Saturday, April 5, 2014

Palm Trees...( Allen Kanovsky gives his state-of-union address on Florida's young musicians!)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 04/04/14

...swaying,cool breeze coming off the Atlantic, crescent moon overhead and best of all, Big Band. Not any old big band. It's the Dillard Center JAZZ Ensemble. There are 26 members in the band and they are headed to New York in May for the third consecutive year having been chosen as one of the finalists in the Essentially Ellington Competition. The complete roster will be shown at the end of my review.  The director is Mr. Christopher Dorsey who, in my opinion is one of the greatest JAZZ Educators in the world. No youngster under his tutelage ever loses the sight of his goal towards perfection. They opened with an original which I had never heard before. Mr. Dorsey called it a sound check---if so---all I can say is "Wotta band! Wotta sound!"

An example of how students at Dillard grow, Ben Stocker (tenor-Sr.) was 12 years old when I saw him play at a Jam in The Fish House. He was playing alto and Papa Joe was helping him with the BLUES. BLUES should be the breast that all aspiring JAZZ musicians should suckle at. It is the root of America's art form. Switching to tenor and then being admitted to Dillard allowed Ben to mature personally and musically. I marvel at how this young man became a JAZZ star of tomorrow. There are others in the band who have similar stories. Sydney Henry, a young lady drummer. Jake Pardo (guitar) and Donovan Perry (trumpet). "Perdido" is the next tune. The intro hid the melodic line but the chord changes gave it away. Anthony Hervey with Donovan Perry give us a trumpet duet that absolutely soared. Ben switched to clarinet for his solo and Sydney showed what a "little girl drummer" can do to drive the band. Christian Cummings (alto) and Ulysses McClover (kb) added interest with their renderings. "Aclupoca" was played as a 'tropical boogie'. I have no other way to describe it. Starting off soft and subdued but moves into full 'swing' mode with Zachary McKinney now at the drums. Ulysses gets a chance to show off and does he know how. The band covered a lot of JAZZ genres, BLUES to Bop with tunes like "Blues March", "Big Dipper", "What Is This Thing Called Love" and to close the set the most up-tempo version of "Things To Come". Even Dizzy couldn't have anticipated that tempo. The second set was comparatively short. I didn't catch the title of the first number but took notice of the solos by Zach McKinney, Ulysses McClover (they are not related outside of music) and Anthony Hervey. "Softly As In The Morning Sunrise" featured an alto solo by Christian Cummings---oh man!  "Basie callay Blues". All four trombones including Ms. Taylor Young were up at the mic. If there had been walls they would have come tumblin' down. The rhythm was so infectious that a man came out of the audience, threw down his cane and started to 'boogie'. He did it until the very last drumbeat. His name is Jimmy Friscia and he bragged that he is 86. I'm 82 and still dance with girls --- so there. We can't do JAZZ today without a little funk so they do "Superstition" with Anthony Hervey reminding us that be-bop phrases fit in anywhere. The conclude with a very complex rhythmed tune I think is titled "Cobble stones" but not sure. I am sure that Ben left us wowing at the last solo of the night.

The Dillard Center For the Arts Gala* is on April 25. The proceeds help get the band to The Apple for the competition. Be there or be square.

Band roster. Dir. Christopher Dorsey--Alto sax:Christian Cummings, Ryan Dominique--Tenor: Ben Stocker, Shallyah Rowe--Baritone:Jared Golden--Trombones:Joel Perez, Kim Morton, Taylor Young, Jeremiah Joseph, Rashaan Salaam, and Tashi Shaw--Trumpets; Christian Dorsey, Anthony Hervey, Donovan Perry, Eric German and Jeremiah Joseph--Piano: Max Holm, Ulysses McClover--Drums: Zachary McKinney, Charliw Steiner and Sydney Henry--Bass: Chris Mills and Abeed Janjua--Guitar: Zachary Auslander, Connor Mcwilliams and Jake Pardo.

If I left anyone's solo performance out it's my bad. Every one who played last night was great. 

Short note: while the band was tuning up, Max Holm was riffing on the keyboard. Old style, 8 to the bar boogie woogie. Play it again --- Max.

*Westin Cypress Creek: 400 Corporate Drive, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33334.  Dillard Center for the Arts Music Gala. Our big fundraiser of the year, proceeds to benefit the DCA music program and to help our Jazz Band go to Essentially Ellington in NYC. Tickets: $65 advance purchase at or call 954.214.0320. 7pm, April 25: Dilllard Center for the Arts Jazz Ensemble.

Al's Disclaimer:
A short note: The reason I write this is because I love music and words. I do not book acts. I do not promote acts. I do not accept invitations to review artists. I go to venues of my own choice. When and where is not influenced by anything other than who I would like to hear that night or day. If I don't like what I hear, I won't write about it. When I like it I let you all know. I never mention a name without asking permission. "Pardon me, Miss. Would you like to dance?"       

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