Sullivan's band for the evening included trombonist Dante Luciani, Marc Berner on flute, pocket trumpet and saxophones, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Vince Evans and drummer Barry Smith.
Sullivan, now 85, played with Charlie Parker and Lester Young in the 1950s and co-led a classic bebop quintet with trumpeter Red Rodney from 1980-85. He is a multi-instrumentalist and then some, playing trumpet, pocket trumpet, alto and soprano saxes, flute and afuche cabasa, a Latin hand-percussion instrument that added exotic textures to several tunes.
Bassist Evans was featured on vocals on "Everything Happens to Me" and "Almost Like Being in Love," a Sullivan concert staple. Berner and Sullivan shifted to pocket trumpets for "The Toy Trumpet," which was written for the 1938 movie "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" starring Shirley Temple.
The band's version of Mongo Santamaria's "Afro-Blue," which closed the first set, was tedious at best. Rather than the bright and lovely sound associated with the horn, Sullivan's soprano sax sounded more like an instrument at a Middle Eastern bazaar on this and several other tunes. Bizarre indeed.
|Ira Sullivan and Marc Berner
That flutes and trombone combination was featured on "Christmastime is Here," "Corcovado" and the evening's closer: a beautiful version of "Day by Day" from the musical "Godspell" that segued into "Amazing Grace."
|Stawski, Evans, Sullivan, Smith, Berner, Luciani