Sunday, June 29, 2014

It is often difficult...(Even for a jazz & blues Superman like you, Allen Kanvosky?) Turk Mauro brings it home at Arts Garage.

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 06/29/14 admit you made a mistake. In a poem I once wrote there was a line that read "I ain't always right but I'm never wrong". Yesterday I was wrong. 

I wrote that Turk Mauro's upcoming appearance at Arts Garage was a "comeback" This was no comeback. It was a STILL HERE. 

To save face, the mistake was partially Turk's own fault. Last year he announced at this same venue that it was his farewell appearance. So what was this? The 2d coming?. 

Seriously, it was as entertaining a night as anyone could expect. Turk was at the top of his game. Jumpin' and jivin'. his playing exciting, his patter humorous and enough musical guests to pack a bus. Let's start with the rhythm section. The Orta brothers, Mike (piano), Nicky (bass) - and their Mom looking better than ever was there too - and Danny 'Brush Master' Burger (drums). Guest appearances included Nicole Yarling (violin/vocals), the young Christian Cummings (alto sax), Randy Emerick (bari), Debbie Orta (vocals) and Turk's brother Ron Turso (drums). The room was filled with people I know and some I don't. Tania (Cuban fellow traveler), Richie and Ruth, Rich Race, Alyona's Mom & Dad, Heidi and at my table Rick (MJC) and Fran Katz and my dance partner Denise.

What's that you say? Enough B.S.?

You want to know about the music? Okay. You can't go wrong with Cole Porter, so Turk chooses "It's All Right With Me" as the opening tune. From the count off on this group will swing. With good reason. They all love playing this venue. Great sound and attentive audiences. Nicole is invited up and she intones a lively scat arpeggio to start her BLUES tune, ""I Want A Man With A Whole Lot Of Energy". The opening line is "My man is a country man" another is "He knows how to plow and can feed a cow". You make of it what you will. Nicole and Turk unite in a instrumental 'shout.'

Christian is next up and they do Charlie Parker's composition "Billie's Bounce." Playing alto, you know Christian will do justice to any Parker tune. Nicole be-bops pretty good on violin. Mike and Turk take turns and this is now a full out Jam. Nicky gets his turn at bat and then they all trade 4's. Turk shows his humorous side when he says that "I'm not at 100% --- but neither are you.
 Nicole and Mike play "Oh What A Beautiful Morning". This version is not what you might hear in Oklahoma. Christian chooses Tadd Dameron's "Lady Bird" as his feature tune. It affords him the opportunity to display his talented phrasing. Mike and Nick's solos reflect Christians mood. If you are in a boppish mode, you know you're gonna play "Olio". Christian, Mike and Turk catch a groove. 'The joint is jumping'. Not the Louis Jordan tune, literally. Turk quotes "I Got Rhythm" and "I'm In Love With You" during his solo. He and Christian trade 4's and after Mike's solo Danny gets his shot. You know Turk won't leave a stage without a little bit of his "Dirty BLUES". He has all the ladies?? in the audience laughing with "when she saw what the elephant had, she wouldn't go home with me."  A totally appropriate way to end a rollicking 1st set. 

Ron Turso joins the band to open the 2d set with "Secret Love". Nicole scats her portion and follows with a second chorus violin solo. During Mike's solo he quotes "Someone Like You". Nicky and Ron trade rhythmic 4's and then Nicole and Turk do the same. Everyone in the audience is having a 'blast.' But it's their turn to join in. Turk introduces a Sergio Mendez samba titled "Tu es Tanga". He encourages the audience to sing the lyric, which is --- La,, LaLa,, LaLaLa La,, LaLa --- it's the same in English. Nicole does a thrilling violin solo.

Turk invites Randy Emerick, playing a red bari sax, to the stage. While Randy is coming up, Turk tells a story about Buddy Rich. Turk played with that band for a while and we all know Buddy's reputation. Turk tells a tale of Buddy being wheeled into the operating room for a surgery' "Can we do anything for you, Mr. Rich?" a nurse asked. "Yeah, you can get rid of country music." Randy selects Duke's "Sophisticated Lady". If you want to do this song on a bari, you must be a master of tone. Randy is. The be-bop national anthem, "How High the Moon" is the next selection. Turk starts it in ballad tempo and then they are off. Mike's solo is bopped to the max. Randy and Ron do a drum/bari unison section before Ron gets a solo portion. I, personally, am thrilled by the performance level. Debbie Orta now graces the stage. She sings an emotional "Angel Eyes" which almost brings a tear to mine. Almost. Note about Debbie: slowly over the years she has become more involved with the JAZZ idiom. Her interpretation of this song and the expansion of her repertoire will certainly gain her a spot at the top. After Debbie's song, Turk talks about his past loves and sadly says "I'll never forget----what's her name." Nicky is featured on "So What" a tune that I have tried for years to write a lyric to. I am still trying to figure out why horn players always try---emphasize TRY, to sing. Turk does it with "I've Got the World On A String". Fortunately, he sells it well and Nicole saves it with her solo. 

Turk says "Thank you for being here and good-night". The audience won't let them leave----"Encore, encore". "Uno mas" and they oblige.  "R"--"R A G"--"R A G G"--"Ragmop" from forever ago and swinging. Denise and I do a little jitterbugging to end the evening of fun and JAZZ. 

Welcome home, Turk!!

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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