Monday, February 18, 2013

Symphonic halls, clubs and juke joints...Al knows them first name, too...

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 2/18/13

You love JAZZ or BLUES or both. You like your music Live. You want a "$20 dollar gold piece" in your casket. All of that or you wouldn't be reading this stuff. This is not "Architectural Digest" but the question I have is about how much does the environment, ambiance and general setting affect your enjoyment. Last night I ventured south to Cutler Bay. I was accompanied by Bette who is a volunteer hostess at Arts Garage in Delray Beach. (she also, will travel to hear JAZZ) The city is home to the SOUTH MIAMI-DADE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER (SMDCAC). If you have never been there, I strongly suggest that you get yourself and your music loving friends off your collective butts. After getting off the Turnpike you get your first view of the Center. Its glass majesty is impressive even from several hundred yards away. You get closer and can't help looking up at the structure----Yep, it is something to see. So the pleasure of the evening has already begun even without having heard a note.

Sunday night it was Tommy Igoe and the Birdland Big Band. There is something about seeing the stage set with bandstands enough for a 5 piece sax section, three trombones and four trumpets. A drum kit that has 5 cymbals plus one that is cut in a spiral and a mini tom-tom. Spot for the bass player and piano and keyboard to complete the rhythm section. Maybe because my first introduction to the music was when I  was 5. My sisters snuck me out with them when they went to dance to the big bands of the era--mid 30's. Goodman, the Dorsey brothers, Basie, Ellington, Miller, Herman, Shaw, Callaway and even Lombardo. I would sit bundled up in a blanket in the rumble seat (you are all too young to know what that is) of a '32 Chevy or Ford, outside the Glen Island Casino while they were inside with their beau of the week. I love Big Band and my love was further enhanced listening to them last night. They play like they love it also. The sax section--Nathan Childers(tenor), Alejandro Aviles(alto), Dan Willis(alto) Ron Middleton(tenor) and Tony Lustig (bari)---the trombones, Dave Bargeron, Mark Miller and James Borowski on bass trombone---the trumpets, Nick Marchione, August Haas, Mat Jodrell, and Glenn Drewes. On bass Phil Palombi, at the keys Whitney Ashe and behind the impressive kit Tommy Igoe (live and in person). I sometimes pick out individual musicians for a particular solo. I can't do that, in this case, 'cause everyone who stood up to do one, was great. Tommy has a really nice stage presence and chatted easily with the audience and encouraging their applause responses. In introduction he said for us not to consider this performance as a "concert" but more as a journey. Not only to foreign lands but to the past, present and future as well. One of the pieces played was an Ed Calle composition that was dedicated to Ed's love for America. They closed their performance with their traditional "Birdland". I wasn't going to mention individual solos but Tommy's, which was about 3 or 4 minutes long, brought every one in the audience to their feet. Rick Katz of the Miami JAZZ Co-op and Jeanette Pena and her Dad were in the audience with Bette and I, enjoying this great band.

Back to the question. Personally, I like "juke joints". Enjoy the ambience of most "music clubs". Tolerate "dance halls". For "Big Band" there is nothing like a symphonic hall. The SMDCAC and its staff provided the perfect spot for last nights perfect performance by Tommy Igoe and the Birdland Big Band. Thank you Tommy and all the "Boys in the Band." Thanks to the volunteers and professionals at SMDCAC for making the evening as pleasurable as it was.

Coming later this week "Siempre Flamenco" Sub-titled "FlamenJAZZjam". Saw it last year and it was great. Do it!!!!  

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