donmopsick

Current appearances and short essays by jazz bassist Don Mopsick

Posts Tagged ‘bebop

Real Jazz Comes to Cape Coral

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capecoralwelcomeThe town where I live–Cape Coral, FL on the southwest coast near Ft. Myers–is not known as a hotbed of Real Jazz. At least not since I moved back here in 2010. I’ve got nothing against other kinds of music one can easily find here, especially downtown where the live music venues are–classic rock/top-40 covers, folksy singer-songwriters, country rock, amped-up urban blues, heavy metal, etc. Nor do I find fault with my neighbors who seek out these flavors. A person likes what he likes; you pays yer money and you gets yer choice. Or something.

In a nutshell, to me “Real Jazz” is the canon of the older, mostly acoustic jazz that swings. You can either dance to it with your feet or in your head. Oliver, Armstrong, Jelly, Bechet, Bix, Waller, Venuti & Lang, Teagarden, Basie, Django, Ellington, Goodman, Bob Cats, Nat Cole, Bird, Diz, Thelonius, Blakey, Trane, Newk, Miles, Thad and Mel, Cannonball, Zoot and Al, Getz, Bill Evans, Phil Woods, Wes, and many others. Since I make my living playing the double bass, the Gods of Jazz Bass Fiddle orbit the heavens: Pops Foster, Milt Hinton, Walter Page, Jimmy Blanton, Oscar Pettiford, Israel Crosby, Mingus, Ray Brown, NHOP, George Morrow, George Duvivier, Richard Davis, Buster Williams, Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Scott LaFaro, Chip Jackson, Steve Gilmore, John Clayton, Ben Wolfe, Paul Keller, Christian McBride, and so on–in short, anyone who gets a sound and lays down The Pocket. I’ve also always been into all things Latino: mambo, bolero, calypso, bossa nova, samba, Afro-Cuban polyrhythm, etc. Any questions? They’re all on YouTube.

I’ve always loved singers for whom swinging is always Job One. I seek out their versions of the Great American Songbook, Blues, Bebop, jazz standards, etc. Bessie, Billie, Sarah, Carmen, Ella, Anita, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Joe Williams, Frank, Sammy, Mel, Tony, Nat, etc. And, for me, performing the GAS is always a worthy artistic endeavor in itself–I am content to work in bands whose playlist on a given night leans heavily on Berlin, Kern, Gershwin, Porter, Arlen, Warren, and the vast number of “unsung” songwriters who had just a few hits. Newer members of this Pantheon–again as interpreted through the jazz lens–are Mancini, Johnny Mandel, Jobim, Bacharach, Legrand, etc. It’s a very rewarding pursuit to discover well-written songs that are new to me, or to become more adept at improvising on those I should know better.

Taken all together, the above is a wide spectrum within the world of jazz. To varying degrees, almost all my colleagues concentrate on smaller subsets of these elements. Since I was a small child, it’s all felt good to me–so occasionally I get into trouble with some who feel strongly for or against a given approach or groove.

Bob-Parlocha-photo-843x1024

“Real Jazz with Bob Parlocha” was heard on WGCU-FM in Ft. Myers most weekday nights for years and is still in syndication in some markets.

If you want to call me “old school,” I take it as a compliment–and an indication of your refined taste. I’ve heard Real Jazz referred to as “music for consenting adults,” but I’m seeing plenty of twenty-somethings (“Millennials”), especially in and around college towns, who “get it.” Further, “Real Jazz” is now being used to designate a specific radio genre (on Sirius/XM, for example).  A recently deceased late-night radio host–whose reruns are still nationally syndicated on public radio networks–called his show “Real Jazz With Bob Parlocha.”

