It was a weather perfect day as guests filled the A Frame space at the "House that Betty Built" and everyone had warm greetings and attentive ears in as the Nick Mancini Quartet began our remarkable Jazz journey on January 19th, 2014. It's true, that the Jazz Aficionados that attend the monthly concerts are accustomed to undiluted Jazz & Blues. This Sunday afternoon, we experienced a round trip journey that that was an inspiring start into 2014.
Nick Mancini - Vibes and Piano
John Campbell - Piano and Vibes
Greg Swiller - Bass
Jake Reed - Drums
The engine took off with Cole Porter's "Love for Sale". A glorious introduction caught everyone as it was voiced with an emphasis worth repeating as in what's known in Jazz as a "tag". The song is a dark but realistic story as timely as people on earth. It was told with the same complexity as life often brings.
The connection between musicians was impeccable. Stirring solos offered by Nick on Vibes. John on Piano shared a very soul-filled story as only he can voice. Wonderfully in the pocket was Greg on Bass. And, Jake on Drums was magical. Nick is an intuitive musician. He always paints a portrait that is infused with his heartfelt passion for the art form.
The quartet was bleeding Authentic Jazz.
As we left the "sale" so to speak, our hearts were serenaded with a gorgeous gem composed by Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke, "Midnight Sun". Nick took us far beyond the walls of the A frame with his interpretation of this incredibly beautiful piece articulating its depth, essence, and earnestness. Nick's solo offered yet more volumes of the enchantment of the song.
John's solo was heavenly imparting a tender and alluring quality filled with accents and language that held the audience captive under his spell. While Greg's Bass work was a thoughtful caressing of one that touches the souls and captivated the spirits present on this enjoyable journey.
The culmination presented a remarkable statement in the bond between the musicians and audience. This was in my opinion one of the most beautiful renditions of this piece I've heard. Surely, the incomparable Mr. Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke along with Johnny Mercer (who wrote the lyrics) were all smiling form heaven at the end of this great standard.
A tune called, "When Moonbeams Come Streaming" was a very touching Jazz Ballad presented with an infectious and joy filled waltz-like feel. Greg provided a splendid introduction that stole hearts. There was a short call and response between Nick and John deserving of knowing smiles.
A dedication to our lovely and most gracious hostess - Ms. Betty Hoover, the unforgettable piece -composed by George Gershwin, "I Loves You, Porgy". There was no Piano on this beloved composition. Nick gave the narrative by way of Vibes with sensitive Bass and Brushes (on Drums) accompaniment of a haunting love with awareness that displayed unique tenderness.
The quartet turned the tables on the audience with the versatile and ingenious musicianship of John Campbell and Nick Mancini. Both musicians are proficient on other instruments. They switched reels on the Sonny Rollins grooving tune, "Doxy".
Yes, John soared on Vibes with brilliance beyond reason. And, Nick tantalized on Piano, giving spontaneity and creativity to the ivory and ebony 88 keys with his accompaniment... A "Killer Joe" quote rang out to add to the fun.
Kurt Weill's "Speak Low" a splendid piece featuring some of nicest interaction, ever between John and Nick. A very cool trade of 4's, as in, Nick taking 4 bars, then Jake taking 4, throughout the structure of the tune. The song was performed with fluidity and speed that was roused the A frame!
There were a few special original compositions by Nick Mancini shared by the quartet.
Sonara was a swinging piece which unleashed a rhythmic musical love affair of Jake on Drums and Greg on Bass reminiscent of 1950's smooth groove moving across the dance floor in perfect timing with subtle transition into a Samba delight. Yeah!!!
And, check out this a song utilizing the chord changes of Bob Haggart's moving Ballad with lyrics by Johnny Burke, "What's New?”
The song is entitled, "Al's Kid". It was fast, invigorating, inquisitive of "What Happening?" or "What's New?"
Jake on Drums totally driving!!!Giving the feel as if a full percussion section was performing! Trade of 4's with dynamics calling out to all as a reign of radiance filled the space of the A frame for sure!
The most salient theme throughout our euphoric voyage in Jazz was the complete amalgamation among the Quartet.
Each song presented with true genuineness of the spirit of the music. Truly, this was exceptional afternoon for all in attendance.