Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

4

Joanna Pascale at Chris' Jazz Cafe

Victor L. Schermer By

Sign in to view read count
Joanna Pascale
Chris' Jazz Cafe
Philadelphia, PA
November 10, 2018

The content of this show came as a complete surprise to this reviewer. I expected vocalist Joanna Pascale, who is by now a Philadelphia legend, to sing a typical set of standards from the Great American Songbook. Instead, she blew everyone away with a set of Italian tunes that I usually hear in the background at a little coffee shop called Anthony's in South Philadelphia! What was going on here?

What happened, according to her own spoken narrative, was that Pascale recently became interested in her Italian ancestry when she discovered an old, broken-down violin in the attic and traced it to a grandfather who played it and made some 78rpm records in Italy. Her Italian roots emerged big time, and she decided to honor her heritage. (With the infusion of European jazz in recent years, musicians have frequently played songs of diverse ethnicities, so Pascale was riding a trend.) She served as singer, band leader, arranger, narrator, and producer/director of a show that could have wowed them at the Sands in Las Vegas, one of Frank Sinatra's old haunts. Dressed and coiffed Italian style and a superb story-teller, Pascale generated what was virtually a theatrical event.

Fortunately for the jazz-loving folks in the crowd at Chris,' she and her group of superb musicians (Jim Ridl on piano, Larry McKenna on tenor saxophone, Matthew Parrish on bass, and Dan Monaghan on drums) were able to convey the sense of an Italian Festa while swinging and improvising with all the panache of a top jazz ensemble. The combination generated waves of enthusiasm in the packed house, who—aside from her family who were there—were probably as surprised as me.

The set began with the potboiler "Come Back to Sorrento," a ballad which Pascale milked for all its sentimentality, her voice beautifully capturing the Italian inflections. Ridl inserted some subtle jazz changes, and Monaghan gave it a rhythmic pulse that could have done well in Kansas City in the time of Papa Jo Jones. Thanks to the genius of the best jazz musicians who move easily among genres, it worked!

Opera great Mario Lanza grew up in South Philadelphia and has a park named after him. Turning to pops, his biggest hit was "Be My Love," which in Pascale and the group's hands evoked a feeling of an Italian wedding when the newlyweds slice the cake.

The jazz emphasis returned with an offer you can't refuse: a perfectly crafted solo by McKenna on "Promise Me You'll Remember" (the theme from Godfather III). The haunting song "Estate" covered by many Brazilian musicians such as Joao Gilberto, earned its place because it was composed by an Italian, Bruno Martino, and was given extra flair by a marvelous Stan Getz bossa-inflected solo by McKenna.

All the while, the ghost of Frank Sinatra seemed to be present in the room. And Sinatra got his due with an arrangement of "The Best is Yet to Come" that swung with his signature rhythm changes and accentuations. Next, there was a not-so-familiar song "What Have You Taught Me to Do?" It is a song about the disillusionment that comes after a first romance which Pascale sung in Neapolitan dialect and then in English translation. Finally, Parrish's artful bass cadenza introduced the ever popular "Volare," with audience involvement ("oh oh oh oh!") rarely heard at a jazz club. Pascale had effectively transformed a darkened jazz club into an Italian block party!

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Date Detail Price
Dec19Wed
8:00 pm
Larry Mckenna Jazz Orchestra Featuring...
Chris' Jazz Cafe
Philadelphia, PA
$15
Dec19Wed
10:00 pm
Larry Mckenna Jazz Orchestra Featuring...
Chris' Jazz Cafe
Philadelphia, PA
$15

Related Articles

Read Ideas Of Noise 2018 Live Reviews
Ideas Of Noise 2018
by Martin Longley
Published: December 18, 2018
Read Galway Jazz Festival 2018: Day 2 Live Reviews
Galway Jazz Festival 2018: Day 2
by James Fleming
Published: December 17, 2018
Read Galway Jazz Festival 2018: Day 3 Live Reviews
Galway Jazz Festival 2018: Day 3
by James Fleming
Published: December 17, 2018
Read 2018 Galway Jazz Festival 2018: Day 4 Live Reviews
2018 Galway Jazz Festival 2018: Day 4
by James Fleming
Published: December 17, 2018
Read Brian Wilson Presents The Christmas Album Live Live Reviews
Brian Wilson Presents The Christmas Album Live
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Jazz Migration 2018 Live Reviews
Jazz Migration 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2018
Read "Anat Fort Quartet at Cornelia Street Café" Live Reviews Anat Fort Quartet at Cornelia Street Café
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2018
Read "TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2018
by John Kelman
Published: June 29, 2018
Read "Jazz for all Ages at Sonesta Resort" Live Reviews Jazz for all Ages at Sonesta Resort
by Martin McFie
Published: November 14, 2018
Read "Galway Jazz Festival 2018: Day 2" Live Reviews Galway Jazz Festival 2018: Day 2
by James Fleming
Published: December 17, 2018
Read "Django Festival in Fontainbleu" Live Reviews Django Festival in Fontainbleu
by Martin McFie
Published: July 13, 2018