Tag Archives: Richie Cole

“WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, YOU CAN TURN TO JAZZ”: A CONCERT FOR RICHIE COLE (1867 Sanctuary, Sunday, May 1, 2022)

If you don’t know the alto saxophonist Richie Cole, a New Jersey native who left us in 2020, please listen to these two examples of his work. First, joyously playful:

Here, making a well-worn ballad both entrancing and swinging:

A passionate approach grounded in the great traditions but stamped with his own personality. Please enjoy the video announcing the concert (fine work by Mike Salvatore) and if you are nearby, be sure to come by. The Sanctuary has wonderful acoustics and a lovely ambiance.

And the details of the concert — Richie’s ALTO MADNESS band with sitters-in invited — are in the video:

Richie was not only a sweet soulful player; he was a sweet soulful person. My friend Richard Salvucci, a wise jazz listener and writer, encountered Richie in person:

I guess it was around the summer of 2000 when I was in London for research work. Our kids were with us. So we took every opportunity to take them to museums, concerts, whatever. I was especially happy because there was a lot of jazz around London, and I could take Martin to hear people like Lou Donaldson, Warren Vache, and Ralph Sutton. We didn’t know Richie was gonna be in town until we stumbled on an advert for a new club (run by a singer whose name I can’t recall). I jumped and told Martin we’re gonna go have some fun.

Cole was with a local rhythm section that he seemed to be having a few problems with, but he played superbly. The club was, alas, hardly full, so we got a good seat at the fifty yard line. When you get to hear Cole doing Cherokee (in B), you just smile. He was wonderful. On a break, he walked around to the tables to chat with people (including his then wife, I think!). When he came over to us, Martin, then about 12, was agog. He told Richie he was learning trumpet, and Cole asked him whom he liked. “Miles,” whose “So What” solo he was learning by heart. Well, Cole asked him which Miles, early or late? We sort of said Martin was getting tuition in the real Miles, which amused Cole. I asked him if he was from Trenton, NJ, and he seemed surprised. He wasn’t surprised when I said I was from Philly–my “correct” pronunciation of Trenton gave it away. I guess we must have chatted for 10 minutes. Richie couldn’t have been nicer, and my impression was he talked to most everyone.

He was a wonderful player and a wonderful guy.

For those who like their details on the half-shell with only a squeeze of lemon, the 1867 Sanctuary is at 101 Scotch Rd, Ewing Township, New Jersey 08628-2501: 2 PM on Sunday, May 1 — and here’s more:

A tribute concert to the legendary jazz saxophonist and Trenton native Richie Cole. Event presented by Richie Cole’s family.
Please join us to celebrate Richie Cole’s music, life and legacy!
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/206902128837

Members of Richie’s jazz group will be performing a diverse lineup of Richie’s music. The show will end with a very special farewell from Richie Cole, himself! If you play an instrument or sing, come sit in!
Vince Lardear – Alto sax
Pete Lauffer – Piano, vocals

John Sheridan, Electric guitar
Chris Clark – Bass
Joe Falcey – Percussion
Limited seats!
Tickets can be purchased prior to the event, as well as at the door, if tickets are still available.
Looking forward to an amazing event – Alto Madness style!
Doors: 2 PM – memorial hour // Show: 3 PM

Please reach out to Annie Cole with any questions or if you would like to coordinate purchasing tickets directly: anniecole82@gmail.com. Proceeds go to the musicians and to preserving Richie Cole’s music and other works.

Thanks to Bob Kull, Annie Cole, and Richard Salvucci, who made the concert and this post possible. Inevitable, even!

May your happiness increase!

ALTERNATIVE ENERGIES: ANDY FARBER’S SEXTET at SMALLS (May 5, 2012)

Saxophonist / composer / arranger / bandleader Andy Farber looked at me quizzically when I told him I was calling this blogpost ALTERNATIVE ENERGIES, but I’m sticking by it.

In this exhilarating session at Smalls (May 5. 2012), he casually proposed that we move the birthplace of jazz some eleven hundred  miles north and east (New Orleans to Detroit, according to Google Maps), and the energies that his Sextet generated were powerful and lovely.  Andy’s originals are meaningful — not just wanderings or new lines over very familiar chord changes.  He also gave some very pleasing attention to the compositions that his uncle, Mitchell Farber (more about him below**) — wrote for Donald Byrd.

The players were Andy, alto and tenor saxophones; Dominick Farinacci, trumpet; Vincent Gardner, trombone; Xavier Davis, piano; Michael Karn, string bass; Ali Jackson, drums.  The rhythm section was delicious — three players listening to one another and to the horns.  I reserve my highest praise for Ali Jackson, who absolutely lifted me out of my seat through his wit, animation, and enthusiasm.  Had I not been anchored to my video camera, I would have been standing and cheering.  You’ll see why (especially on RECIPROCITY).  On both horns, Andy managed to offer a neat lyricism (with Pete Brown / Ben / Rollins grittiness) but he kept reaching forward to suggest phrases that were absolutely new but once heard, entirely comfortable.  Dominick can nimbly maneuver in the manner of Clifford Brown, but I also heard Harry Edison and Clark Terry — as well as a sweet yearning pathos on PENSIVE LEANING.  I knew Vincent Gardner from his intermittent appearances with David Ostwald at Birdland, and he did occasionally reach back into his own version of J.C. Higginbotham’s insistence, but more usually he took a rhythmic or melodic phrase and turned it up and down, delighting in it, having a wonderful time playing.

