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James Moody Scholarship Benefit at the Blue Note, March 25, 2013

I was really looking forward to this and had my tickets well in advance. Sometimes when your hopes are too high you can be let down, but with the musicians on the docket for this show I didn't expect that to happen. And it didn't.

One of the refreshing things about this show was the that the musicians kept changing. It started out with the trio that was working with Moody in the later years: Adam Nussbaum on drums, Todd Coolman on bass, and Renee Rosnes on the piano. They did a nice number, Dizzy Gillepie's "Con Alma," if I remember correctly, which I occasionally do.

todd coolman 2
Todd Coolman

Then Paquito D'Rivera invited to the stage Steve Turre on T-bone, Greg Gisbert on trumpet, Diego Urcola on flugelhorn. Rivera had his clarinet. They continued with a hot version of Gillespie's "Birk's Work. D'Rivera was right in front of me; I could have reached over and untied his shoes. He would signal the musicians to come in by raising his eyebrows. I was somewhat familiar with his music, but I didn't realize what a funny guy he was.

Next, pianist Bill Charlap took the stage. He played a solo introduction quoting "Come Rain or Come Shine," and then the band came in once he started "Easy Living." What a fine touch he has on the keyboard.

Then D'Rivera invited a couple of Israeli hot shots to the stage, guitarist Yotam Silberstein and clarinetist Anat Cohen. D'Rivera joked, "tell me what to play, or not to play, and I'll play it." They did a Brazilian number, smokin'! One of the highlights of the night.

paquito d'rivera
Paquito D'Rivera along with Anat Cohen's leg and the bell of her clarinet

Then Cyrus Chesnut sat at the piano with a rhythm section of John Lee on bass, Tommy Campbell on drums, Silberstein and Gary Smulyan on bari sax. D'Rivera invited Roberta Gambarini up to sing, quipping, "We musicians are very picky about singers. Some of them are shit." But not Gambarini, she was great, singing Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life." Then they did a tribute to Moody's widow, Linda, to the tune of "Rubber Ducky." "Linda Moody, you're the one...etc." It was funny and the tune lent itself surprisingly well to a jazz treatment. Afterwards, Chesnut played a piano solo, "My Funny Valentine," so beautifully that it brought tears to the eyes of the guy who was sitting across from me. D'Rivera quipped, "Do you play that beautiful all the time, even at home?"

cyrus chesnut
Cyrus Chesnut

Next up on stage was trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, who was joined by alto saxophonist Sharel Cassity. They tore through an up-tempo number, generating some steam heat, as the Ramones might have it.

To wrap things up they brought up comedian and singer Robert Klein, who told some jokes and sang a tune of his called, get this, "Colonoscopy."

I enjoyed a couple of manhattans during the show, and beforehand chatted with the Italian fellow sitting at my left. Of the six people sitting at our table, India, the US, Costa Rica and Italy were represented.

This was my host in New York's first live jazz show. I can't think of a better introduction to this music.



June 2019



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