For this Jazz concert report, I chose to attend the opening night of the 2013 Bruce Festival on Monday, March 18th from 7-9:pm In Stockton, at Valley Brewer’s Take 5. I had never been to Valley Brew before and was pleasantly surprised of the warm and casual ambiance. The building had a Chicago-type feel with brick walls, and exposed ducts and pipes; super laid back. The south end of the building away from the restaurant and main bar is where the Jazz concert was held.

This room was a swanky, modern-meets-the-ass’s styled room with warm colored walls (one being the exposed brick carrying through from the brewery), and low lights from beaded handlers. The stage was set In the back corner of the room, all set for an 18- member big band. I was happy to see a bar at the entrance, where I got a glass of wine and sat down front and center stage at one of the many candle-lit, round tables for a night of Jazz. The concert featured two sets from the Brian Kindlier Big Band with Janice Gaffe lending her voice to five of the pieces played.

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The all male band was comprised of baritone saxophones, tenor saxophones, alto saxophones, bass trombones, trumpets, a clarinet (occasional), a guitar, a piano, an upright bass, and drums. The first set consisted of 8 pieces: Soupçons, by John Clayton; Check De Sadder (No More Blues), by Stan Get: Ascending, by Fred Strum; When I Fall in Love, (composer not announced) Janice Gaffe on vocals; Relax Max, by Side Wayne, Janice Gaffe on vocals; Speak, by James (last name inaudible); Alone Together, (composer unannounced) Janice Gaffe on vocals; and Sing, Sing, Sing, by Benny Goodman.

After about a twenty minute break, the band returned for the second set consisting of 7 more pieces: Easy Money, by Benny Carter; Beatrice, by Sam Rivers; All The Way, (composer not announced) Janice Gaffe on vocals; Touch of Your Love, composer not announced) Janice Gaffe on vocals; That’s All, (composer unannounced) arranged by Joe Macaroon; I Just Found Out About Love, by Don Amaze, Janice Gaffe back one more time on vocals; and Sidewinder by Lee Morgan. Ascending, by Fred Strum was an interesting piece with dynamic contrast.

There were many loud and soft from pianissimo all the way to fortissimo. This style was Latin straight eighth notes, beginning with the Plano playing what sounded to be off- key a bit, and the ascending scale melody was played with solos sounding improvisational in between. I could tell they weren’t always planned, as the members would look and nod at each other as if to give the “go ahead, and Jam! ” The piece ended ostentation, until finally leaving drums and piano alone playing pianissimo; it almost sounded like rain.

Easy Money, by Benny Carter was smooth flowing piece played mezzo forte (for the most part until trumpets took over), with a swing feel to It. Horns were the highlight, so much that It was difficult to hear the Plano at times. Despite that, many had solos including the piano, saxophone, trumpet, and trombone. The homophobic melody with its laid back quality in my opinion embodied Jazz as it is best known. When I think of jazz, a piece like Easy Money is what comes to mind. This version of That’s All was arranged by the band’s very own Joe Mozzarella.

Joe is a trumpet player, and you can sure bet that this piece had a lot of horn! The way Vive heard the song before It has a smooth, slow tempo that almost double-time, double forte feel. The song was turned from a lounge, calming, and romantic effect to big band, swing, and excitement. The songs first note was double forte and remained that way for what seemed like the entire time. Solos included the IANA, alto sax. Check De Sadder (No More Blues), by Stan Get was a Brazilian Jazz samba style piece.

This song was a slower tempo, with a flexible, fluid yet tight rhythmic form played mezzo forte. No More Blues featured the guitar much more. I wasn’t able to hear the guitar very well in the other pieces. It began with the horn completely solo for a few bars, until the bass crept in, and tenor took over for his solo. In this piece there was a lot going on from different sections. No two different instruments were playing in harmony. My favorite piece of the night was the very popular, “Sing, Sing, Sing”, by Benny Goodman. The energy was off the charts!

Brian was especially in to it, even announcing before that he had forgot his sheet music, but no worries, Brian knew the piece and his solo from memory. This piece reminded me of my grandfather, Alfred, best known by, “Jitterbug AH”. When I came to visit, he was no doubt listening to Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, or Glenn Miller. Hearing this piece made me smile the entire time and memories flooded back. The big band swing sound played fortissimo, and my favorite instruments’ solos: upright bass, clarinet and drums. Brian killed it!

Least favorite piece of the night was “Relax Max”, by Side Wayne. This piece featured Janice Gaffe on the vocals, and I give her great credit for handling those tricky lyrics. The piece was too busy for me, lyrically and therefore distracting from the band-?Just not the piece I preferred. And to this day, the song is still irritatingly stuck in my head! I would absolutely attend another one of these concerts. In fact, I’m planning to attend again March 22nd with my significant other this time. Difference this go ’round is I’ll be able to relax, and not have to take toes!

The ambiance was great, the food was excellent, and the energy in the small room of good people listening to fantastic Jazz was wonderful. Jazz music has a way of saying, “come as you are”. It isn’t Judgmental or stuffy; it’s cool, comfortable and exciting. Who would have thought Stockton had this hidden gem? I love music of all types, especially live entertainment. Being a clarinet player in band years ago, I appreciate the talent of these individuals and am so impressed by what seemingly comes easy to them. There’s something special about musically talented people.