The stage is set this Saturday, September 24, 2022 evening at the Grunin Center for the Arts in Toms River, NJ for a sentimental journey provided by Jukebox Saturday Night, a retrospective of big band music from the 1930s, ’40s, and ‘50s.
The lights dim and musicians Marc Schwartz, Jack Hasselbring, and Saul Dautch on saxophones; Jeff Welfore and Tony DeSantis on trumpets; Josh Richman on piano; Louie Leager on bass; Greg Parnell on drums; Jeff Bush on trombone/vocals; and Amy Parnell on vocals, take the stage.
Opening the show with Glenn Miller’s “Jukebox Saturday Night,” Amy Parnell and Jeff Bush perform a vocal duet which is expertly accompanied by the JSN horn section.
Jeff Bush slides a jazzy trombone solo as the rhythm section swings, and Greg Parnell is featured on drums before the band crescendos to avid applause.
Bush greets the crowd and explains that, tonight, Jukebox Saturday Night will perform a review of hits from the swing era. Following Benny Goodman’s “Don’t Be That Way,” Greg Parnell introduces his wife, Amy Parnell, who sings the Chick Webb hit that helped make Ella Fitzgerald famous, “A Tisket, A Tasket.”
Swinging in a jazz style, Amy Parnell answers questions about her basket posed by the band when they ask, “Was it blue?” and she happily responds, “No, no, no, no/Just a little yellow basket.”
Bush introduces a medley of Tommy Dorsey’s most popular ballads from the war years including “I’ll Never Smile Again,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “There Are Such Things,” “This Love of Mine,” and “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.”
The crowd applauds appreciatively for this nostalgic collection of tunes.
The JSN musicians swing on an upbeat arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Take the ‘A’ Train” which features Josh Richman on piano and Tony DeSantis playing a trumpet solo. They follow up with a bouncy rendition of Jimmy Lunceford’s “‘Tain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It),” a stylized swing tune which features Jeff Bush singing lead and an alto sax solo by Marc Schwartz.
The crowd responds with hoots and hollers, and the band launches into Count Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump,” where Josh Richman’s tinkling piano and Louie Leager’s walking bass swing to drummer Greg Parnell’s muted high-hat cymbal sound. Leager’s tasty bass solo has heads bopping in the audience before Richman tickles the ivories with Basie’s patented three-chord piano coda.
Amy Parnell’s sweet alto voice floats out over the audience before she sings with style and power on the Helen O’Connell ballad, “I Can’t Believe That You Are In Love With Me.” Then, Marc Schwartz is featured on clarinet on a classy arrangement of Artie Shaw’s “Begin the Beguine.”
Bush invites the audience to sing along on JSN’s rendition of The Mills Brothers’ “Paper Doll,” and music lovers in the crowd move to the groove in their seats on the 1949 hit, “Do the Hucklebuck,” where Amy Parnell dances to the beat as Bush’s trombone solo joyfully slides along.
The JSN instrumentalists pay tribute to the veterans in the audience with an “Armed Forces Medley” which has service members standing when they hear their military themes played.
The group concludes Act I of tonight’s show with their rendition of Lionel Hampton’s “Flying Home” which features a call and response between Greg Parnell on drums and the JSN horn section starring Jeff Bush on trombone.
Act II begins with Woody Herman’s upbeat swing tune, “The Woodchopper’s Ball,” which features clarinet, tenor sax, trombone, and trumpet solos. Bush follows up by singing the slow intro to Jimmy Dorsey’s “Tangerine” before counting off an upbeat section of the tune which has Amy Parnell vocalizing on this Latin-influenced number.
An arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo,” has the composition’s lovely melody crying and winding over the audience. Stan Kenton’s “Tampico” is up next where Amy Parnell swings while the Jukebox Saturday Night “boys choir” sings along with her. The Grunin Center audience happily applauds for JSN’s rendition of Jan Savitt’s “720 in the Books” before Jeff Bush is featured on an arrangement of Harry James’ “I Cried for You” which also spotlights a Jeff Wilfore trumpet solo.
A highlight of tonight’s program is the band’s rendition of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” where the saxophonists jitterbug the melody as trumpets call and the rhythm section deftly rolls along. Jeff Bush holds out sweet, round tones on his trombone as the band deftly accompanies him. The crowd responds with animated cheers and applause.
Amy Parnell sings from her heart on “Sentimental Journey,” a Les Brown number from 1945 which was originally performed by Doris Day.
Then, the audience echo-sings the “Hidee-hidee-hidee hi” refrain along with Bush on Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher.”
Following avid applause, Greg Parnell thanks the audience for coming out and supporting live music. Ending tonight’s show with what Parnell describes as “the biggest anthem from the swing era,” Jukebox Saturday Night performs Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing.” On this number, Greg Parnell channels Gene Krupa, soloing his way around his drums and cymbals with perfection.
Playing faster and faster, Parnell elicits cheers from the audience as the band returns to stand front and center playing directly to the crowd which delivers a standing ovation to the talented Jukebox Saturday Night musicians.
As concertgoers make their way out of the Grunin Center auditorium, we chat with several music lovers who share their opinions of tonight’s show. Whereas Denise from Manchester calls tonight’s concert, “Fabulous!” noting, “I really liked the trombonist!” Nancy from Toms River exclaims, “Jukebox Saturday Night was terrific! They play great music which is just perfect for toe-tapping,” prior to revealing, “It reminds me when I used to stand on my dad’s shoes while he danced.”
Carol from Toms River declares, “This music brings back so many good memories for me!” explaining, “My dad drove a truck for The Glenn Miller Orchestra, and he used to sing all of these songs.” Rich from Toms River asserts, “Jukebox Saturday Night put on such an entertaining performance! Through their show, you can learn a little bit about music history and, at the same time, these musicians can really play.”
Ruth from Lakewood contends, “This show was excellent! It brought back many happy times.” Acknowledging, “ I knew all the tunes,” Ruth confesses, “It was hard to keep my feet still with this music. I constantly had to keep myself from doing the Lindy in the aisle!”
Lastly, we chat with Harold and Joan, a couple from Howell. Explains Harold, “Watching tonight’s show, and enjoying it so much, makes me think I was born in the wrong era — I really envy my parents who got to see the original musicians perform this music live.” His wife, Joan, concurs, insisting, “Jukebox Saturday Night was absolutely fabulous!” before concluding, “They just don’t make music like this anymore.”
To learn more about Jukebox Saturday Night, please go to jbsaturdaynight.com. For info on upcoming shows at Toms River’s Grunin Center of the arts — including The Sixties Show on Oct. 15, singer Judy Collins on Dec. 11, and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Songs We Love on Mar. 10, 2023 — please click on grunincenter.org.
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