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'tits 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 eventSir John Dankworth
. 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
was a real delight. The Jazz Party gave the musicians a chance to play in new combinations and to explore fresh collaborationsopportunities 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
'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
was also delightfulas 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
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