Recently managed to get myself to the mid-week performance of the 2011 Miami Valley Jazz Camp, an annual event. Perhaps some of you know that I do a radio show on WDPS FM at 89.5 for the Dayton Public Schools. The show airs at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesdays. You can pick it up on your radios but you can also pick it up at http://wdpsfm.com on the internet where the station broadcasts 24/7. I mention this because I had announced on my show numerous times that the Wednesday evening performance would be at Stubbs Park in Centerville as has been the case every year for as far back as I cannot remember. As part of my "reach out and touch someone" jazz music tendencies I had traded e-mails with Dayton Jazz Orchestra (DJO) drummer Jim Leslie and he noted that the performance was at Fairmont High School. Say what? Had I lost my mind - told station listeners to be at Stubbs Park but this was incorrect? - what the heck - long story long, I called Stubbs Park folks in Centerville and they told me it was not at Stubbs Park - "When did that happen?" - "About and hour ago." I requested they add the Fairmont High School address to the sign that was going to be put up at the park and then wondered how else to get the word out. Suddenly realized that WDPS Station Coordinator, Chris Hartley (a.k.a. Hippie) was doing a live broadcast right now. Called him and asked him to get the word out over the air, "hot off the press" kind of stuff that stations love, and he did get the word out in his remaining half hour on the air. About that time I got an e-mail from Mr. Jazz Advocate himself, Ron Gable, that the Miami Valley Jazz Camp had contacted him about the weather related venue change and that he was getting to word out to all his subscribers. All of this seemed to work because the auditorium was pretty darn full by the end of the performance. Yea!
Now back to the performance, and what a performance it was. Things kicked off with a big band of Miami Valley Jazz Campers under the tutelege of Scott Belk - for those of you who do now know Scott Belk (if you do NOT know him you need to get to one of his concerts down at CCM in Cincinnati, for your own sake), he is a wonderful trumpet player and a great conductor and the band played together like they had been practicing for quite some time, when in reality it had only been three days. Ya gotta love jazz musicians! Great job Scott Belk!
The DJO was up next and what a lineup; Josh Adkins (as/ts), Dan Nicora (ts), Rick Johnson (ts/soprano sax), Hal Melia (as/soprano sax) and Bill Burns (bari-sax); Rick Simerly (tb), Vaughn Weister (tb), Todd Couch (tb) & Denny Seifert (bass trombone); Reg Richwine (t), John Harner (t), Scott Belck (t) & Bill Johnson (t); Chris Berg (b),Phil DeGreg (p) & Jim Leslie (d). The band was hitting on all cylinders! The music was great, song selection equal to the task at hand and special guest, Robyn Eubanks on trombone was eye (ear?) poppingly technically proficient. He made some sounds come out of that trombone bell that I don't think I had ever heard before.
During the DJO break they brought out a brass band conducted by trombone player extraordinaire Rick Simerly. They presented some very difficult music very well. Great job guys. Then the DJO was toned down to more of a combo arrangement, Phil DeGreg on piano, Chris Berg on bass, Slammin' Sammy K on drums, Hal Melia on alto sax, Jim Smith on guitar with special guest, Robyn Eubanks on trombone. Eubanks & Melia played some notable duets. A musically enjoyable different twist on the evening for sure. But to end the evening they brought all the DJO out once again. I could go on and on about just about every member of the band but will just note a couple tunes; Slammin' Sammy K hit a drum solo that was out of the park (later learned this was suggested by usual DJO drummer Jim Leslie) - it was a real crowd pleaser. Bill Burns worked his usual magic with a bari-sax solo on a Big Phat Band (Gordon Goodwin) reworking of Sweet Georgia Brown, Swingin' for the Fences AND, last but not least, Rick Simerly & Vaughn Weister played a fantastic trombone duet that was lots of fun for everybody. All-in-all, a great night of music. The musical teachers and mentors in this area, along with special guests such as Rick Simerly and Slammin' Sammy K do a marvelous job with the jazz students in the area that are fortunate enough to attend this camp. Keep up the good work!!