Guys and dolls inside Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts this Sunday, October 8, 2023 afternoon are ready to dig a “Swingin’ the ’60s” concert by the NYC metro-based jazz band, Swingadelic.
Grunin Center Executive and Artistic Director Heidi Sheridan welcomes music lovers to the venue’s first Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon offering for the 2023–24 season. Ricky Ricardi, Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, NY, introduces today’s performers announcing, “Please welcome the little big band known as Swingadelic!”
The 10-piece band — consisting of pianist/vocalist John Bauers, bassist David Post, drummer Colly Inzer, saxophonists Jeff Hackworth, Matt Malley, and Mike Webb, trumpeters John Martin and Carlos Francis, and trombonists Cornell McGhee and Neal Pawley — takes the stage.
Bauers asks jazz fans, “How are you all doing today?” prior to explaining, “We’re a dance band, so you can dance at your seats or in the aisles if you want.” Opening with Jackie Wilson’s “Baby Workout,” audience members clap along to the jazzy rhythm and Bauers plays the piano as he croons in his swinging vocal style, “Hey, you/Come out here on the floor/Let’s rock some more!”
The crowd applauds, and Bauers announces, “We want to get you involved on this Curtis Mayfield tune, so when I say, ‘It’s all right,’ you answer, ‘It’s all right.’” Concertgoers clap along as Bauers leads the call and response on “It’s All Right” before tenor saxophonist Jeff Hackworth, trombonist Neal Pawley, trumpeter Carlos Francis, and drummer Colly Inzer are featured as soloists on this soulful number which Mayfield composed for his group, The Impressions.
Bauer talks about a number of ’60s artists that he and his Swingadelic musical colleagues like to cover including The Beatles, Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, and Frank Sinatra before they present their interpretation of Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.” They follow up with a bouncy rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Villes Ville is the Place, Man” which features saxophonists Jeff Hackworth on tenor and Matt Malley on alto.
Bauers sings lead and trombonist Neal Pawley adds a backup vocal harmony line to a mash-up of Jr. Walker and the All-Stars’ “Hot Cha” and Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover.” On Tony Bennett’s “I Wanna Be Around,” Bauers croons, “I want to be around to pick up the pieces/When somebody breaks your heart,” and Cornell McGhee plays a trombone solo.
There’s lively interplay among the instrumentalists on Tito Puente’s “Oye Cómo Va” on an arrangement which spotlights the entire Swingadelic horn section before Mike Webb is featured on a baritone sax solo and Carlos Francis on a trumpet solo.
Matt Malley plays flute as John Bauers sings on a jazzy version of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.”
Heads nod and toes tap to a lively interpretation of Herb Alpert’s “Whipped Cream,” which many in the crowd remember from the popular ’60s-era television show, The Dating Game.
John Martin is featured on trumpet on Dean Martin’s “You’re Nobody ’Til Somebody Loves You” before John Bauers introduces a melody solo on the piano which is picked up by the saxes.
Neal Pawley handles the lead vocal on Solomon Burke’s bluesy “Cry to Me.” Belting out, “When your baby leaves you all alone/And nobody calls you on the phone/A-don’t you feel like a-cryin’?” Pawley leaves the audience cheering for more.
Muted trombone and a low and honking baritone sax solo characterize Barney Kessel’s boogaloo style arrangement of George and Ira Gershwin’s “You Can’t Take That Away from Me.” Then, Carlos Francis is featured center stage playing flugelhorn on Duke Pearson’s bluesy “Mississippi Dip.”
The crowd cheers as Bauers and Co. launch into a lively version of Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life.” They follow up with Dionne Warwick’s “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” where Bauers gets to sing the humorous “What do you get when you kiss a guy?/You get enough germs to catch pneumonia/And after you do, he’ll never phone ya” lyric as David Post plucks his stand-up bass.
Neal Pawley pleases the crowd with his trombone playing on The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling.” Moving as he plays, his soulful sound stirs concertgoers who react with rousing cheers and applause.
Movie lovers recognize Quincy Jones’ “Soul Bossa Nova” from films including Austin Powers, The Pawnbroker, and Take the Money and Run on an arrangement which features woodwind players Matt Malley on flute and Mike Webb on piccolo.
Following Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual,” the audience happily sings along with Bauers on Swingadelic’s version of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” The ensemble concludes today’s show by getting everyone clapping along to an upbeat rendition of Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames’ “Yeh, Yeh,” which leaves music fans applauding for a fine Jazz on Sunday Afternoon performance.
To learn more about Swingadelic, please go to swingadelic.com. For information on upcoming events at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts — including Cynthia Sayer’s Joyride on November 12 and When You Wish Upon a Star: A Jazz Tribute to 100 Years of Disney on November 18 — please go to grunincenter.org.
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