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Dave Cullen and Tony Miceli, Reading Public Museum, Berks Jazz Fest

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Dave Cullen and Tony Miceli
Reading Public Museum 22nd Annual Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest
Reading, PA
March 25, 2012

Guitarist Dave Cullen and vibraphonist Tony Miceli played the final Reading Public Museum Bagels & Brunch concert of the season. Held in conjunction with the 22nd annual Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest, the museum atrium provided interesting acoustics in an intimate setting.

Berks county native Cullen, and Philadelphia-based Miceli have frequented local jazz venues in various combos, but this was their first time together in this area as a duo. Cullen's soft Fender Statocaster sound complemented and counterpointed Miceli's Musser vibes. Percussive and melodic, guitar and vibes go together like the venue's bagels and cream cheese.

Grammy-winner Cullen also sang a few tunes in the two sets. Song selection for the morning event mixed a few jazz standards with some jazzy pop, Latin, and a few inspired surprises. Oh, and one totally unanticipated surprise came at the end.

Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone" eased into the classic, "Start All Over Again, popularized by Fred Astaire." Miceli chose Pee Wee King's country melody, "The Tennessee Waltz," for a jazz improv in three-quarter time. Later, Cullen picked "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," for some nice guitar work and easy vocals.

I always hope to hear some unfamiliar music, and was rewarded with two delightful pieces. Cullen introduced a melody by bassist, Steve Swallow, called "Falling Grace," featuring a lovely chord structure for some creative improvisation. Later, Miceli's own composition, "Song for Liz," found an appreciative audience.

Ferde Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite" is not usually considered a jazz piece, but Cullen and Miceli did Grofé's own arrangement called, "On the Trail." Classical stations play Grofé compositions most often today, but he also had a long career as a big-band and jazz arranger.

For some Brazilian rhythms, the duo traded riffs over the Antonio Carlos Jobim classics, "One-Note Samba" and the closer, "Desafinado." Surprise of the morning came in the final bars of the last tune, when the museum lobby grandfather clock chimed 11:00 am in near harmony and beat to finale, delighting musicians and audience alike.

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