Jazz CD Reviews

Danny D’Imperio and the Bloviators – Alcohol – V.S.O.P.

Bop heaven times two from Danny D’Imperio.

Published on November 15, 2011

Danny D’Imperio and the Bloviators – Alcohol –  V.S.O.P.

Danny D’Imperio – Danny D’Imperio and the Bloviators – Alcohol -  V.S.O.P.  122 (1991 & 1998), 72:40 ****½:

(Greg Gisbert, Andy Gravish, Chris Persad – trumpets; John Mosca, Early Anderson – trombones; Gary Pribek, Ralph Lalama, John Rohde, Joe Carello – saxophones; Hod O’Brien – piano; Steve Brown – guitar; “Queeg”- bass; Danny D’Imperio – drums)

Danny D’Imperio – Danny D’Imperio and the Upstate Burners – Live at the Rum Keg Lounge – V.S.O.P. 123 (June 3, 1979), 65:16 ****:

(Nick Brignola – baritone and alto sax; Frank Moser – alto sax; Rick Montalbano – piano; Barry Kiener – piano (“Oleo” only); Nick Molfese – bass; Danny D’Imperi – drums; Dolores Mancuso – vocals on “Broadway”)

Danny D’Imperio has a reputation as a hard-drinking wildman. To each his own… What is beyond question is that Danny is one hell of a bop band leader and drummer. His output for Peter Jacobson’s V.S.O.P Records goes back to 1988 and includes classic issues like Blues for Philly Joe.

Per Jacobson, Danny does not lead bands anymore. So it is a special occasion when unreleased material is made available such as on the recently released Live at the Rum Keg Lounge (Cortland, New York) from 1979; and 1991 & 1998 studio recordings on Alcohol. Both feature major artists as sidemen such as Greg Gisbert, Ralph Lalama, and Hod O’Brien on Alcohol; and the late baritone sax master, Nick Brignola, on the live set at the Rum Keg Lounge.

D’Imperio’s song selection falls straight from bop and hard bop masters like Charlie Parker, Horace Silver, Jimmy Heath, and Duke Pearson on Alcohol; and time honored standards from Sonny Rollins (“Airegin,” “Doxy,” and “Oleo”), and from the American Songbook, “Body and Soul,” I’ll Remember April” and “There Will Never Be Another You” from the live 1979 session.

These tracks could be done just going through the motions but with Danny they dig in and burn with soulful abandon. Danny’s early background included stints with the Glen Miller ghost band, and stays with Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich (when Buddy was ill) and Woody Herman.

These were all hard-driving jazz bands and D’Imperio went on to keep the flame lit.

From the 1979 live session, Nick Brignola is featured. The lounge is far from an ideal recording venue, and the fidelity is a little ragged. However, the bop spirit of Sonny Rollins is clearly evident, as first Frank Moser and then big Nick dig in. Rick Montalbano is an able accompanist on piano and Danny drives the bop beat double time. “Doxy” is hard bop manna, and the two saxes blend like gin and tonic. Frank Moser is impressive blowing with passion on the first alto solo.

“Body and Soul” gives a healthy dose of the magic that Brignola brought to so many recordings as both leader and lead sideman. He gets an extended solo here. His throaty big tone impresses much as Pepper Adams brought to the stand. “I’ll Remember April” gives Danny a chance to show his chops, and you can see why he could handle Buddy Rich’s band, while Buddy was out. Dolores Mancuso scats up a storm on “Broadway.”

The studio sessions on Alcohol have more polish and a crack bigger band. Danny shares his impressions of how he met the band members with pithy and concise comments on the liner notes. Trumpet powerhouse Greg Gisbert got his first exposure on Danny’s Blues for Philly Joe. 

“The Song is You” features the great bop pianist, Hod O’Brien, and also trombonist John Mosca. Mosca burns thru several choruses. “It’s Love” is one of my favorites, as its sweet horn blend is soothing for what ails you. Mel Rhyne wrote this great tune. Continuing in the same vein is Horace Silver’s “Room 608” and the brass section sets the tone before the sax section brings in bop overtones. Duke Pearson’s “Make It Good” is one of the lesser-known Pearson compositions, and Hod O’Brien makes it memorable, as does the horn ensemble blend.

Joe Farrell’s “Ultimate Rejection” is a cohesive big band number done old school. Bird’s “Blue Bird” gives Steve Brown on guitar a tasty solo before the alto solos followed by trumpet solos from Gravish  and Gisbert.  The ballad, “It’s Magic, ” features Gary Pribek on alto, and his lovely tone brings to mind Phil Woods. Jimmy Heath’s “Blue on Blue” has a super trumpet section flourish and cymbal mastery from D’Imperio.

Pour yourself a tall one, kick back, and enjoy Danny D. as he extols the pleasures of both the band stand and the barstool.

TrackList:
Rum Keg Lounge: Airegin, Doxy, There Will Never Be Another You, Body and Soul, I’ll Remember April, Broadway, Oleo
Alcohol: The Song is You, It’s Love, Room 608, Make It Good, Ultimate Rejection (tk. 1), Portrait of Stephanie, Blue Bird, It’s Magic, Blue on Blue, Ultimate Rejection (tk. 2)

—Jeff Krow




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