Channeling two jazz tenor titans

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Tenor saxophonists Lew Del Gatto and Jeff Rupert channeled the spirit and hard-driving swing of Al Cohn and Zoot Sims in their Friday matinee concert at the Venice (FL) Art Center.

The South County Jazz Club event teamed the two tenors with pianist Richard Drexler, bassist Don Mopsick and drummer Tony Vigilante.

All of the music they performed came from the repertoire of Cohn and Sims, whose musical partnership was something to behold on the New York jazz scene in the 1950s and '60s. Half of the afternoon's material was featured on To Al and Zoot, With Love, a 2008 recording that was the genesis of a tribute project by Del Gatto and fellow tenor player Bob Keller.

Del Gatto, who spent a quarter century as a member of NBC's Saturday Night Live Band, now lives in Naples FL. With Keller still based up north, he drafted Rupert for this event. Rupert is Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Drexler, a multi-instrumentalist best known for his bass playing, also teaches in UCF's jazz program.

The music was swinging from the opening notes of their extended version of “Loved Come Back to Me" to the closer, late pianist John Bunch's frisky “John's Bunch." Other treats included the band's take on “Recado Bossa Nova," Gary McFarland's “Blue Hodge" and Lester Young's classic composition “Tickle Toe." The set also included Cohn's originals “P-Town" and “Mama Flosie," and Billy Byers' “Doodle Oodle. “

Del Gatto and Rupert were in synch with each other- and their rhythm mates- all afternoon. The two tenors' unison playing was very strong, with slight variations enhancing their blend. All of the players' solos were inspired and quite inventive.

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This story appears courtesy of Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes.
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