As the rain finally stopped on March 28th, JSJBF board member and event promoter Joseph Vincent Riggio of J v Archer Entertainment put together an afternoon of local Jazz artists who entertained an ever-growing and devoted group of both aficionados and unsuspecting locals at the newest JSJBF member venue, The Chubby Pickle, in Highlands for another Sunday Jazz Café.
These events were started during the pandemic to both bring this often neglected, genre to the forefront of live music in Monmouth County, and to expand its exposure and appeal to an audience who would not often be exposed to it in keeping with our foundation’s mission statement “To preserve, promote, and perpetuate Jazz, Blues, and other indigenous music forms here in New Jersey“.
First up were Evalve Jazz featuring Erez Lirov. Today they were a duo. Their bassist was unavoidably unable to perform at the last minute, but the crowd was not slighted or dissatisfied in the least. Fronted by singer, pianist and trumpet playing extraordinaire Erez Lirov, and joined by saxophonist Eric Salkin (who plays with many local acts, and is a regular member of Chuck Lambert’s crew) . They brought a unique take on Classic and Modern Jazz tunes familiar to much of the audience. They brilliantly presented this original American art form to the Covid capacity crowd that even flowed onto the patio due to the weather breaking. Erez has a smooth and pleasing tone to his voice, and Eric is a slick soloist with a clear, crisp tone that lent itself well to the tight cords Erez laid down for the hour-long set. They were joined by the husband and wife team of Vic on sax and Cindy on vocals for a fun rendition of the classic, “Route 66,” and Cindy and Erez traded verses on a tune as well. Vic hung around for a few more tunes and traded solos with Eric, as well as adding some nice harmonies on some intros and melody lines. Erez was able to play trumpet for us on one tune, and he showed some real prowess on keys holding down the bottom with his strong left hand and smoothly working his right for some dazzling moments. Erez’s father and cousin from abroad were in attendance and they smiled the entire set as did the rest of The Chubby Pickle crowd enjoying their menu items, specials and drinks the whole time.
After a quick break the featured performers, The Mighty Burners, took the stage.The guests were treated to two full sets of music by this amazing organ-based self-named “Soul Jazz” trio headed by Ron Rauso, long-time supporter and JSJBF member, on guitar, Dan Kostelnick on organ, and David Sang on drums. Ron aims his amp 3/4 away from the crowd and Dan uses a PA cabinet to take advantage of its full range of tone for his B3 sound. Riggio took the time to mic the amp, cabinet and drums prior to the set starting, and the blend ended up being magnificent.
Ron is a tone and precision master making each note sing on his axe with seemingly no effort at all. Dan works his keyboard like a master changing voicing and tones as the songs and sets progress taking many progressions of solos, at times hijacking the tunes tastefully again with seemingly no effort, althoughsomeone in the crowd was overheard between sets saying “I would need another set of hands to do what he’s doing”. David is as solid a percussionist as you will ever find. Removing the rack-tom from the house set and playing with one cymbal and a marvelous sounding wooden shelled snare along with the floor-tom and high-hats, proving the best players don’t need much to get the job done. He certainly got the job done all night long, ading tasteful and spicy fills exactly when needed. The first set was highlighted by the tune they take their moniker by “Mighty Burner” by the late great organist Charles Erland.
For set two Ron switched to his 59 reissue ES33L, turned the volume up half a notch, Dan added a bit more animation to his sound ,and David stretched before hitting a perfect rim shot to start the stand out Lauren Hills “Everything is Everything” Ron joked after the song that that was one of the newest tunes they play making reference to the many decades of music they convert into their unique “Soul Jazz” sound. They weren’t joking the rest of the night. If Ron’s tone and precision was on the first set it, increased exponentially this one as did the performance of the other two members. When Riggio called for the last song of the night, he asked for it to be “Green Onions” that was marked on the setlist as an “extra” because “We are at The Pickle and, you know they are green too.” Solos were extended and applauded loudly by the crowd which included local legend and business owner Tinker West who took the time to talk to JSJBF President Tom Baldino about their many mutual friends and the hopes of this pandemic ending so they could have a much overdue party right down the street at his famous purple surf shop. Everyone in attendance though agreed that this day the party was right there at The Chubby Pickle.
The next Jazz Café will be Saturday, May 22 same place same time 3pm to 7pm, featuring Damian and the DCQ with an opening set by the freeform trio, Green Grove Joint. Hope to see you then.