Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mark Twain once said...(and Allen Kanvosky proves he was right!)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 06/10/14

..."Cast off the bowlines". He wasn't talking about loosing a boat, rather he was giving you a way to live your life. If you never venture forth you are actually dead in the water. Adrift with no destination, no future, no past. I wax philosophical because of the good time I had last night. A fairly new venue, a band I had never heard before and an audience that included many a friend. My buddy Bill, dance partner Jackie Deering, Jeannette PINA, Lisanne Lyons and her beau Bob, Mo Morgen, my publisher Charlie Boyer (JAZZBLUESflorida.com) band members George Mazzeo(ez) (drums), Tom McCormick(ez) (tenor sax), Ranses Colon (bass) and Jim Gasior(ez) (keyboard). The reason for the ez suffixes is that this was the 'LATIN JAZZ BIG BAND'. I call it "clave bop". Pete Francis (trumpet/flugelhorn) is the band director. Alongside in the trumpet section are Jesus Mato, Ray Chica and Patrick Converse. With Tom in the sax section were Ismael Vergara and Arturo Arango (altos), Luis Amat (tenor) and Sapo Tercero Gonzalez (bari). Trombones, Seth Innes, Tom Warfel, Jason Pyle and Ramces Marsilli. The rest of the Rhythm section had Erick Castaneda (congas) and Willy Barriga (bongos).

The venue,"The Open Stage" in Coral Gables. Black walls, tasty decor, roomy and comfortable, good sound system, stage big enough for the 17 piece band, efficient staff, nice menu and a brave owner/mgr Juan Dellatorre.

The music was a joy. A well rehearsed big band, playing complex charts, with almost miraculous unison choruses, solos that brought long lasting applause and enthusiasm that inspired one another. Jim (the genius) Gasior and Tom McCormick have no Latin heritage. You would never guess that from their clave infused solos. One of the tunes on the play list was "Songo Bop". It was a definitive fusion of Latin rhythms and be-bop lines. Sapo did an amazing bari solo with the bongos and conga adding intensity. 

Mo Morgen had joined Jackie, Charlie and I at our table. He is still upset about a remark I once made about his 'attempts' at vocalization. In order to impress Ms. Deering he sang 
a few lines of "What A Difference A Day Makes". Her face remained stoic. I tried a few lines of "Do Nothing 'til You Hear From Me". I got the same reaction. 

The 2d set opened with "Night In Tunisia". It gave Ranses the opportunity to display his real talent. A song with the title "Early A.M. Attitude" is another Latin rhythmed number except this time it was fused with'funk' and Tom did justice to the "f" part of it.

I could not finish this review without mentioning the solo work of Arturo Arango on alto, soprano and flute, WOW!!. In the first set the band did an unfamiliar "Afro Green", now they played "Afro Blue" which include solos by Sapo and Arturo. "Memories" and the trumpet section came to the fore with Jesus Mato blowing the roof off, Arturo showing his flute chops and Jim displaying why I call him 'the Genius'. "Saoco" had Pete and Tom out front and swinging. The band ended the evening with "Springtime". The unison work was superb. The flugelhorn solo furnished by Ray Chical was the epitome of creativity and technique. The tenor sax of Luis Amat rising above all brought the tune to a clamorous conclusion. What a night. Great band, great venue and best of all great friends.   

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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