Friday, June 18, 2021

Back to The Barrel Room

What a night it was in downtown Fort Myers FL. Thursday evening, June 17, was just the second time back on stage at The Barrel Room at Twisted Vine Bistro for the Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto Quartet.

Dan Miller, Brandon Robertson
Lew Del Gatto
The band has been featured at the venue every Thursday night for the past five years – except for a 15-month pandemic lull that ended last week. Thanks to vaccinations, a mask or two spotted in the full house, and a need to return to jazz normalcy, the regulars were enthusiastic and the band responded in kind. And, as always, there were a few surprises. You can never be sure who will sit in with the quartet, which features Miller on trumpet, Saturday Night Live alumn Del Gatto on tenor sax, bassist Brandon Robertson and hard-swinging drummer Tony Vigilante.

Rupert and Hino join the band
Tenor saxophonist Jeff Rupert, who heads the jazz studies program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and Japanese trumpeter Terumasa Hino, who spends a lot of the year living in Southwest Florida, joined them midway through the first set. Tenor player Gerald Augustin and trumpeter Bill Dowling expanded the band further in the second set.

Jeff Rupert, Terumasa Hino
Tony Vigilante
The wide-ranging, principally bop evening featured distinctive solos from each of them, as they explored material from Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Tadd Dameron, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and others. A bit of the classical world was borrowed when they dug into Ferde GrofĂ©’s “On The Trail,” which saxophonists Jackie McLean and Dexter Gordon brought into the jazz canon on their 1973 recording The Meeting (SteepleChase).

Favorite moments

  • A first set Jazz at the Philharmonic-style ballad medley, which has become a weekly staple with each of the horn players played a different ballad over the constant rhythm. On this night, Hino began with “Stella By Starlight,” Del Gatto picked up with “I Can’t Get Started,” Rupert added “Nancy With the Laughing Face” and Miller brought it to a close with “Embraceable You.” Each soloist dug deep into the melody and the meaning to bring out new facets to the music. It was nothing short of gorgeous.
  • The band’s take on Dameron’s jazz classic “On a Misty Night,” which the trumpeter based on the chord changes to “September in the Rain.”

Bill Dowling
Gerald Augustin
There was heat and fire as well, particularly on Miles Davis’s “Blues by Five,” Dizzy’s “Birk’s Works” and Kenny Dorham’s classic “Prince Albert.”

Welcome back to strong jazz in an intimate club setting.

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