Stephanie Aaron | 1.22.17

CONCERT REVIEW

by John Cheek

After a break for the holiday, jazz was live again at the Landmark Center in January. The CIJS House Band opened the evening with Angel Eyes with a medium swing feel. Band leader Larry Harms was in his usual great form on tenor, and trumpeter Matt Buzcko was reminiscent of the great Chet Baker. Guest guitarist Lonnie Tucker gave us a nice solo, with the rhythm section rounded by the usual suspects of Billy Cook on guitar, Jon Byler-Dann on bass, and Jeremy Clark on drums.

Guest vocalist Bernie Salguero joined the boys for Besame’ Mucho, providing sultry vocals to complement a slick guitar solo by Billy. Berne continued to steam up the room with Fever, featuring a growling plungered trumpet solo by Matt. Up next was Flapper Snapper, a great 20s-style tune by Central Illinois’s Tom Fatten, giving us the feel of a speak easy joint filled with Larry’s clarinet stylings and Jeremy’s great brush work on the drums. Bernie joined again with here beautiful tone on the standard Bye, Bye Blackbird. The House Band closed their set with Like Someone In Love, with a funky intro transitioning to a swing melody. 

The featured artist was the great Stephanie Aaron, accompanied by Larry Harms on saxophone and backed by next month’s featured group, the Derel Monteith Trio (Derel on piano, Andy Crawford on bass, and Jason Brannon on drums). Stephanie was fantastic, as always, and opened with Sleeping Bee, which really got the crowd going. Stephanie next took us down the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, in a Latin style. She really showed the awesome range of that huge voice...that comes from a tiny person! A surprise was next, with Bunny Berigan’s I Can’t Get Started in a three feel and modernized lyrics. Solos by Larry and Derel were great before Stephanie belted out a big finish that resolved into a quite ending. Truly a treat. 

A great storyteller, Stephanie moved on to M-O-T-H-E-R, a tribute to moms everywhere. Stephanie’s smile was infectious as she sang the “Mother, a word that means the world to me.” Stephanie killed it again on the ballad More Than You Know before picking things up again with Exactly Like You, featuring great brush work by Jason and superb solos by Derel, Andy, and Larry. The closer of the night was the great ballad Every Time We Say Goodbye, with Derel and Stephanie in sync on rubato intro that really set the foundation for Stephanie’s emotional vocals. If you missed the January concert, you missed another good one. It was great to have Stephanie back in town, and we can’t wait for her next visit.

NOTEWORTHY

♪ The Derel Monteith Trio will perform as our Guest Group for the Jazz Society’s February 19 concert. The Trio has become a regional favorite through regular performances at Rhythm Kitchen Music Cafe in Peoria and Jazz UpFront in Bloomington, as well as concerts at venues such as Knox College and CEFCU Center Stage. Joining Derel in the Trio are Andy Crawford on bass and Jason Brannon on drums, who help shape the overall sound and style of the group. The Derel Monteith Trio will begin their set at 7:15 p.m. The Central Illinois Jazz Society House Band, led by Larry Harms, will open the night with the first set at 6:00 p.m. We thank Roger and Shirley Cunningham for being Program Sponsors for the February concert. 

♪ We thank Stephanie Aaron for performing for our January concert. Stephanie was joined by Larry Harms on sax, Jason Brannon on drums, Andy Crawford on bass, and Derel Monteith on keyboards. Stephanie and her band presented an outstanding program of music. We were fortunate to have Stephanie with us again to share her talented voice and creative skills, and we thank Sharon and John Amdall for being Program Sponsors. Please contact any board member if you would like to sponsor a future concert. Program Sponsors help sustain the Jazz Society through their additional financial support of our monthly programs. 

John Cheek’s Concert Reviews will be missed in future issues of the Jazzscope, since John will be moving out of the area. We appreciate John serving on the Jazz Society board and preparing outstanding Concert Reviews during the last several years. We all wish him the very best and welcome him back any time. Thanks John! 

♪ We are sorry to report that Leonard Lloyd, a former Jazz Society board member, passed away on January 1, 2017. Len served on our board for many years before moving from the area to be closer to his son. We express our deep sympathy to the family of Len at this time of great loss. 

♪ We thank Ellen Monteith for serving as our MC for the January concert. We also thank Tom Harkless, Andy Bussan, Beth Bussan, and Ray Ellington for helping with the concert. Thanks to Bill Duncan of Cedar Hills Sound for providing outstanding sound for all of our monthly programs.