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.

Remembering Bob Haggart

Bassist Bob Haggart (1914 -1998) was a remarkable person in many ways. He’s known to most as a string bassist. But he was also a composer and talented artist.

He was guest bassist for the three Pensacola Jazz Parties 1989-1991 and at the 1991 event, trumpeter Yank Lawson also attended. Lawson had been a colleague with him in the Lawson-Haggart Jazz Band and also, they led the World’s Greatest Jazz Band from 1968-1998.

Haggart was best known for two compositions, Big Noise from “Winnetka” and the ballad What’s New?

Photo by Norman Vickers

But I should also mention Haggart’s tune My Inspiration and his co-composition also with drummer Ray Baduc, South Rampart Street Parade.

Bob’s artistic talents can be seen on several record covers. When he’d go to a recording session, during the lag times, he’d sketch scenes from the session. These have been featured on record covers, especially LPs since there was adequate room to show artwork. Haggart also was a painter, like vocalist Tony Bennett. I was told that his art frequently won prizes in art exhibits.

Photo by Norman Vickers

The story I heard about the spontaneous composition by Haggart and Baduc came about when they were entertaining a group from Winnetka. Baduc was a talented New Orleans drummer and the spontaneous bass and drum composition included Haggart whistling through his teeth and Baduc taking part of his solo by beating on the bass strings while Haggart did left handed fingering of bass strings to provide the melody. This tune became so popular that emerging string bassists were almost required to add this piece to the jazz bassist repertoire.

Photo by Norman Vickers

The second composition that requires mention is Haggart’s 1939 ballad, What’s New? with lyrics by Johnny Burke. I was at an Arbors Jazz Party in the ‘90s and Roger Kellaway was playing solo piano on stage. He played a very angular and dissonant arrangement of Haggart’s ballad. I happened to be standing next to Haggart and asked him if he was pained to hear his lovely tune stretched and distorted to this degree. His reply, “No it doesn’t bother me. There was one man who made tape recordings of arrangements of What’s New and sent them to me. It filled up two cassettes. I don’t know why anybody would want to do that.”

Thanks Bob, wherever you are in the hereafter. Thanks for enriching our lives!

Arbors Records has a CD entitled “Piano Giants at Bob Haggart’s 80th Birthday Party.”

CD Review: ‘Jazz Party,’ Delfeayo Marsalis & Uptown Jazz Orchestra

Jazz Party
With Delfeayo Marsalis and Uptown Jazz Orchestra
Troubadour Jazz Records

When this CD arrived for review I thought that, if it were anything like he previously produced CDs, trombonist-bandleader-composer Delfeayo Marsalis would produce another musically challenging and thought provoking recording. He doesn’t disappoint.

As with his previously produced CDs including Southern Gentleman—a duo recording with his pianist father Ellis and Make America Great Again, recorded with his big band we get a sly tongue-in-cheek sociological essay along with an interesting commentary on how the recording was produced. Delfeayo composed and arranged most of the music whereas other band members also made contributions in the composition and arrangements. Delfeayo and his big band perform on most Wednesday nights at Snug Harbor on New Orleans’ Frenchman Street and this recording favorably reflects their work together.

As the name of the recording implies, this is upbeat, contemporary New Orleans party music. Any of this would be appropriate for a “second-line” celebration.

Along the sociological line, D. Marsalis has composed a tune he calls Mboya’s Midnight Cocktail. Liner notes indicate the Mboya is Delfeayeo’s autistic younger brother. There is a one-way conversation in a crowded bar between the cocktail waitress and the mute patron. And, on the last cut on the album, the composition is played again without the speaking part.

If well executed New Orleans party music is on your wish-list, this is a recording for you, but you’ll need to wait for the February release.

February 2020 issue of The Syncopated Times features Jazz Pensacola friends

The February issue of The Syncopated Times has a number of Jazz Pensacola friends and artists featured.

