Tag Archives: Ron Odrich


Music is a way of creating energy, and what follows is especially lively.

One of the reassuring New York City musical happenings is the first-Tuesday gig (6-8 PM) of reedman Ron Odrich at San Martin, 143 East 49th Street.  Ron’s usual group is James Chirillo, guitar; Gary Mazzaroppi, string bass; “Cenz,” drums, and a guest star, in this case reedman Dan Block.

I knew Ron as a splendidly nimble clarinetist but hadn’t heard him play tenor saxophone; he is a delightful player.  Dan and he had a delightful time, and the unaccompanied two-horn duets heard on BLUES IN THE CLOSET and AUTUMN LEAVES were especially pleasing.

Incidentally, the spirit of the music was intense yet deeply friendly.  Watch Ron and Dan, respectively, grin at each other.  It was more a series of endearing conversations than a JATP session, collaboration rather than aggression.  And the audience loved it.

Here’s some of the music the Quartet-plus-Dan created that night.










Watching this scene in real life and again in the videos, I thought of some jazzman’s oral history, perhaps Art Hodes.  He describes a club in the Twenties where the music was so pervasive in its rhythm that everything vibrated sympathetically: the bartender shook his cocktail shaker to a syncopated 4 / 4, the waiters put the plates down on the right beat, and so on.

I’ve never been to San Martin when there was no music, but I like to think that the eager, attentive waiters rushing to and fro with plates of pasta and the pepper mill were swinging along to Ron’s beat.  The joint, as we say, was jumping.

May your happiness increase!

MR. MASSO CAME TO TOWN (March 6, 2012)

I would have been eager to visit clarinetist Ron Odrich’s monthly session at San Martin on East 49th Street, New York City (it happens the first Tuesday of each month) for his swooping playing — and the lovely work of his colleagues James Chirillo (guitar); Gary Mazzaroppi (string bass); “Cenz” (drums).  But last Tuesday’s session was even more special because it allowed me to hear one of the quiet masters of jazz in person.

I refer to trombonist George Masso: veteran of the late Forties Jimmy Dorsey band (a band whose trumpet section had Charlie Teagarden and Maynard Ferguson!) and then right-hand man to Bobby Hackett, Ken Peplowski, Barbara Lea, Spike Robinson, Harry Allen, Wild Bill Davison, the World’s Greatest Jazz Band, Warren Vache, Ed Polcer, Joe Wilder, Urbie Green, Helen Ward, Al Klink, Scott Hamilton, Ruby Braff, Tom Pletcher, Maxine Sullivan, Mike Renzi, Kenny Davern, Carl Fontana, Dave McKenna, Eddie Higgins, Randy Sandke, Charlie Ventura, Dan Barrett, Dick Hyman, Bob Wilber, Lou Columbo, Ralph Sutton, Jake Hanna, Woody Herman, and the King of Swing himself.

Obviously, if all those people had called upon Mr. Masso, he was special: this I already knew from the recordings: his accuracy and fine, broad tone — his remarkable combination of swing-time and ease with a broad harmonic palette and astonishing technique, always in the service of melody and logical improvisations.

Two additional facts you should know before you watch the videos that follow (featuring superb playing by everyone in the group).  George Masso is one of the most gentle, humble people it will be my privilege to know — so happy that a fan (myself) would make a small pilgrimage to hear and capture him (his lady friend June is a dear person too, no surprise).

Mister Masso is eighty-five years old, obviously one of the marvels of the age.  Cape Cod and Rhode Island must agree with him.  And his playing certainly agreed with everyone there.

They began their set with TANGERINE:

I’M OLD-FASHIONED, taken at a walking tempo:

BLUE BOSSA, lilting and graceful:


And — not dedicated to anyone in the room! — George’s ballad feature on OLD FOLKS:


P.S.  I hope George comes back to New York City — with his trombone — soon!  In April, Ron’s guest star will be baritone saxophone wizard Gary Smulyan.


