Friday, December 10, 2021

Jazz in the name of love - and loving it

With co-leader Dan Miller out of town, tenor saxophonist Lew Del Gatto brought in guitarist Frank Portolese to join the fun for the weekly quartet gig at The Barrel Room in downtown Fort Myers on Thursday, December 9. 

Lew Del Gatto
Trumpeter Miller was busy with jazz faculty duties at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. So the band this night included Saturday Night Live Band alumnus Del Gatto, Portolese, bassist Brandon Robertson and drummer Tony Vigilante.

Frank Portolese

The highlight of the first set was a Del Gatto-selected string of five tunes that explored many facets of love. "Alone Together" was followed by "I Love You" played in the key of F, which Del Gatto called "the key of love." Then came "Makin' Whoopie," and two relationship-is-over choices, "Gone With the Wind" and "You Don't Know What Love Is."
Tony Vigilante

Lou could have gone on and on with the seemingly endless choices, but didn't. This wasn't a medley of brief snippets. Each tune got an extended instrumental exploration that showcased the players' strong chops, soloing skills, and cohesiveness as a band. Chicago native Portolese fit well in the band, displaying a musical sensitivity that underscored his blistering bebop lines.

They then dug into Sonny Rollins' "Doxy" and closed the first set with a romp through the Gershwin brothers' "I Got Rhythm." 

Len Pierro, Lew Del Gatto
Brandon Robertson
Saxophonist Len Pierro, a snowbird who splits his time between Pennsylvania and southwest Florida, joined the band for three high-energy tunes that closed out the second set. 

They were "Billie's Bounce, an F-major blues that Charlie Parker composed and recorded in 1945 and may have named for the secretary of Dizzy Gillespie's business agent Billy Shaw; Brooks Bowman's classic "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and Lester Young's Count Basie band staple "Lester Leaps In." 

Portolese, whose playing is influenced by Barney Kessel and Joe Pass, blazed his way through his inventive solo passages, particularly on "East of the Sun," and the band was right with him. This was no wistful ballad version.

 These are fine players all the time and in any context.

Del Gatto, Vigilante, Portolese, Robertson

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