John Tendy Quartet at Phoenix Musicians Hall

Patricia Myers By

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John Tendy Quartet
Phoenix Musicians Hall
Phoenix, Arizona
Nay 16, 2015

Once again, New York City tenor saxophonist John Tendy brought his energy and style to the stage of the Musicians Hall in Phoenix, performing with Phoenix pianist Armand Boatman and acoustic bassist Jack Radavich, plus Los Angeles drummer Dick Weller.

The repertoire was audience-friendly, from "Work Song" and "Sweet Georgia Brown" to "Tea for Two" and "Under Paris Skies." The quartet's synergy was exhilarating and full of energy, whether performing a samba or a be-bop classic.

"Sweet Georgia Brown" was counted off at near Uzi-speed, Boatman's fleet fingers and agile invention injecting quotes from "Flight of the Bumblebee," "Nola" and "Honeysuckle Rose." Listeners smiled at hearing the golden oldie, "September in the Rain," and seemed to be spellbound by the exquisitely slow ballad rendition of the usually bouncy "Tea for Two." The torrid tempo of "Nagasaki" was a roaring pleasure, contrasted with the intimate fervor of "Body and Soul," Tendy offering a soliloquy of 32nd notes to end the chart.

The quartet of these veteran jazz musicians created instant synergy, the most indelible characteristic of jazz, even though they don't perform together regularly. Another exceptional element came via each musician's rich repertoire, most evident in their clever injections of phrases from other songs, i.e. "jazz quotes." Boatman is the widely acclaimed resident-genius of same and, teamed with Tendy and Radavich, his clever excerpts triggered chuckles and grins among other musicians and uber-cognizant jazz fans in attendance.

Among those was Weller's first college drum teacher, Don Bothwell, retired professor of percussion and bands director at Mesa Community College. Weller, who grew up in Arizona, also was an early-years member of The Young Sounds of Arizona, the statewide high-school-age honor jazz band organization created in 1971 by the Phoenix Federation of Musicians, Local 586 AFM, and supported since then by the union. Its two youth bands and two combos performed June 1 in the Musical Instrument Museum concert hall.

Tendy and Weller previously appeared with the Phoenix duo at the Musicians Hall on Nov. 24, 2013. That free concert was one in a continuing series in the performance area of the union hall. This concert was presented in cooperation with Jazz in the Hills, a semi-monthly jazz concert series in nearby Fountain Hills. Its organizer, Rich Tews, presented awards to student musicians, including the Jazz in the Hills Armand Boatman Lessons Scholarship to Christopher Reyes; Jazz in the Hills Summer Lessons Scholarships to Sheldon Alexander, Paul Beckman, Chris Clements and Dawson Weiss; and the Local 586/Young Sounds Lessons Scholarships (with John Tendy) to Nicole Caryl, Micah Blalack and The Young Sounds saxophones, Parker Treadway, Nate Cooper and Mariel Sokolov.

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