By Norm Harris
The sweet and soul-stirring sound of the blues was featured last month as part of the new spring edition of the LaGuardia Community College jazz series.
Taking center stage, and playing like musicians possesed by the spirits of jazz legends of old, were the always hot, continually evolving and outstanding house band of pianist Joe Tranchina, bassist Eric Lemon, drummer Bruce Cox. They were joined by their ensemble, which included guest tenor sax players Dan Falk and Ralph Williams and acoustic/electric guitarist,Kevin McNeal. These cats were hot and provided the backdrop for the “Jazz Jam Blues Night” show starring non other then the Harlem-based neo-blues innovator himself, electric guitarist and mouth harp player Keith “The Captain” Gamble. His special surprise co-stars for the evening were the legendary blues singer “Sweet” Georgia Brown and the single-named performance art poet called Marietta.
Anyone who enjoys the Louisiana blues of Lightnin’ Slim, the modern electric blues of Paul Butterfield and Jimi Hendrix, or the Chicago sounds of Junior Wells would have been right at home listening to the Gamble’s blues guitar and mouth harp as he played his own renditions of such classics as “ You Got To Reap What You Sow,” “Let The Good Times Roll” and The Miles Davis tune “All Blues.” Heating up the evening and bringing the event to a higher level was Brown’s vocals as she danced and sung along with Gamble on the gutsy tunes “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On” and “Ain’t No Body’s Business If I Do.”
Gamble’s talents on the songs “Danger Blues,” a women’s prison song, and “Rosie,” a road gang tune with a soul stirring message, made the evening one to remember. His sense of blues history was also apparent as he spoke knowlegably to the enthusaiatic fans about some of the origins of the tunes he was playing.
Special treats come in various forms, and giving the whole evening a nice eclectic flavor was the contribution by the young lady called Marietta who danced briefly on stage while reciting her original poetry. Some other highlights were delivered by Joe Tranchina’s wife Gabrielle, and the surprise visitor Carol Sudhalter on flute and tenor sax, known by many Queens jazz affcianados as the renowned leader of the Astoria Jazz Big Band.
The series continues March 26 with Singers’ Night and stars Sheila Jordan. Additional dates include April 3 with alto saxophone jazzman “Sweet” Lou Donaldson and May 21 with the up-and-coming Latin jazz trumpet master Ray Vega.
Call 718-482-5151 for ticket and showtime information. It’s one of the hotest tickets in town, don’t miss it!