Friday, December 6, 2019

Bud Leeds' musical friends come from all over

Clarinetist Bud Leeds pulled together a fine quintet for his Friday, December 6 concert in Venice  FL, blending varied geographic roots and a bit of holiday humor.

Jonathan Russell
Lamb, Russell, Leeds
Violinist Jonathan Russell flew in from his native New York City. Leeds, until recently splitting the year between Vermont and Venice, is now living in Vermont year-round but also flew back expressly for this show. Drummer Tom Jestadt is a snowbird who splits his year between Toronto and Southwest Florida. Pianist Keith Carman does the same north-south shuffle between Michigan and Bradenton. The only native Floridian on the bandstand for this matinee concert was bassist John Lamb, who was born in Vero Beach but has called St. Petersburg home for many years.

Russell, now 24, has been capturing attention for his jazz violin mastery since age 9. He was a marvel again on this whirlwind visit.

The band gelled beautifully. 

Highlights included:
  • Russell and Leeds' masterful melodic doubling  on violin and clarinet on the 1918 Original Dixieland Jass Band's "Fidgety Feet," and George and Ira Gershwin's "S'Wonderful." 
  • Russell's afternoon features included an exotic twist to the Great American Songbook classic "Autumn Leaves" that set the melody to a sultry samba beat. It was different, well done, and drew a standing ovation from many of the 150 or so jazz fans in the room.
  • Jestadt was featured with Russell on "Caravan," which became a drums-dominant excursion. As they traded solos back and forth, it became a clinic in musical dynamics. 
  • Lamb and Russell's simpatico on Duke Ellington's "In A Mellow Tone."
    Keith Carman

Other material included "Wolverine Blues," Body and Soul," "Memories of You," and British clarinetist Aker Bilk's mega-hit "Stranger on the Shore." 

Leeds' holiday humor came when he introduced one song as being inspired by the Nativity's visiting Magi. The tune? "I Found a New Baby." After that one, he and the band offered a bit of "We Three Kings" before shifting into "The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me." 

Carman's wife, Nancy, joined the band early in the second set for two tasty Christmas tunes. It was an unexpected holiday treat.

The concert at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice was part of producer Morrie Trumble's Jazz With Morrie series.
Carman, Jestadt, Lamb, Russell, Leeds

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