Thursday, January 15, 2015

There are those amongst us...(and those that refer to Allen Kanovsky as Capt Ahab of the good ship Music!)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 01/15/15

..that say that I am obsessed. In some ways I agree.

My love of live prperformances by JAZZ & BLUES
artists carries me hither and yon (near & far). It keeps me up way later than any of my contemporaries.
Mostly it adds to the joie de vivre of this aging bird. Wednesday started with the Miami JAZZ Co-op's initial Wednesday afternoon concert of the season. It is held outdoors at the Coral Gables Museum of Art.

The featured artist was vocalist Kevin Mahogany. The rhythm section had Jim (the genius) Gasior on keys with Josh Allen on bass and Mike Piolet playing drums. In the audience were he Mayor of Coral Gables, Juan (owner of the Open Stage) and Louise Gibbs who had sat in at Monday nights Rent Party. Kevin opened the program with "You're My Everything" which somehow or other morphs into "Rte 66".   I had never heard Kevin live before altho I had listened to many of his records. I've been listening to singers since I was an infant. Radio was a baby then also. I have heard them all. Louis Armstrong to Louis Jordan, Frank Sinatra & Frankie Laine, Jimmy Rushing, Johnny Hartman, Herb Jeffries, Billy Eckstine and Joe Williams, even Joe Donato. No one used their voice like Kevin does his.

He is unique in the world of vocalists. He has horns in his throat and drums on his tongue. His scat is the equal of scat master Jesse Jones Jr. Why do I go on about him? Because he is worthy of every superlative and accolade. A vocal version of "Yardbird Suite" is next with Kevin trading drum solo 4's with Mike. Kevin using his voice. Mike using his sticks. 

I am seated alongside Kevin's wife of 20 years, Allene. When asked about how it is to be married to a musician who has many temptations to battle. She explains that the first years was "tough" but love and trust prevailed. "You must trust that your man will be true". Her trust in Kevin proves to be right when he sings an emotion filled "I Talk About You". He does a 'cute' interpretation of "Girl From Ipanema. "Everyday" is a BLUES that everyone does. Not like Kevin. He trades 8's with Josh on bass and again Kevin using his voice. "My Funny Valentine" is next. I mention to Allene that it was Flo's favorite lyric. She tells me that it was written by a gay man for his lover. Love is love wherever it comes from. 

Kevin not only sings, he writes as well. "Still Swinging" is an up-tempo bebopper of a tune. Jim does a 5* solo. Josh and Mike are right there with him. "Save That Time" is a BLUESy kind of ballad and it's followed by "A-Train". During Kevins scat he quotes "There Will Never Be Another You". Jim is not to be outdone and qoutes a few as well. Hey, if I'm on the A train then "Let Me Off Uptown" and they do it too. A BLUES written by Kevin is titled "It's Too Late" and they swing it. Jim introduces "Our Love Is Here To Stay" which gives Kevin the chance to show off his range and improvisational skills. The show closes with Jim making the keyboard an organ for another BLUES, "Got Yourself To Blame". Jim is definitely 'down' with the BLUES and Kevin takes it out with "I'd rather drink muddy water and sleep in a hollow log.". The audience is on their collective feet with applause and everyone 'hangs' to chat a bit. 

My day is just beginning. The evening jaunt takes me to BJB's in Fort Lauderdale. I try to get there before 7PM to take advantage of the 1/2 price drink offer during 'happy hour'. Jessi Campo (Latin Grammy nominee) along with Jay B. entertain from 4 'til 7:30. Jessi and Jay use tracks as background. Jessi can sing. Jay can play. Tracks turn me off. The saving grace is that the first tune I hear when I arrive is "Oye Como Va". It is probably my favorite Latin JAZZ tune and the first mambo I ever danced to. They do a Jessi composition with Jessi playing guitar. It's kind of Gypsy and tarantella. I like it. A guest requests Gloria Estefan's "Do the Conga". His name is Kenneth and he takes Jessi off the stage to dance. Can that girl shake a hip!!!! She closes her show with "Besame Mucho". 

It is Wednesday and that means Danny Burger's Showcase. Debbie Orta is featured and the whole Orta family is in the house. Mike on piano, husband Nicky on bass and Mom, Kathy, in the audience. My cousin Burt Abriss comes in with his gal Sandy and they join Stan Jackson at his table. My buddy Bill is here. Best pal Jimmy Belize and Nancy sit close by. Yale is sitting where he can watch Danny's sticks and brushes. None of my dance partners are in the house. I bemoan my loss. No Denise. No Jackie. Boo hoo! I am not really crying but I am coming close. Bad news! Babette is in the hospital. I will add her name to my prayers. 

Debbie opens the show with a Latin tune titled "Una Manana". The only reason I know the title is that Debbie has momentarily forgotten the lyric and so repeats those two words until she gathers herself. We laugh about it later on. From the American songbook she does "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" complete with verse. Mike is fully recovered from his bout with capital C and delivers an exceptional(even for him) solo. Nicky and Danny will not be outdone and respond in kind. Debbie follows with "Skylark" and then "No More Tears" done in bossa and then BLUES rhythms. Standards prevail with Debbie doing "I Remember You" and"I Get A Kick Out Of You". Mike is absolutely 'something else tonight and he delivers a 10* uptempo solo. Nicky chases him to the finish line. Debbie gets a little sexy with "Peel Me A Grape". Mike delivers once more. Debbie steps down for a moment and the trio does "Introduction" and  "Close Your Eyes". 

It always interests me how JAZZ artists lift one anothers performance level. It's as if they say "Come along, man, it's a heck of a ride." Debbie opens the 2nd set with "Dancing Cheek to Cheek". She continues with a Beatles song "A Long and Winding Road". Nancy and Jimmy get up to dance. They're the first couple to dance tonight. She now does a song she has never performed before but promises it will be on her next CD. "I Love To Swing". A young couple, kids really, get up and do a nice 'lindy'. Mike Harvey (drums) has come in to enjoy the music. When they do "Comes Love" in chacha tempo Mike and Nicky's clave roots are evident. As I say, you can take the boy out of clave. You can never take clave out of the boy. Debbie takes a break and the trio does Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" Mike uses every key on the piano at least 10 times. Nicky & Danny trade 8's and then takes it by himself for a one hundred and ten bar solo. Barbara Van (vocals) has come in to listen. Danny uses his brush technique when Debbie sings "Autumn In New York". "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead" from 'The Wizard of Oz' has everyone tappin' & you know what. In perfect portuguese Debbie sings "Desifinado". 

My heart skips a beat when Denise and Jackie appear. My funk is dissipated. They have spent the earlier part of the evening at Cafe Vico and seem to be in a very happy mood. The two of them immediately take to the floor showing off lots of body movements to the bossa nova rhythms. The set ends with "That's All" done Brazilian style samba. 

The last set starts with "This Can't Be Love" and Nicky really does some stuff. "No Love For Nobody Else" has me up and dancing with Jackie D. Debbie does one of my favorites "I'm Singing This song For You".  They swing "I'm Old Fashioned". The trio does "I Hear A Rhapsody". Nicky again picks his spot. They do a bossa and all the dancers are up on the floor including Denise and I. "It's A Lovely Day Today" and now that my dance partners are back in my life it is. "You're Mine You" and then they close with a few bars of "Everyday". I don't miss the opportunity to hold Denise in my arms. Wotta day, wotta nite, wotta life I lead!

Obssessed? Like Popeye the Sailor Man once said "I Yam what I Yam".

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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