On September 14 the Friends of the Library staged the first of this year’s Live @ the Library concerts. Put together by our “impresario extraordinaire“ Eileen Savel, the program featured a quintet of world jazz stars headed by pianist Larry Vuckovich and guest soloist Alvon Johnson.
Vuckovich began the program with a few standards composed by Vince Guaraldi, including a marvelous version of “Cast Your Fate to the Wind,” which Guaraldi composed for his album based on the movie Black Orpheus. Latin percussionist John Santos took his first opportunity to wow the audience with his work on this piece.
But the fireworks were just starting. Alvon Johnson took the stage and, alternating between slow, deep voiced vocal standards like “Autumn Leaves” and guitar riffs putting one in mind of Jimmie Hendrix, literally “brought the house down.” He also showed some comedic chops and got many laughs.
Johnson gave adequate time for the other musicians to display their talents with excellent solos by guitarist Jeff Massanari, drummer Akira Tana, and bass fiddler Doug Miller, whose work was especially enjoyable.
The group played to a packed house, as every seat in the Library’s Stafford Room was taken. The concert was sold out, but a few “walk up” patrons were able to enter as some chairs were added from the adjacent café. At the end of the evening numerous audience members were heard remarking that they really enjoyed the show, and many lined up for autographs on the CD’s that were available in the café.
The final two concerts in the series are the Mimi Fox Trio October 12 and the Dmitri Matheny Quintet November 16. These are also sold out, but a few last minute tickets may be similarly available.