Sunday, July 10, 2011

Temptations to Touch

Was talked into attending a recent free performance at The Fraze. Although misunderstanding some of the rules and regulations concerning who sits where or gets into the concert venue at all, the insistence and persistence of my wife coupled with my Jazz Advocate connections and a Fraze employee who could make a decision on the spot, we got into the venue and sitting with friends as had originally been expected. Business cards are wonderful [thank you Ron Gable]. The opening act was a Dayton area Temptations Cover Band called Touch and they are aptly named because they did touch the audience and got the crowd fired up. Another fine example of musical talent (and there are many) right here in the Dayton area.

Next up was the fabulous Temptations (although with only one original member still touring with the band), but before they took the stage I noticed that there was an orchestra set up in the one corner of the stage. As I looked I began to realize that I recognized one or two of the guys, sure enough, there was trumpet player extraordinaire John Harner and the incomparable trombone player, and big band director from Columbus, Ohio - Vaughn Weister. John Harner used to play lead trumpet for one of the most widely recognized and greatly appreciated big bands in the country, the Stan Kenton band. But wait, who else do I see? Trumpet master Reg Richwine, baritone sax magician Bill Burns and is that Bill Dixon? Bill is an excellent trumpet player that jazz fans in the Dayton area do not hear enough. Suddenly a light bulb comes on in my head and I realize that these are all the Dayton Jazz Orchestra veteran musicians that were not at Harrigan's South the night before because they were no doubt getting ready for this HUGE gig! There was one exception, sax player Hal Melia had led the DJO at Harrigan's the night before and there he was sitting in the band getting ready to back the Temptations. There were a couple I did not recognize and through Bill Burns, Dan Nicora has been kind enough to provide those names to me, Scott Rogers on trombone and Adam Uhlenhake on alto sax. The rest of the band was completed with DJO vets, Jeff Spurlock on tenor sax and the aforementioned Dan Nicora, also on tenor sax. If I have said it once, I have said it a million times [OK, I've told you a million times, don't exaggerate!], Dan Nicora is a sax player we do not hear often enough as a soloist with the DJO. So here I am a big jazz fan, and a DJO fan to boot, and I am being treated to some Temptations backed by a smaller version of the Dayton Jazz Orchestra. Wow! And let me tell you, they made the Temptations look and sound good. The were especially effective towards the end of the show when solos were called for. If memory serves me correctly, Hal Melia was the first on his feet, blowin' a solo that fit the Temps perfectly. Dan Nicora was next in line and his solo kept the crowd on its feet. Jeff Spurlock took the final solo and the crowd was going crazy. Of course it was the Temps that everybody came to see but I can assure you the trumpets, trombones, saxophones and saxophone solos of the big band veterans that helped keep the crowd whipped up into a frenzy. Oh What a Night! [which was also a blue eyed soul tune with which the group Touch ended their set, giving props to Frankie Vally and Four Seasons].

One final note, you might call it last but definitely not least. I mentioned the DJO at Harrigan's South the night before. Let me tell you, the wowed they crowd all night long. Most I spoke with felt that it was possibly the BEST night of Big Band music since DJO started playing down at Harrigan's earlier this year. Half the band was substitute musicians (and now we know why) but the sound was not diminished in the least. In fact, it was quite a night for Big Band music and DJO in general. Thanks to Hal Melia for leading that band to greater and greater heights and special thanks to Jim Leslie for driving that band all night long. You may not see the Temps again around here for some time (and maybe you don't even care) but DJO is at Harrigan's South the first Thursday of each month. Come on down. If you've not been down, you are missing some great music.