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Sphinx - Jazz
under the direction
of Joel DiBartolo
The name Joel DiBartolo may
not ring a bell with you. Unless you are a liner note aficionado or deeply
involved in the business end of music, this Buffalo-born talent would go
unnoticed to most. However, each and every one of you has heard this amazingly
talented musician without even realizing it. While his list of credentials
is too long to list here, a brief overview is needed to fully understand
his contribution to the world of music.
A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from
the University at Buffalo including work with the highly regarded Lukas
Foss. Bassist for 18 years with The Tonight Show under the leadership
of Doc Severinson with whom he still performs with at symphony and pops
concerts. Theatrical work on such Broadway shows as Cats, Evita and
Les Miserables among others. Television shows such as M.A.S.H., Dallas
and Star Trek- Next Generation. Movie soundtracks for more than 60 films
including Saturday Night Fever, Jaws and Star Wars. Performers he
has worked with include Frank Sinatra, Maynard Ferguson and Chuck Mangione.
And he has also won a Grammy for his
work with Severinson. A very impressive resume to say the least.
So where does one find native son Joel DiBartolo now? Teaching a whole
new generation of musicians at Northern Arizona University and their highly
acclaimed jazz program.
Which brings us to this his new CD
titled Sphinx by N.A.U.’s Jazz Ensemble One. Recorded over three
days live at the university’s own Ardrey Auditorium, the sound brims and
boils with the natural sound of this highly regarded hall. The 20-member
band under Mr. DiBartolo’s direction shows how a whole new legion of jazz
players can interpret some old classics and add a freshness and vitality
to them. All of the songs run from five to 10 minutes and allow all players
to show their talents whether on the quiet piano interludes or full blown
horn arrangements. The music is full of dynamics and ebbs and flows along
on the melody or the various solos. Two of the more dominate players and
soloists are Dominic Lalli on tenor sax and John Dworkin on guitar. Both
are amazing talents who seem destined for greater things. Lalli is obviously
going to be heard from in the near future. Whether playing guttural
low notes or the melody his playing is clear, sharp and focused. He handles
most of the solos for obvious reasons. Think a young Stan Getz or Sonny
Rollins. I hope he continues to study under the leadership of DiBartolo.
The eight cuts on the CD include the Charlie Mingus composed “Goodbye
Porkpie Hat” and a working of two Mingus classics “Slop” and “Fables Of
Faubres” blended into one piece titled “Mingus-Three Hats.” Others include
the Cole Porter penned “What Is This Thing Called Love” with a Tommy Newsom
arrangement. And the afore mentioned John Dworkin original “Mind
The CD was produced by DiBartolo and
is mostly an in house production of the Northern Arizona University music
department. This is definitely one for your record collection and can be
obtained from N.A.U. by phoning the Jazz Studies Office at (520) 523-3779
or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While some critics dismiss younger
jazz players as not having earned their chops yet, Jazz Ensemble One are
one group of young turks who have learned their craft and the knee of the
master. Congratulations Joel on a fine CD and for turning out some mighty
fine musicians in the process.
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