Monday, January 31, 2011

Musicians: Part One

This post is where I get to shine the spotlight on some of the terrific musicians I've worked with over the years. I will do this in periodic posts spread out over time.

Charles Dungey
Charles Dungey, 1935-2003. I was so blessed that Charles played bass with my very first jazz trio in Nashville. He had a mentor spirit and always wore a big friendly smile. Charles had come back home to take care of his mother after touring with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr. and Pearl Bailey, recording with Eartha Kitt, Betty Carter, Milt Jackson and a stint with the house band of The Mike Douglas Show.


Dave, Jerry, Me, Dennis & Mickey.

I played regularly with the Dennis Burniside Trio at F. Scott's in Nashville. (Jerry just jumped in the picture!) Dennis Burnside is a soulful, strong pianist and a great arranger who played on hundreds of major label sessions in Nashville. He grew up playing jazz and started out touring with big bands when he was very young. We had a great time working together. Dave Pomeroy is one of the top bassists in Nashville (that's saying something!) and has played on a million sessions. I was still green and very lucky to get him in the band because he wanted to play more jazz and loved working with Dennis. Mickey Grimm is so much fun on the drums. He can make a chair or the wall into a rhythm instrument as well. No surface is safe from his brushes! I'll never forget the day he drove off after a gig and left his bass drum in the parking lot:-)

Dave Rockeach: Photo by Terry Dudley
David Rokeach: Two highlights of David's career speak volumes. David toured nationally and internationally with Ray Charles from 1990-91. AND, David has also played with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, including appearances on VH1's Divas Live, where he performed with Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Shania Twain, and Carole King for the show's finale. I had the pleasure of gigging regularly with David when I lived in the Bay Area. He's a great drummer and a great guy. And man are his kids cute!

Me, Charles McNeal, Jeff Buenz: Photo by T. Dudley
Charles McNeal is a fiery saxophonist who brings a sense of urgency and soul to every note he plays.” It’s that immersion in the music that also gives him such a charismatic presence on stage. Though he is a powerful soloist, Charles also enjoys the role of sideman. He has the sensitivity to know when to play sparsely and when to shine. I always love having Charles in the band. These days Charles and his gorgeous wife Pam live in Las Vegas. His website is an incredible resource for sax players.

Benny Watson: Photo by Terry Dudley
Benny Watson: Benny, Benny, Benny! I met Benny at a jam session at the now defunct club owned by drummer/pianist/chef Kelly Park near Oakland, (Kelly’s of Alameda.) When he sat in I immediately noticed how he pounced on the keys with blues infused intensity all while smiling and laughing and having a good time. Since that night we’ve played together for concerts, casuals and all manner of gigs. It’s always a comfort to have my talented friend at the piano.

Ruth Davies: Photo from her web site
Ruth Davies: I haven't worked often enough with Ruth, but it is always fun when we do. I remember one peculiar night at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. We were featured as part of the museums "Jazz Night" and had a receptive and attentive audience of about 100. It would have been a wonderful and intimate evening except for the fact that we had to share the large ballroom with a raucous Single's Night party that was (incredulously) co-booked into the space. When I sang a ballad the thump of their stereo nearly drowned out my voice. On nights like that it's important to have a good humored, steadfast pro like Ruth to go into battle with! In presumably better circumstances Ruth has performed with such jazz and blues greats as Keb' Mo', Clark Terry, John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, Maria Muldaur, Etta Jones, Terry Gibbs, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Little Jimmy Scott.

1 comment:

  1. I've never seen any player as animated as Benny. I just love him.