The Burners Swing at the Jazz Café

The Burners jazz cafe

On an early evening where it rained all day, we pulled up to the Chubby Pickle expecting a light crowd, but were surprised to see a room full waiting to hear some great jazz. The Burners, long time JSJBF member Ron Rauso’s organ-based trio, that plays in the style of the Mighty Burner himself, Charles Earland, proceeded to fill the space with some of the best music of that era at the Jersey Shore, or anywhere else. Board member and promoter Joseph Vincent Riggio had the sound dialed in perfectly and those in attendance showed their appreciation. Ron, whose foundational influences come from T-Bone Walker and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown on the blues side and Bill Jennings and Grant Green who influenced his jazz feel, was on a vintage ES330 guitar. Dan Kostelinick, whose playing recalls the organ greats Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff and Don Patterson was on the Hammond and David Sang was on the drums. They have honed their considerable skills to perfect a timeless sound that showcases the classic tunes in their repertoire, featured on this night.

The first set led off with “Blues Everywhere,” which was a taste of what was to come. Dan got cooking on the Ramsey Lewis composition, “The In Crowd,” and showed his flair, when on Stanley Turentine’s “Minor Chant,” his solo included a tip of the hat to Ray Charles with some “Hit the Road Jack.”  Their version of Coleman Hawkins “Blues Wail” allowed Ron to stretch out with some excellent soloing. They showed the range of styles the band excels at, with their version of the Gerry Goffin/Carole King penned “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” The band was in a groove with Booker T & The MGs “Hip Hug-Her,” and for those of you who thought MG stood for the British sports car, you would be wrong as it’s a call out to their home base, the Memphis group.  Jimmy McGriff’s “All About My Girl,” was another highlight of this set with Dan’s bebop organ riffs and Ron’s signature guitar, this version was a winner. After a nice rendition of “All About Her,” the familiar strains of Count Basie’s “Splanky” signaled the end of the first set.

Ron’s instantly identifiable opening riff led into Lou’s Donaldson’s 1963 Jazz standard “Funky Mama,” and the groove was on. They then Switched gears with a lush rendition of a song most closely associated with Frank Sinatra,” Fly Me To The Moon.” “Next Time You See Me,” featured Don up to his old tricks, inserting the melody to Dion & The Belmonts, “Ruby Baby,” into the mix. They then dipped into Muddy Waters bag with a reworking of “Can’t Be Satisfied.” For those of us who remember, “Ode To Billie Joe,” it was given a nice instrumental reading that didn’t stray too far from the original. The next song was one Booker T is most famously known for, “Green Onions.” It’s a tune that even the younger folks in attendance could appreciate, along with those of us who listened to it on the radio the first time around. They then turned the clock back to the 1940’s for an updated version of “Blues In The Night.” Those one hit wonders, Spiral Starecase, provided what seems to me to be the band’s signature song, “More Today Than Yesterday.” It’s right in their wheelhouse and they nailed it. They then changed gears for a NOLA inspired swampy version of the Meters, “Cissy Strut.” After a great rendition of the Jimmy McGriff penned “Vicky,” they segued into “Splanky” again, and we knew another terrific evening of music was coming to an end. If you haven’t seen the Burners, you owe it to yourself to check them out, and you won’t be disappointed. 

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