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Jazz standard fare done well, twice over

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The Charlotte County Jazz Society opened it 2015-16 season with concert that celebrated the depth and breadth of the jazz canon with creative performances by two very different bands.  Singer-drummer Patricia Dean teamed with Naples-based pianist Stu Shelton and Tampa Bay-area bassist Joe Porter. Dean did double duty at the October 12 event because the planned drummer in Shelton’s trio, James Martin, was sidelined by shoulder problems.

While Martin would have been an added bonus for the Port Charlotte crowd, Dean is no lightweight as a singer or a drummer. She has a charming voice and keeps impeccable time, without flash, at the drum kit. As a result, Dean is one of the busiest jazz musicians on Florida’s southwest coast.

Dean & Co.primarily explored the Great American Songbook with solid performances a half-dozen standards, adding in two other gems. Shelton treated the crowd to a beautiful impressionistic take on Bill Evans’ “B Minor Waltz” and the trio exotically breezed through the bossa nova, “O Barquinho” (My Little Boat) with Dean singing the original Portuguese lyrics.

Their standard fare included “Autumn Leaves,” a most appropriate opener for an October concert, “I Just Found Out About Love,” “I’ll String Along With You,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “This Can’t Be Love.” The second half featured the Jim Martin-Dick Hamilton quartet, a Sarasota-based foursome that was moresome. 

Martin played trumpet and flugelhorn, while Hamilton shifted between piano, flute and trombone throughout their set. They were joined by bassist John DeWitt and drummer Johnny Moore. The four work well together, with Moore always impressing with his subtle playing and subtle, creative solos.  

Hamilton and Martin make a great tandem, with an astonishingly long music history and fine chops.Highlights included “Recado” (The Gift), a romp through Sonny Rollins’ jazz chestnut “Doxy” and “How Deep is the Ocean,” which Hamilton arranged with a clever bossa nova beat. Their tune arrangements also included instrumental counterpoint, a sound reminiscent of baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s collaborations with trumpeter Chet Baker and valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer in the early 1950s.

“Long Ago and Far Away” succinctly summed up their musical relationship and their career directions. They first met in junior high school in Sarasota in 1950 and played music together pretty much all the time right through their high school years, as Martin explained later. 

Then came divergent career paths. Martin taught philosophy at Dartmouth College and the University of Wyoming for many years before retiring back to Sarasota 14 years ago. Hamilton moved to Los Angeles in 1956 and built an impressive 45-year career as a studio musician, composer and arranger in L.A. and Hollywood. The two men remained friends and stayed in touch through the years. Seeing how fertile the music scene was back in Southwest Florida, Hamilton and his wife decided to move back to the area from the West Coast two years ago. The trumpeter and trombonist quickly resumed their musical partnership.

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