Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Jazz Songbook investigated with chops galore

Jerry Stawski
Pianist Jerry Stawski's sextet brought more than all-star chops to its Charlotte County Jazz Society concert in Port Charlotte FL on Monday, November 9. Through thoughtful programming, it also brought a reminder that there is much more to jazz than the Great American Songbook.

Dante Luciani

Dan Miller
Stawski & Co. pretty much avoided said Songbook and focused on excellent instrumental material with which jazz fans ought to be familiar. They explored a variety of jazz standards by J.J. Johnson, Tadd Dameron, Lee Morgan, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Thad Jones and Denzil Best, among others.

Geoff Saunders
Mike Harvey
Lew Del Gatto

The Naples-based pianist's band for the night included the outstanding trumpeter Dan Miller, Saturday Night Live Band alum Lew Del Gatto on tenor sax, trombonist Dante Luciani, bassist Geoff Saunders and drummer Mike Harvey. While Stawski, Miller and Del Gatto are based on Florida's southwest coast, Harvey, Luciani and Saunders are based in Miami. Saunders, a graduate fellow at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, filled in for bassist Chuck Bergeron, who was unable to make the gig.

Highlights included their takes on Dameron's "On a Misty Night" (which the pianist based on the standard "September in the Rain"),a romp through Navarro's "Barry's Bop," Jones' "Let's Play One," Del Gatto's "And Friends" and a hornless version of the beautiful but little-heard Antonio Carlos Jobim bossa nova "The Red Blouse." The band's poignant take on the Morgan ballad "Ceora" led into a very special ballad medley. It began with a Luciani feature on "Darn That Dream," segued into a Del Gatto exploration of "You Don't Know What Love Is," and then Miller's take on "Tenderly" before Stawski closed it out with Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady." 

This night was stunning all around, both in tune selection and the band's cohesive, swinging delivery.
Stawski, Del Gatto, Miller, Luciani, Saunders, Harvey

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