On Thursday Feb. 26th, the Orion Trio performed for another sold-out house of almost 300 people. We featured two most excellent guest artists, Sheryl Genco on violin, and Phil Caltabellotta on harmonica, backed up by John Huber on bass, Jerry Bruno on drums, and Thomas Pizzi on keyboards.
All our concerts are different, but I must say this one was the furthest left of center, so far. What made it so unusual was the nature of the instrumentation, since violin and harmonica are not generally perceived as jazz instruments. This, combined with the blending of Latin, Jazz, and Classical genres, added up to a big experiment on our part. The mix seemed to be well received, which I attribute in no small part to the first rate presentation by our guest artists, with solid backing from the trio. It also helps that as usual we had a knowledgeable and enthusiastic audience to encourage us.
The Trio opened with New York arranger Artie Schroek’s version of “Mountain Greenery”, written by George Gershwin. We then brought Ms. Genco on stage to perform two pieces, “Gavotte” and “Valse Lent” from a suite written for Violin and Jazz Trio by the French composer and pianist Claude Bolling. These pieces had a definite classical flavor but also featured improvising and jazz styles. We followed these with an arrangement by the Klazz Bros. from Havana, called “Mambozart”. It is the theme from Mozart’s Symphony #39 in G minor arranged in jazz mambo style, and was played with flair by Sheryl. I think the audience had as much fun listening to these songs as we did playing them.
Sheryl then yielded the stage to Phil Caltabellotta and his magic harmonica. He is one of the premier musicians in the country on his instrument, and the audience warmed up to him quickly. We began with an up tempo “Out Of Nowhere”, followed by the well-known bossa nova “Wave”, by Jobim, and “Quando, Quando, Quando” as a latin samba. We then played the ballad “The Nearness Of You”, which had moments as beautiful as anything I’ve heard in a long time. Phil told me later he was feeding off the Trio, and found new heights of expression. We finished his set with the classic big band standard “Tangerine”, and then brought Sheryl back up to finish the show with Phil in a collaborative effort on the tune “Bluesette”, by Belgian jazz harmonica player Toots Thielemans.
I am pleased the mix of styles, instruments and unusual tunes was so well received. It was quite a departure from mainstream jazz, and we’ll definitely take some more chances of this type in the future.
Our next concert on Mar. 24th will feature the silky smooth tenor sax sound of Charlie DeChant. Charlie is from Orlando, has played with the Hall & Oates band since their inception in 1976, and is an amazing jazz player.
On Apr. 30th we will be joined by John Depaolo, master trumpet player.