Trombonist Herb Bruce's repeat visit to the Charlotte County Jazz Society's concert series with his Herbicide Jazz Band was a night of uncontrolled exuberance. Sometimes it was in the music. More often, it was the self-deprecating humor of Bruce and his merry music makers on Monday, April 9's Dixieland Jazz Night.
Herbicide presented excellent music- not always in the traditional Dixieland style. There were some crowd-pleasing vintage set pieces, some new things- including a new face in the area, some borrowed thing and some blue(s). And it all worked seamlessly.
Bruce was joined by trumpeter Davey Jones, clarinetist Jim Snyder, pianist Judi Glover, bassist Charlie Silva and drummer Eddie Metz Jr. Ken Salvo sat in on banjo and rhythm guitar in his first Port Charlotte gig. The recent Florida transplant is a 10-year veteran of Vince Giordano's New York-based Nighthawks trad band.
Patricia Dean, joined the band for four vocal numbers. While Dean has taken a drum feature in past performances, she stuck to the microphone this night. Looking over at versatile all-star Metz, she quipped, I don't play drums when he's in the county."
Together, the band underscored the notion that while jazz is a serious music on many levels, it also can be a lot of fun in the right hands.
The highlights included:
- The band's first-time performance of a Dick Hyman arrangement of Old Man River," beautiful for its sections of horn riffs and counterpoint.
- Its versions of Storyville Blues" and Terry Waddell arrangements of I Never Knew" and Royal Garden Blues."
- Bruce and Snyder doubling their reprise (on trombone and clarinet) of Alphonse Picou's classic clarinet solo on the New Orleans standard High Society."
- Jones, subbing for regular trumpeter Don Johnson- who was home mending broken ribs after a fall, delivered exquisite solos all night long in the sometimes growling trad sound. He was featured beautifully on Pete Kelly's Blues."
- The band's frenetic delivery of Cake Walking Babies (From Home)." The 1925 recording by composer Clarence Williams' Blue Five featured a classic head-to-head solo battle between a young Louis Armstrong and soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet.
- Dean's second-set vocals, which included Yes Sir, That's My Baby," which became a tip of the hat to Bruce, her husband of nearly 16 years, and a stunning voice-and-bass duet with Silva on Bye Bye Blackbird." In their hands, it was spare and sultry.
Herbicide's performance drew an audience nearing 300 to the Cultural Center of Charlotte County's William H. Wakeman III Theater in Port Charlotte. It was the largest of the seven concert 2017-18 CCJS season.
This story appears courtesy of Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes.
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