Anderson Twins + Vince Giordano & Friends = Return of Musical Joy
By DAVID DOW BENTLEY III “The People’s Critic”
It had been nearly two Pandemic years since I had the pleasure of attending a performance of any kind in America’s entertainment capital, The Big Apple. I could not have had a more joyful return than my recent experience at Manhattan’s comfortable and intimate Symphony Space Theater, where the brilliant classical jazz musicians, The Anderson Twins (Pete & Will), celebrated The Dorsey Brothers, while being joined on stage by the legendary big band leader, Vince Giordano (The Nighthawks), the consummate authority on vintage jazz of the 20’s & 30’s. In addition to occasional fine vocals, Giordano dazzled the crowd with his skill on bass sax and tuba, as well as on the largest of string instruments when playing his deliciously slap-happy bass. But those gentlemen were not alone in presenting this evening of musical bliss, as they were joined by the talents of Joe Boga on trumpet, Robert Edwards on Trombone, Joe Patton on piano and Alex Raderman on drums.
Accenting the many musical delights would be a scholarly and informative projected slide show (narrated by Will Anderson), as it presented a documentary-style overview of the interesting lives, careers, and big bands of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. The presentation was full of fascinating anecdotes about the Dorseys, and all of this was skillfully woven together by superb performances of their vast musical catalog. Right from the jazzy opening number with George Gershwin’s, “I Got Rhythm,” the audience could sense it was in the presence of a virtual masterclass of musicianship. The beautiful execution of the extraordinarily difficult Tommy Dorsey composition, “Oodles of Noodles /Contrasts,” made that abundantly clear, as the twins skillfully alternated for sections of the complex piece. Amazing! There were great Sy Oliver compositions like the smooth, “Loose Lid Special,” and a, “Well, Git It!” that featured terrific solo moments from each of the performers. Countless other familiar selections from the Big Band era included, a rapturous, “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” a mellow, “I’ll Be Seeing You,” (with Vince gently covering the Sinatra vocal), “Song of India,” “Sunny Side of the Street,” and “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.”
There were stories about how Tommy Dorsey brought the young Sinatra into his band, taught him proper breath control and phrasing, and then began to resent the singer when Sinatra’s popularity began to outshine his own. Rumor had it that angry Tommy had to be threatened by “the Mob” before he would release Sinatra from his contract. Another story told of Jimmy once being a roommate of Benny Goodman, and how they agreed that when a clarinet job offer came by phone, whichever of them got to the phone first could accept the job. We also learn how when Jimmy and Tommy were young boys their father was so determined they must become successful enough to escape the Pennsylvania coal mine country, he would hide the lad’s shoes to keep them in the house practicing their music. But the brothers went on to spectacular success, first jointly with their Dorsey Brothers Band, later separating for 18 years after disagreements, (with each then having his own successful band), and ultimately reuniting to work in films and television. This show shared many video clips of that period ranging from Elvis Presley’s appearance on their CBS-TV show, to Mickey Rooney’s astonishing piano performance of George Gershwin’s, “Fascinating Rhythm” in the 1947 film, The Fabulous Dorseys. These many short video segments were rescued from becoming overlong as the musicians went back to business for a wonderful, “Marie,” featuring great work from Mr. Edwards on trombone and Mr. Giordano on bass sax. There was a sweetly delicate, “How are Things in Glocca Mora?” elegantly decorated by the sensational virtuosity of Will Anderson on flute. The performers hit one out-of-the-park with Rimsky Korsakov’s challenging, “Flight of the Bumble Bee,” before Pete stepped into the spotlight beside Mr. Patton at the piano for a bluesy and calming sax rendition of Tommy Dorsey’s biggest hit single, “I’ll Never Smile Again.” Then it was on to the rousing finale of the Louis Armstrong/Horace Gerlach composition, “Swing That Music.” That could have been the title of this sensational show.
FOR THOSE WHO MISSED THIS ONE-NIGHT-ONLY CONCERT, DO NOT DISPAIR! THE ANDERSONS WILL RETURN TO SYMPHONY SPACE NEXT MONTH FOR “A JAZZY CHRISTMAS” WITH THE TWO PERFORMANCES INDICATED ABOVE ON SATURDAY DECEMBER 18, 2021. FOR TICKETS & INFORMATION SEE BELOW:
A member of both The Lambs Club Inc. and The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), the columns of DAVID DOW BENTLEY III have appeared on Broadway websites, in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast, and may be viewed online at the website: www.ThePeoplesCritic.com . E-mail may be directed to ThePeoplesCritic3@gmail.com.