This is welcome news to those of us who choose to spend our time on this earth learning and playing this music. Which brings me back to Cape Coral, mostly up till now apparently a jazz-free zone, with one exception: I played one season with the brilliant pianist Joe Delaney at a restaurant called Brew Babies on Lafayette St. (which no longer features jazz). Since then the great majority of my jazz music-making has been in Ft. Myers at the Roadhouse Cafe, or in Sarasota County at Allegro Bistro in Venice and the Starlite Room and the Blue Rooster in Sarasota. Once in a while I get a call to go as far as Orlando, Tampa, Clearwater, Gainesville, or the east coast towns north of Ft. Lauderdale. For a couple of glorious seasons I was privileged to play in a Real Jazz band at Chef Charles Mereday’s Alto Live Jazz Kitchen in Naples (now closed) co-led by trumpeter Dan Miller and saxophonist Lew Del Gatto.

So since 2011 or so my travels in search of The Groove have taken me to everywhere in Florida but the town in which I live. I don’t mind driving a long distance–say an hour or two depending on the gig–as long as there’s something groovy at my destination. Several of my Florida colleagues feel the same way. So far I’ve put on about 33K miles a year on two Priuses.

slates_largeSeptember is the month in which presenters and musicians line up their seasonal gigs, and this year in Lee County there are more restaurateurs willing to take a chance on Real Jazz. A new Real Jazz Thursday started up recently at a club in downtown Ft. Myers called the Barrel Room, featuring a quartet with Dan Miller, Lew Del Gatto, veteran Philly drummer Tony Vigilante and young bassist Brandon Robinson. There is a growing movement in the Cape Coral City Council to extend bar hours in the South Cape to 4 AM, aiming at attracting a younger late-night clientele. If finally passed, the measure would help establish more late-night venues for music in the South Cape area. A new venture, the Big Blue Brewing on SE 10th Pl. is set to open soon with craft beers, a creative menu and live jazz.

Chefs Allan and Nancy Cotter operated the renowned and award-winning Blue Moon Restaurant and Jazz Club on St Croix, USVI for 16 years. After relocating to Cape Coral in 2010 they opened Slate’s, located at 4820 Candia St. At Slate’s Allan presented Traditional Jazz with Pat O’Brien for his Sunday Brunch for about 3 seasons, and this year he acquired the space next door, opened a doorway, and created an intimate, cozy room with a tiny bandstand, bar, comfortable couches and art on the walls. He named the new space the “Side Door Jazz Club.” He intends for it to be a “home for jazz in Cape Coral” where people come to listen to the music. Accordingly, the hours are later than usual–7:30-10:30, Wednesday through Sunday.

Bob Leary, guitar; Herb Bruce, trombone; Jim Snyder, clarinet; Don Mopsick, bass

At the Side Door I will be playing in a quartet on Saturday nights called “Swing to Bop.” The personnel are myself, guitarist/vocalist Bob Leary of Naples, trombonist Herb Bruce of North Port and clarinetist/saxophonist Jim Snyder of Winter Garden. Everyone in this group at one time or another paid dues working as staff musicians at Walt Disney World in Orlando, which is how we all met. In recent years we played a few jobs and concerts together as a band–which were too much fun! Each of us brought a lifetime of experience, chops and sick humor to a wide spectrum of jazz genres. It dawned on us that we should try to get ourselves a regular gig somewhere. Our debut at the Side Door Jazz Club was Saturday, September 10.

Now here’s the thing about this band: each member is an in-demand top player with prior commitments, so we have a unique opportunity to showcase other top players from the region and state to come to downtown Cape Coral to play a night of Real Jazz with us–however they like it. The idea is that you in the audience will catch some of the fun we’ll be having up on the bandstand.

Pete Bordonali

Pete Bordonali

For example, guitarist Bob Leary was out of town on the opening night, so we got the great guitarist Pete Bordonali to sub for him. Pete is another Disney alumnus we all worked with. He’s had an amazing career as a jazz guitarist backing up Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Short, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Ray Charles, Steve and Edie, Louie Prima, and others. He’s lived in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas (where he worked for years at the Sands hotel and is on many of the classic recordings made there). Pete also has an ongoing career as a recording producer in Nashville. He has worked there as musician and producer with Ronnie Milsap, Barbara Mandrell, Amy Grant, Joe Tex, Debbie Boone, Dolly Parton, Mickey Gilley, Tanya Tucker, George Jones, Trisha Yearwood, George Strait, Shania Twain, Merle Haggard and Lyle Lovett. Pete currently lives in Naples, FL and will be appearing with us again on 9/24.

