The Midiri Brothers Orchestra

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CD Reviews

American Rag - November 2003 Issue

Reviewed by Cam Miller - Choice Cuts

MIDIRI BROTHERS SEXTET
Jammin' At Bridgewater, MB Records; Reviewed On CD:–Selections

If you enjoy the sound of the Benny Goodman Sextet of the Charlie Christian Era (1940) –then you’ll dig the Midiri Brothers Sextet big time. The throwback sixsome, which has appeared at several West Coast festivals including those in Mammoth Lakes and Costa Mesa, has the BG thing down pat. Right down to the last lick.

The Midiri brothers, Joe (clarinet) and Paul (vibes) constitute one third of the sextet. The balance of the combo includes Pat Mercuri (guitar), Dan Tobias (trumpet), Gary Cattley (bass), and Jim Lawler (drums). And pianist Joe Holt joins the group on the final track, a tasty version of “You Took Advantage Of Me.”

(It should be noted that the Goodman sextet of the time Christian was with the group always included a pianist, Teddy Wilson; vibraphonist Lionel Hampton in the first of two incarnations and a tenor saxist, Georgie Auld, and trumpet player, Cootie Williams, in the second combination only.)

Performing before a live audience on home turf, a New Jersey night spot, the sextet doesn’t take long to hit full stride after a mellowed-out take of “Love Me Or Leave Me.” Just one chorus of “Shine” shows the Midiri men mean business, with honors being evenly divided among the two brothers, Tobias and Mercuri.

Midiri the clarinetist, who displays his affinity for Goodman on every note, leads the way through “Stompin’ At The Savoy” with a series of choruses that build in intensity only to give way to Tobias’s half-valve solo and brother Paul’s inspired vibes.

And so it goes, a memorable “Memories Of You” that features warm efforts by Tobias and Mercuri; a delightful “If I Had You” that offers a segment in which Joe Midiri‚ and Tobias’s horns engage their horns in a colorful conversation, and Brooks Bowman’s lyrical “East Of The Sun” that brings the clarinetist together with Mercuri for a delightful duet.

Although there are gems galore, highlight cuts are two barnburners out of the Goodman book: “Limehouse Blues” and “Breafkast Feud.”

The former is notable for Paul Midiri’s relentless driving vibes that propel the entire group as do the exchanges with his clarinetist brother.

“Breakfast Feud” finds its way on to a Midiri Brothers Sextet recording for the second time ( you can also hear it on the CD, Live! At Bridgewater). Put simply, the band gets into a–great groove and rides it home every step of the way. While retaining the Goodman spirit, the Midiri outing differs from the BG version in that Tobias elects to play open whereas Cootie Williams hung tight with a mute on the Goodman recording. But the end result in both recordings is the same: dynamite!

In summary, one of the finest jazz recordings of the year. (For orders or information: Ph: 609-601-1099, e-mail: EMidiri@aol.com) GRADE: A +

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This page last updated May 31 2009 13:32:37 -0400
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