Thursday, March 22, 2018

A great day in Venice

Morrie Trumble
Nearly seven years ago, former broadcaster Morrie Trumble was asked to start a jazz club in Venice for music fans who loved mainstream swing and a bit of bebop. It started small with scattered concerts and regular jam sessions. Before long, the South County Jazz Club, set up to serve the southern end of Sarasota County, was serving up helpings of jazz with season-long series of concerts generally running from October through April.

Trumble, who has been president and major domo of the organization all these years, is stepping back a bit to serve strictly as artistic director. Others on the Board of Directors and volunteers, are picking up the day-to-day administrative details.

On Thursday, March 22, people jammed into the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice for a matinee jam session to honor - and thank - Trumble for his herculean efforts over the years, including some headaches he never wanted.

Al Hixon

Drummer Al Hixon put together a rhythm section for the afternoon - himself, bassist John Lamb and pianist Billy Marcus. Hixon played just one tune before turning the drum chair over to a succession of other timekeepers, and spent the rest of the afternoon juggling talent in varying combinations.

Greg Caputo
Sixteen instrumentalists and three singers took to the stage for this revolving tribute, then most joined together for a final jam-style romp through "Broadway."

In brief remarks, Trumble said his mission all these years has been to present straight-ahead jazz - "and smoke out the people who say they play jazz but don't. Smooth jazz has given jazz a real identity crisis," he said.

Fine moments: 
  • When Greg Caputo took over the drum kit from Hixon, the trio dug into "I Love Being Here With You" with singer Vivian Murray. During his solo, the always-inventive Marcus dropped in a "Take the A Train" melodic riff in a subtle nod to ex-Duke Ellington bassist Lamb, drawing a few smiles.
  • Guitarist Dave Trefethen and tenor saxophonist Jim Wellen, and then guitarist Nate Najar and bassist Lamb, teamed up on several tasty duets that added warmth and musical intimacy to the program.
    Nate Najar, John Lamb

Dave Trefethen, Jim Wellen
 This event was a thank you on many levels. Area jazz fans saluted Trumble for providing hundreds of concerts for their enjoyment over six robust seasons - so far. 

And area musicians, like Najar who drove down from St. Petersburg to play a few tunes - got to thank him for the many performance opportunities that Trumble gave them over the years. He always insisted they get decent paychecks for their efforts - and raised that pay level whenever he could.

Len Murphy, Bud Leeds
The "Broadway" jam finale

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