Monday, October 24, 2011

DeLand's Thin Man Watts Jazz Festival 2011

First thing we heard when we pulled up to unload was the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mass Community Choir, performing on the steps of the Volusia Historic Courthouse! Big uplifting sound, great way to start the day.

Above is Matt Ward Miller - a drummer in his own right who was running sound for the shows in Chess Park. Matt did a great job achieving the delicate balance of volume and finesse needed for outdoor jazz. Kudos!

Pictured from left to right, event host & singer-songwriter Tony Amadore, Matt Miller & Thom Chambers.

The waterfall made things interesting sonically, Mr. Amadore joked that it sounded like applause! It did make for very nice picture taking: above is drummer Jay Messick - performing with the Kenny MacKenzie Trio.

Another nice waterfall shot of bassist John Pelligrino - great guy and always a smile!

Kenny MacKenzie Trio - photo by Arnette Sherman.

All the bands had a special guest performer - the clock tower. I was disappointed it did not sound in the one number we do that could have used bells ("Song One"). Thom Chambers was appreciative to have any one playing with him, but complained about the clock's "short solos".

Bringing some authentic New Orleans to DeLand was Sybil Gage. Sybil captivated the crowd with both her voice & her stage presence - an indescribably engaging energy the audience and I couldn't get enough of.

Leon Olguin is Sybil's long-time accompanist - and boy, can she pick 'em! Leon was phenomenal, always apropos, marvelously full-sounding and at times lightning fast. I was impressed. They did a great show!

Rhythm Phocus layed down the funk at Chess Park. Big band - had to combine photos to get Demetrius Garner the bass player in there! Other musicians include Roland Brawner - guitar/leader, Deanna Hall - vox, and Byron Marquese Garner on drums. If I find out the other musicians names (Les Macquarrie does not appear to be there) I'll post them.

This festival was one of the most well organized events I'd ever been to. Running like clockwork with friendly staff/volunteers everywhere - nothing was overlooked. The musicians had a 'green room' in the West Volusia Beacon building - where I met some very cool people and enjoyed the fare and a chair with a back. But I ate my Nutella sandwich in my car and observed some very neat things about DeLand - like the guy on the giant big-wheeled bicycle (sorry no pic), the "penny cabs" that whisked organizer Jeff Shepherd's charming wife Barb away somewhere - perhaps to the Sam Rivers show; and I was parked across from this fun mural celebrating the Deland Naval Air Station for WWII.

Just Jazz took the stage in Artisan Alley and provided a lighthearted, upbeat "cool" mood, playing bop and post-bop jazz favorites like "Mercy Mercy Mercy" and enjoying the late afternoon sun.

Just Jazz - Lloyd Hoppe - Bass, Geno Valet - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Mel DiLorenzo - Drums, Ernie Lombardi - Trombone, Bill Lewis - Piano.

Thom Chambers' show at Chess Park was a lot of fun. Thom played sax, flute and even a little keyboard, and hopped off stage to serenade the audience.

Thom taking a flute solo in a great song I hadn't heard in a while - "Morning Dance" - hailing from back a few years when it wasn't unusual for a jazz instrumental to be on pop radio. Also played was a fine rendition of "Just the Two of Us" and some tunes by Sting.

That's me - one of a few pianists closing out the evening in a DeLand venue. I'm looking a little tired, but I had a lot of fun here at the Elusive Grape - a big, friendly crowd rolled in for my last set and we all had a blast! Thanks to Arnette Sherman for the informative conversation and for taking this picture; and to Tony (and a few others, I'm beyond terrible with names - thank God for business cards!) for the good company!

Residents of Palm Coast - DeLand is less than an hour away, an easy trip (and scenic if you take route 11) and filled with opulent displays of fine culture everywhere you look (and a real neat record store!) - if you didn't make the festival this year, plan to go next time. This festival is in good hands! I'll be there next year - one way or another... :)   - KM

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