Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu
Tim Coakley and the merry band at A Place for Jazz in Schenectady should have sub-titled the opening concert of the series’ 26th season “A Meeting of Friends.” Although this would be the first time we’d seen them play together, horn master Joe Magnarelli and tenor monster Jerry Weldon have gifted Greater Nippertown with their respective presences multiple times, earning them many fans and acres of good feelings. Given how familiar we are with these two artists, this show should have contained no surprises, but there was one big surprise – at least for me.
That their quintet came out with guns blazing was no surprise. Magnarelli and Weldon may not have been completely together on the opening of Jimmy Heath’s “Gingerbread Boy,” but that actually made things better, giving the piece an air of “Screw the polish! Let’s just play!” And anyway, their “unison” play didn’t last long before Magnarelli took off on his first solo, which was as clean, bright and muscular as you’d expect it to be, and even included a sub-reference to the Depression-era tune “We’re in the Money.” An unbound Magnarelli is a sight to see, and he gave the swelling crowd an eyeful with his first solo, and a taste of what the rest of the night would bring.