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Trad Jazz Maestro Presents Recording Session Devoted to Love’s Old, Bittersweet Songs

Feb 3, 2016

Schiavone, the trad jazz maestro of merriment, will present "bitter-sweet songs through the ages."

Joel Schiavone, a flamboyant entertainer, fearless vocalist, member of the Banjo Hall of Fame, irrepressible humorist and one of Connecticut’s most avid, if not also most colorful, supporters and practitioners of traditional jazz, has yet another offbeat event up his sleeve seemingly stocked with perpetual surprises.

Schiavone’s latest extravaganza, which is amusingly entitled Heartaches, is a live recording session/concert presented by the banjoist/singer and friends before a live audience, focusing on what the trad jazz maestro of merriment describes as “bitter-sweet songs through the ages.”

A dozen or so handpicked musicians will probe matters of the heart in a widely diverse, swinging and, no doubt, also humorous repertoire on Saturday, February 6, at 7:00 pm at the VFW Hall at 104 Mill Road in Guilford.

Songs, including vintage jazz and cabaret classics, will range, Schiavone says, from the soul-shattering heartbreak of the 1913 hit, "Curse of an Aching Heart," to the outraged plaint of a vengefully jealous husband on "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You," immortalized by Louis Armstrong’s 1931 recording on Okeh Records.

The Galvanized Jazz Band performing at the Music Mountain Festival.
Credit The Galvanized Jazz Band / Facebook

Schiavone said there will be five “musical aggregations” at the session, ranging from the Galvanized Jazz Band, with master cornetist Fred Vigorito and vocals by Cynthia Fabian and Schiavone, to Pat Keogh and friends tapping into the folk song era. Pianist Andy Rubenoff celebrates cabaret songs from the 1930s and '40s, and, in a banjo blowout, Schiavone is joined in a dueling duo by fellow banjo virtuoso, Gim Burton.

The fifth musical aggregation, Schaivaone says, will be the audience itself participating in singalong segments conducted by himself.

The session brings Schiavone back to the VFW Hall in Guilford, which has become the regular stomping grounds for the popular Jeff and Joel's House Party, one of the state’s most festive vintage jazz bashes, organized by Schiavone and the noted trad jazz pianist Jeff Barnhart.

The performances will be recorded for a CD by Eric Devine, who has done the jazz concert videos of Jeff and Joel's House Party over the past four years.

“When finished, we will send each of you a free copy of the CD, retail value $15, personally autographed,” Devine said in an Internet invitation, adding jokingly: “For $5.00 extra, some stimulating pictures of me and only the banjo.”

The recording session/performance, Devine said, “is one of the important things on my bucket list.”

“Please come and help make this a special night for me and for you.” Schiavone cajoled, tongue-in-cheek. Tickets: $25.00 in advance; $30.00 at the door. Information and tickets: (203) 208-1481.

That’s Amore

Bethel’s Pizzeria Lauretano celebrates its annual Valentine Swing Thing! on Valentine’s Day, Sunday, February 14, at 6:00 pm with songs served by Cool Struttin’, mixing tasty vocals with saucy guitar and bass toppings. 

Members of Bethel's Cool Struttin,' (left to right) Howard Bujese, Pam Bujese, bassist Chris Bishop, and guitarist Doron Ben-Ami.
Credit Peter Strouse

Focusing on tunes from the 1930s and '40s, Bethel’s husband-and-wife vocal team Pam Bujese and Howard Bujese, who also plays violin, are joined in song by guitarist Doron Ben-Ami and bassist Chris Bishop.

Cool Struttin’ will have copies of its new CD, A Little Bit About a Lot of Things, available for sale. Selections feature love-themed favorites by Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee and Lerner and Lowe, among other tunesmith chroniclers of affairs of the heart.

The Bethel bistro is at 291 Greenwood Avenue. Cover charge: $15.00. Information: pizzerialauretano.com and (203) 792-1500.

Shemekia Stomps at Museum

A soulful singer for all seasons and occasions -- not just for lovers on Valentine’s Day -- the earthy blues and roots diva Shemekia Copeland displays her expressive power and expansive glory on Friday, February 5, at 8:00 pm at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art at 600 Main Street in Hartford. While Copeland celebrates the legacy of traditional blues, the charismatic, free spirit also brings a bold, sultry contemporary edge to the affecting art she’ll display at the venerable downtown museum.

Shemekia Copeland.
Credit Mike White

As the daughter of the late blues legend, Johnny Copeland (1937 to 1997), Shemekia seemed destined to become blues royalty. A bit of that karma was literally fulfilled when she was crowned “Queen of the Blues” in 2011 at the Chicago Blues Festival.

The powerhouse performer appears in Hartford thanks to the collaboration of three non-profit, Hartford arts groups: The Atheneum, Real Art Ways and the Hartford Jazz Society.

Many years ago, Johnny Copeland, a dynamic guitarist/singer/showman, enthralled a Hartford Jazz Society audience. Every time Shemekia presents one of her passionate performances, the family legacy comes full circle, much as it no doubt will on Friday night. Tickets: $30.00 in advance for members of the tri-partite partnership; $35.00, non-members; $35.00 at the door for members and non-members alike.

Bossa Nova Boss Marks 50th

Svelte and smoothly swinging, Brazilian bossa nova king Sergio Mendes and his Brasil ’66 celebrate 50 golden years of regal success on Wednesday, February 3, at 8:00 pm at The Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge, Ridgefield.  Mendes, producer, composer, keyboardist, vocalist and creator of music of year-round romantic enchantment, has enjoyed success for decades with his silken, seductive albums and singles such as "Brasil 66" and "Mas Que Nada" and "The Look of Love." Tickets:  $75.00. Information: (203) 438-5795.

In a quick turnaround from the mesmerizing Mendes moods, Ridgefield Playhouse does a 180 from the Brazilian maestro’s coolly wafting, amorous sounds to a torrid celebration of Fat Tuesday with a brassy fusillade of New Orleans jazz, funk, hip-hop, R&B and high-energy horns on Tuesday, February 9, at 8:00 pm. A double-barreled celebration, it features Soul Brass Band and Funky Dawgz Brass Band. Tickets: $25.00. 

NOLA Revels Reign at UConn

Also reveling in the Big Easy, funk/jazz party mode, Trombone Shorty and his band, Orleans Avenue, unleash a Mardi Gras Dance Party on Thursday, February 4, at 8:00 pm at the University of Connecticut’s Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts at Storrs. Swaggering funk/jazz elements are among the key ingredients in the celebrity trombonist’s steamy gumbo that invariably gets folks up and dancing. Tickets: $30.00/$45.00; $15.00 students with ID. Information: (860) 486-4226.

Thrush Hour at Pittsfield Fest

Backed by the Hod O’Brien Trio, the noted vocalist Stephanie Nakasian presents a musical survey of 10 great, historic jazz singers, from Ethel Waters to Abbey Lincoln, on Saturday, February 13, at 8:00 p.m. at Panchos Mexican Restaurant in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Presented by Berkshires Jazz Inc., the performance was created specifically for Pittsfield’s 10x10 Upstreet Arts Festival, and is inspired by Nakasian’s recording, Thrush Hour: A Study of the Great Ladies of Jazz. Tickets: $20.00 in advance, $25.00 day of event. Tickets and information:  berkshiresjazz.org.    

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