The talent on the Pomerantz Hall stage Wednesday night was over the top. The Headliners made their annual appearance to the delight of the filled hall at the Pearson Lakes Art Center.
The Headliners are a group of outstanding musicians who come each June to teach at the Reggie Shive Jazz Camp for youth. In the evening, these musicians from all over the country play as a band at various venues.
The evening was dedicated to the memory of Roger Neumann, who played with them until his death last winter.
Dr. CJ Kocher from Vermillion, South Dakota, is such fun to listen to as he makes any size saxophone wail. I liked his soprano sax best. It had such a rich tone and actually looked more like a fancy clarinet.
We all enjoyed Dan Cassady's tunes on the trombone. Cassady is from Iowa City. Mike (Gooch) Gurciullo is the trumpeter. He hails from Omaha, Nebraska, and also sings well.
Andy Hall can play upright bass with the best of them. His solo sections of the numbers brought cheers from the audience. Hall, from Lincoln, Nebraska, will return this week to accompany Marilyn Maye at PLAC.
Joey Gulizia, from Omaha, is a fantastic jazz style drummer. We enjoyed him very much as he was smooth and soothing to hear. His brother, Tony Gulizia, of Vail, Colorado, handled the piano, vocals and emcee duties. His sense of humor and obvious respect for band mates endeared us all. He can tickle the ivories extremely well and his vocals were delightful.
Gurciullo treated us to "Bye Bye Blackbird." He enlightened us on the history of the tune, giving us a new perspective before he began using his great vocal ability to entertain us.
I really enjoyed the different rhythms for such tunes as the Bosa Nova beat of "Gentle Rain" and "The Girl from Ipanema." Gooch's trumpet actually squealed and we all cheered loudly.
I liked Kocher's arrangement of "Gone With the Wind."
Gooch did a 'Sinatra with a twist' version of "Come Fly With Me" that was superb and a definite crowd favorite.
The duo of drum and bass solos in “St. Thomas” brought loud cheers from the audience.
The band did a sweet rendition of Neumann's "Sweden In the Rain" as a tribute to the late sax musician.
The show came to a lively conclusion with "Jump, Jive and Wail." A great night of music by outstanding musicians in tribute to another great of the music world; it doesn’t get any better than that.