The evening began with Stella by Starlight, performed by Jim Pugh, tenor trombone, and Bill Reichenbach, bass trombone. The two performers were a perfect complement for each other, alternating well-crafted solo lines with duet passages in an intense, polyphonic style. Mark Nightingale was next, with a soulful rendition of In A Sentimental Mood . His playing was tastefully shaped with a wide jazz vocabulary, flawless technical displays, and subtle timbral shadings.
Then came Ed Neumeister. The fire and energy created by his angular, rhythmically-charged rendition of the jazz standard, All The Things You Are made audience members sit forward in their seats. His duet with drummer Vollbauer was truly a special moment. The New York Quartet plus One (Joe Alessi, Jim Pugh, Ed Neumeister, Dave Taylor and Mark Nightingale) followed with a tasteful medley, complete with transcribed and harmonized J.J. solos "a la Super Sax", entitled A Tribute to J.J. (a release from a new Alessi CD, New York Legends). Other higlights of the evening included: the slide wizardry of Nightingale, Pugh and Reichenbach on Dizzy Gillespie's Donna Lee; the Alessi, Whigham, Taylor and Neumeister rendition of Ensemble Blues (orchestral-excerpt quotes were flying everywhere); Jiggs Whigham's well-crafted and deeply moving performance of Body and Soul; Frank Rosolino Award winner Nils Wogram's dexterous display on Coltrane's Mr. PC; and a memorable interpretation of I Remember April by Doug Elliott, Nils Wogram and Ed Neumeister. The night ended with a six-trombone arrangement of Ellington's Take the A Train (dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald). Allesi, Neumeister, Nightingale, Pugh, Reichenbach, and Taylor, sans rhythm section, each demonstrated a total mastery of the trombone, jazz, and its close relative, the blues. Oh what a night!