Other “special guest star” appearances with the Swing to Bop Quartet in September and October at the Side Door Jazz Club:

Trumpeter Mark Pettey 9/24

Drummer/Vocalist Patricia Dean 10/1

Pianist Joe Delaney 10/1

Trumpeter Dan Miller 10/1

I’ll be telling you more about them and other guests in future posts. In the meantime, do try to come out on 9/10 if you can!

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Written by Don Mopsick

September 2, 2016 at 11:47 PM

Dan Miller Quartet Returns to The Roadhouse Cafe Florida on Tuesday Nights

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Dan Miller, Don Mopsick and Joe Delaney at the Roadhouse Cafe in 2016

Dan Miller, bassist Don Mopsick and pianist Joe Delaney at the Roadhouse Cafe in 2016

Third Season at Popular Ft. Myers Night Spot Kicks Off October 11

The Roadhouse Cafe in Ft. Myers FL presents the Dan Miller Quartet Tuesday nights at 7:00 beginning October 11, 2016. The Roadhouse, owned and operated by Marc and Sherri Neeley, features fine dining and entertainment 6 nights a week. The very popular Cafe features a well-stocked bar and wine list, dance floor and piano bar. The Roadhouse was named in the December 2015 issue of Gulf Coast Life magazine as having the “Best Live Music in Southwest Florida.”

The Dan Miller Quartet plays in a modern jazz style known as bebop or “hard bop,” featuring Great American Songbook and Jazz standard tunes in the styles of Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Horace Silver, etc. The members of the Quartet are all seasoned jazz professionals and have held down prestigious jobs around the US and abroad in previous years.

Dan Miller

Dan Miller

Jazz trumpeter Dan Miller is one of Southwest Florida’s most accomplished musicians. A native of Chicago, Miller began his illustrious career in the early 1990s, playing in bands led by Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr., the latter association comprising of over a decade of touring and recording.

In 2004, Dan began to split his time between New York and Florida. He started performing at Ellington’s Jazz Bar and Restaurant on Sanibel Island, FL where he led his own groups as well others as a sideman featuring Jimmy McGriff, David “Fathead” Newman, Jimmy Norman, Lew DelGatto, Jon Weber, Davell Crawford and Danny Sinoff. From 2005-2009, Dan was a member of the Danny Sinoff Quartet, recording three CDs for E.S.P. (the third featured tenor saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman).

Since 2010, Dan has been a member of the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra.

Dan continues to perform regularly in New York, appearing frequently at Smalls and Fat Cat as a leader or in bands led by Ned Goold or saxophonist Tim McCall. He often finds himself playing in NYC with musicians like his brother trombonist David Miller, bassist Ben Wolfe, Neal Caine, Anthony Pinciotti, Spike Wilner,  Stephen Riley and Carlos DeRosa.

Through a life of playing, studying and listening, Miller’s knowledge of jazz is wide-ranging and comprehensive. He lists many musical influences including Fats Navarro, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and Curtis Fuller. In Florida and nationwide, Miller is very much in-demand as a jazz educator–in private instruction in brass technique, jazz improvisation as well as coaching school jazz bands at all levels.

joe-delaney

Joe Delaney

Pianist Joe Delaney was born in Brockton, MA and grew up in Whitman, just south of Boston. Joe’s father Ed Delaney was also a pianist. Joe started playing at age 3, learning by ear from records, family parties and his father’s band rehearsals. Joe says, “I picked it up and still play about 90% by ear.”

Joe started formal instruction and began performing in pubic at the age of 5. Joe says, “Once we started little kid tunes, I’d hear the teacher play it and put about 15 minutes into my lesson and just mimic it back.” He was soon spending hours a day learning popular tunes and George Shearing hits he heard during the band rehearsals. Later, Joe studied briefly with Kurt Wenzel, Charlie Banocos, Kenny Barron and Berklee piano professor Paul Schmeling. During his formative years Joe absorbed the musical influences of George Shearing, Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis, Sergio Mendes, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bill Evans, Dave McKenna, Oscar Peterson and Herbie Hancock.

