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Jazz Quintet at Vassar

Music Review
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Sat Sep 15th, 2018

From left: Peter Tomlinson, Jim Osborn,Lou Pappas, Chris Brellochs, Tom Melito

Over a hundred people turned out for a Vassar faculty recital last Friday evening at Skinner Hall. Trumpeter Jim Osborn, founder of the Vassar College & Community Wind Ensemble, acted as the genial Master of Ceremonies.

The quintet opened with “On Green Dolphin Street” by Kaper and Washington, a 1947 film tune and song with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, and later made popular in instrumental version by Chet Baker (1957) and by Miles Davis (1958). In pianist Peter Tomlinson’s arrangement, this melody offered each instrument an opportunity to deliver a solo set-piece, then pass on the lead to another instrument. This is a wonderful way to introduce the talents of each player.

Next was Tomlinson’s own composition “Crab,” which featured a fabulous solo by saxophonist Chris Brellochs, who is Chairman of the Dutchess Community Music Program; Dr. Brellochs was an emergency substitute who agreed to fill-in two weeks ago. He played with fierce passion and adroit fingering.

Tomlinson’s “Crossing the Hudson” was next where double bassist Lou Pappas excelled with admirable ease over the difficult watery terrain. The quintet really turned up the heat with Tomlinson’s composition “Grace,” which is one of his finest compositions and likely destined to become a jazz classic.

Turning down the temperature, they played “Autumn in New York” (1934) by Vernon Duke (Vladimir Aleksandrovich Dukelsky) which offers a stirring elegy on the loss of summer and a portrait of New York City at the time of year when its weather is near-paradisial. Osborn’s trumpet nailed the finale with riveting poignancy.

Tomlinson’s “I Owe You One” provided the composer with genial piano glissando while Brellochs, Pappas, and drummer Tom Melito contributed to the mellow grace of indebted gratitude. "In My Solitude," a 1934 jazz standard, composed by Duke Ellington and popularized by Billie Holiday, once more offered Tomlinson a solo spotlight that was upbeat, intimate, and cheerful. This was performed as a trio without horns wherein Oappas and Melito mightily contributed to the mellow mood.

Hank Mobley’s “This I Dig of You” was the finale. Osborn dedicated this piece to the memory of his long-time mentor Ed Husted (b. 1934) who just passed away. Houston was a talented teacher who deserved more public success than he achieved. With great emotion Osborn recalled that Husted (who played trombone) was his music mentor and financial supporter since he was in fourth grade. Tomlinson’s piano encased this tune with a bright, shining patina, while Osborn’s concluding solo was wrought with such deep emotion that he evoked both tears and admirable excitement from the audience.

On Friday December 7 at 8 pm in Skinner Hall Osborn’s jazz students will play a program of jazz ensembles and combos.

You can hear bassist Lou Pappas and drummer Tom Melito with famed Brazilian-style trumpeter Matt Finley with piano legend Larry Ham in a special concert performance at Smithfield Church, Amenia, on Saturday October 6, 4 pm (suggested donation $20).