Annual Jazz Event Delights Crowds
The cool sounds of jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli combined with the free-wheeling rhythms of trumpeter Marcus Belgrave and his eight-piece Jazz Experience delighted a sell-out crowd at Pinehurst Resort's Cardinal Ballroom on Valentine's Day weekend.
The room, turned into an intimate cabaret, hosted the annual Heart 'N Soul of Jazz event that benefits the Arts Council of Moore County.
Called the most musically savvy husband and wife team in pop-jazz, Pizzarelli and talented singer Jessica Molaskey brought their own witty and laid-back bounce to captivate the scores of jazz aficionados at a Friday night performance.
Molaskey's pensive version of "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" blended into Pizzarelli's version of "Just In Time" to open the evening's entertainment. Pizzarelli who sings with a jivey style all his own, as well as stroking his guitar, makes a perfect foil for Molaskey as they weave in and out of some of the most popular show tunes and well-known standards of the American songbook.
The pair was accompanied by Larry Fuller on piano, Martin Pizzarelli (John's younger brother) on bass and drummer Tony Tedesco. Highlighting the sets performed in the first half of the concert was what Pizzarelli termed a "Happiness Suite." Composed of six songs, included were such gems as "Happy Habits," "Happy Talk" from "South Pacific," and "Summer, Highland Falls" by Billy Joel.
A solo performance by Pizzarelli of "Johnny One Note" backed up by individual turns by the three other members of the quartet was another high point. A good example of two songs wound together was "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught" and Stephen Sondheim's "Children Will Listen," followed by the jazz ballad, "Heart's Desire," tenderly performed by Molaskey. The climax of the first great evening of jazz was a swinging duet by Molaskey and Pizzarelli of that old favorite, "Tea for Two."
Saturday night Marcus Belgrave, a foremost exponent of the roots of jazz, treated the audience to the best of traditional jazz, with a nod to its origins of soul and blues. The opener was a re-creation of the theme used by the Ray Charles Orchestra, with whom Belgrave played back in the 1950s. Then his eight-piece Jazz Experience launched into "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," with Belgrave delivering his own special and convincing tribute to Louis Armstrong
Belgrave's tribute to Satchmo is based on his own talent as an astonishing jazz trumpet virtuoso, combined with a natural low, gravelly voice, and a warm stage person with a gift for humor. And Belgrave's style of jazz is enhanced by the group of musicians that performed with him in Pinehurst. Led by his wife, Joan Bow-Belgrave, a versatile song stylist, and Charles Gabriel, who plays saxophone, clarinet, flute and also vocalizes, the others are Vincent York on saxophone, Chris Smith on trombone and tuba, Bill Meyer on piano, bassist Marion Hayden and drummer Gaylynn McKinney.
Two smooth and silky vocals -- "You Don't Know Me" and "He Called My Name -- by Joan Bow-Belgrave were complemented by a wistful version of "Blueberry Hill" by Belgrave. Together they teamed up on a great duet that was a hit for Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong -- "Dancing Cheek to Cheek."
Some good old-fashioned New Orleans jazz numbers were interwoven throughout the program, giving Belgrave a chance to show off his fantastic trumpet lines, as well as putting the spotlight on other members of group.
And a tune with a sensual Latin beat, "Once Again," composed by Charlie Gabriel, was also given the full treatment.
Closing out the evening was Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World," as sung by Marcus Belgrave, followed by a rousing rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In," which brought the audience to its feet.
The major sponsors of the event were Pinehurst Resorts, Progress Energy, Belk and American Airlines. The Carolina Hotel presented a lavish display of creative desserts, decorated by sugar sculptures, for the post-concert meet-the-artists receptions, sponsored by First Bank and Wachovia.
Lyne's Furniture Gallery and Pinehurst Resorts provided the door prizes -- a $1,000 shopping spree at the Gallery won by Nancy Barnes, and a weekend at The Homestead at Hot Springs, Va., won by Mr. and Mrs. George Kahdy of Wendell. Pinehurst residents Dr. William Scarpa and Fred Molloy, as well as Anthony Garver, of Eagle Springs, and Daniel Holmes, of Greensboro, were the lucky winners of a special drawing for tickets to next year's Heart 'N Soul of Jazz, the 25th anniversary of the fabulous jazz event.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story