The lead article is by drummer Hal Smith and features New Orleans pianist John Royen. Vocalist Rebecca Kilgore’s photo heads the Festival Roundup pages. And, finally, a column on early jazz recordings by David Sager, trombonist and jazz historian who works at the Recorded Sound Research Center at the Library of Congress.

Now, for those who may be new to Jazz Pensacola or for some longtime members who may need a memory refresher, I’ll review for you the Pensacola connections.

Hal Smith

Hal Smith, drummer and jazz historian, now lives in Searcy, Arkansas, which he says is “central to all parts of the U. S.” He lived in the New Orleans area for about 10 years and connected with the traditional jazz musicians there. He’s also lived in the San Diego area and is still connected with America’s Finest City Jazz Society and returns yearly for their Thanksgiving weekend jazz festival. Hal has played two of our Pensacola JazzFests. One year, he brought Portland, Oregon, vocalist Rebecca Kilgore and on a subsequent visit he brought West Coast jazz pianist Carl Sonny Leyland. One year, he and a New Orleans group was scheduled but on highway I-10 at Pascagoula he was stopped by traffic tie-up and motorist behind him crashed into his car and banged up (bad pun) his drum kit and Hal’s shoulder. His New Orleans group performed with guitarist providing the rhythm instead of Hal on drums. Most recently, two years ago for our Foo Foo Fest event, he organized a group performing the music of trombonist Kid Ory. Hal is a regular performer at many jazz festivals, jazz house parties around the country. His YouTube videos are numerous including ones from his Pensacola appearance with his On The Levee Jazz Band.

Jazz pianist John Royen is featured on front page of The Syncopated Times (TST) and there is a listing of his recordings elsewhere in the paper. He recounts to Hal Smith, in Hal’s role as writer/historian, his early experience with jazz through his father’s influence by attending live performances as well as perusing his father’s extensive jazz collection. The Pensacola connection was a piano extravaganza performance about 4 years ago at UWF Music Hall. Royen, along with Lynn Arriale and our own Bobby Van Deusen gave a wonderful concert to enthralled audience. Our own Crystal Joy Albert was in the role of impresario for that event.

Rebecca (Becky) Kilgore is a regular at jazz parties and jazz cruises. She’s both a singer and guitarist who has regular gigs in the Portland, Oregon, area when she’s not traveling. As mentioned earlier, she appeared at our 1999 Pensacola JazzFest, the first year that Jazz Pensacola was sole sponsor of JazzFest. (For newcomers, the first six years were sponsored by Pensacola Arts Council; the next 10 years were successfully sponsored by WUWF Radio with our jazz society again in a support role.

Finally, David Sager’s article about early jazz recording leads me to mention that David, in his role as trombonist, brought a group of New Orleans musicians for our November Foo Foo Fest event about three years ago. The evening before, he led a discussion about early jazz recording at the downtown West Florida Public Library, and backed by some of our own Jazz Society musicians, he performed as well.

So, this month’s TST is loaded with material which relates directly to Pensacola. In addition, there is a long article about Paul Whiteman and his orchestra in the 1920s and 1930s. Whiteman hired many jazz musicians to perform with his enlarged orchestra. These included Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, Jack Teagarden and Bunny Berrigan. Bing Crosby got a boost in his career by performing with Whiteman.

The Pensacola connection to this story relates to our Jazz Room at the downtown West Florida Public Library. There is a two-volume work on Whiteman’s career by Don Rayno and also DVD of the 1930s movie called King of Jazz. This DVD is of interest because it was produced in early Technicolor and has some early cartoons where Whiteman reacts with a cartoon character. There is also a book, with color illustrations, about how that movie was produced.

On a personal note, I have been a reviewer of jazz CDs and books since before the name and ownership change from The American Rag to The Syncopated Times in 2016.

And speaking of the library jazz room, there are subscriptions to Downbeat, JazzTimes and TST for your information and reading pleasure. There are books, CDs and DVDs as well as play-along books and recordings currently valued at $20,000 for library members to check out.

One may subscribe to The Syncopated Times through syncopatedtimes.com or email the editor Andy Senior at [email protected]