Simultaneous with the current heat wave, the band and I have been covering the Island almost literally from end to end.
Wednesday July 17th began a set of six dates (the last 3 Wednesdays in July and August) at Ralph’s Italian Ices at the Whitepoint Shopping Center in College Point, Queens. While John Klumpp had a conflicting schedule commitment, we were thrilled and privileged to have the legendary Randy Reinhart filling the horn chair. As one might have expected, the results were musically fantastic and stylishly seamless. Of course, some of last year’s audience were looking for John – “the Nijinsky of traditional jazz” – and they will undoubtedly be ready to greet him when he returns to action with us for the remaining dates. For those who complain that the band always plays “too far out East”, come to Ralph’s where you can voice your complaints in person!
The All-Stars who played down the block from Ralph’s at Citi Field this week haven’t got anything on the “bench” players for Sunnyland, as demonstrated by the stellar turn of Christian d’Lestrade last night for our Thursday night regular at Bonnie Jean’s. His clarinet and soprano sax playing have the undeniable energy and thoughtful phrasing of one with a true passion for this music. We are hoping to have Christian join us whenever the next opportunity presents itself; it’s always a pleasure to hear him and his enthusiasm is clearly infectious to both the band and audience.
A couple more gigs round out this week. Tonight at 8 PM, I will be performing with the Isotope Stompers in a free public concert at the Bellport bandshell down near the bayfront. (See, there’s even something if you live toward the middle of the Island…)
Finally on Saturday the 20th, I will be part of the band backing the ever-lovely and talented Barbara Rosene in concert at a unique location – the Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens, Queens. The cemetery is the final resting place of a number of musical notables including Jimmy Rushing, LaVerne Baker (vocalists) and Tony Sbarbaro (drummer of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band). Reservations are required; ticket prices range from $20-25 for non-members. For more information, contact the Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery at 347-878-6614.