Highland Jazz Cabaret Continues with Jazz Guitar Night in the Spring of 1991.

jazz logo  Following the huge success of Jazz in Black and White we presented a Jazz Guitar Night featuring Grey Sargent and Jon Wheatley. They were joined by Alan Dawson on drums and Charlie La Chapelle on bass. Gray and Jon have different playing styles on the guitar. But both are virtuoso players whose music is full of warmth and soul. Both also have quiet personalities. I think Jon is a little more reserved than Gray, who can be tempted to relate some interesting anecdotes about other jazzers if he is in the right mood.

John Wheatley

Jon Wheatley
watercolor sketch by Nancy Alimansky

Jon Wheatley came to Boston in 1974 to study at Berklee. Since then he divided his time between performing and teaching. He had been an instructor at the University of Lowell since 1984 and at the time of Jazz Guitar Night was in charge of the jazz guitar curriculum.

Gray Sargent

Gray Sargent
watercolor sketch by Nancy Alimansky

Gray, a true Boston native, grew up in Weston, MA. Like Jon he had studied at Berklee and began playing gigs at an early age. He was the favored accompanist for many international artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Ruby Braff, Illinois Jacquet, Roy Eldredge, Chet Baker, Clark Terry, Scott Hamilton and Dave McKenna. By 1991 he had recorded two albums, Strings can really hang you up the most– a duo album with Marshall Wood – and More Ouzo for Puzo with Dave McKenna. He was also featured on several Highland Jazz cassettes.

As expected the music was outstanding. Of course having the strong rhythm section of Charlie LaChapelle and Alan Dawson made everything flow seamlessly.

Tenor Madness returned in May with Bill Pierce, Alex Elin and George Garzone. The sax men were accompanied by a star-studded rhythm section: Gray Sargent on guitar, Marshall Wood on bass and Bob Gullotti on drums.

mili bermejo dan greenspan We presented a Latin American Fiesta in May with the duo Mili Bermejo and bassist Dan Greenspan. They called their group Duo + 1 because it featured a very special collaboration with guitarist Mick Goodrick. Mick was a veteran of groups led by Gary Burton and Jack DeJohnette. At the time of the concert he was with Charlie Hayden’s Liberation Music Orchestra.

Salute to the American Songbook in July featured tunes by some of America’s

Reed Man

Reed Man
watercolor by Nancy Alimansky

most beloved composers: Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Hoagey Carmichael, Rodgers and Hart and more. Many of the songs had become an integral part of the jazz repertoire. This special salute featured Ray Santisi performing both solo piano and as part of the Alex Elin Quartet with Alex on tenor, Charlie LaChapelle on bass, and Bob Gullotti on drums.

Standard Deviation

Standard Deviation
photograph by Ruth Williams

Opening for Ray was the Standard Deviation, a big band led by alto saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo. The band had debuted in Boston the previous fall and had received critical acclaim.

The final concert in 1991 Reminiscin’ In Tempo featured the Herb Pomeroy Quartet. This marked the first of what would be a long list of appearances by Herb as headliner. Through the years I came to rely on him for suggesting interesting programming.  Equally important was Herb’s professionalism and his usual comment to me – “Don’t worry, Nancy. I’ll take care of it.” All I had to do was make one phone call to Herb and he did everything else- created an innovative program, organized the rest of band, made sure everyone turned up on time and gave the audience a superb evening of music.

Herb was a Gloucester native and, believe it or not, a one-time Harvard dentistry student!  He was a trumpeter/composer/arranger/ and educator extraordinaire. He had been a resident faculty member at Berklee since 1955 and a director ofjJazz ensembles at M.I.T. The Jazz Report did an up-close interview with him that will appear in another chapter. Herb was recognized as a interpreter of the music of Duke Ellington and his alter/ego/protégé Billie Strayhorn.

Herb Pomeroy Quartet

Herb Pomeroy Quartet
left to right Herb Pomeroy, Paul Schmeling, John Rapucci and Gray Sargent                           photograph by Ruth Williams

Reminiscin’ in Tempo explored the legacy of Ellington and Strayhorn as interpreted by Herb’s Quartet. Joining him was Gray Sargent on guitar, Paul Schmeling (then head of Berklee’s keyboard department) on piano and bassist John Rapucci, also on the Berklee faculty.

Where are They Now?

Jon Wheatley is now an associate professor at Berklee  in the guitar department.

Gray Sargent has been touring with Tony Bennett for many years. This video features Tony and Gray as a duo playing “The way you look tonight.”  After the first chorus the rest of the band chimes in. Had I known that Gray would no longer be performing locally on a regular basis, I would have asked Ed Williams to record every note he ever played at the concerts I produced.

Mick Goodrick is in the guitar department at Berklee.  In this interesting video he plays Jobim’s Meditation with Pat Metheny at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2005.

Charlie LaChapelle

Charlie LaChapelle
photograph by Ruth Williams

Charlie LaChapelle died Oct. 29, 1996, at age 52. Music was the most important thing in his life, surpassing financial success and even his own health. I used to joke that he lived in a phone booth because there were so many phone numbers listed after his name in my address book. He certainly didn’t lead a stable lifestyle. After his death I attended a benefit concert for his daughter, Monica, at the Willow Jazz Club in Somerville. Many friends and fellow musicians were there reflecting on the loss of a soulful and dear man.

After spending five years in Boston Andrew D’Angelo now lives in New York where he has become quite active within the downtown avant-garde community. He has key roles in bands like Human Feel, the Matt Wilson Quartet and Tyft.

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