Thursday, October 31, 2019

A masterful night of jazz

Trombonist Michael Dease was well armed with ample doses of creativity, gentility, humor,  and swing when he joined the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra as the sextet opened its 10th concert season on Wednesday, October 30.

Dease, 37, is a busy young performer and educator. In addition to touring the world as a first-call player, he teaches music at Michigan State and runs a summer jazz camp in North Carolina. He also plays trumpet, saxophone and piano.
Michael Dease

This evening with the NPJO's fine team of players.underscored his trombone mastery.  The sextet includes tenor saxophonist and artistic director Lew Del Gatto, trumpeter Dan Miller, violinist Glenn Basham, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Kevin Mauldin and drummer Mike Harvey.

Together, they explored a handful of jazz standards, two Dease originals - and a little-heard treat from the early days of bebop.

Dease paid tribute to one of his own trombone heroes, the late J.J. Johnson with J.J.'s "Shortcake." He honored the modern jazz legacy of gone-too-soon trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who died last year at age 49, with a poignant version of one of Hargrove's favorite ballads, "Never Let Me Go," with just the rhythm section.

Michael Dease & Lew Del Gatto
This performance of Del Gatto's arrangement of Harry Warren's "You're My Everything" included a bit of growling trombone in Dease's solo. The band's take on the Antonio Carlos Jobim's bossa nova "Triste" featured Del Gatto on flute and Miller on muted trumpet. It included a beautiful trumpet-trombone counterpoint segment after Mauldin's solo introduction. Basham's violin work enhanced the exotic bossa feel here.
Glenn Basham

"Brooklyn," the first of Dease's two originals, was named for his 1-year-old daughter. Here and there you could here snippets of the Frankie Valli hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." Stawski dropped in a tasty quote from Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower." He wrote the second tune, "Zanderfied," as a tip of the hat to longtime friend Jeffrey Zander, an insurance broker ho has been instrumental in the success of the Dease-run Jazz Institute  at North Carolina's Brevard Music Center. The tune had an uptempo "Killer Joe" feel.

The evening concluded with a burning version of bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker's 1949 composition "Cardboard," which has fallen into obscurity. In crafting this one, Bird put a fresh melody over the chord progressions of the 1941 pop song "Don't Take Your Love From Me." Dease and the sextet made it fresh and vibrant.
Michael Dease guests with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra
The NPJO's "All That Jazz" season at Artis-Naples' Daniels Pavilion includes performances with singer Carla Cook on November 20, guitarist Peter Bernstein on December 18, tenor saxophonist Jerry Weldon on January 15, vibraphonist Stefon Harris on February 12 and alto saxophonist Charles McPherson on April 22.The sextet digs into the music of Thelonious Monk on May 13.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Swinging effortlessly into a new concert season

It was most appropriate that clarinetist Allan Vaché began the Charlotte County Jazz Society's 2019-2020 concert season opener with the chestnut "Just Friends." He was back for his fourth CCJS appearance, and his first Port Charlotte visit since 2014. And he brought four close musical friends: his current Orlando-based rhythm section plus ace trumpeter Charlie Bertini.
Allan Vaché

The Monday, October 14 event teamed the Jim Cullum Jazz Band alumnus with Bertini, pianist Mark McKee, bassist Charlie Silva and drummer Walt Hubbard. While Bertini and Silva are no strangers to the CCJS stage, this was the first local appearance for Hubbard and McKee. 

The evening featured several Vaché concert staples with other jazz and Great American Songbook fare. It included material from the Duke Ellington repertoire, a bit of movie music, some Gershwin and Hoagy Carmichael, and a brief foray into vintage New Orleans. One concert staple, also performed in Vaché's Port Charlotte appearances in 2011 and 2014, was Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Look to the Sky." Because it is heard so infrequently, these days, Vaché does a great service by sharing this gentle bossa nova.
Charlie Bertini

Vaché's lively, wide-ranging clarinet artistry was featured on Rodgers and Hammerstein's "It Might as Well Be Spring" from the 1945 film "State Fair," which made sense. It's included on his latest recording, It Might as Well Be Swing (Arbors Jazz, 2018), teamed him with the same rhythm section.

Mark McKee

On "Tangerine" and "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" Bertini and Vaché showed what terrific musical foils they are. They played exquisite unison melodies but also delivered solos that built on each other's ideas.

It was clear this night that for Vaché, every tune is a musical adventure unto itself. That spirit lets him spotlight each member of the band several times during a concert. In that regard, he is a most democratic bandleader.

Charlie Silva
Shifting to flugelhorn, Bertini shared a stunning version of the Carmichael ballad "The Nearness of You." Silva took spotlight honors on the early standard "Comes Love" before he and Vaché traded bass and clarinet phrases to close it out. The rhythm section dug into "Some Day My Prince Will Come." Hubbard was featured on two Ellington-associated tunes, Juan Tizol's "Perdido" and "Caravan," the concert closer.
Walt Hubbard

Together, Vaché's quintet delivered a fine evening of effortless swing. 

The concert drew an early season crowd of more than 250 to the Cultural Center of Charlotte County's William H. Wakeman III Theater in Port Charlotte, FL.

McKee, Vaché, Bertini, Silva, Hubbard