Drum master David Calarco has been bringing stellar jazz talent into Justin’s for more than 25 years. In the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, many international jazz stars – Tom Harrell, Danilo Perez, Jerry Bergonzi and Joe Magnarelli, among others – graced the club’s intimate stage with Calarco under the band name Jazz Caucus.
Now under the moniker of David Calarco’s Jazz Conclave, a whole new round of jazz stars and up-and-comers have been joining Calarco once a month for an evening of impassioned jazz at Justin’s.
Tenor saxman Ralph Bowen was the featured instrumentalist this past Friday. Calaraco and bassist John Menegon rounded out the trio for a two-set presentation of jazz standards. What made this night extra special were the musicians waiting in the wings for the second set.
Regional saxmen Brian Patneaude and Jonathan Lorentz were in the room. So was Menegon’s wife and singing partner, Teri Roiger.
When the time came, Patneaude grabbed his sax and joined Bowen on a rousing and spirited version of “What Is This Thing Called Love.” Talk about an old-time cutting contest – both instrumentalists uncorked and poured out a typhoon’s worth of passion as they traded licks with each other. The same thing happened later between Lorentz and Bowen on a super-charged version of the jazz chestnut, “Doxy.”
However, when Roiger took the stage, things reached a new level – the quiet, smoldering intensity of the trio propelling her expressive vocals into an embracing round of applause from the full-house audience at the song’s conclusion.
Bowen is a major player with a distinguished career that includes playing with almost everyone of note and teaching at Rutgers University. He was also the founder of the seminal late 1980s jazz group, Out Of The Blue, which also featured such young turks of the day and future jazz legends as Kenny Garrett, Bob Hurst and Ralph Peterson.
This was Bowen’s first Nippertown visit…but hopefully not his last.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
You can also view Albert Brooks’ photographs of the performance at AlbanyJazz.com.