Los Angeles Jazz Scene magazine, September 2003
JAZZ AROUND TOWN
THE ORANGE COUNTY CLASSIC JAZZ FESTIVAL
The fourth annual Orange County Classic Jazz Festival was held for the first time at the Hyatt Regency in Garden Grove. 19 different groups performed at six venues all located on the same floor, and it was extremely easy to go from one room to another. Since the bands each played multiple sets, I was able to see 18 groups during my two days at the festival, only missing DanLevinson's Sons Of Rosy since they just appeared on the final of the three days. The festival differs from the Sweet and Hot Festival (which takes place over Labor Day weekend) by concentrating on established groups, not having any big names or all-star combos, and sticking almost exclusively to 1920s jazz, trad and New Orleans jazz, with swing and early r&b being largely absent. The musicianship was consistently high and most of the bands avoided predictable versions of warhorses in favor of more inspired material.
The most impressive playing was by the Midiri Brothers from New Jersey. Joe Midiri is a brilliant clarinetist who can sound just like Benny Goodman but also has a musical personality of his own. Paul Midiri plays high-powered vibes and occasionally joins in on drums and trombone. The band (which also includes trumpeter Dan Tobias, guitarist Pat Mercuri, bassist Gary Cattley and drummer Jim Lawlor) bases many of their frameworks on the Benny Goodman Sextet of the 1940s while extending the ideas.
Eight-to-ten chorus clarinet and vibes soloswere not unusual and found the siblings never running out of exciting ideas. Joe Midiri also played some Johnny Hodges-inspired alto and took occasional vocals that imitated Louis Armstrong while each set concluded with a drum battle on a ridiculously fast number featuring Paul Midiri and Jim Lawlor. The music was so heated that pianist Jeff Barnhart from the Titan Seven was moved to sit in on "Dinah". The Midiri Brothers generated many spontaneous standing ovations, and certainly deserved it.
This page last updated May 29 2009 17:17:26 -0400