After discovering Louis Armstrong, I began my exploration of jazz by way of Bobby Hackett, so I am innately fond of those trumpet and cornet players who make their way to the heart of a song subtly, even subversively. This inclination led me to Ruby Braff and Buck Clayton, Shorty Baker and Joe Thomas, Joe Wilder, Jon-Erik Kellso, Bob Barnard, Duke Heitger, Peter Ecklund, Marc Caparone, and Dan Tobias.
Dan Tobias may be the least well-known player on that list, which is a pity. He hasn’t made compact discs under his own name, and he isn’t a regular on the jazz festival / jazz party circuit. But the good news is that he is alive, youthful, and playing beautifully. New Yorkers and Jerseyites (especially the latter) can see him play, and he has two gigs coming up (details below). But you don’t have to believe me without any evidence.
Here he is, playing BODY AND SOUL with casual unaffected mastery. Hear his lovely tone, his delicate phrasing, his architectural sense of how to construct a solo. Admire his love of the melody and respect for it, too. And his singing approach to that demanding collection of tubing and metal. Dan can lead a shouting ensemble, and he can zip around corners in the best Clifford Brown way, but he is essential a tone-painter. (In fairness, this impromptu duet favors the capable pianist Joe Holt, but you can’s miss our Mr. Tobias.)
I first heard Dan play on a CD by the Midiri Brothers band, where his compact lyricism was immediately apparent, and then I had the good luck to catch him one night as the cornetist with Kevin Dorn’s Traditional Jazz Collective. I haven’t heard him regularly enough for my taste, but he has shown up occasionally at the Ear Inn . . . and impressed everyone, even when the front line included his admiring peers Kellso and Ecklund. On that score, rumor has it that he will once again be at the Ear this Sunday (that’s May 31) with guitarist Matt Munisteri. I’ll be there, happily.
And there’s another gig in Dan’s home state of New Jersey, in Medford, to be exact — on June 13, from 7:30 to 10 PM. Dan writes, “The concert will take place at Memorial Hall,Cathedral of the Woods, 100 Stokes Road, Medford Lakes, New Jersey [609-654-4220]. This is a group from Trenton that rehearses weekly (not weakly). The band features Trenton organ legend Tom Pass, chop monster guitarist Mike Remoli, the fearless saxophonist Dom DeFrancesco, the ever swinging Joe Falcey, and me on the trumpet. The material that we perform is adventurous and the band takes no prisoners! The venue is a cool log cabin building with really good acoustics. I hope that you can make it to the concert!” Admission is $0, $15 for students and seniors, and refreshments are included.
A good deal! If you’ve heard Dan play live, you won’t need my urging; if you haven’t, wait no longer.