Al Vega and the New England Jazz All-Stars
May 23, 2002 @ Scullers
Smilingly posed at the 81-year-old’s “bar mitzvah,” this special set at
Boston’s best jazz room featured the legendary likes of sax symbols Dick
Johnson and “Evil” Ted Casher, bassist Marshall Wood and the host of
hosts, Ron Della Chiesa. Among the packed-in members of the audience were
bandleader Bill Winiker and international recording star Carol Sloane,
both of whom had come to support their musical neighbors.
Opening with a broad and peppy rendition of Ellington’s “A Train,” the
stage-stuffing group was led by trumpeter/lounge singer Johnny Sousa in a
hand-drummed and rhythmic run through Mancini’s “Charade.” When Vega
introduced Getz’s “Puh-dee-doh” in his Bah-ston accent, the band really
got into it, letting loose a four-man brass wave (which also included
trombonist Artie Montenegro) that shimmered in shades of burnished gold.
Japanese export Dolly Baker joined the boys for a mike-robatic take on “It
Had to be You” and was herself joined by Sinatra protégé Steve Marvin for
such Chairman-ed chestnuts as “Nice n’ Easy” and “Witchcraft.” As Marshall
flowed around the frets and Artie blurped along with the smokin’ sax sets,
Al sat on the side (though not on the sidelines), as tastefully
understated as ever (save perhaps his red sport coat). It was a special
night for Boston’s jazz scene and everyone had a great time!
- Matthew S. Robinson
c. 2002, M. S. Robinson, ARR