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Jazz Vibes Showcase: The Back Story

The first annual Jazz Vibes Showcase at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina went off like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Forget that it was January and the weather was spring-like. Rich Speer, my co-producer, and I expected four vibes players that Sunday afternoon. We ended up with five. Here’s what happened. Headliners Joe Locke, Tony Miceli, Warren Wolf and David Friedman were signed, sealed and almost delivered when Friedman, at the last minute, realized he couldn’t make the trip from Berlin, his home. The three remaining vibesmen decided they could play the gig as a threesome so we went with it. Meanwhile Anthony Smith, a player from the West Coast and author of Masters of the Vibes, was coming and would give what would have been the fifth workshop on Saturday. Turned out it was the fourth of the day, without David, and a good one it was with Junior Jazz Foundation camper 12-year-old Duncan Ward taking a duo with Smith on “Take On Me.” By then we were set for Sunday with Tony, Warren and Joe. Tony, who is always full of ideas, thought, “Anthony and I play together a lot.” (They’ve even made a CD together, California Here We Come.) “Why don’t I invite him to share my set with me?” We were back up to four.

Saturday night we all went to dinner at the Jazz Corner and were happily surprised to see and hear Chuck Redd, another renowned vibraphone player, playing that weekend, with the Kevin Bales Quartet. An idea percolated upwards, let’s invite Redd to play in the finale, “Bags’ Groove” written by none other than legendary vibist Milt Jackson whose nickname was Bags. Redd was more than happy to share the finale spotlight with his colleagues. And then there were five. To the enjoyment of a very enthusiastic audience.

Photo by Lauren Vogel Weiss for Rhythm! Scene