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Norwich Jazz Party 2010

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Norwich Jazz Party
Norwich, UK
May 1-3, 2010
Norwich may well be one of the loveliest cities in Britain, but the May Day holiday weekend was wet and miserable, volcanic ash from Iceland was still threatening travel plans and even the exciting prospect of a General Election the following week was failing to lift the spirits. Thankfully, the fourth Norwich Jazz Party managed to achieve what the General Election couldn't—its three joyous days of exceptional mainstream jazz brought smiles and good cheer to its enthusiastic audience.
Howard Alden, Frank Tate, Bucky Pizzarelli, Jim Galloway

The 2010 Jazz Party was dedicated to three great and well-loved jazz musicians whose deaths had sadly occurred in the months leading up to the event—Sir John Dankworth
John Dankworth
John Dankworth
1927 - 2010
saxophone
, Jake Hanna
Jake Hanna
Jake Hanna
b.1931
and John Bunch
John Bunch
John Bunch
1921 - 2010
piano
. The Party featured around 30 musicians from Britain, the United States and Italy, playing in combinations ranging from solo to 14-piece big bands. Many were making return visits but there were also some first-timers, including the exciting trombonist John Allred and the irrepressible singer, guitarist and raconteur Marty Grosz
Marty Grosz
Marty Grosz
b.1930
guitar
, whose double act with reed player Ken Peplowski
Ken Peplowski
Ken Peplowski
b.1959
clarinet
was a real delight.
The Jazz Party gave the musicians a chance to play in new combinations and to explore fresh collaborations—opportunities the players all grabbed with enthusiasm, creativity and good humor. Occasionally things went a little awry, but such minor failings were taken in stride by the players and by the audience. More often than not the unfamiliar mixtures were a success, leading to some surprising and exhilarating performances.

Two outstanding performances came from musicians at the opposite ends of the age spectrum. The young Italian pianist Paolo Alderighi, making his first appearance in Norwich, and the venerable guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli
Bucky Pizzarelli
Bucky Pizzarelli
b.1926
guitar
both played exceptionally across the weekend, creating some beautiful music. Alderighi was a late addition to the Party, replacing and recommended by his fellow Italian Rossano Sportiello
Rossano Sportiello
b.1974
piano
. He has a delicate and precise playing style for the most part although, as he demonstrated on a version of Fats Waller
Fats Waller
Fats Waller
1904 - 1943
piano
's "Handful of Keys," he can also play punchy and driving rhythms as well. Alderighi was a popular accompanist and rhythm player in the ensemble sets, but his brief solo spots were especially effective and showed a real maturity of expression. Pizzarelli is now in his mid-80s but showed no sign of slowing down or of losing any of his obvious love of playing. During a small group set devoted to the music of Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt
1910 - 1953
guitar
Pizzarelli's lovely version of "Nuages" was one of the most affecting performances of the weekend, while his short trio set with bassist Giorgos Antoniou and drummer Steve Brown
Steve Brown
Steve Brown
b.1890
was also delightful—as evidenced in the smiles of delight that filled Brown and Antoniou's faces for the entire time.

Once again, some of the Party's most enjoyable playing came from those relatively unsung heroes of jazz, the drummers and bassists, whose musicianship was of a consistently high standard. Individually, their styles ranged from the high-energy and exciting playing of drummer Joe Ascione
Joe Ascione
Joe Ascione
b.1961
drums
to the more laid back approach of bassist Frank Tate
Frank Tate
Frank Tate
b.1943
or drummer Bobby Worth
Bobby Worth
Bobby Worth
b.1949
. Ed Metz, Jr. contributed a powerful and inventive drum solo while duetting—or perhaps that should be duelling—with the driving rhythm guitar of Pizzarelli. Nicki Parrott brought her bass to the front of the stage to take lead vocals on a set of jazz standards while Tate's solo on "Willow Weep For Me" was one of the loveliest of the weekend on any instrument.

Vocal performances were much in evidence across the weekend. Annie Ross
Annie Ross
Annie Ross
b.1930
vocalist
(above)—accompanied by Antoniou and Brown as well as by her regular New York collaborators pianist Tardo Hammer
Tardo Hammer
Tardo Hammer
b.1958
piano
and brass player Warren Vache
Warren Vache
Warren Vache
b.1951
cornet
—performed three different sets, and while her voice lacks its previous impact she remains an arresting on-stage presence: her performance of "Lush Life," accompanied by Hammer, was a Party highlight. Trumpeter Enrico Tomasso and soprano saxophonist Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
b.1936
also demonstrated their vocal abilities on one or two tunes: the latter on "Everybody Loves Saturday Night" during a tribute set to the late clarinetist Sandy Brown.

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