Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Two different yet effective jazz vocal approaches

The Charlotte County Jazz Society opened its 25th anniversary season Monday night with a double concert featuring Dave Pruyn and Paulette Pepper. The two Florida-based singers have very different, yet very effective, approaches to the Great American Songbook and jazz canon.

Dave Pruyn
Dave Pruyn opened the evening with an hour-long "Notes in Velvet" tribute set that celebrated his love and respect for late singer Mel Torme, who was nicknamed "The Velvet Fog." Pruyn, who is a musical triple threat as a singer, drummer and trumpeter, worked in Torme's big band horn section on several southern tours in the early 1980s. Pruyn possesses a fine, Torme-like voice, though he was careful to bring his own sound to the Charlotte Cultural Center stage in Port Charlotte. His fine rhythm section included pianist Stan Collins, bassist Charlie Silva and drummer Barry Smith.

D. Pruyn, Charlie Silva, Michelle Pruyn
One highlight was Pruyn and Collins romp through "Start All Over Again," including a J.S. Bach interlude segment that was a Torme concert staple. The show ended with another surprise tribute, when Pruyn's wife, Michelle James Pruyn, joined the fun for a spirited take on the Rosemary Clooney hit "Mambo Italiano" (with Dave backing on trumpet) and a 16th anniversary duet with her hubby on "Memories of You."

Paulette Pepper, James Snyder
 Paulette Pepper and her band, Fine Thyme, performed the second half of the evening, with a set that revealed the singer's friskier swing style and looser programming. She made it a point throughout the set to spotlight each band member at great length, instrumentally and/or vocally. The band included reed player James Snyder, pianist Randy Morris, bassist Billy Pillucere and drummer Patricia Dean, who also was featured vocally on "I Can't Give You Anything But Love."

Pepper, Billy Pillucere
Highlights included her sultry duet with bassist Pillucere on "Just Squeeze Me," and the band's romp through "Basin Street Blues" and "One Note Samba." Pepper opened with "I Love Being Here With You" - and it turned into a statement of fact as well as a lyric. And the Port Charlotte audience loves her too. 
Stan Collins, Charlie Silva, Dave Pruyn, Barry Smith
Randy Morris, Pepper, Billy Pillucere, Patricia Dean, James Snyder

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