Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sometimes you get...(Well Allen Kanovsky, could this be EVERY TIME Danny Burger hosts a showcase?)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 01/08/15 (Photos by Allen Kanovsky)

…more than you asked for. Last night it happened to me. I expected Ira Sullivan, Danny Burger, Marc Berner and Brian Murphy. Pleasant additions were Don Coffman on bass and Brevard Sullivan playing JAZZ guitar. Later on Mike Gerber (piano), Brad Miller (bass) and an unusual appearance of Antonio Madruga playing drums. Antonio is a JAZZ pianist who has made several appearances at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in Lincoln Center. It is Danny Burger's Showcase at BJB's and Ira is the featured artist.

Ira opens the show playing trumpet on "7 Steps To Heaven". Brian takes the first solo and we are in 'bop city'. Ira is the master of triplets and multi-note phrases and shows it right off. During the number they morph to the BLUES which rally is the root of all JAZZ. Ira, Brian and Don put their 'chops' on display. Ira picks up the soprano sax as Brevard joins them on stage. "Strangers In Paradise" is the selection and Ira's haunting tones on the soprano introduce the number. Brevard takes the first solo and makes you wonder why he ever was a rock 'n roller. Brian does it again and Ira returns to trumpet. When they do "Angel eyes, Brevard is the featured soloist with Ira, Brian and Don supplying subtle background. Ira and Brevard trade 8's with Danny (the brushmeister) doing his brushwork to take the tune out. Ira & Brevard take a break and the rhythm section does an instrumental rendition of "If I Were A Bell". The crowded club is clappin' & tappin' as the trio trades 4's. They close the set with Marc joining in on tenor with Ira. Brian plays the intro to "Boogie Stop Shuffle" and away we go. Ira and Marc do a unison section to the melodic line and the Jam is on. Brevard first, then Brian, Ira and Marc. The set ends with everyone in the joint on their feet with accolades.

The 2nd set is opened with "Hello Young Lovers". I am sitting with Mike Gerber (piano) and he is helping me with song titles. Marc is on tenor and takes the first solo. Brian is being his inimitable self and Ira plays be-bop riffs on flugelhorn. Ira's JAZZ roots are imbedded in his early Chicago years and be-bop is his love. Triplets and thousand note up-tempo riffs are his forte. Marc and Ira now playing soprano saxes do a Beatle tune whose title is lost to me. Again Brevard shows he knows JAZZ. Ira then Marc and Brian take it to the finish line. There is a famous bossa-nova. "Girl From Ipanema". The band does it and believe me, it ain't no bossa the way they do it. Up-tempo and I mean it. Brevard is put in charge and he inspires all. Brian takes up the challenge, then Ira trades 2's with Brevard while Danny is tearing it up. They continue in Brazil mode to do "Cocovado". The tune was Illinois Jacquet's favorite song. Marc & Ira are on tenor flutes with Marc taking the first solo. It is followed by one of the most brilliant piano solos I have ever heard. And I have heard a few.  Ira isn't far behind. The final tune of the set is "Whisper Not". The last set has an impromptu trio of Mike Gerber at piano, young Brad Miller on bass and Antonio Madruga sitting down at Danny's kit. It will be the first time I have seen him playing drums and he asks if I will critique his play. They do "Soul Eyes". They have never played together before. You could never tell. Ira and Marc return with Brevard, Brian and Danny to do "Day By Day". Ira always ends a show with "Amazing Grace". It reflects his and my belief in the Lord and the Word. The room is silent as Marc & Ira deliver spiritual solos.

”Amazing Grace" has special meaning to me. An epiphany at the nadir of my life "saved a wretch like me".

During 'happy hour' at BJB's, Glenda Grainger, sings the American songbook. When I am in the audience she adapts to her JAZZ styles and lets me know that she is not 'just a pretty face". Pretty face? In years gone by she was a featured artist at the "Copa" in the Apple. Check out the most glamorous gal in town at the age of 26 and in Las Vegas stage type attire.

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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