Summer ended on a high note and with a plethora of hot notes in Western New York State as the llth Annual Jazz at Chautauqua rocked the halls of the stately Athenaeum Hotel on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution. From Thursday, Sept. 18 through Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008, sounds of traditional jazz, mainstream swing and assorted gems from our musical past echoed over nearby Lake Chautauqua. Festival Director Joe Boughton once again assembled some of his current jazz favorites and added a few suprises for the patrons who arrived from 23 states, Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan. Early arrivals seized the opportunity to take a bus tour or walk the grounds on, easily, the best weather this weekend has ever afforded.
This year's musicians included, among brass players, returning trumpeters/cornetists Duke Heitger, Jon-Erik Kellso, Randy Reinhart and Joe Wilder along with trombonists Dan Barrett and Bob Havens. Newcomers added to the brass mix were two young record collectors from Wisconsin, cornetist Andy Schumm and trombonist David Bock, who were dubbed "The Bixians." Reedmen whose musical arsenal included soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, bass sax, clarinet and bass clarinet included Dan Block, Vince Giordano, Bobby Gordon, Bob Reitmeier, Andy Stein, Bob Wilber and Chuck Wilson. Strumming on both banjo and/or guitar were Howard Alden and Marty Grosz. The Faux Frenchmen, a hot string ensemble from Cincinnati, Ohio, included the acoustic guitars of George Cunningham and Brian Lovely. The pianists, Chautauqua veterans all, were John Sheridan, Keith Ingham, Rossano Sportiello and James Dapogny. Notably missing was Larry Eanet, who recently passed away. The drum chair was aptly filled by New Yorker Arnie Kinsella, Hoosier John Von Ohlen and Michigander Pete Siers. Violinists Paul Patterson of the Faux Frenchmen and Andy Stein were in the forefront with their ferocious fiddling. Scheduled bassists included Don Aren with the Faux Frenchmen, Vince Giordano of aluminum bass fame and two late additions, New Yorker Jon Burr and Youngstown, Ohio's Dave Morgan. Unfortunately, Morgan was called away on Thursday, which left Jon Burr pulling double-duty, faced with some 17 sets. If there was a weekend MVP, it would be Jon Burr, who remained unruffled at his tremendous amount of playing time.
Credit photo-journalist Duncan Schiedt for bringing the "Bixians," Andy Schumm and David Bock, to the attention of Joe Boughton. Cornetist Andy Schumm bears an uncanny resemblance to Bix Beiderbecke in his physical appearance and playing style. Mouths opened and jaws dropped when this 23-year-old put his horn to his lips. "I'll See You In My Dreams" and "At Sundown" sounded as if they were transcribed off of Bix recordings, but Bix never recorded these tunes. Andy Schumm gives new meaning to the term "Bix Lives."
Thursday evening proved interesting for early arriving patrons and musicians alike. Duncan Schiedt was on hand with a collection of slides taken from "Baron" Timme Rosenkrantz photos, captured mostly in the mid-to-late Thirties. Schiedt's comments with asides from Marty Grosz kept the audience occupied until about 8 p.m. when the first of four informal music sessions started. The very talented string quartet, the Faux Frenchmen, kicked the weekend off with a heady mix that offered tunes by Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli, Fats Waller and Edgar Sampson along with period pops such as "All Of Me" and "Bye Bye Blackbird," closing with an intriguing original by guitarist Brian Lovely entitled "Hang Time." Marty Grosz led a group of volunteers and draftees that included Duke Heitger, Randy Reinhart, Bob Havens, Bobby Gordon and Dan Block in the frontline. Rhythm components found Jim Dapogny on piano, Arnie Kinsella on drums and the leader on guitar, plus Andy Stein playing bass parts on his baritone sax, a visual as well as auditory delight.