I’m happy to report that the August 27th Singer Celebration was a success. We had 11 singers, including me and our featured singer, John Bianchi. John did a wonderful job playing clarinet and singing 3 tunes including his original composition “I’m Going Back to My Dreams” (which he started off by playing a ukulele introduction – so charming!)
I started us out with a Dixieland theme on I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly Roll, followed by Exactly Like You. We continued the theme all night, with John singing ‘Deed I Do in the first set, his original tune in the second set, and I Have a Feeling I’m Falling in the third.
Our first guest singer, Cliff Walston, sang Dexter Gordon’s Cheesecake, with lyrics he wrote, based on Cliff’s experience of seeing Dexter play in Europe. Cliff always adds so much to these evenings by sharing his amazing life experiences with us.
The parade of singers continued all night, with me and John singing in every set, while 3 new guest singers came up and sang one song each, within each set. That worked out very conveniently to 11 singers!
Another observation from the evening was the incredible audience. Sometimes people tend to leave in the third set, as it gets later, but that was not the case this time. Not only did we maintain a full house all night, people continued to sit at the bar after the show ended! To me means they were enjoying themselves so much they didn’t want to go.
One person told me that they felt like they were in New Orleans during the show; another couple who dropped in for a drink and hadn’t been aware of the show, wound up staying all night, clapping for every singer, and taking photos and videos.
The band was truly amazing. They played enthusiastically all night! My house band is a group of 7, keyboard, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, trombone and saxophone. With our featured vocalist sitting in with clarinet, brought us up to 8. Then, somewhere in the second set, a trumpet playing friend showed up and sat in for the rest of the night, bringing the house band up to 9 players … with an awesome 5 piece front line, and a solid 4 piece rhythm section.
With this kind of playing power, the guys were able to stretch out in each set on instrumentals: Jubilee; It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got that Swing; and Ain’t Misbehavin’ … because who doesn’t love Fats Waller?
To bring the evening to a close, I sang my favorite finale piece, St. Louis Blues, a W.C. Handy tune made famous by Bessie Smith.
Considering the appreciative audience, the support by the singer community, and my terrific band – without which none of this is possible – we are going to do another Singer Celebration on October 15th, at the same location, the DLV Lounge in Montclair, NJ, from 9pm to midnight.
The October 15th event will be an experiment for me, because I’m going to make it a Jazz & Blues mash-up. My Featured Vocalist (to be announced on the PUBLIC Facebook invite soon…) is a Blues singer, and between the two of us, we will provide the thematic foundation for this next event.
I hope to see you there!
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