It was the Friday ushering in the big holiday weekend and we had just returned from a weeklong visit with friends and family in California when a Facebook notification appeared on my phone. “Charlie Apicella & Iron City” were performing at the recently opened 3BR Distillery in Keyport. This craft spirits producer, started by three young distillers with a Soviet Union heritage, specializes in spirits made from peas and served in a “Soviet-punk” tasting room. We had been there a month earlier for their opening event with fellow board member Joseph Vincent Riggio to see JSJBF members “Audra Mariel and A Real Human Jazz Band.”
This was the band’s first time performing at this new venue and judging by the audience response, it won’t be the last. The core band, Dave Braham on keys, Alan Korzin on drums and leader Charlie Apicella on the 68’ Guild CE 100 he calls “Honey Child” treated the crowd to a mix of jazz standards and originals penned by Charlie in the band’s unique style. Songs like “Shiny Stockings”, made famous by the Count Basie Orchestra were given a full treatment that belied the fact that they were only a trio, while “Tenderly”, a Duke Ellington staple, was softly and beautifully rendered. On the Blues side, Otis Spann’s “Funky Mama” was a rousing foot stomper and Quincy Jones’ “Killer Joe” showcased Charlie’s impeccable fretwork. One of Charlie’s original numbers, “Mosaics,” was a good fit in their repertoire and highlighted his writing skills. “Song For My Father” by Horace Silver allowed the band to display their exceptional improvisational skills within the structure of this nearly ten-minute version. It was so good I could have listened to another ten minutes!
For those of you who weren’t there, the band along with singer Madame Pat Tandy will be performing at our “Jazz & Blues by the Sea” on Saturday August 28th from 3-7pm. Sponsored by the City of Long Branch, this event will be held at the stage on the Great Lawn. The “Sonny Kenn Band” is headlining and the show will also feature the “Kelly, Ellis & Flynn Band.” You won’t find better Jazz and Blues anywhere, and it’s free.