Thursday, June 19, 2014

The sax/scat man returns... (...and Danny Burger and Allen Kanovsky are elated!)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 06/19/14 the U.S.A. from a tour of Siberia with his brother Melton Mustafa. I am writing about JAZZ saxophonist Jesse Jones Jr. Last night DannyBurger's Showcase highlighted Jesse's return. 

Along with Danny (drums) were the man with two brains, Brian Murphy, on keys and the always smiling Paul Shewchuck on bass. 

Let me preface all of what follows by saying that it was "ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS" that JAZZophiles wish for. Each band member inspiring the other to heights of performance and creativity. To emphasize my point, Babette, my nonagenarian gal pal, stayed until the final note faded. It was well after midnight and the band was having so much fun that they had to be reminded that it was closing time. When was the last time you saw that happen? Stan, Isabel, Mari Bell, my buddy Bill and Mike Murk with his Australian girl friend were all there to enjoy the experience. 

They started with "This Is" done in 3/4 time. That usually means waltz but I wouldn't even attempt to dance to this version. Brian did a rollicking solo with Danny anticipating every riff. Jesse plays a complicated intro to the next tune. Neither Bill or I can figure out what the song will be. What could be more familiar than "Cherokkee". Not Charlie Barnett's way, but rather Jesse Jones Jr. way. Be-bopping figures with a quote from "Satin Doll". Brian continues his brilliant night and Jesse turns to his vocal forte with a super tempoed scat portion. They trade 8s and the musical bar goes higher and higher. There isn't a soul in the house who doesn't realize how special this night is becoming. Ellington's "In A Mellow Tone" has Jesse quoting 'Joshua fit the battle". Brian's 5 star solo inspires Paul to play like he's auditioning for a band in Heaven. The standard "Hard Times" gives Jesse a chance to cut loose and the audience responds in kind. "Gibraltar" has Jesse doing double duty with scat and alto. A tune titled (I think) Del Sa Ar has Jesse utilizing half-tones in his solo and his trademark falsetto while scatting. 

Prior to the start of the 2d set, a beautiful, statuesque woman (you know me and tall ladies) walks by my table. I overcome my inate shyness. "Pardon me Miss". She hesitates and looks my way. I smile. She smiles and steps closer. I manage not to stutter when I say, "If you stood there for another moment I was in danger of falling in love". Her smile broadens and she says "Thank you". I will not divulge the rest of our brief conversation but her name is Mona Mulberry from Kentucky. Her late uncle was a classical pianist and she had accompnied him on tours worldwide. He cultivated her interest in JAZZ. Thank you, Uncle Dave. 

The 2d set opens with the song the Real Tracy Fields (WLRN93.1) ends her show with on Monday nights. "Coming Home". Jesse dedicates the song to her and opens with a flute solo. He can't do the tune without a great scat chorus which he does. During the tune Jesse does his classic falsetto chat conversation with an imaginary girlfriend.  Rita Wilburn (I'm her weekend man) entered and sat beside me during the rendition of that tune and Brian's solo. She is shaking her head in wonderment. I wonder if she will shake anything else. They play Nat Adderly's "Sack of Woe" and Brian bops his way through it all. An up tempo old tune "The Best Things In Life Are Free" has Jesse doing the lyric and then doing a very fast beat scat vocal with lots of triplets. Danny does an almost unbelievable solo utilizing brushes (he is the master). I am slack jawed watching his technique. They play a ballad that I don't recognize. During this tune Jesse plays the longest sustained phrase and note that I have ever heard in my 82 years. Rita is invited up and she opts for "Summertime". All I can say is "Soul, Soul, Soul". Jesse and Brian are perfect with their back-up and solos. That ended the set. Jesse joins Rita and I to reminisce about a performance a year ago. Rita had done "Summertime" That time as well. Impressed with Jesse's solo, Rita impulsively asks him to marry her. I think it's on Rita's Facebook page. Rita's new CD should be released in August. A young woman hands Rita a white rose and thanks her. The woman's name is Sara Villanueve and had recently lost her Grandmother who loved to sing and sang Summerime to her as a lullaby. The final set starts with "Caravan" which gives Danny a chance to "blow up" the kit. Jesse dedicates "Stardust" to Babette who is still enthroned on her favorite bar stool. I heard Thelonius Monk at a joint in Greenwich Village when he cracked up the audience with "Yippee Ay O kiyee". Jesse did it last night and it was just as much fun. Paul quotes "Jeepers Creepers" during his solo. 

Bret (BJB's manager) reminds the band that it's after 12. I think they would have played 'til sunrise. They close with a ballad with Danny using soft hammers and Jesse being soulful. Jesse wishes us all goodnight with "Love, peace and JAZZ at the door. 

Welcome home, Jesse.    

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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