1992 Sparkles With Vocalists and Art

jazz logo  We led off in March with An evening with Rebecca Parris.”Not since 1983 had I presented Rebecca in a small setting. She was usually a headliner at the all-day summer festivals. I never asked her which type of setting she preferred, but I personally liked to hear her in a smaller room. The publication Jazziz had recently stated “This lady (Rebecca) has everything it takes to go to the very top of her profession.” I hired Paul Broadnax to accompany her as pianist/vocalist.

Parris and Broadnax

Paul Broadnax, Rebecca Parris, Peter Kontrimas behind on bass
photograph by Ruth Williams

This was only Paul’s second appearance for Highland Jazz but as time went on, he would become extremely popular with the audience – always giving his best at every performance.  Peter Kontrimas, who had a weekly gig with Paul, played bass that evening.

Donna Byrne

Donna Byrne
photograph by Ruth Williams

Fascinating Rhythm in April featured Donna Byrne and the music of George Gershwin.  You could probably schedule a concert to last for two to three days non-stop and still not have enough time to play all of Gershwin. He contributed hundreds of  tunes to the American Song Book that have become an integral part of the jazz repertoire. Accompanying Donna on piano was Alex Elin, one of those musicians who had mastered two diverse instruments- tenor sax and piano. At the time of the concert he had been a faculty member of the keyboard department at Berklee for 15 years. He was joined by bassist Marshall Wood and drummer Bob Gullotti.

“Jazz Guitar Night” with Gray Sargent and Jon Wheatley had been such a success the year before that I invited them back in May. They mesmerized the audience again. This time Marshall Wood was on bass and Jim Gwin on drums. Jim was a new addition to Highland Jazz but he, too, would become a familiar face in the future.

Since “Tenor Madness” had attracted a large audience every time we presented it, I suggested to Herb Pomeroy that he organize a “Trumpet Madness” for September. He thought it was a good idea and that three trumpeters would enjoy the challenge of playing with each other.


Herb Pomeroy listens to Greg Hopkins’ solo
photograph by Ruth Williams

He invited Greg Hopkins and Paul Fontaine to join him. Each had led  his own band, had a particular style and an impressive list of recordings. I wasn’t  sure how the three of them would gel but it turned out to be an exciting evening. And as usual Herb was right – I didn’t have to worry about a thing.

In October “Women in Jazz” came to Pine Manor in the form of a hot quintet named Bougainvillea. The members included Jeanette Muzima on vibes, Carolyn Castellano on drums, Julie Sussman on alto sax, Ruth Mendelson on electric bass, Janet Scriber on percussion and Molly Ruggles on piano, synthesizer and bells.

Bougainvillea had been voted best combo over 27 other groups from the U.S. and Brazil at the 5th Annual Kansas City Women’s Jazz Festival. The ensemble was named for a vine with beautiful flowers that had the persistence and strength to tear down walls- a good name for an all-woman jazz band.

This event attracted quite a few gay couples. I assumed they came out in support of an all-woman band. I hoped they would return for another concert, once they had experienced a event in the intimate venue of the Founders Room. This didn’t happen and taught me something important. Many people will only come to hear a particular musician or group; they “follow” that musician or band no unlike “the followers” of certain rock bands. These same people won’t come to hear anybody else. Their allegiance is just that narrow. I, on the other hand, assumed that if someone enjoyed jazz he or she would be interested enough in the music to want to hear a variety of bands. It is true that Highland Jazz had a core loyal following that came to many concerts every year. My challenge was to enlarge that core in order to keep the organization afloat.

1992 ended with a reprieve of “Color Me Jazz.”   The Paul Broadnax Quartet opened the concert with Paul on piano and vocals, Peter Bodge on drums, Marshall Wood on bass and special guest, Lou Colombo, on trumpet.


Peter Bodge wood cut. Left to right Peter Bodge, Lou Columbo, Marshall Wood, Paul Broadnax
photograph by Ruth Williams

Peter Bodge was another musician who was also a visual artist. He  used linoleum blocks to create black and white portraits of famous jazz musicians. At the time of the concert Peter was a long-time resident of Newburyport and had taught art at Pentucket Regional High School in West Newbury for 18 years.  His original images of Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie and Lester Young were part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute.

As in the first “Color Me Jazz” event we projected Peter’s work on a screen during the first set.

The second set featured the Alex Elin Quintet with Alex on tenor, and special guest, Herb Pomeroy, on trumpet. The rhythm section consisted of guitarist Gray Sargent, drummer Bob Gullotti and bassist Marshall Wood.  During this set we projected more than 35 of Alex’s landscapes and seascapes. This photo shows Alex looking up one of his paintings during Herb’s solo. I even showed a few of my own watercolors during intermission.


Left to right Joe Hunt, Herb Pomeroy, Gray Sargent, Marshall Wood, Alex Elin
photograph by Ruth Williams

Alimansky intermission

Nancy Alimansky and watercolor sketch at intermission
photograph by Ruth Williams

Eric Jackson from WGBH-FM was the MC for the evening.  The jazz quiz that evening had questions about art, music and tunes with colors in the title.


“Color Me Jazz” quiz

Since Pine Manor is located in Brookline I had applied for and received a grant from the Brookline Arts Lottery Council to help defray the costs of renting the large hall at the college.

Where are they now?

Here is the most recent information I could find about the leader of Bougainvillea, Jeanette Muzima.

Peter Bodge is still active in music and also in art. His web site describes him as jazz artist, musician and historian and details his current activities.

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