Arts & Culture

Jazz show energizes older generation

Staff Writer
Monday, February 6, 2012

Rhode Island jazz fans packed the Grant Recital Hall Sunday afternoon to hear world-renowned trombonist and Rhode Island native George Masso jam out with Paul Nagel on piano, Marty Ballou on bass, Steve DeConti on guitar, Bruce Abbott on saxophone and Paul Mason, teaching associate in the music department, on drums.

This concert marked the first time all six gentlemen performed together on the same stage.

The hall was filled to capacity with the older generation, though there were also Brown students sprinkled throughout the room. One older gentleman, Ernie Abbott, fiddled with an outdated tape recorder to document the concert. He proudly bragged that he was here to see his uncle play saxophone, joking with audience members that Bruce Abbott is his uncle, even if only six months older.

The concert began with the easygoing melody “There Is No Greater Love than the One I Have for You.” Masso, in his blue tweed blazer, grew red as he played his trombone. Alongside him, Abbott listened intently, feeling the emotion of the song as he shook his head and pounded his foot with his eyes closed.

Throughout the musical numbers, the spotlight was frequently placed on Masso and Abbott ­— whose friendship has spanned 25 years, Masso told the audience. The quietest points of the concert were during the bass features. Ballou reached his hands along his bass and rocked the instrument side to side with closed eyes as he played.

The audience remained enthralled throughout the performance. Heads never stopped bobbing, and bodies kept swaying. Masso said it is a pleasure to perform for an audience when he can see “faces that are smiling and feet that are tapping.”

The most vibrant song, “Loose Walk,” was filled with energy. Audience members were bouncing in their seats and yelling in excitement throughout the song. The moment when Mason hit the final percussion note, a woman in the fourth row jumped out of her seat, put both thumbs up in the air and yelled, “Yeah!”

Mason said he is in the process of filming a documentary about Masso’s life. The idea came about when they were sharing a round of drinks, Mason said. “These stories have to be told,” he added.

For their finale, the graying group played “Only Trust Your Heart.” The song finished as suddenly as it began and was met with a complete standing ovation.

Dorothy Testa, who recently retired from the Admission Office after 33 years, described the performance as “perfectly put together.” Phyliss Pechieco, who attended the event with Testa, said “This is jazz,” pointing towards the stage.