Sunday, March 5, 2017

Trad jazz with a few twists

Clarinetist Bud Leeds brought musicians together from near and far - in this case, mostly far - for his annual South County Jazz Club matinee performance on Sunday, March 5 in Venice FL. His "Trad Jazz Ensemble" featured players who are right at home in the traditional jazz/Dixieland genres, but the afternoon touched on more recent music as well.

Bud Leeds

The band included powerhouse pianist Bobby van Deusen (a Pensacola-based member of the Barbary Coast Band), Minneapolis-based bassist Steve Pikal, trad jazz cornetist/multi-instrumentalist Bob MacInnis from Boston, and violinist Jonathan Russell, now 21, a native New Yorker who has been amazing jazz audiences since age 7. Russell was impressive with his solos, comping behind other musicians and in several call-and-response segments with Pikal.
Bobby van Deusen

 Afternoon highlights at this concert at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice included two beautifully structured medleys. 

The first medley, closing the first set, was a two-clarinet feature for Leeds and MacInnis that started with the 1928 standard "My Mother's Eyes" and ended with Sidney Bechet's wistful ballad "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere," which was written in the early 1950s but is better known today from Woody Allen's Oscar-winning 2011 film Midnight in Paris.
Jonathan Russell

Van Deusen, Pikal, Russell
Van Deusen teamed up with Pikal and Russell for a strings-only medley that dominated the second set. He artfully segued through five familiar tunes from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. 

Steve Pikal
They included "Prelude/The Sound of Music," "Do-Re-Mi," "Edelweiss" and "My Favorite Things," varying the mood and intensity of each interpretation to fit the particular song, before the exhilarating closer: "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," which triggered a standing ovation.

A few overly familiar tunes from the Great American Songbook worked their way into the "trad" program as singer Judy Alexander putting cabaret-musical theater touches on "I've Got a Right to Sing the Blues," "Summertime," "Kansas City" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." The band found trad ways to make them more interesting.
Bob MacInnis
Russell, Leeds, Alexander, MacInnis

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