CD Review: ‘Cartoon Bebop’ – The 14 Jazz Orchestra

CARTOON BEBOP
The 14 Jazz Orchestra
Dabon Music
Release Date January 15, 2021

This interesting and unique CD crossed my desk recently and I was intrigued. This is a CD with eleven tunes, but none were familiar standards. The music was arranged for a 13-piece orchestra and all have been associated with the Miami musical community either as faculty of the Frost School of Music or having performed in the Miami jazz scene. Another aspect which will be of interest to our readers in the Florida Panhandle is that pianist Mike Levine is a frequent performer in this area, as he is a frequent part-time resident in our Port St. Joe area and when that occurs, Panama City’s Gulf Jazz Society engages him to perform. I’ve been privileged to hear and meet him there. Another appeal is that the CD is dedicated to Miami musicians who have passed away this year, multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan and studio musician Mark Colby. Sullivan had appeared in our area on several occasions and was beloved by this jazz community.

The 13-piece band provides back-up for excellent solos by the various musicians. Most of the arrangements are by Dan Bonsanti with compositions by, among others, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, and has used motifs by Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk.

The accompanying information sheet explains that Cartoon Bebop contains two of Corea’s compositions “Got a Match?” and “Duende.” Bonsanti was inspired to write the title tune “Cartoon Bebop” after hearing a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, favorite of his. He used piccolo and tuba while adding Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk motifs.

In essence, an interesting and fun recording. It will be available online on January 15, 2020. For additional information: 14jazzorchestra.com and facebook.com/14jazzorchestra.

When Gus and Bunk spent the night together

Willie Gary “Bunk” Johnson was an early New Orleans trumpet player. There is uncertainty about his actual birth date. He gave his birthdate as 1879 but it is supposed the deliberately gave an earlier date so that his claim of performing with Buddy Bolden, an early New Orleans bandleader and trumpeter.

He performed in New Orleans from 1915 to early ‘20s both locally and traveling with minstrel shows and then moved to New Iberia, LA. He was a farm worker and sometime trumpet player until he lost some teeth either due to decay or fights. In the late 1930’s he came to the attention of some jazz writers who put him in contact with Sidney Bechet’s brother, a dentist, who repaired his teeth so that Bunk could resume his trumpet playing.

Bunk returned to New Orleans and performed with another older jazz clarinetist George Lewis. Their band played both in New Orleans and also to New York City, San Francisco and Boston.

Record producer Gus Statiras, a New York City native who made Tifton, Georgia his home after WWII told of his encounter with Bunk. Gus was visiting in New Orleans shortly after the end of WWII. He searched out the jazz events and made acquaintance with Bunk. Since Gus was visiting and had not secured lodgings, Bunk invited him to spend the night in his home. Gus reported that Bunk’s house was in the Treme’ district, elevated on short brick pillars. It was the kind of wooden house with space underneath for the dogs to rest. It was such a cold, windy night that Bunk’s home became unbearably cold. Consequently, Gus and Bunk “bunked” together for the rest of the night!

Editorial Note: The late Gus Statiras was a good friend to Jazz Pensacola. When we planned our three jazz parties ’89 to ’91, he supplied contacts for our visiting musicians and advised about certain technical aspects of our event. He also brought his recordings and sold them at our events. He also came to some of our later Pensacola JazzFests and sold his recordings. Gus subsequently sold his recording interests to late record producer George Buck in New Orleans. And, when Jazz Pensacola started its Jazz Room collection at downtown West Florida Public Library, we engaged George Buck and Gus Statiras to advise during the first couple of years on that collection. Perhaps it was jazz guitarist Marty Grosz who put it best, “It is impossible NOT to like Gus!”

Book Review: ‘Jazz Beat Encore: More Notes on Classic Jazz’ by Lew Shaw

Jazz Beat Encore: More Notes on Classic Jazz
By Lew Shaw
AZtold Publishing, Scottsdale, AZ

Lew Shaw is a multi-faceted writer, having a dual career as both sports and jazz writer who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Our paths crossed when we were both active in The American Federation of Jazz Societies and both had served as president of that organization. He was an organizer and served as president of Arizona Classic Jazz Society in Phoenix.