It is an extraordinary band, caught live, fresh, and vigorous in what I think is an extraordinary performance.

Andy began by calling WEST OF THE PECOS, a composition by altoist Sonny Red [Kyner]:

Then he tried out a new piece — a premiere! — with a title that has variant spellings, CHOTCHKES (meaning “trivial little things,” or “gewgaws” in Yiddish) — music for a hard-bop Tevye, perhaps:

Next, the blues!  But not the ordinary kind — no, this is a thirteen-bar blues in Eb minor, written by Mitchell Farber.  I think it has a distinct Middle Eastern flavor as well — illuminated from within by Vincent’s questions and implorings:

The first set closed with another of Andy’s originals, ROUTE 9A NORTH — the road you take to get to his house, although he didn’t provide more specific directions:

When the band returned, Andy pointed them into his own SCHMOOZEFEST, whose title is, I hope, self-explanatory (with fiery drumming from Ali).  Is it my fault that the opening motive reminds me of CARNIVAL IN CAROLINE?:

Mitchell Farber named EL DORADO for the Cadillac, not the far-off land, and wrote it for Donald Byrd.  Notice Michael’s double-stopping behind Andy, and the way these soulful performances come to resemble small symphonies, with a lyrical outing from Dominick.  You’ll hear Andy say that he and the band had decided that jazz really was born in Detroit.  A new idea, but the music certainly validated it for me:

Then, an absolute high point — not just for this session but perhaps for my recent years of live jazz experience — the eighteen-minute RECIPROCITY, delightfully propelled by Ali.  Mister Jackson is joyously ebullient, not afraid to be loud, but every accent and knocking-at-the-door has meaning and pleasure surrounding it.  I was watching his face — mobile, pleased, surprised, and thought, “He’s writing the punchlines to the jokes other players in the band start.”*  What Ali and Vincent create together is marvelous, and that’s not to take anything away from a wondrous Dominick – Michael duet.  Hear and see for yourself:

And Andy closed this glorious session with his own — quite relevant — question, OLIVE OR TWIST? (I didn’t get the pun until sometime today and that’s because Ricky Riccardi pointed it out to me):

If you don’t know why I proposed ALTERNATIVE ENERGIES as a title, your assignment is to go back and listen / watch very closely one more time.  The hints are this: 1) Detroit, and 2) if there’s ever an electrical outage in New York, I’m going to call Andy and ask him to get the guys together.  Wow!

May your happiness increase.

*A few more words about my new hero, Mr. Jackson.  At the end of the second set, I caught him for a moment — he was still wearing his hand-tied neat bowtie — and said, “I’m going to write a blogpost about this and put up the videos.  What do you think of this title: ‘ALI JACKSON COULD SWING THE DEAD BUT I HOPE HE NEVER HAS TO’?  And it amused him, too.  I also said, ‘My heroes are Sidney Catlett and . . . ‘ and before I could name anyone else, he said, most enthusiastically, ‘Mine too!'”  More than any other drummer I’ve heard these days, he suggests what it might have been like to sit eight feet in front of Big Sid — which is a splendid thing.

**About Mitchell Farber, from his nephew — the brilliant player who leads this Sextet.   “Mitchell Farber is my uncle, my father’s kid brother born in 1944.  He was a jazz saxophonist in high school where he spent his summers at jazz camp with people like Randy Brecker, Dave Sanborn, and Vinnie Ruggerio (the late drummer from upstate New York who was a Philly Joe Jones disciple).  Mitch met Donald Byrd at a summer jazz camp and worked with him on and off from the mid 1960s through the late ’70s. Donald recorded two of his tunes, “Eldorado” on Blackjack BLP 4259 (1967) and “The Uptowner” BST 84319 (1969).  In the 1960s, Mitch began to lean toward composition and studied with George Russell and Nadia Boulanger at Fontainebleau.  Mitch wrote and produced albums for Jackie McLean, Red Garland, Mark Murphy, Morgana King, Richie Cole, Pepper Adams, Walter Bishop Jr., and many others.  Some of his credits may be found here.  (Ignore the credits for guitar as that is another “Mitch Farber,” a guitarist in Florida.)   Mitch began a career in TV commercial underscore and jingle writing that lasted from the early 70s through the late 80s. He also wrote and/or orchestrated film scores with no credit or the wrong credit.   In the late 1990s he began teaching music is Ridgefield CT where he’s in his last year.   He recorded on album under his own name for Muse Records in 1983.”

Obviously someone we should know!  Talent, thy name is Farber.