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John Cocuzzi, vibraphone, piano, drums, vocals
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News Article – Denver, CO – October 2006
 

vibe mallets

This was our
first exposure to
JOHN COCUZZI,
and he really
knocked both me
and my wife, Lois, out...
Cocuzzi plays
good drums, too,
and his
vibraphone work
is beyond description.

— BOB LYNN

   

From "The Mississippi Rag" on-line

Jazz in Mountain Time:
Summit Jazz is Top-Level Music
By Bob Lynn

There's an old Irving Berlin song that says, "Not so far from here, there is a delightful atmosphere." I hum this tune every time I think about the Summit Jazz Party in Denver, CO, held this year September 30-October 2 [2006]. For the jazz fans in attendance, it was a "delightful atmosphere," and much more.

This is one festival-jazz party that has it all: Great individual artists, the best of jazz bands, a really comfortable setting, good hotel accommodations and a festival director who is a joy to watch. Juanita Greenwood, who has directed this event for over 20 years, gives the impression that she hears and enjoys every single note that is played. Even if she is engaged in something else, her eyes are always on the stage. This lady knows her jazz! And, her partner and co-director, Alan Frederickson runs a group called the Jazz Ensemble, which I consider one of the country's best exponents of traditional jazz as we know it to be. Frederickson and his group are always an intricate part of the Summit Jazz Party.

This year, the featured groups were the great Jim Cullum Jazz Band, the hot, hot Titan Hot 7, the marvelous Grand Dominion Jazxz Band and Alan Frederickson's Jazz Ensemble. In addition, the popular duo of Jeff and Anne Barnhart (Ivory and Gold), now a trio with the addition of that fine percussionist Danny Coots, were on board for each of the four sets.

And, if that weren't enough, a really sensational group of all-stars was present: Allan Vaché on clarinet; JOHN COCUZZI on vibes, piano and drums; Colin Gieg on bass; Jeff Hamilton on drums, and the inimitable Jeff Barnhart on piano. Together they were magnificent! Occasionally they joined one of the groups as individual guests. Vaché joined the Jim Cullum Band on the Saturday night set for a super rendition of "I Would Do Most Anything For You" and "New Orleans." He and JOHN COCUZZI came onto the Titan Hot 7 stand to join with Bob Draga in hot renditions of "Minor Swing" and "I'm Confessin'."

This was our first exposure of JOHN COCUZZI and he really knocked both my wife, Lois, and I out. He sang quite well, too, on tunes like "Everybody Loves My Baby," and he backed Vaché on piano on the old Cole Porter tune "It's All Right With Me." He and Vaché are Cole Porter fans and featured several of his compositions during the various sets. Cocuzzi plays good drums, too, and his vibraphone work is beyond description.

As far as drummers go, Jeff Hamilton who now resides here in Scottsdale, was absolutely sensational; Other drummers in the show were equally entertaining. Mike Kameires, the young drummer with the Jim Cullum Band has really improved year after year. His solo on the old Jelly Roll Morton tune, "Pep" was a great closer on one of the band's sets. And, Danny Coots proved that he is one of the most sensitive and talented drummers around today.

Other musicians were impressive. Bob Jackson, trumpeter and Gerry Green, reedman with the Grand Dominion played some hot solos. Jim Cullum was terrific as a soloist and proved that his band is really one of the best jazz groups going today. His clarinetist, Ron Hockett, need not take a back seat to anyone else playing that instrument. Alan Frederickson is, indeed, one of the finest dixieland trombonists around and Jim Armstrong plays well. His vocals are without equal.

Finally, on Sunday morning, the Dry Creek Dixie Dawgs, a local high school group that appears every year at the Summit, blew the house apart with their program. To hear them playing "The Chant" by Jelly Roll Morton made my day.

Next year, the Summit Jazz Foundation Party 2007 will be held Sept. 28-29-30. Mark your calendars now, call for your reservations and we'll see you there.

 

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