"Jazz in July" Series, 1987 NYC, at the 92d Street Y
Review by John S. Wilson of the New York Times
New York Times, Thursday, July 23, 1987
Music: 'Jazz in July', Series at 92d Sreet Y
John S. Wilson "Jazz in July", the annual two-week series of concerts at the 92d sreet Y focusing on jazz of the 1920's and 30's, opened its third season Tuesday evening with three established series favorites -- "Stridemonster" he stride-piano duo of Dick Hyman and Dick Welstood; the singer Carrie Smith and Vince Giordano's big band -- and a newcomer to the series, the Jim Cullum Jazz Band of San Antonio. After two previous seasons, the audience knew what to expect and gave an enthusiastic welcome to Stridemonster, Miss Smith's period pop songs and blues and Mr. Giordano's band.
But the debut of Mr. Cullum's seven-piece group roused the audience to show-stopping cheers as it built dazzling, individualized performances of small group classics of 1920's originated by Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and others. The septet had an exuberant spirit that flooded through both the ensemble and solos as the group expanded familiar routines with stop=time duets, breaks and fresh voicings. o The key member of the group was Allan Vaché, a clarinetist whose solos were strong and full bodied, sometimes suggesting the overwhelming intensity of Sidney Bechet. This became most apparent when Mr. Vaché gave the ensembles a colorful lift as he soared above the other horns.
Mr. Cullum, a cornetist and Mike Pitsley, a trombonist, contributed to the strength of a very positive front line, which was backed by a rhythm section that managed to blend the chunky sturdiness of the 1920's rhythms with the smoother flow of the Swing Era. Mr. Giordano's band concentrated on Benny Goodman's recordings of the late 1920's when he was a sideman with Ben Pollack, Red Nichols and various recording-studio groups. The Goodman contributions, re-created in a relaxed fashion by Phil Bodner, were often brief peripheral elements in routine dance-band arrangements that were enlivened when Herb Gardner, a trombonist, and Randy Rheinhart, a trumpeter, could take off as themselves.
Swing and Other Things
The Allan Vaché Sextette
(Arbor Records ARCD 19171)
Volume 64 - Number 6
Swing and Other Things
4 1/2 Stars
For bright, swinging clarinet of the classic school there is much to choose from right now; Davern's new Breezin' Along, Harry Skoler's Reflections On The Art Of Swing and this delightful sextet from Allan Vache, Swing And Other Things. Vache is the proprietor of a big, rich, round tone across all registers and swings with a fierce, caution-to-the-wind abandon. At fast tempos on "June Night", "Limehouse Blues", "Hi Ya Sophia" and others, the pull between the creative freedom and ensemble exactness generates a powerful and fascinating tension and cohesion. On the one duet ("He Loves And She Loves") he and pianist Johnny Varro strike up the kind of rarefied elegance Benny Goodman and Jimmy Rowles used to get.
Small group swing is a devilishly precision mechanism governed by strict balances and formalities that the listener is reminded of only when they are jarred out of position. Such music offers no camouflage in which to cover errors and suffers fakers without mercy. Vache's associates here are about as good as they come and fuse into a wonderfully cohesive ensemble. The clarinetist's brother, cornetist Warren, cameos on a bright "Cheek To Cheek" at the end. --John McDonough