxophonist Dominic was a longtime local fixture on the Philly-Atlantic City-South Jersey corridor for many years before moving to Southwest Florida a dozen or so years ago. Steady jazz gigs and golf keep him busy. Joe, based in South Jersey, plays piano three nights a week at Steve and Cookie’s in Margate NJ, where’s he’s been featured for 16 years. He works additional Atlantic City-area gigs on other nights. 
This week and next, Joe is visiting Dominic here in Florida, and it means we get to witness their wonderful talent blend and special musical bond. 

One of Dominic’s primary gigs is with singer Kitt and pianist Mike Moran on Wednesdays and Saturdays at JD’s Bistro & Grille in Port Charlotte. Last night, Dominic and Joe opened the second set as a duo, treating the crowd to exquisite takes on three standards: “The Days of Wine and Roses,” “Blame It on My Youth” and the Jerome Kern ballad "In Love in Vain,” which is not heard much in jazz anymore. 
The Mancini brothers’ musical simpatico and joy, with frequent smiles back and forth while playing, made this a special musical moment. 
“We don’t play together often, and for a long time didn’t get to because we were in different bands,” Joe told me. “But every time, it feels like (we last played) yesterday.” 

They’ve also got great senses of humor and stories about growing up in Philly, where their next-door neighbor was Pat Martino, who is a decade younger than the Mancinis.

Kitt Moran kiddingly  introduced Joe to the crowd as Dominic’s “older brother.” In reality, he is two years younger. So I asked Joe how old Dominic was. “He’s gonna have to tell you that,” Joe said. Then I asked Joe how old he was. He smiled and replied: “He’s gonna have to tell you that too,” he said with a wide grin and twinkles in his eyes. (Dominic is 81, which means Joe is 79.)

Joe subbed for pianist Tommy Goodman two nights ago at the Venice Ramada Inn, where Dominic is the regular jam session bassist. Joe is likely to sit in there again next Tuesday for a few tunes, as well as at JD’s on Saturday October 5 and Wednesday October 9.

Before Joe prepared to fly back north on October 12, there turned out to be one more delightful surprise. Both Mancinis performed on Thursday, October 10 as part of drummer-singer Patricia Dean's trio at JD's. It was a full evening of the jazz brothers. Joe said he'll be back in the area during the first two weeks of December.

Catch the brother act while you’ve got the chance.

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