January Jazz Café on Ice

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On a frigid Saturday night in January, where wind chills were near zero, a roomful of music seekers came to the Highlands to member venue, the Chubby Pickle to hear some live Jazz. Tri City Jazz, a hometown-based quartet of exceptional musicians, did not disappoint. Once again, Joseph Vincent Riggio and his J v Archer Entertainment joint, in association with the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation, showcased some of the top local jazz talent to an appreciative crowd. The band was comprised of long-time JSJBF member Chris Andreach on alto and curved soprano sax, long-time rhythm section Tom McMillan on bass, with Tom Hyland on drums, and young Ian Howells, who joined them for only the second time, on keyboards.

They led off with a great version of “Comin’ Home Baby,” a song written as an instrumental by bassist Ben Tucker in 1961. Their version, while staying true to the original, was expanded to include a solo by Tom McMillan which not only showed his considerable skill on the fretboard, but the beauty of his custom bass. Ian Howells also soloing over the solid drumming of Tom Hyland and the sax of Chris Andreach, propelled the tune to new heights. “Killer Joe” harkened back to the author, Benny Golson’s version, with Chris laying down some exceptional sax which sounded terrific on the new Chubby Pickle sound system. Ian’s swinging piano solo was in step with the vibe of a smoke-filled after hours Manhattan Jazz club in 1950’s that the song conjured up in my mind. 

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Highlights from the second set included John Coltrane’s “Equinox,” which was marked by an outstanding piano solo, complemented with solid playing by this veteran ensemble. It was followed by a fresh version of “Song for My Father,” which was given an Afro-Cuban flavor with all but the drummer contributing solos. 

The third set included the standards “Summertime” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” ending with a superb version of “Afro Blue,” written by Mongo Santamaria. The band chose to use the version arranged By Andy Summers, guitarist for The Police. It was a wonderful way to end a night which thoroughly entertained those who braved the cold.

For those of you who missed it, Tri City Jazz will be featured at the April 29th Reckless Steamy Nights. Don’t miss it!  

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