Morell came to Port Charlotte with the M&M Latin Jazz Ensemble, a septet that he co-leads with his wife, Michiko, a talented Japanese-born percussionist who also sings. On this night, she didn't sing nearly enough.
The percussion-rich ensemble also featured Rupert on tenor sax and flute, Richard Drexler on piano, Cuban-born Mauricio Rodriguez on bass, Omar Perdomo on congas and Dimas Sanchez on drums, the latter pair originally from Puerto Rico. Michiko played bongos and a gourd-like güiro, a Latin percussion staple that has exterior notches that when rubbed by a stick creates a ratchet sound.
|Omar Perdomo, Mauricio Rodriguez|
- Morell's take on a Bill Evans arrangement of "Goodbye," a poignant Gordon Jenkins tune that became Benny Goodman's closing theme for his big band broadcasts.
- The band heating up on "The Day After Yesterday," one of two Morell originals shared this night with Rupert shifting to flute.
- The band's Latin take on Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood." Rupert turned in a superb tenor sax solo here as the band transformed this classic into something exotic.
- Michiko's passionate vocals and güiro playing on the lone Latin tune in the program, the Cuban band Orquesta Aragon's classic "Son al Son." This gem also featured Rupert on flute.
|Jeff Rupert, Michiko Morell|
The ensemble only performed five tunes in each of the lengthy sets. As superb as the playing was, the extended solos given to each player in every arrangement slowed the evening considerably.
The concert drew a crowd of more than 300 to the Cultural Center of Charlotte County's William H. Wakeman III Theater.
|Drexler, Rupert, Perdomo, Rodriguez, Michiko, Marty Morell, Sanchez|