Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A lively jazz afternoon captured for posterity [updated 10-7-2014]

Mike Markaverich
(Note: Ernie Williford, a fine bassist and singer beloved in SW Florida for his soulful  version of "Georgia on My Mind), passed away on October 6, 2014. RIP) 

What do you get when you record before a live audience? In the very best instances - spirited music with no false starts, no retakes and no clams (bad notes). 

Such was the case Tuesday afternoon, June 10 when pianist and singer Mike Markaverich recorded his trio with bassist Ernie Williford and drummer Johnny Moore in the presence of about 50 of their fans at the Venice Art Center.

Moore, Williford, Markaverich
This is a trio, working regularly for about 25 years, where familiarity has bred anything but contempt. It was a musical love fest, where each player knew how to support the others with artistry and finesse. They didn't get in each other's way no matter how bombastic or subtle the tune.

They captured 15 tunes, about 90 minutes' worth of material, in less than two hours. It was drawn from the Great American Songbook, a variety of jazz standards from the likes of Tad Dameron, Kenny Dorham, Dizzy Gillespie, Tom Jobim, Les McCann and Horace Silver. Some down-home blues numbers were strong features for Williford on vocals.
The trio - 25 years and counting
When Sarasota-based Markaverich gets wound up inside a solo, he's a rhythmic and melodic freight train much like one of his piano heroes, the late Oscar Peterson. Fittingly, the program included "Shelley's World," a Bill Traut composition from Peterson's 1966 album, Blues Etude. 

Another delight: the rather leisurely waltz-time arrangement the band gave to the jazz staple "Cherokee." Markaverich said he borrowed that approach from pianist Dave McKenna after hearing his take on the tune in three-quarter time on Cape Cod many years ago.

The leader was also in fine humor. Introducing "How High The Moon," which was pretty much owned by Ella Fitzgerald, he told the crowd: "She couldn't make the gig today, so you've got to put up with me." Ba-dum-dum.

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