Posted 3.16.02 at Rambles "a cultural arts magazine"
JAZZ: The Midiri Brothers Septet, Live! at Bridgewater (self-produced, 2001)
By Charlie Ricci
The Midiri Brothers' small jazz groups and big band arguably represent the classic Benny Goodman sound of the '30s and '40s better than any other musical organization ever to grace my ears.
Joe Midiri is so devoted to Goodman's music that his groups often play the big band pioneer's recorded works transcribed note for note rather than interpret the pieces themselves. (A note from the Midiri Brothers: Even though the main arrangements were transcribed note for note for authenticity, when a member of the band solos, they do so with creativity, and are not constrained to written arrangements.) This may not be to the liking of someone who would rather own an original Van Gogh in lieu of a print of his work, but since the Midiris are the only musical organization around that plays this music their fans are happy, and judging by much of their press, deliriously so.
This live concert CD was recorded at Bridgewater, N.J., on Jan. 13, 2001, on the occasion of the Midiris' second straight performance at an annual salute to Goodman. The brothers were thrilled to be the first group ever invited back two years in a row. The band performing that night patterned itself after the Goodman Sextet from 1939-1942, which featured Charlie Christian, one of the pioneers of electric guitar.
All eight of the selections were copied note for note off the Goodman originals by Joe Midiri. So how did their performance sound? Just like you would expect Goodman to sound if you saw him play live. The septet played several Goodman originals including "Six Appeal," "Breakfast Feud," "Seven Comes Eleven" and "Gone With What Draft," along with old standards such as "On the Alamo" and "More Than You Know."
The band, which included Joe Midiri on clarinet and sax, and brother Paul on vibes and drums, replicate their idol's recorded works so well that you really do visualize in your head that Goodman, Christian, Lionel Hampton and Gene Krupa are playing these tunes. The band also featured trumpet, acoustic, stand-up bass and guest pianist John Colianni. Note for note duplication may prevent this CD from being art in the eyes of jazz purists. (Please see above mentioned note by the Midiri Brothers). But these modern-day Benny wannabes really play this stuff well. And, for those of us who always wished we could hear this music played on something other than cleaned-up 78 RPM records transferred to LPs or CDs, we appreciate the Midiris' efforts to preserve Goodman's place in jazz history. The CD is filled out with four in-studio performances that are just as good as the eight live tracks.
You can read more of Mr. Ricci’s reviews on his website at http://www.angelfire.com/music3/cdreviewsonline