Born: February 26, 1953 Primary Instrument: Piano
Performing music that swings, sounds cool, with great harmony and melody is my life's work. I prefer the structure of straight-ahead jazz as it gives me a chance to play the lines, phrases and licks that create an emotional response from my band members and the audience.
As bandleader, I keep us working, organized and write most of the arrangements and original material we use in our performances. We generally work as a trio up to a sextet and played every Saturday night at our “home base” at Mistral on Market Street for many years. We now perform at a great variety of locations across the southeast. Many of our members are working full time as musicians.
Some of our recent or upcoming engagements include: the Jazz Series at the Sumter Opera House, Burgundy Blues & Jazz in Anderson, The North Charleston Arts Festival, Evolution and Metamorphosis in North Charleston, the John Dunnan Art Gallery, a concert for the Coastal Jazz Association in Savannah, a dinner dance on the USS Yorktown for the Vets, and the Country Club of Charleston.
Our group consists of myself on piano and vocals, Brian Widlowski on drums, Bill Averbach on Trumpet and vocals, Dave Kern or John Kennedy on acoustic bass, and Tommy Mingoia on guitar. We focus on a particular genre of jazz from the 40’s through the early seventies blending the elements of swing, blues, New Orleans and bebop. Some of the great players in this idiom include Louis Jordon, Louis Prima, Joe Williams and Dinah Washington.
Our drummer, Brian Widlowski is a graduate of the College of Charleston Jazz Program and was a student of Quentin Baxter. Brian’s creativity and knowledge of rhythm is almost unlimited and he helps me considerably with our arrangements. Dave Kern, from Washington DC, adds to the group with his beautiful tone and technique on the acoustic bass. Dave comes from a rock background, and can play a wide range of material. Tommy Mingoia is a master guitar player with experience going back to the jazz organ trios and rock & roll bands in the 60’s in his native New Jersey. He teaches a full complement of guitar students nearly every day in Summerville, SC. Finally, Bill Averbach, our trumpet player has played with just about everyone in the Southeast Texas. He can provide a beautiful interpretation of any jazz standard or the kick we need on harder rocking songs and blues.
We also work with Lyndsey Goodman, a wonderful jazz vocalist with lots of professional experience and an affiliation with some big names in music. Other regular players include trumpet player Fred Sheetz, trombonist Billy McSweeny, reed players John Phillips and Jack Petit, bassist Robert Widlowski, and Drummer Victor Quaterman.
A few years abck we completed an hour long CD that is fully representative of our playing and showcases all the players in the band. While it seems like we can never get enough work, some of our focus is on more creative projects. We did a series of performances called SIX at the North Charleston Arts Festival with an integration of visual arts from a local artist incorporating classical and non-jazz idioms. Another project is my work with various singers and learning accordion for gypsy jazz and bal mussette. As you can tell, we have quite a bit on our plate and I look forward to many more years playing music with these incredible, talented artists.
A Night At Mistral
As a Leader
The Groove Merchants
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North Charleston, SC
Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
I would like to take on a few serious piano jazz students. My rates are $35/hr. I don't have a degree in musical education, but I have a structured program based on my own experience and training. With hard work on your part, it will give you what it takes to be a great player.