Swingin' Into Spring, Poston-Style
After Thursday afternoon's panel there was time to squeeze in two more concerts before supper, the first of which was presented by Roger Neumann's Rather Large Band (not "rather large big band, as he reminded his audience). Alto saxophonist Brian Scanlon was showcased on "Pennies From Heaven in a set that included "Undecided, "For Heaven's Sake, "The Cat Walk, Gerry Mulligan's "Elevation, Billy Strayhorn's "Take The 'A' Train and Madeline Vergari (Neumann) singing Sammy Nestico's arrangement of Ray Noble's "The Very Thought Of You. Neumann and Jennifer Hall engaged in a baritone saxophone "duel on "Cat Walk, while tubaist Jim Self thundered forth on "Elevation. Trumpeters Summers, Stacy Rowles and Jack Coan, tenor saxophonist Lee Callet and pianist Tom Ranier were among the other soloists. Huffsteter, whose sad duty it was to announce the passing of Buddy Childers, was next up with his big band, and it was at this point that the eye strain became too pronounced and I stopped taking notes. It was, however, another excellent set (dedicated to Childers' memory), and I seem to recall the ensemble performing "Soul Foo Yung (Doug Webb, tenor saxophone; Rick Keller, alto saxophone), "Astral Glide (Keller, soprano saxophone; Chris Connor, bass; Dave Tull, drums) and "Slo Flo (Jerry Pinter, tenor saxophone) among other tunes. They may also have played "A Waltz And Battery but I'm not sure about that one. In any event, all of those numbers are on the band's new CD, Live At Café 322, which I'm looking forward to hearing as soon as I have a spare moment. There was one anomalythe trumpet section consisted of Pete DeSiena, Lee Thornburg (from The Tonight Show band), Larry McGuire and Mark Lewis. No Bob Summers!
After supper came two concerts in onedrummer Frank Capp's Juggernaut, wailing on those good old Basie charts by Sammy Nestico and others, and vocalist Ernie Andrews backed by the Juggernaut in a program of well-known standards. Summers was back for this gig, complementing DeSiena, Ron King and Dan Bryan in the trumpet section. The standout soloists included Summers; saxophonists Webb, Lanny Morgan and Gene Cipriano; trombonists Charlie Morillas and Bob McChesney; pianist John Proulx, bassist Jim Hughart and of course, Capp at the drum kit. Alas, Andrews' smooth baritone saxophone was ill-served by the subpar sound system and wayward acoustics, but from what one could hear he is singing about as well as ever.
Friday's early film and a poolside concert by the Riverside Community College Jazz Ensemble, directed by Charlie Richard, were followed by another in the seemingly endless series of highlights, saxophonist Ann Patterson's all-female Maiden Voyage Big Band, which proved conclusively that one doesn't have to have an adam's apple to swing. The mouth-watering menu, which included "There Will Never Be Another You, Melba Liston's "Melba's Blues and "Just For You, Cedar Walton's "Bolivia, Rodgers and Hammerstein's "I Enjoy Being A Girl, Stacy Rowles' ardent vocal on "God Bless The Child, and an up-tempo romp called "Hammy that featured "the two Jennifers, Hall on baritone saxophone, Krupa on trombone, was warmly appreciated by the audience, so much so that Maiden Voyage was the only band we heard that was unable to leave the stage without playing an encoreCharlie Chaplin's "Smile (on which Patterson, Hall, Ariel Alexander, Sharon Hirata and Scheila Gonzales formed a charming five-flute choir).
Not to be outdone, composer/arranger/trombonist Mike Barone reached deep into his bag of tricks later that afternoon and stir-fried tasty new arrangements of such well-cooked chestnuts as "Melancholy Baby, "Has Anybody Seen My Gal?, "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby, "Darktown Strutters Ball, "Avalon and Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is The Ocean. Completing the spellbinding program were Bobby Timmons' funky "Dat Dere and Barone's "Elkhart (based, quite naturally, on "Indiana ). The ensemble was in superlative form (especially its sterling rhythm section comprised of pianist Proulx, bassist Joel Hamilton and drummer Paul Kreibich), as were the soloists, including Summers (again), trombonists Barone and Dave Ryan, and saxophonists Bishop, Brian Williams and Kim Richmond, who like Summers and others was a standout in several ensembles. Note to Mike B: when you ask an audience to identify a song, be sure you get it right yourself. It's not "Five Foot Two, Eyes Of Blue (even though that's part of the lyric) but "Has Anybody Seen My Gal? We'll forgive you this time...but don't let it happen again.