Jazz at Birdland: Vince Giordano

Most of the music played by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks is from the 1920s and 1930s, but the band makes it all sound fresh. This band has been playing weekly gigs at various venues around Manhattan for decades, and its current home base is the Birdland Theater for two sets  every Monday, at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.

Giordano has a stellar crew of musicians who know how to capture the sounds of bygone eras as if they grew up playing on the bands of those times.  The players are Giordano on bass, tuba, bass saxophone, vocals, and conveyer of witty and informative commentary; Jon-Erik Kellso and Joe Boga on trumpets; Sam Chess on trombone; Dan Levinson, Will Anderson, and Mark Lopeman on reeds; Andy Stein on baritone sax and violin; Arnt Arntzen on guitar and banjo; Peter Yaris on piano; and Paul West on drums and percussion. 

Each set is a new adventure,  The material varies from the familiar — songs such as “Chicago,”  “Body and Soul” and “Tea for Two,” — to lesser known gems from the past such as “Here Come My Ball and Chain,” “I’ll Make Fun for You,” “Jazz Lips,” “Hot and Heavy,”, “I Want to Go Places and Do Things”,and “Triggeration.” The players are each given opportunities to solo, while occasional pieces feature scaled down formats such as “Honeysuckle Rose” with Stein on violin, Arntzen on guitar, Giordano on guitar, with Boga moved to bass; or “Up a Lazy River” played by a small group in a traditional format.  A special moment occurred recently when cornetist Mike Davis was called up from the audience to provide a terrific vocal on “Midnight with the Stars and You.” 

All in all, a visit to the Birdland Theater for a set by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks is guaranteed to provide unmitigated fun for anyone lucky enough to drop in for the vintage sounds.–JOE LANG

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The New Jersey Jazz Society (NJJS) is a non-profit organization of business and professional people, musicians, teachers, students and listeners working together for the purpose of advancing jazz music.