One way of identifying Ron Odrich is that he is a Park Avenue, New York City periodentist who happens to play clarinet.  But once you’ve heard him play, you’ll agree that this definition is, at best, upside-down.  Really, he is a fine jazz clarinetist who happens to have a day gig as well.  He gets around nimbly on his instrument, with a fine command of that treacherous horn in all its registers; he has a big sound, cool but never cold, and he turns corners like a great racing car driver.

He’s also got durability: his little band has been gigging for thirty years, a record hard to beat.  These days, on the first Tuesday of every month, they play an early gig (6 – 8:30 PM) at the amiable Italian restaurant SAN MARTIN (143 East 49th Street, New York City).

With Ron for this session, on February 7, were Cenz on drums, Gary Mazzaroppi on string bass, James Chirillo on guitar, and — as a guest star — Dan Block on tenor sax and clarinet.  This band stretched out on five tunes — one of them a ballad feature for Dan — and everyone in the place beamed.

They began with a sweetly twining version of that musical oxymoron, ALONE TOGETHER:

A lovely but moving impression of Tommy Dorsey’s theme, I’M GETTING SENTIMENTAL OVER YOU, followed:

Here’s a rattling good performance of the samba NO MORE BLUES:

Then Ron turned it over to Dan for a melancholy, intense feature on ALL TOO SOON (with James filling in 1940 Ellington band riffs behind him):

And a clarinet extravaganza on the theme of LIMEHOUSE BLUES:

You’ll notice in these videos how much straightforward exploring is going on — both in solos and in ensemble intertwining — not just theme / solo / theme; admire Ron’s nimbleness, Dan’s warmth; James’s witty cubist visions; Gary’s deep pulse; Cenz’s variety of sounds.

To learn more about Ron (he has some fine new compact discs — one of them a solo clarinet recital which I can recommend highly), visit him here.  Or catch him live at a gig — even better than watching videos on your computer!


Jack Kleinsinger has been putting on jazz concerts every year in New York City for thirty-seven years — including just about everyone alive and playing, including Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Hines, Buddy Rich, and Big Joe Turner.  2009 will be the end of the incredible run for “Highlights in Jazz.” 

I have fond memories of the concerts: in fact, I was in the audience for Jack’s second concert — a 1972 tribute to Fats Waller at the Theatre deLys.  At other times, I recall seeing Teddy Wilson, Buddy Tate, Dicky Wells, PeeWee Erwin, Bobby Hackett, Dick Hyman, Vic Dickenson, Milt Hinton, Kenny Davern, Jon-Erik Kellso, David Ostwald, Doc Cheatham, and many others.  My memory isn’t deep enough (Jack’s is) to delineate all of the surprise guests, but they were happy to be there. 

So consider these concerts!  There won’t be another season, and I don’t see new series emerging that give so much loving attention to Mainstream and earlier styles of jazz.

Here are the details:

Thursday, September 10, 2009 – 8 pm
Cabaret Jazz: featuring Barbara Carroll and Paula West

Thursday, October 8, 2009 – 8 pm
Hot Jazz From New Orleans To Israel: featuring Evan Christopher, Duke Heitger, Anat Cohen,
Ehud Asherie, George Masso, Jackie Williams, Johnny Varro, Joe Ascione

Thursday, November 12, 2009 – 8 pm
Living Jazz Legends: featuring Buddy DeFranco, Jay Leonhart, Joe Cohn, Ron Odrich, Ed Metz, Jr.
and Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli, Martin Pizzarelli, Mickey Roker

Thursday, December 10, 2009 – 8 pm
Celebrating the Swing Masters:
Ken Peplowski Recalls Benny Goodman
Terry Gibbs Recalls Lionel Hampton
Freddie Bryant Recalls Charlie Christian

All Shows at TRIBECA Performing Arts Center
Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers Street
TRIBECA Box Office at (212) 220-1460  http://www.tribecapac.org/music.htm 
Subscriptions $130, individual tickets $35, students $32.50.  Make checks payable to & mail to: Highlights in Jazz, 7 Peter Cooper Road, New York, NY 10010 (enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope)

P.S.  In a more enlightened time, Knopf would have published Jack’s memoirs, and Columbia Records would have been issuing a sustained series of concert CD / DVD packages.  These things haven’t happened, which is perhaps all the more reason to celebrate what has taken place.