Funk Trombone, Good Voodoo, Guitar Noir, New Voice

The first day of the 32nd edition of the M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest was all that in the headline above plus a shining sun, silvery moon, cheering thousands and a damned good beef quesadilla.

Trombone Shorty closes up the first night on the M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest at Onondaga Community College.

Trombone Shorty closes up the first night on the M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest at Onondaga Community College.

From night to day:

Headliner Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue drew the big free-admission crowd forward and into the aisles and dancing.

And that’s the way it should be.

Troy Andrews is a native of New Orleans, a young and accomplished musician who leads a band of four like-minded souls. Andrews not only blows a wicked trombone, but he sings with heart, plays trumpet with steam and silk and shakes a tambourine like he means it.

And move? Well, the women in the aisles were reacting, that’s for sure.

When Andrews was paying tribute to the great Louis Armstrong, he modernized “The Sunny Side of the Street” with funk and swamp, yesterday meeting today with a bit of tomorrow thrown in for good measure.

One sore point: Guitarist Pete Murano played his entire first solo with the only amplification coming from the side stage monitors. Andrews looked as if he absolutely loved Murano’s riffs. Later, with another solo turn with the proper level and sound for all to hear, Murano’s work was indeed outstanding.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, entertaining the crowd something like this.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, entertaining the crowd something like this.

Scotty Morris and the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy gang looked cool and hot in their swing suits.

Cool cats, sure. And their retro hip sound, 21 years as a band playing this horn-punched happy throwback music, had the crowd up. A certain manic segment danced up front, in the space between the front row and the stage. Back and forth. Twirling, jitter-bugging, having a good old time.

(An emcee had grabbed a microphone between sets and spread the word that founder and executive director Frank Malfitano had declared that the velvet ropes were down — OK, no velvet, but a barrier had separated hundreds of folding chairs representing VIP pass seating up front reserved for sponsors of the free-admission event. They were half-empty for the first two bands, and Malfitano hates for the national acts to look down from the stage to see prime seats without a fanny. So many fans had left their chairs-in-a-bag on the hill above and come on down.)

Hot, too, because, well, the sun was still out, and up on the stage, it obviously was very warm.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy made the most of the transition from day to night, keeping the energy level high. The Cab Calloway classic “Minnie the Moocher” had everybody singing along. When a stagehand came out with a note for Morris — set time was growing short is my guess — he did not look pleased. That means the band was having as good of a time as the crowd.

Mark Doyle, in the sunlight.

Mark Doyle, in the sunlight.

Syracuse veteran Mark Doyle and his Guitar Noir project put the early evening crowd under its spell.

With his core band of Edgar Pagan on bass, Terry Quill on guitar, William DiCosimo on keyboard and Josh Dekaney on drums and a string section of Ally Brown, Leila Dean and Shelby Dems on violin, Michelle Wilcox on viola and Kate Wilkinson on cello, Doyle’s guitar work sent out layer upon layer of magic and mystery.

His arrangements of classic pop and rock songs are pristine for strings, jazzy and mystical.

Roy Orbison, Phil Everly, Brian Wilson, the Stones, the Beatles … amazing writers and players passed or still here … all would be amazed and proud of how their compositions sound from the mind and hands of Mark Doyle, Syracuse Area Music Awards hall of famer.

High school vocalist Julia Goodwin opens the 32nd M&T Syracuse Jazz Festival.

High school vocalist Julia Goodwin opens the 32nd M&T Syracuse Jazz Festival.

The honor of opening this year’s festival Friday went to Julia Goodwin, a 16-year-old singer from Fayetteville-Manlius High School.

It’s been quite a year for her, the surprisingly cool teen told the early arriving crowd.

She won the national Michael Feinstein vocalist competition by singing from the Great American Songbook, and his been traveling the country with the star.

She’s competing on the NBC show “America’s Got Talent.”

Now, this, her first appearance at her hometown jazz fest.

And there will be more.

With her father, John Goodwin, on keyboard, and three of his friends who happen to be members of Benny Mardones’ Syracuse-based band the Hurricanes — Kevin Farrell on guitar, Todd Troubetaris on bass and John Mangicaro on drums — Goodwin delivered an opening set full of style, personality, charm and talent.

She mixed old and new, paying homage to the then and showing full knowledge of the now.

I want to call her style “new fashioned.”

“I used to jam with my father on this one when I was little,” she said, introducing her final song, a fitting one, Billy Joel’s classic “New York State of Mind.”

I chuckled and had to say to my dear wife Karen and my friends Dave and Sue. “She’s still little.”

The fest concludes with four bands today, starting with out-of-high school vocalist Nick Ziobro at 4:30 p.m. and continuing with big band Igor Butman & the Moscow State Jazz Orchestra featuring Fantine Pritoula at 6:30 p.m., guitarist Raul Midon at 8 p.m., and closing with headliner B.B. King & the B.B. King Orchestra around 9:30 p.m.

Then fireworks.

Here’s a bit of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s take on “Minnie the Moocher.”

Here’s how Trombone Shorty finishing up his Louis Armstrong tribute.

38 thoughts on “Funk Trombone, Good Voodoo, Guitar Noir, New Voice

  1. Of course, I had to perform improv this night. BBVD has always been on my mind since the 90’s, and the one time they play free in the area … I miss them. Yeah, they play at Turning Stone quite a bit, but this is Jazz Fest. Sigh.

    Trombone Shorty set looks and sounds like it was amazing.


  2. This is awesome how it was all put together with wonderful combinations of sounds, all Jazz, Funk and excitement! I love to dance, will get up and move, sometimes to other places where there already people moving to the rhythm. I also love festivals of all kinds, right up my alley… Smiles, Robin


  3. I would have twerked and shook and swayed and shimmied and embarrassed you to pieces. I would have invited myself to said shenanigans from down front though. Your review was fantastic, I’m glad it was so well received. I love your videos, the music is always so much fun. Nice production set, too. I miss working big shows like that.


  4. Great piece, Mark. Spectacular first day of Jazz Fest, and you captured the essence! Very much looking forward to tonight!


    • I was quite delighted to see you three Hurricanes as such an important part of day one, Kevin. Wonderful work with young and talented Julia, sir! Yes, all four acts turned up the heat. I’m looking forward to day two in a few hours!


      • Thank-you, Mark. We’ve been quite taken with her ever since she performed at one of Benny’s shows at Vernon Downs. She was 13, and her dad was pressed into service as a Hurricane for that gig. She’s an amazing talent, and very humble. It’s incredibly easy backing someone with her talent. See you up on the hill for Round 2!


  5. Loved ‘minnie the moocher’. The idea to let anyone in to the empty seats is a good one. It’s annoying when corporate seats are left empty. I remember it was like that at the 2012 Olympics and the army were bought in to fill the seats.


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