Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Honoring Buddy, Rosie and many more

David Pruyn
Buddy Rich and Rosemary Clooney were top of mind when trumpeter-singer David Pruyn brought his Jazz Legacy Big Band back to Port Charlotte on Monday, March 12. Both received multi-song tributes in this artful program. The evening also highlighted the music of other big-band leaders, composers and arrangers - some well known, some deserving of far more recognition. 
Pruyn drafted an A-team of Florida jazz musicians for this Charlotte County Jazz Society concert, with drummer Eddie Metz Jr. powering the band. Area newcomer Roy Gerson, a nationally known jazz pianist who moved to Naples seven months ago, and bassist Charlie Silva completed the rhythm section. The leader's wife, the talented singer Michele James-Pruyn, spiced up the evening with a half-dozen tunes, five of them from the Clooney hit parade. 

The Buddy Rich tribute was fitting, because hearing drummer Rich's road band live in 1969 as a kid drummer in his father's circus band whetted Pruyn's appetite for big band jazz. The New Orleans native has spent time on a half-dozen of the big-name big-bands that have tour the country over the years. In addition to leading the band heard this night, he also is the new leader of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.
Eddie Metz Jr.

The Rich-related portions of the concert included Buddy's traditional opening number, Sammy Nestico's "Ya Gotta Try," (which was Pruyn's opener this night); a big-band take on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Wave," on which bass trombonist Chris Lundquist's solo floated over the reed section's flute chorus; another longtime Rich opener, "Mexicali Nose"; and a "West Side Story" medley that Rich had commissioned for his band. The latter spotlighted Metz and hornman Scott Melamerson, who had been Rich's lead trumpeter.
Michele James-Pruyn

The Clooney tribute included "Something's Gotta Give," the feverish "Mambo Italiano," "Hey There" from The Pajama Game, "Someone to Watch Over Me" and the frisky "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening." James-Pruyn also delivered a poignant take on the Luis Bonfa bossa nova "The Gentle Rain."

Roy Gerson
Other big band gems delivered this night included Bob Florence's melancholy composition "Autumn," Phil Kelly's arrangement of "Sweet Georgia Upside Down" (recorded by trombonist Bill Watrous and the Manhattan Wiildlife Refuge),Oliver Nelson's "Baja Bossa,"and Pruyn's take on Woody Herman's vocal hit, "Sonny Boy." He also sang on a Ron McConnell arrangement of the Mel Torme hit "Liza, "Fools Rush In" and the Sergio Mendes hit "Like a Lover."  

The program closed with Mike Barone's "Peachy," which was trumpeter Doc Severinsen's "Tonight Show" closing number when he fronted the band.
Danny Jordan

Tenor saxophonist Danny Jordan was a solo powerhouse, with spotlight moments on the Tom Kubis arrangement of "When You're Smiling," "Autumn" and "Mexicali Nose," among others. Alto saxophonists Peter BarenBregge and Valerie Gillespie were featured respectively on ""Baja Bossa" and Patrick Williams' arrangement of the Ray Noble composition "I Hadn't Anyone 'Til You."   

The concert drew an estimated 375 people to the Charlotte County Cultural Center's William H. Wakeman III Theater.

Jazz Legacy Big Band

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