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Here’s nearly an hour of mild but savory Swing Era–style cooking by the brothers Midiri, woodwind master Joe and multi–instrumentalist Paul, and their New Jersey–based trio and sextet. Not to give away any secrets, but listening to the half–dozen trio numbers, on which Joe Midiri plays clarinet, brother Paul plays drums and Joe Holt is the pianist, one can clearly discern the influence of another well–known trio whose members answered to the names Benny, Gene and Teddy. The sextet is also framed in Benny’s image with guitarist Pat Mercury sitting in for Charlie Christian and Paul Midiri moving occasionally to the vibraphone, where Lionel Hampton once held sway. With a few exceptions, the material comes straight from the Goodman book as well — songs such as “Poor Butterfly,” “China Boy,” “I’ll Never Be the Same,” “Get Happy,” “Avalon” and “Exactly Like You” were key ingredients in Benny’s library, and Goodman himself wrote the breezy “Slipped Disc.” The Midiri brothers and Holt collaborated on “Joe’s Brother,” Joe Midiri wrote “If Pain Persists” and Holt “A Couple of Joes,” none of which subverts the album’s lightly swinging groove. There are four vocals, three by Paula Johns — “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” “I’ve Got It Bad,” “I’m Beginning to See the Light” — and one by drummer Jim Lawlor (“Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby”). But the most eloquent “voice” is that of Joe Midiri’s clarinet, a direct descendant of Benny’s and a reputable heir to the King’s throne. An admirable session that conveys the irrepressible spirit of Goodman’s acclaimed trio and sextet without slavishly copying either one.
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me. Try as I might, I was never able to achieve a high enough level of competency to perform at the level I was first and subsequently exposed to. Regardless, I was hooked on jazz and remain so to this day.