The Midiri Brothers Orchestra

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L.A. Jazz Scene, October 2002

"Waxing Poetic Reviews"

The Midiri Brothers Septet
Live! at Bridgewater
by Scott Yanow

One of the major hits of the recent Orange County Classic Jazz Festival was the Midiri Brothers Septet, a group from New Jersey featuring clarinetist Joe Midiri and his twin brother Paul Midiri on vibes. The band played in the style of the Benny Goodman Sextet but also brought a fire and excitement of its own to the swing standards.

Of the recordings released thus far on the Midiri label (P.O. Box 961, Mays Landing, NJ 08330), Live! at Bridgewater comes the closest to capturing the excitement of this group. In addition to the siblings, the band includes pianist John Colianni (who had formerly been with Mel Torme and has led of his own for Concord), the Charlie Christian-inspired guitarist Pat Mercuri, trumpeter Dan Tobias, bassist Gary Cattley and drummer Jim Lawlor.

The first eight songs on this CD are all tunes played by the King of Swing’s small groups and these renditions of "Six Appeal", "I Found a New Baby" and "Seven Come Eleven" are full of fire, passion and excitement. While emulating Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton, the Midiri Brothers do not neglect their own complimentary musical personalities. The other four numbers, which were cut a few months later, include a couple features for Paul Midiri’s vibes and a fine rendition of "Please".

Throughout this highly recommended disc, the Midiri Brothers show that (despite their relative obscurity) they rank near the top of swing players who are active today. There is plenty of life still to be found in small-group swing and the siblings deserve much more recognition for their talents. Catch them whenever you can!


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