This year's Great Connecticut Fest in Moodus, Conn., was both fun and bittersweet for fans and musicians. It's the last time the festival will be held in Moodus. Next year's festival wil move to Wallingford, Conn., but, for most of us, the years at Moodus will hold many dear memories.
Thanks to Ray Ross, his great staff and the Johnson family at Sunrise Resort who made the festival so much fun through the years.
Band line-ups this year included most of the perennial favorites of past years, and this reporter worked his fourth straight festival with the Festival All Stars.
Cornet Chop Suey once again offered great shows with their repertoire running the gamut of trad, with Louis, Prima and even West Side Story included. Leader Brian Casserly impressed as always as trumpeter, vocalist and frontman.
The Galvanized Jazz Band, local favorites, played their hard-charging New Orleans style, led by the always driving horn of Fred Vigorito. They added France's J.P. Alessi on reeds, and Jane Campedelli once again returned to work with the band, entertaining everyone with her "Red Hot Mama" blues, ballads and stomps. (Jane also joined our gang for a sit-in. She worked with a lot of us Bostonians a few seasons ago.)
The great Jimmy Mazzy made a Friday night appearance with Bill Logozzo's Heartbeat Jazz Band, which also included Fred Vigorito and trombonist Craig Grant. Mazzy brought the house down with his rendition of "What a Wonderful World."
As for Craig Grant: he was a busy slideman, also working with the great Bearcats band and saxophonist Sarah Spencer's crew. The latter always gets the audience jumping with her funky New Orleans tenor sax and vocals.
Jeff Barnhart was another busy guy. He led his fine All-Stars and two lovely chamber groups spotlighting wife Ann on flute and Blue Street's vocalist Sherri Colby. His All-Stars featured a fine young cornetist from New York City, Charlie Caranicas, along with the versatile Dan Levinson on reeds, Bob Leary (a former Cape Codder) on banjo and guitar and the great Jim Fryer on trombone (a Dave Whitney alumnus).
The band ran the gamut from "Mahogany Hall Stomp" and "High Society" to "Lulu's Back in Town" and "Codfish Ball" (from Tommy Dorsey's Clambake 7).
Also back and in great form were Igor's Jazz Cowboys with their western swing. More treats came from Washboard Slim with old-time hokum, jug band and vaudeville favorites. Also earning kudos were Art Hovey and the Youth Band. They put on some great shows and are fine kids and musicians. Charlie Borneman and I played a few tunes with them.
California's Blue Street showed its versatility on a variety of styles and performed at the Gospel Service. Also impressive was Swing '39, a string trio comprising Bill Lezotte and Steve Jones, guitars, and David Lavorgna, bass. They brought back memories of the Hot Club of France.
Our festival band had Scott Philbrick and yours truly on trumpet, Florida's Charlie Borneman on trombone, Craig Ball on clarinet, Mike Hashem on banjo, Al Bernard on tuba and Ted DesPlantes on drums. Robin Verdier joined us on piano this year and lent his fine touches of Morton, Waller and Joplin to the band. We were very well received and included favorites such as "Big Bear Stomp." "Froggie Moore," "Sugar Blues," "My Heart," "Someday Sweetheart" and "Tiger Rag" among others.
Details on next year's festival will be available soon from 1-800-HOT-EVENT or from www.ctjazz.org. In the meantime, we bid goodbye to good times at Moodus and look forward to starting a new tradition in Wallingford, Conn.