Friday, February 28, 2020

An all-star blast of an evening

You never know what surprises you're in for when the Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto quartet holds musical court on Thursday nights at The Barrel Room in downtown Fort Myers FL. It's always billed as a quartet gig - and sometimes that's the case. But on Thursday, February 27, it started out as a sextet and wound up something quite different a few tunes later.
Krakowsky, Vigilante, Del Gatto

Tenor saxophonist Gerald Augustin, a Fort Myers native who divides his time between the City of Palms and New Orleans, was in the mix. So was tenor player Arnie Krakowsky, a Boston-based jazz veteran, who was vacationing in the area. 
The evening began with trumpeter Miller, the three tenors plus bassist Dan Heck and drummer Tony Vigilante. The contrast between the saxophonists was interesting. "Saturday Night Live" Band alum Del Gatto never overplays. Every note has meaning, and his solos are wonderful little stories. Krakowsky, an Artie Shaw Orchestra veteran, firmly sits in the swing tenor tradition. Augustin is more influenced by John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, and has an edgier sound.

The octet

Midway through the first set, the ensemble turned into a little big band, with trumpeters Bill Dowling and Terumasa Hino sitting in.
Connecticut native Dowling is a talented big band, Broadway pit band and circus band lead trumpet veteran who recently moved to the area. Hino, long-considered Japan's premier jazz trumpeter, has been wintering in nearby Bonita Springs for many years. He now lives there most of the year when he's not touring.
Terumasa Hino

There were several standout moments on this exhilarating evening that involved the octet grouping of three trumpets, three tenors, bass and drums:
  • Trumpeter Miller called a ballad medley, in which each horn player selects a different ballad - and they segue from one to the other, like a relay team, over a constant rhythm. Augustin's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" gave way to Dowling's take on "In a Sentimental Mood. Krakowsky dug deep into "Body and Soul" before Hino explored a slightly hotter "Candy." Del Gatto's take on "I Can't Get Started" set up Miller's final segment,
    Dan Miller, Dan Heck
    "Embraceable You."
  • They followed that Jazz at the Philharmonic-style ballad medley with a bluesy romp through Rollins' "Tenor Madness."  
  • The closing tune for the evening brought Dowling and Hino back for a blues in the key of G. Hino added a creative, light moment when he dashed off stage, grabbed an empty wine glass, and used it as a mute for his horn. That was a new one, at least for this listener.
    Terumasa Hino with his improvised glass mute

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