While the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one for family gatherings which give thanks for all we are blessed with, it’s also a time to enjoy some great local music with family and friends.
With much to choose from, Jo Wymer doing a tribute to Dianna Krall with some of the Jersey Shore’s best jazz musicians at our member venue, the Long Branch Distillery sounded like a great choice. A long time JSJBF member, Jo can usually be found singing blues and rock covers at many local establishments, but her Black Friday Night Extravaganza took her out of her comfort zone, singing jazz interpretations of songs as diverse as Van Morrison’s “Moondance” to the Spinners “I’ll Be Around”. This was as good of a band you could get to interpret the wealth of material covered in a two-hour show. With drummer extraordinaire Bobby Boyd keeping the beat along, with his rhythm mate Joel Bennett, who also added some tasty solos on the upright bass, this left plenty of room for veterans Brad Mandigo and Pat Karwan to take us on a delightful musical journey. Diana’s knack for choosing great songs was evident throughout the night, and as a trained vocalist, Jo did a wonderful job on such classics as “Fly Me to the Moon”, “Cry Me A River” and “Girl From Ipanema.” One of my favorites came from Krall’s breakthrough 1996 album, “All For You.” A Nat King Cole classic, “Frim Fram Sauce” was delivered both vocally and musically with all the gusto it deserved. A highlight of the evening was when she called up producer JanetB who came all the way from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to play keyboards with Jo on vocals, for a song they wrote called “Dark Heart”. A great night of jazz coupled with the signature drinks and ambiance of the Distillery’s listening room made this a special night. Hat’s off to owner Mark Elia and Jo Wymer for making it happen.
That show was the first half of a wonderful weekend female jazz vocalists as Saturday night brought us to JSJBF member venue for the monthly installment of Joseph Vincent Riggio’s Jazz Café at the Chubby Pickle. The featured performer was member Audra Mariel and her Real Human Jazz Band. On this night her usual partners weren’t available, so filling in were Doug Clarke on guitar and Gary Mazroppi on upright bass. Both have played at JSJBF events with Doug currently teaching one of our budding Youth Open Mic jazz guitarists, Alexander Rausch. Audra has been one of the most requested performers at this event, and listening to her exceptional vocals on the 1942 classic “You’ve Changed,” it was easy to hear why. Audra is a no-nonsense performer, but she had a little trouble with the Irving Berlin tune “How Deep is the Ocean” and afterward explained why. Doug jokingly calls the song “How Cheap is the Lotion”. Audra told the audience she can’t sing the song without having that title in her head.
During the second set, they played a great version of the Fats Waller tune, “Ain’t Misbehavin” with both Doug and Gary taking solos. Gary is an amazing bassist and is in great demand partly because of his distinctive solos which make you think they should have been on the original recordings. Doug’s playing blends seamlessly with the bass and vocals and was no more evident than on their rendition of “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”. They finished the night with “Black Coffee” a song written by Paul Francis Webster, who also wrote the theme for Spiderman. Audra’s voice was stronger than ever and I asked her after what she had been doing that made the difference. Her answer was something I have heard often in my life “practice”!
The next event in conjunction with the JSJBF at the Chubby Pickle is Blue Collar Blues on Friday December 10th with Kelly, Ellis & Flynn.
PHOTO CREDITS: Tom Baldino and Tom DeAngeles