Hi Dear Reader, it is spring here in the United States and in April we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month, which is beginning to get worldwide attention and many countries now celebrate it too. It is the birth month, not coincidentally of the great pianist, composer and innovator Duke Ellington who forged new big band sounds and wrote some of the most wonderful and performed songs in the jazz world…Satin Doll, Sophisticated Lady, Mood Indigo, In A Sentimental Mood, Prelude To a Kiss…I could go on and on. Starting with an interview with Ms. Tracy Fields, the very jazz-knowledged director at WLRN (www.wlrn.org) in Miami, I spent April mostly on the road with my new recording (a little self-promotion never hurt) “Love Notes-A Tribute To Oscar Peterson” starting with a tour in Florida with the great guitarist Howard Alden. We performed first in Bonita Springs on the west coast of Florida at the Steinway Gallery there. Around the world there are various Stein-way Societies that promote and enjoy Steinway artists from around the world. The gallery in Bonita Springs is owned by a chap named Greg Billings who is one of the nicest people and so supportive of Steinway Artists. Howard and I had a wonderful audience of true jazz enthusiasts and they obviously enjoyed the music. The next day we took to the road again and performed at another Stein-way Gallery, this one in Coral Gables, Florida. Managed by Doug Thiel, I played a wonderful 9 foot Steinway concert grand. The venue is set up like a small concert hall, and very comfortable to perform in. A guest in the audience was Mel Lipton, the jazz host at WDNA.FM radio in Miami. It is a true station and Mel plays the best swinging straight-ahead jazz there is. Check it out at www.wlrn.org and it can be streamed on the internet.
Driving again across the state from the south east coast to the south west coast of Florida (one takes a road called Alligator Alley…I have yet to see an alligator there but they are there in the swamp) the next stop was a performing arts center in Sarasota called The Glenridge Per-forming Arts Center. They have a very active jazz society which has been promoted and run by a big jazz fan, Morrie Trumble, who is a trumpet player as well. We had a big, enthusiastic audience in this ex-cellent theater and we couldn’t have had a better reception. A guest in the audience was Dr Ron Modell, who enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest trumpet players ever, performing in symphony or-chestras as well as teaching at universities.
He enjoyed listening to jazz and really appreciated the improvisations that Howard and I do. In his honor, we did an arrangement of the Jerome Kern tune Yesterdays and did what Howard and I love to do…perform a two-part Bach-like invention using the chord changes of the song as the basis of the improvisation, played in the classical 4/4 time. Then, we swing it. After a two day vacation enjoying the warm 80°F sunshine and the tur-quoise ocean our final performance was at the wonderful Amaturo Thea-ter which is part of the Broward Center for the Arts, a wonderful arts venue in Ft. Lauderdale. The theater is a state-of-the-art venue and again I played a wonderful Steinway grand. The staff at the theater could not have been nicer or more helpful. The jazz concert season there is organized by the Gold Coast Jazz So-ciety (www.goldcoastjazz.org) and they have brought down world-class jazz in their series every year.
Performing with a wonderful rhythm section, Chuck Bergeron on bass and Roger King Jr. on drums, Howard and I performed tunes from the new recording…tunes that were recorded by the great Oscar Peterson, including Tricotism, Just Friends, Tenderly, Stella By Starlight, Emily, and more, we had a large audience that could not have been better. After getting a night’s rest it was back on the road to North Carolina where I performed in a concert at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex, North Carolina. (www.thehalle.org). It is here that I run a jazz series every season. The theater is a wonderful 150 seat venue which is perfect for jazz. My guest artists for this concert were the wonderful trumpet player and educator Dr. David Champouillon, Jerry Mandel an excellent tenor sax player from California, and the wonderful creative bassist Jimmy Mngwandi from South Africa. Rounding out the group my friend and usual drummer for this venue was Peter Ingram. We had a full house and they loved our doing the music of Louis Arm-strong in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month. Well dear reader it was an eventful and busy April and in a few days I am going to London to perform there and then for a new adventure I will perform in Portugal. Until the next “road trip” I remain your road warrior.
Lenore If you would like more information on any of these concert or venues just e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org