addition to his fiery playing, trumpeter Miller, a walking archive of
jazz details, shared many of the back stories behind the 16 favorite
tunes the band performed. Co-leader Del Gatto, a 30-year alum of the
NBC Saturday Night Live Band, was an excellent foil with his
to-the-point, but always gorgeous and inventive, tenor sax solos.
Lew Del Gatto
Their all-star band was rounded out by longtime Big Apple pianist Roy Gerson, trombonist Herb Bruce, bassist Brandon Robertson and drummer Tony Vigilante. Bruce's wife, the fine singer Patricia Dean, better known as a drummer in some performance settings, joined for three tunes.
The mood-shifting repertoire included “In a Mellow Tone,” “Satin Doll,” Strayhorn's 1941 composition “Take the A Train,” which soon became the Duke Ellington Orchestra's theme song, and two classic compositions by Ellington trombonist Juan Tizol (“Perdido” and the blazing concert closer “Caravan”).
were many fine moments. The ballad “Mood Indigo” showcased
Gerson's inventive keyboard artistry and Bruce's beautiful tone and
range on the trombone. Listen close, and you'd swear he's singing the
melody through his horn.
Roy Gerson, Patricia Dean
Dean was featured on “I'm Beginning to See the Light,” which Ellington co-wrote with Johnny Hodges and Harry James. Then she kicked off the first of three fine Ellington songbook medleys. It began with Dean in the spotlight on “I Got it Bad (and That Ain't Good),” then Gerson was featured on “Sophisticated Lady” and Miller closed it out with his solo on Strayhorn's Persian-tinged “Isfahan” from Duke's Far East Suite.
|Dan Miller, Herb Bruce|
The sextet closed things out with two exhilarating arrangements: “Just Squeeze Me” and the aforementioned “Caravan.” That Tizol-penned classic showcased Philadelphia-native Vigilante's drum skills. He blends a hard-swinging groove with subtle accents and tasty surprises.
The concert was the
second CCCJS event at the Military Heritage Museum's Gulf Theater in
Punta Gorda because of the closure of the Charlotte County Cultural
Center in early November. Miller noted the change. “The acoustics
here are amazing,” he told the crowd of about 170. “You really
struck gold with this new venue.” The only amplification used on
stage was for vocals, announcements and a some of Bruce's trombone
solos – more out of habit than necessity.
Gerson, Dean, Del Gatto, Robertson, Vigilante, Miller, Bruce