I've known Joey Corella through a mutual pal for years. He always appeared to be a nice, gentle, man. I had even heard he has a bit of a sense of humor.
If you don't know him, he's a big guy, looks even a little like a tough guy. Some might even say like a thug.
He's one of the big three Syracuse sax men, who all happened to study under Jerry Santy. Paulie Cerra, a blues man who is funky and wild, and a great singer too; Johnny Rohde, a jazz man who is smooth and soulful; and Joey Corella, who I hadn't really seen other than in a large orchestra environment. Until last Saturday, when he helped bring the bossa nova beat to Jazz Central on Washington Street in Downtown with Maria DeAngelis and the Westminster Express. The show was titled, "Black Beans & Pink Popcorn."
Maria (lead vocal and guitar) was as lovely as ever. This was her second program that had a bit of a teaching element included -- last year she did the songs of Joni Mitchell and this year it was all about the Brazilian born bossa nova, which she told us means "little wrinkle."
The Westminster Express with Hannah Richardson (vocals, guitar and little keyboarding), Phil Flanagan (stand up bass) and percussionist, Josh Dekaney, was spot on. Must be something in the water up there on Westminster, a street of musical talent in the university area.
Richardson, who has a beautiful voice in her own right, also has this straight-man kind of appearance that melts as the music evolves. She is often transformed into a life-size Tinkerbell when she performs with Maria.
Then there's Joey -- off to the side he appeared a little like a sad sack, intently listening for his parts. He looked a little awkward, almost lumbering, if one could lumber in a beautiful suit?