Shaw has written for jazz publications “West Coast Rag,” “The American Rag” and, for the past few years, “The Syncopated Times.” His first book, Jazz Beat, Notes of Classic Jazz was a collection of his columns from “West Coast Rag” and “The American Rag.” His current book, Jazz Beat Encore, is a collection of forty-three columns from the past few years.

Each column features a jazz musician, or group, along with a photograph and occupies about four pages. Most of the artists are American born but also feature clarinetist-bandleader Adrian Cunningham of Australia and pianist Paolo Alderighi, a native of Milan, Italy.

Of special interest to will be featured artists who have appeared for the Jazz Society of Pensacola events: guitarist Howard Alden, saxophonist Harry Allen, trombonist Dan Barrett, clarinetist Evan Christopher, trumpeter Duke Heitger, vocalist Rebecca Kilgore, clarinetist Tim Laughlin, The Midiri Brothers, and clarinetists Ken Peplowski and Allan Vache.

Also, as a bonus, cartoonist Bill Keane’s Family Circus cartoons related to jazz were included courtesy of Jeff Keane, son of the late cartoonist.

This book, as well as Shaw’s previous one, will grace the shelves of our Jazz Room at the downtown West Florida Public Library. It awaits your reading. The book, of course, is available at Amazon and other booksellers.

Remembering Bucky Pizzarelli and the joys of jazz parties

I recently received a delightful note from Joe Galetovic of Denver, Colorado. He is a jazz friend who I first met in the 1980s while we were both attending the famous Dick Gibson Labor Day weekend jazz party in Denver. We have kept in contact and he and his wife Linda are now more active than I in traveling to similar events. Consequently, he updates me on their activities and comments about the performers.

He had recently attended the San Diego Jazz Party and kindly sent me the program. Interesting, duo pianists Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi were among the performers. (I’ve blogged about this couple and saw them a week or so later at the Ragtime Festival in Starkville, Mississippi.) Interestingly, some of the other performers at the SD Jazz Party had performed for us previously in Pensacola. They include saxophonist Harry Allen, trombonist Dan Barrett, vocalist Rebecca Kilgore, bassist/vocalist Nicki Parrott, clarinetist Ken Peplowski and guitarist Frank Vignola.

Painting by Nina Fritz of jazz violinist Johnny Frigo, left, and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, based on a photo by Norman Vickers.

Longtime guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli was a recent death, along with his wife, both victims of COVID-19. Bucky was a wonderful person and a wonderful jazz ambassador. Bucky was a regular performer at the Gibson parties and jazz host Dick Gibson always would schedule a duo performance along with jazz violinist Johnny Frigo. There is a Nina Fritz painting in the jazz room at our downtown West Florida Public Library depicting Bucky and Johnny. It was painted based on a photo I took of them rehearsing — each had their instrument in hand. In five minutes, they would discuss songs and keys and then perform them for one hour.

We had Bucky and Johnny perform for Pensacola JazzFest but separately, as their schedules did not mesh. Frigo came with Frank Vignola and, a few years later, Bucky came with Nicki Parrot. Both duos were marvelous.

I want to quote the tribute that Joe Galetovic wrote me about loss of Bucky and wife to the virus:

“Linda and I were left breathless — like losing a member of the family. Over the years Bucky was a regular at Summit Jazz in Denver, so it was Bucky who ‘took us’ to San Diego Jazz Party first time. It was Bucky who made us go to West Texas Jazz Party, Bucky was ‘the reason’ we went to Atlanta Jazz Parties. Bucky introduced us to Matt and Rachel Domber and Arbors Jazz parties. He also took us to Elkhart and Cleveland … not to speak of all the times we went to New York to listen to him; tape new CDs ad NOLA studies, heard him at 92nd Street Y, at Symphony Hall on the West side, in Cavatappo; at Hotel Carlisle, Feinstein’s at Regency etc …”

Yes, Bucky will be greatly missed, but his son John is carrying on the legacy.

