172

Sonny LaRosa and the World's Youngest Jazz Band: 28th Anniversary

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Sonny LaRosa and the World's Youngest Jazz Band: 28th Anniversary Nearly thirty years ago, trumpeter Sonny LaRosa, a transplanted New Yorker living in Florida, decided to use some of his spare time to do something productive. Gathering around him a handful of young wannabe musicians, the former professional trumpeter established America's Youngest Jazz Band, which has been growing in size and talent ever since. The band, whose upper age limit is thirteen, has recorded a number of CDs, with the aptly-titled 28th Anniversary marking its 28th year and the indefatigable LaRosa's 80th birthday.

LaRosa is something of a one-man band himself. He conducts, arranges, chooses the material, rehearses the band and shepherds his young charges to concerts and festivals in Florida, across the country and even overseas to Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival, where the group performed in 1995. A May 2007 performance at the Los Angeles Jazz Institute's Swing Into Spring spectacular earned the WYJB standing ovations.

The band, which began with about half a dozen recruits, is now more than twenty members strong, and LaRosa sees to it that almost every one of them has a moment in the spotlight at least once in every concert. Among the crowd-pleasers in Los Angeles was the WYJB's four-year-old singer, Shekinah Martin. She's not on the CD, but a number of others are, and they acquit themselves admirably on LaRosa's straightforward and likable charts.

The band opens as usual with its signature tune, "Bugle Call Rag, which drew the attention of jazz writer Nat Hentoff and inspired him to write an article about the WYJB in the Wall Street Journal and to include a chapter on them in his book, American Music Is (Da Capo, 2004). Much of the rest is familiar fare, including "Satin Doll, "I've Got a Crush on You and "Over the Rainbow, many recorded on earlier albums, with most of the songs showcasing one or more members of the ensemble.

The band wraps things up with a "Salute to George Gershwin and Louis Prima's memorable "Sing Sing Sing, the theme that made Benny Goodman a household name, with thirteen-year-old drummer Trey Moore sitting in here for Gene Krupa. LaRosa's trumpet takes center stage on the last numbers, "Angel Eyes and "Imagination, and he's heard again on the ballad "When I Fall in Love.

As noted in my review of the band's earlier CD, Live at the March of Jazz 2002 (Self Published, 2002), much to LaRosa's chagrin, no one will ever mistake these kids for Basie, Ellington or Kenton. What's important is that they are doing the best they can, and that LaRosa has instilled in them a love for the music that one hopes may endure for a lifetime. As Nat Hentoff observed, "[LaRosa] should be a model to many educators throughout the world. That he should, and anyone who'd like to hear and be impressed by what he has done need only listen to the album or, better yet, catch the World's Youngest Jazz Band in concert.


Track Listing: Track listing: Bugle Call Rag; Sugar Blues; Satin Doll; Harlem Nocturne; Do Nothin Till You Hear from Me; Lulus Back in Town; Ciribiribin; So Rare; When I Fall in Love; The Continental; Sophisticated Lady; Swingin the Blues; Ive Got a Crush on You; Memories of You; I Want to Be Happy; Im a Big Girl Now; Over the Rainbow; Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White; I Dont Know Why I Love You Like I Do; September in the Rain; Aint Misbehavin; St. Louis Blues; Big Noise from Winnetka; Them There Eyes; A Salute to George Gershwin; Sing Sing Sing; Angel Eyes; Imagination (60:34).

Personnel: Personnel: Sonny LaRosa: leader, music director, trumpet; Maya Bastille: trumpet; Danny Mercer: trumpet, vocals; Mikaela Tillman: trumpet, vocals; Mary Kujak: trumpet; Andrew Kujumdziev: trumpet; Jason Charos: trumpet, vocals; Eddie Hernandez: trumpet, drums; Max Porte: alto sax; Paul Elias: alto sax, vocals; Michael Dahl: alto sax; Robbie Pastrana: alto sax; Jeffrey Ting: tenor and alto sax; Gabrielle (Gabi) Lewis: tenor and baritone sax, vocals; Philip Charos: trombone,vocals; Brandon Little: trombone; Patrick Mentry: trombone; Scott Kujak: trombone; Blair Moore (assistant): bass; Trey Moore: drums, trumpet, vocals.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" CD/LP/Track Review Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground
by James Nadal
Published: April 8, 2016
Read "A Room of One's Own" CD/LP/Track Review A Room of One's Own
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 8, 2016
Read "Dawg Yawp" CD/LP/Track Review Dawg Yawp
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations" CD/LP/Track Review Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 13, 2016
Read "Natural" CD/LP/Track Review Natural
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!