“Jass” was the maiden term for jazz music when the form emerged from the streets and nightclubs of New Orleans and St. Louis. The twinkling Trio Loco plays up the pun, as its music crosses easily from jazz to Latin and straight-up lounge—but it’s all “jass” in the end. Fronted by über-crooner and gutbucket bassist Studio Stu, this recording features composer and SUNY New Paltz jazz studies director Mark Dziuba on guitar and the dynamite Dean Sharp on all things percussive. Engineer Paul Antonell of Rhinebeck’s Clubhouse studio delivers a perfect mix, with Stu’s Studivarious washtub bass sounding at times like a four-string standup or Fender Precision, and Sharp’s drums have drive but never overpower. Dziuba is at the top of his game, whether composing (i.e., the instrumental opener “Mobile Infirmary”) or running chords all over the neck on Pat Martino’s “The Visit.” All the selections are more fun than a barrelful of matzoh, with some standard schmaltz (the Peggy Lee hit “Fever”) mingled in with real gem arrangements (Johnny Mercer’s “I’m an Old Cowhand”). Jass delivers the jazz on Thelonious Monk’s “Epistrophy” (whose title means “a word or phrase that repeats itself”) with its ear-bending semi-tone melody. The farewell track, the trippy “oddNormal,” is remixed and looped by Sharp. Plan on spending many late, smoky nights with all this Jass. www.myspace.com/triolocojass.
Why and how dare she devote an entire album to songs by Laura Nyro when we can just listen to the originals on Spotify? I'll tell you why. Because Christine Spero fully inhabits these songs, uncovers hidden nuances, and with her stunning ensemble—including drummer Peter O'Brien, bassist Scott Petito, saxophonist Elliot Spero, and Christine's own magic hands on the ivories.
This month, we once again ring in the new year with a specially selected panel of Hudson Valley music mavens, who run down their top releases of 2016 and talk current crushes and future faves along the way.
With its open-air format, where attendees picnic in the parks and watch the stars emerge during performances, and its $5 youth tickets, the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice is the perfect place to share with children a love of music and theater, in a variety of styles.