So thanks, Bucky for brightening our lives and leaving loving children to honor your tremendous musical legacy. Also, thanks Joe and Linda Galetovic for your friendship and enthusiasm for jazz. Keep us in the loop!

CD Review: ‘Just Imagine,’ The Rebecca Kilgore Trio

JUST IMAGINE
Classic Jazz at Classic Pianos
The Rebecca Kilgore Trio
With Dan Barrett and Paolo Alderighi
Blue Swing Recordings

This is a delightful trio album with Rebecca Kilgore providing vocals and occasional guitar, Dan Barrett and trombone and Paolo Alderighi on piano. Since I was already a fan of all three, when I read about the album, I ordered it immediately.

Of the fifteen selections on this album, most will be familiar to the average jazz fan—examples: Oh, Look at Me Now; Daddy, Won’t You Please Come Home and Cry Me a River. Whereas, some are less so—as Ellington’s Serenade to Sweden, I’m in a Lowdown Groove.

Paolo plays Three Coins in the Fountain as a delightful solo on the Bosendorfer piano in the studio. And as a surprise, the final piece is entitled Mis’ry and The Blues as duet by Paolo and Dan Barrett on twin Bosendorfers.

All three performers were favorites of mine already. I had seen Becky and Dan frequently at jazz parties around the country and both had appeared previously at Pensacola events. Although I’d read about Paolo and knew of his training in Milan, his interest in early jazz and his romance and marriage to American pianist Stephanie Trick, I didn’t see him in person until this February when they were featured artists at the Ragtime and Jazz Festival at Miss. State U. in Starkville.

Another plus for this album are liner notes by Michael Steinman whose jazz blog is likely familiar to many who will read this review. They mystery is why it took so long to get this delightful item into public view. It was recorded in December 2013. Hope we won’t have to wait that long for the next one.

A jazz broadcaster has fond memories of JazzFest

Editor’s note: Michael Gourrier is a New Orleans native, now living in Richmond, Va. He has been broadcasting jazz for 43 years, initially in Galveston, TX in the early 70s and then at WWOZ-FM in New Orleans for another 24 years. After Hurricane Katrina, he relocated to Richmond, VA in 2006 and has been affiliated with WRIR-FM and was named Jazz Director in 2008.

Michael has been affiliated with University of New Orleans and Loyola University as well as serving in various capacities at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro. He has also served as Master of Ceremonies at several Satchmo Summerfests.

Michael Gourrier

Currently he’s guest lecturer at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Jazz Studies Department. He’s been presenter at both the Richmond Jazz Festival and the Richmond Folk Festival.

Michael has made donation of CDs to Jazz Pensacola for our Jazz Room at downtown West Florida Public Library and for our CD sales.

Michael wrote: “I am a living testimony to the pleasure that was the Pensacola Jazz Festival. I looked forward to the Spring of the year to make my annual trek to Pensacola to experience America’s Original Performance Art Form under a shady tree right on the Gulf of Mexico.

“My old friend, Dr. Norm Vickers and his krewe of aficionados would line up a really nice presentation on a yearly basis of national acts along with regional and local performers to whet the appetite of any serious music devotee.

Michael Gourrier.

“Highlights over several years, in no particular order, included former Charlie Parker Bandleader Jay McShann; phenom at the time, Christopher Holliday; native Floridian, Nat Adderley with multitalented Larry Willis on piano; the inimitable Miss Betty Carter. From California came the rocking aggregation of Jimmy and Jeannie Cheatham and the Sweet Bay Blues Band that included one of Charles Mingus’ teachers Red Callendar. From Philadelphia, the student of the occult, Kenny Barron (Marie Laveau, Things Unseen, Other Places). Vibe Master and educator, Gary Burton showed how four mallets are handled. Also, vibes master Bobby Hutcherson wowed the audience.

“They are all just fond, pleasant memories lingering over the Gulf. And the band played on!”

Editor’s note: Gourrier refers primarily to the period 1988 to 1997 when Pensacola JazzFest was under the superb direction of WUWF-FM with Jazz Society and Pensacola Arts Council in supporting roles.