September 18th 2021
By Joseph Vincent Riggio
On Saturday, September 18th, The Chubby Pickle hosted the Joseph Vincent Riggio’s J v Archer Entertainment production of the Saturday Jazz Café. This month was special in that it hosted two sets of performers from different age groups. Billed as a “Generations” show, the concept was to spark excitement across different age spectrums, a younger group of musicians inspiring a more seasoned crew and vice versa.
The opening act for the evening was The 10 O’clock Jazz Trio, consisting of three talented young people. Fronted by Carlotta Schmidt holding down vocals and electric guitar, she plays lead on a beautiful Guild model that she obviously adores. She was accompanied by 20-year-old drummer Connor Hackett who laid down a slick solid beat and pocket for the entire performance. Also, rhythm man Crosby Collins switched duties throughout the set between electric bass, and electric guitar, equally skilled on both instruments. The just-shy of one-hour long set was highlighted by Carlotta’s lush voice that shows maturity and control well beyond her 14 years of age on songs as diverse as “Don’t Know Why” by Nora Jones, the classic “The Lady is a Tramp” and the crowd favorite, George Benson’s “Masquerade” where she scatted vocally along with her guitar leads. Crosby also soloed smoothly on guitar on a few of the pieces, most notably the opener “Love For Sale.” This piece was custom arranged by the band, as was the popular Duke Ellington piece, “Caravan,” showing hints of a nod to the phrasing of Thelonious Monk in his version.
Prior to the set, during a greeting of the audience and the introduction of the show, it was revealed to the crowd that Carlotta actually inspired the “Generations” idea when she played a jazz song at one the monthly Mark La Rochelle Youth Open Mic events that I coordinate and host for the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation. I noted for the audience that I hope these events help inspire her musically as much as her performances inspire the rest of us and I promised the crowd they would be impressed. And, true to word, this up-and-coming group of fine young musicians delivered in spades. Enthusiastic applause was given after each song and much attention and respect was given to the band of youngsters while performing, atypical for the usual bar scene crowd. The entire musical community looks forward to what these young musicians have in store for us in the future.
After a shortbreak,Section Jazz, the evening’s classic older generation performers stepped on stage. Group leader Michael DeSimone ably handled percussion while veteran Mike Hogan, who has graced the Jazz Café stage several times before, excelled on his favorite Gibson ES335 guitar with an amazing tone through his classic Ampeg amplifier. Jonathan Benjamin played fine keys on all three sets while fill-in upright bassist Joel Bennett anchored each tune with expert precision (regular member, Jeff Dingler, could not make this show). Michael made a point to thank the “young jazz players” that opened the show, expressing how impressed and happy he was that interest in jazz is being fostered by the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation as well as The Chubby Pickle’s dedication to the promotion of these young musicians.
Section Jazz display perhaps the most diverse repertoire of any band in the Jersey Shore area, reaching wide and far, by taking tunes and putting their unique stamp on them. Adding Afro-Cuban and Salsa feels to many of the songs, the sounds provided a style and tenor that is not heard often. When asked between sets how and why such an eclectic mix of pieces were chosen, Michael said he played what other people wanted him to play for 50 years and the pandemic inspired him to start a band that would play songs he always wanted to showcase and perform. Some of the songs showcased were “The Best Thing For You Is Me,” “Bolivia,” “Whisper Not” and “Moanin’.” The mix of those composers, in order, are Irving Berlin, Cedar Walton, Benny Golson, and Bobby Timmons.
Section Jazz is a quartet of seasoned musicians who bring their considerable skills to the table on each and every song. All four members held rhythm and solo duties equally as well. The piano solos soared and swung all night, as did the drum solos that drove on melodically. Hogan’s soloing is always a delight, tasteful and working the fret board precisely. A real stand out was Joel’s bass playing. His soloing was tonal, plucky and punching, and, at times, he expertly bowed the instrument as fine as a classical player, reminiscent of a woman’s voice calling out to a lover.
All in all, it was a fun-filled afternoon of quality jazz performed by both rising star musicians and veteran players, producing a show the best the Jersey Shore has to offer!
ALSO NOTE: don’t miss Audra Muriel fronting her crew of master jazzmen, A Real Human JazzBand, on November 6th 2021 at 6pm right back at The Chubby Pickle (23 Bay Ave, Highlands, NJ)