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Dave Ameele at the Westin

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This is a tight sounding band. Dave Ameele (pronounced like family) brought out some nice sounding cats to the LAX Westin last week. Larry Koonse, the melodic specialist is a key element to the beautiful sound. The front line of Ron Stout on trumpet, Rob Lockhart on tenor and Bruce Babad on alto blend together like they have been playing together for years but, individually lay down some real tasteful and delicious solos. I especially like their sound on the ballads. You should have heard when the line switched to two alto flutes and flugelhorn, absolutely marvelous!

Dave keeps the time nice and even giving the guys plenty of room to stretch, breathe and create some beautiful voicing in their tunes. Dave, brave soul that he is, has just recovered from eye surgery and is right back up in the saddle swing the sticks and leading his group through some great tunes. Everything from “Dolphin Dance” to Sergio Mendez’s, “Too Many Stars”.

The band originally scheduled as a quartet morphs from quartet to sextet as Dave sees fit. Everyone plays together so well and the solos are fantastic. Jeff DeAngelo is a joy to listen to on bass and he and Dave are solid in the simplicity of the rhythm.

During the break the USC students are back and this time lead by their musical director Bruce Eskovitz. Bruce played tenor with Matt Rubin on trumpet, Perry Smith on guitar, JP Maramba on bass and Zach Harmon on the drums. They proceeded to play a couple of short but sweet sets of standards and ballads. USC is pumping out some excellent musicians. All of the students who have come to play show up with phenomenal skills and a level of professional comfort like that of old pros!

Dave comes back for the second set and opens with a Wayne Shorter classic, “One by One” recorded by Art Blakey and the cats back in the day. Anyone who chooses to play a Wayne Shorter tune for their set is all right with me! He invited Celia La to come up and sing a few tunes. She is from San Diego and went to the Berkley School of Music. She not only has a sweet voice but, also plays piano and has studied with Bill Cunliff and Tamir Hendelman. On the very next day, she took off to NYC to hang with Danny Grisett and to get immersed in the jazz scene in NYC, a pilgrimage that all serious jazz musicians should endure in their musical lifetime. You can check out what is happening with her and her jazz adventures at www.celiala.com

Dave used to be roommates with Bill Cunliff when he first came to Los Angeles. I’m sure that they made great music together. He now spends his time teaching high school players and gigin’. He has a new disc out appropriately titled, “Good Stuff”. Check it out because I am sure that it is!

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LeRoy Downs

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