The Midiri Brothers Orchestra

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Midiri Brothers superb at Pastorius Park
by Michael Caruso, excerpt from Chestnut Hill Local, August 13, 1998

The Midiri Brothers Dixieland Orchestra played before one of the largest audiences I've encountered at Pastorius Park last Wednesday evening. Perhaps the excellent weather did, indeed, have more than a little to do with it, but it's my own suspicion that the band's own extraordinary fine playing was the major reason the audience was so enthusiastic.

The Midiri Brothers Orchestra, does, in fact boast two brothers among its members: Joseph on clarinet, alto and baritone sax; and Paul on trombone, vibraphone and drums. The ensemble is rounded out by Dan Tobias on trumpet and vocals, Pat Mercuri on banjo and guitar, Jim Lawlor on drums and vocals, Bill Stumm on string bass and Paula Johns on vocals.

Although dubbed a "Dixieland band," the Midiri Brothers Orchestra played a refreshingly varied program last week in the Park that included many a pop and jazz standard as well as Dixieland favorites. Still, it wasn't merely a wisely chosen repertoire that made the concert such a rousing success but, rather, the band's excellent playing of it. All six of the ensemble's instrumentalists proved themselves to be masters of their instruments. Joseph Midiri's clarinet playing was particularly impressive for the fleetness and accuracy of his fast passagework and the consistency of its smooth, creamy tone. His playing on both saxes was equally memorable for its sultry timbre and suave phrasing.

Paul Midiri's trombone playing was admirable, but it was on the vibraphone that he made his most telling marks, offering a flurry of tellingly chosen scales, arpeggios and appaggiaturas.

I was also mightily impressed by Pat Mercuri's work on both the banjo and guitar, especially the latter.


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