Delaney worked in the Boston and Cape Cod areas until 1981, when he moved to the US Virgin Islands, where he worked for most of the ’80s. From 1989-2009 Joe returned to New England, based in Cape Cod, mostly in Hyannis. He had a long association with reedman Dick Johnson, who led the Artie Shaw Orchestra during this period. Joe traveled with the Shaw Orchestra for six years, sometimes playing alongside trumpet great Lou Colombo. While not touring with the Shaw band or his own groups (on 5 continents), Delaney played extended residencies in virtually every live music venue on Cape Cod. He spent 7 years leading the house trio at the Black Cat Tavern at Hyannis Harbor, now owned and operated by David Colombo.

Joe has recorded many jazz albums and CDs both as leader and sideman, as well as commercial jingles (for Pepsi, Beck’s Beer, among others), and movie soundtracks (Mrs. Worthington’s Party).

Don Mopsick © Ken Franckling

Don Mopsick © Ken Franckling

Bassist Don Mopsick hails from Linden, New Jersey. He attended the Manhattan School of Music, and upon graduation in 1977 relocated to Ft. Myers FL. After a move to Orlando in 1983 he found himself in demand statewide, playing jazz concerts in Orlando, Tallahassee, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Sarasota, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Daytona and elsewhere. In 1991 he joined the Jim Cullum Jazz Band in San Antonio, TX and appeared weekly on the Riverwalk Jazz series on the Public Radio International network. While with Cullum, Mopsick recorded radio shows with Dick Hyman, John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Clark Terry, Kenny Davern, Linda Hopkins, Benny Carter, Bob Wilber, Milt Hinton, Ralph Sutton, Harry Allen, Ken Peplowski, Joe Williams, “Sweets” Edison, Shelly Berg, Stephanie Nakasian, Rebecca Kilgore and many other greats of jazz.

Since his 2010 return to the Sunshine State, Mopsick played local Southwest Florida concert dates with Dick Hyman, Peter Appleyard, Aaron Weinstein, Tedd Firth, Bucky Pizzarelli, Johnny Varro, Cynthia Sayer, Dave Bennett, Tad Weed, Ira Sullivan, Billy Marcus, Giacomo Gates, Russell Malone, Lainie Cook, Ralph Peterson, Jr., Peter Zak, Stephanie Nakasian and her husband pianist Hod O’Brien and daughter Veronica Swift, and others. He has appeared independently in nationwide concerts and festivals with Hyman, Ralph Sutton, John Bunch, Ira Sullivan, Red Rodney, Buddy DeFranco, Randy Sandke, Warren Vaché, Scott Hamilton, Bill Allred and many others.

Other than the Roadhouse, Mopsick appears on Thursday nights at Valenti’s Allegro Bistro in Venice with vocalist Deborah Opie, pianist Billy Marcus and drummer Stephen Bucholtz.

Tony Vigilante

Tony Vigilante

Jazz drummer Tony Vigilante is a native of Philadelphia. Since his move to Naples, FL he has become in demand throughout the Southwest Florida region for his wonderfully buoyant, driving swing feel and impeccable time.

During a long career, Tony has backed up many singers and entertainers such as Della Reese, Billy Eckstine, Maureen McGovern and Perry Como. He’s recorded with Buddy De Franco, the Al Raymond Orchestra and the Brian Pastor Big Band. Vigilante was a member of Ben Vereen’s touring band performing in Las Vegas, Reno and Tahoe casinos, as well as numerous theater performances on the East Coast. In television, Tony worked in live studio bands for shows such as Good Morning America, The Mike Douglas Show, The Phil Donahue Show and an HBO special, Ben Vereen Live from The Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas.

Written by Don Mopsick

September 2, 2015 at 3:00 AM