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Mark Morganelli: Adds Club Owner To His Resume

R.J. DeLuke By

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In March, a Sunday evening set will be added for "artists that I want to present, but don't necessarily want to put on the weekend for four sets on Friday and Saturday. The first one of those will be March 11. Akira Tana, the drummer, and his group Otonowa."

Friday and Saturday sets are at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday afternoons are Brazilian Music Sundays, with sets at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Meanwhile, Jazz Forum Arts will still have its 34 free summer concerts.

It was about 1979 when Morganelli opened a loft at 50 Cooper Square in New York as the Jazz Forum. "I opened to the public with the Jamaican-born trumpeter Dizzy Reece. The next weekend, Clifford Jordan and his quartet. The third weekend was my band. Slightly thereafter I welcomed Kenny Barron and Roy Haynes, Louis Hayes, Jimmy Cobb, Barry Harris ... Three or four months in I started my two piano, bass and drum concerts with Tommy Flanagan and Barry Harris. Not to far after that, my neighbor Art Blakey wound up playing there. Wynton and Branford Marsalis, who were also my neighbors, played there. There were so many people that came in and out. I'd have an open weekend and would call Philly Joe Jones. He'd throw his drums in his truck and drive up from Philly and play with his quartet. It was a whole different era. Now everything is contracts and 20-page riders."

Morganelli went dark for a night, but resurfaced at the Village Gate with Art D'Lugoff. He presented there for three or four months. There were other shows he put on in the East Village and other venues. They didn't make a lot of money and he took a break. It was during that time he met his wife—a duet for life. She is the general manager of Jazz Forum Arts.

As a trumpet player, he has remained active, playing music in Tarrytown and other spots. He recently played a series of dates in Italy, with Italian musicians, invited by pianist Massimo Farao. Farao will play in Tarrytown in April with Philip Harper and Jimmy Cobb.

He also frequently plays in his club with the Brazilian musicians and is planning a double-live CD of that music as his next recording. It will include folks like Nilson Matta on bass, and Helio Alves on piano.

Morganelli took trumpet lessons in elementary school, played in high school jazz bands and even got some gigs outside of school. He pursued music at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., and got immersed in the Bucknell Jazz and Rock Ensemble. Showing his business acumen even back then, at the school. One recording was Live at Montreux and Wolf Trap, from a gig the 20-year-old procured for the band.

He had listened to a lot of jazz in high school and began seeing live shows. Morganelli's first influences were Doc Severinsen and Al Hirt and Herb Alpert. That segued into Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis and, over time, explorations of Lee Morgan, Blue Mitchell, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown and many more.

After college, he formed bands that played all over the city, while promoting shows. More often than not, his groups included some of the greats currently living there at the time, like Cobb on drums, Walter Booker, Junior Cook and others. His playing career grew and his producer and promoter credits did as well. Now he's running a club and hoping—as many are—that his success continues.

Speaking from his office on Dixon Lane, from which he can still see the Hudson River—though without as grandiose a view as his Dobbs Ferry home—he says, "It feels good."

That's cool.


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