Mar 22, 2012 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
What a swell way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Stan Colella Orchestra!
The music swelled with the sumptuous sound of strings as the “Hometown Big Band” now led by Stan’s son, Len Colella, was accompanied by Symphony Syracuse on Saturday, March 10, at the Crouse Hinds Concert Theater, at the Mulroy Civic Center, downtown.
The Colella combo – which often performs as a 12-piece – had itself swelled to 19 for its ruby anniversary performance, and that solid core was augmented by 17 violins, seven violas, five cellos and trumpeter John Raschella.
While musicians filled the Civic Center stage, a sparse audience of a few hundred barely filled a quarter of the 2,100-seat theater.
Regardless of the scant turnout, the collaborating musicians swung joyously on more than two-dozen tunes from the Great American Songbook, taking listeners on a ride on the “Night Train” all the way to “New York, New York.”
‘Back Beat Boogie’
They kicked it off with “Back Beat Boogie,” a Harry James number which featured riveting leads by trumpeter Jeff Stockham and tenor saxophonist Jim Spadafore. Len Colella picked up the trumpet to blow slow and lovely on “Unforgettable,” ably assisted by trombonist Jim Lamica.
Pianist Joe Carfagno, the lone surviving member of the band Stan founded in 1972, was showcased on “Take the A Train” and on “I Can’t Get Started,” a tune which Len dedicated to his mother, Grace, who was in attendance.
Vocalist David Baker shone like the Strip on a Rat Pack Medley including “Summer Wind,” “Birth of the Blues” and “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” the tune penned by Syracuse native Jimmy Van Heusen, also a member of the Rat Pack. Baker’s no-nonsense approach to singing allows the power of each song to rise to the top, and he was especially effective on barn burners such as “My Kind of Town,” “Mack the Knife” and “New York, New York.”
The spotlight fell on veteran alto saxman Tony Mastrobattisto on “Do Nothing ‘til you Hear from Me,” which also featured Stockham’s muted trumpet. Tenor saxophonist Tom Soccocio soared on “Embraceable You,” arranged by the late Calvin Custer.
Alto saxist John Delia improvised effortlessly on a Duke Ellington Medley also showcasing trumpeter Bob Boycheck. Delia soloed again on “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” as did trombonist Joe Colombo, electric bassist Jim Herkimer and leader Len Colella.
Baker warbled Hoagy Carmichael’s “Up a Lazy River” as arranged by trumpeter John Laverty, and Stockham played tag with the trombone section on “Sleepy Lagoon,” a slow waltz that was a chart-topper for Harry James in 1942.
Rounding out the Colella outfit on March 10 was acoustic bassist Darryl Pugh, guitarist Carl Lovell, drummer Doug DiGennaro, trumpeter Rob Robson, trombonist Greg McCrea and baritone saxophonist David Carpenter.
Stan the man recalled
Stan Colella, who died in May 2002 at age 68, started his band in 1972 and was soon named director of the Syracuse City Parks and Recreation All-Star Band comprised of the best high-school musicians in the city. In 1975 Stan was appointed music director of the New York State Fair, and during his long tenure there, the band performed with such artists as Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Natalie Cole and Jack Jones.
For 30 years, Stan and his band entertained at summertime’s Dancing Under The Stars, and he conducted the Syracuse Parks and Recreation Pops Orchestra for 14 years.
Stan was a charter member of the Syracuse Area Music Awards Hall of Fame, inducted along with his friend and musical colleague Jimmy Cavallo, at the Sammys debut awards show in 1993 at the Landmark Theatre where the Colella Orchestra served as the Sammys pit band.
Under Len Colella’s capable direction, the orchestra continues Stan’s legacy with a free Memorial Day concert at 2 p.m. May 27, at the Palace Theater in Eastwood; stancolellaorchestra.com.
Syracuse’s award-winning roots rock quartet, Los Blancos, will give a rare Sunday afternoon performance from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, March 25, at the Limerick Pub, 134 Walton St., in Armory Square; 475-1819. And the news gets better: there’s no cover or admission charge!
The lady in black
Having started as a volunteer at downtown’s Everson Museum of Art in the early-1970s, Sandra Trop became the gallery’s executive director in 1996, a position she held for a dozen years. Trop died March 20 at age 78.
Invariably dressed in black, Trop was a familiar downtown figure. One of her great accomplishments at the Everson was planning the “Turner to Cezanne Masterpieces” exhibit which drew record numbers to the museum during the fall and winter of 2009-10.
A lifelong champion of her native language, Onondaga Nation Clan Mother Audrey Lazore Shenandoah died March 15 at age 85. Shenandoah, also known to her people as Gonwaiani, was a leader at the Onondaga Nation where she was a member of the Eel Clan. She was also an advisor to the United Nations. In lieu of flowers, Shenandoah’s family requested that donations be made to the Syracuse Peace Council.