Magnarelli and Stockham create special moment at NE Jazz & Wine Fest
It was like an old-fashioned cutting contest.
At twilight-time Friday at the Northeast Jazz & Wine Festival in Clinton Square, bandleader Bret Zvacek conducted his 17-piece CNY Jazz Orchestra through a half dozen modern charts. The tunes included his own moody "The Mad Land," Rick Montalbano's "Hip, Not Hop," and Maynard Ferguson's "Frame for the Blues" featuring festival artist-in-residence Joe Magnarelli on trumpet.
Those performances were plenty hot, but then Zvacek turned the heat up past a hundred.
He invited CNYJO brassman Jeff Stockham to join Joe Mags at the front of the American Express Main Stage for a friendly session of dueling horns on "Status Quo," a chart by the late CNYJO director Calvin Custer which he wrote based on rhythm changes.
The result was a magical musical moment in which each of these extraordinary horn players improvised imaginatively over the solid comping of the orchestra. Stockham soared into the high register while Magnarelli mastered the mid-ranges. Both brassmen brought a barrelful of emotion to the task at hand and were rewarded by a well-deserved ovation from the crowd of 3,000.
Though Syracuse-born Magnarelli relocated to New York City 23 years ago, Stockham, a Western New York native, has settled in this city where he plays with no less than a half-dozen of the region's best bands.
Both Magnarelli and Stockham have toured the world. Magnarelli played countless road gigs with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, the Toshiko Akiyoshi Orchestra, Harry Connick Jr. and John Pizzarelli. Stockham has toured with the Monk on Monk big band, bluesman Jimmy Johnson and with his own Civil War-era septet, the Excelsior Cornet Band.
Magnarelli's newest disc is Persistence, on the Reservoir Jazz label, and Stockham's most recent recordings were with the CNYJO on its debut disc, Then, Now and Again.