Jazz at the Shore 2009
Things are usually quite at the shore in the winter months, but this year jazz is hot even when everything else is cold.
Not a quirk of nature, the jazz is supported and promoted by a number of jazz societies who bring in the acts and four wall the rooms at various venues in Somers Point and Cape May.
While the Cape May Jazz Festival is the mother of all Jersey Shore music fests, the Somers Point Jazz Society has certainly increased the tempo considerably, and the new, fledgling Cape May Traditional Jazz Society has established a beachhead and hopes to remain on the scene, and maybe even encouraging others to follow suit.
Where ever there’s an empty room with a stage there’s somebody who wants to play on it, and there’s people who want to hear it, and when the people with the good ears get to pick the acts, you know they’re going to bring in the best.
The winter jazz season kicked off on January 17th when the Blue Moon Jazz series of the Point. Somers Point Jazz Society featured special shows with organist Luke O'Reily at the Inlet and basist Andy Lalasis at Gregs.
Then on January 25th they held the 1st Annual Somers Point Jazz Society benefit concert at the Inlet, featuring the George Mesterhazy Trio, with George on piano, Tim Lekan on bass and Bob Shomo on drums.
The Jazz Society newsletter has a good interview with Mesterhazy that gets into his days, err nights playing the old clubs in Atlantic City and the casinos [that I’ll put a link to when I get it].
George can now be found playing his baby grand most nights at the historic Merion Inn, on Decatur Street in Cape May (just down from the Ugly Mug), where the drinks are good, the food is great and jams, when any body George knows stops in, are truly fantastic.
There are no shortage of great jazz in Cape May, but it still wasn’t enough for the guys who started the Cape May Traditional Jazz Society and held their inaugural gig on January 25th at the Cape May VFW Post 386. No way out jazz, these guys like the New Orleans Marti Gras variety, initially provided by the Atlantic City Jazz Band, which features Franny Smith on banjo, Bob Rawlins on clarinet and the Red Garter Band from the old North Wildwood Days.
Promoting traditional Dixieland, blues, Ragtime and New Orleans jazz, the Cape May Traditional Jazz Society (CMTJS) is led by Bob Ashman and Charlie Logeman [who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.].
Shows are also scheduled at the VFW, on Congress Street in West Cape May on March 8, April 19, May 10, June 14, July 12 and August 9. Proceeds benefit the bands at Lower and Middle High Schools.
Always looking for something new and different to do, the Somers Point Jazz Society had their first Jazz Movie Nite on February 6th screening "A Great Day In Harlem!" the documentary film about how Art Kane assembled many of the great jazz musicians of New York City for one of the famous photographs of all time and published in Esquire Magazine. There's a local angle to this story too, since Art Kane, shortly before he committed suicide, lived in Cape May and started the Cape May Photographers Workshop.
The Jazz @ the Point 2009 Festival traditionally begins with a series of free shows on Thursday (March 5), that will be held this year at Stumpos, with The Magnificant 7, and at Gregory's with Ken Fowser/Ben Gillece Quartet, who have a new CD “Full View.” (Two shows 8:30 PM & 11:30 PM).
The following nite, Friday, March 6 will feature the One For All sextet with Eric Alexander, David Hazeltine, Jim Rotondi and friends, at Stumpos (8 PM & 10 PM), with Tony Day Quartet and Denis King, at the Inlet, (8 & 10); Jazz guitarist Dave Stryker & Trip will be at Gregorys (10 PM & 1 AM), with the timing of the sets staggered so you catch all the acts and end up at the last set at Gregs.
On Saturday Vincent Herring & The Earth Jazz Agents will land at Stumpos (8 & 10), while trumpet giant Brian Lynch and his Latin Jazz quartet will keep things hot at the Inlet (8 & 10). Local guitarist Steve Giordano and Spacetet will be a little more laid back at Gregory's (10 PM & 1 AM).
On Sunday, the matinee shows begin at 2 PM at the Inlet with the Jim Ridl Quartet, while Trumpete Margnarelli Quartet plays for the afternoon crowd at Gregory’s and jazz diva Gina Roche and her quartet jam at Stumpos, beginning at 4 PM, and second set a 6PM, where everbody should end up for a grand finale jam session.
[(609) 927-6677 - Thursday Nite free, Friday $30, Saturday $35, Sunday $25, or all event pass $50 in advance, with discounts to SPJS members. Jazz@thePoint2009 http://www.spjazz.org/ ]
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the Cape May Jazz Fest kicks in.