Midiri Brothers . . . impressive
by Michael Caruso, excerpt from Chestnut Hill Local, August 24, 2000
After two weeks of hot, humid weather, the fates were kind to the organizers of the concerts in Pastorius Park last Wednesday night, providing them with a splendid late summer evening that saw a large and enthusiastic crowd on hand to hear the impressive music-making of the Midiri Brothers Dixieland Band.
The two Midiri Brothers - Joe and Paul - plus their four colleagues - Dan Tobias, Gary Catley, Pat Mercuri and Jim Lawlor - have built up a devoted following in Chestnut Hill, having made many successful appearances during the summer series in Pastorius Park.
Although they often strayed far afield from the printed program handed out at the entrance of the Park's natural amphitheater, not playing songs that were listed and playing more than a few that weren't, they nonetheless lived up to expectations by performing with memorable technical proficiency, a vibrant sense of style, and a feeling that all six musicians were having a great deal of fun entertaining their audience.
. . . the individual members of the Midiri Brothers Band are impressive improvisers.
Joe Midiri was heard to great effect on both clarinet and saxophone. With the former, he took great care to span the instrument's broad range, often presenting the unadorned theme of the song in the clarinet's beautifully mellow lowest octave. He then shifted upward all the way to a stratospheric zenith for incredibly original and dazzling improvisations that displayed an amazingly profound appreciation for the harmonic possibilities found within the song's theme.
On saxophone, he revealed a fine command of timbral variety, proffering a tone that was smooth and dark, one that was sensitively shaded with just the right amount of vibrato and that was phrased with lyrical delicacy and rhythmic vitality.
Brother Paul was heard to best effect on vibraphone. While his trombone playing was certainly up to an admirable standard, it was on vibraphone that he displayed a fantastic digital command and, like his brother, a complete comprehension of the harmonic possibilities that exist within the Dixieland traditions.
Although I found the tone that Dan Tobias produced on trumpet to be a trifle rough around the edges, I've got to admit that his talents as an improviser simply blew me away, for he reached dizzying heights of imagination every time he took the spotlight.