For a few years I was a regular pianist in one of the house trios at Heidi’s Jazz Club in Cocoa Beach, FL. Driving 80 minutes down the coast from my main gig at the time at Seaside Music Theater, I had the privilege of playing a few times a week with drummer Stan Soloko and bassist Johnny Powers. Johnny, a beloved member of Central Florida’s jazz community for four decades, passed away while I was in the group, and his memorial service at the club violated multiple building capacity and safety codes as it overflowed with friends and admirers. Johnny was replaced by “Rabbit” Simmons on bass, who I only later found out is known and respected by musicians I run into all around the country. At the time I was mostly aware of his sensitivity to dynamics unlike any bass player I’ve worked with, his great sense of tempo, and his side-splitting break time humor. The trio morphed stylistically depending on the crowd’s, and our own, collective moods, covering at times jazz, standards, and even some Top-40 repertoire. We backed up vocalists Annie Sellick and Simone Kopmajer, and whoever else dropped in from time to time. It was one of those gigs. Among other things, I learned cops are not impressed with jazz musicians going 4 over the speed limit on U.S. Route 1 at two o’clock in the morning. I still drop in to Heidi’s when I’m in the area.
Below are a handful of tracks plucked from the depths of my MacBook Pro which spent countless evenings plugged into the soundboard immortalizing our mistakes. In early 2009, Stan, Rabbit and myself convened in Orlando to record a few tracks together and a few of those can also be heard here.
It Might As Well Be Spring : Recorded at the studio of Jeff Green in Orlando, FL. Rabbit Simmons (bass), Stan Soloko (drums).
I Loves You Porgy : Recorded on the same day. Both were recorded following a period of study with jazz pianist Lynne Arriale which focused on phrasing the melody from the words and motivic development.
The Very Thought of You : With Austrian jazz vocalist Simone Kopmajer. For this weekend Kevin Gallagher was on bass and Chris Nolin on drums, both friends and veteran players from the days of Seaside Music Theater. We accompanied Simone for the U.S. release party for her album Romance.
(more to be posted shortly)