Suds & swing !

Russ Tarby, Staff Writer 12/27/06More articles
For the past 11 years, the Salt City Jazz Collective has been keeping the big band tradition alive in Syracuse with its monthly gigs at the Syracuse Suds Factory, occasional festival appearances and a swinging live disc, "Salt City Jazz Live!"
Free show Jan. 3
"Bands like this usually don’t last very long," wrote founder John Laverty wrote in the CD's liner notes. "Almost always, one of three things happens: the gigs are a drag; there is bad leadership; the book is not very good. Happily, the Salt City Jazz Collective’s gigs are never a drag."
The Collective performs -- with guest vocalist Cookie Coogan -- from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday Jan. 3, at Syracuse Suds Factory, located on the corner of Walton and South Clinton streets, in Armory Square, downtown. Admission is free; 471-2253.
The 16-piece big band is rooted in a traditional-jazz mindset, yet has developed its own decidedly contemporary sound. Compositions by jazz icons such as Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey are routinely performed alongside original charts by two of the Collective's own members.
And the band's section work and solo efforts are both outstanding!
'Every gig's special'
When (then-drummer Brian Kendrick) and I put the band together, we decided the band would perform on a limited basis, the idea being to keep the energy-level high and that every gig would be something special." Laverty revealed.
Its repertoire also sets the Salt City Jazz Collective apart from other large jazz ensembles.
"We have a book containing compositions from every major big band, and we have our own repertoire," Laverty noted. "With composers Joe Riposo and Angelo Candela (who play sax and trombone respectively), we have a one-two punch that few big bands anywhere have."
On both the disc and in live performance, Riposo and Candela's compositions and arrangements are showcased along with their impressive solo instrumental work.
The Collective performs under the direction of lead trombonist Joe Colombo, who has conducted the group since 1998.
"In addition to being a great trombone soloist, he books the gigs and sets the rehearsal schedule," Laverty noted. "As a result of Joe’s behind-the-scenes work, the band has risen to a whole new level."
Talented personnel
Band members include trumpeters Steve Carney, Jeff Stockham and Rob Robson; trombonists Joe Colombo, Angelo Candela, Mark Anderson and Jim Lamica; saxophonists Joe Riposo, John Delia, Jim Spadafore, Bob Cesari and Paul DiPastena; pianist Tom Witkowski, bassist Kevin Dorsey; and drummers Tom Klein and Tom Killian.
Since 1995, the Collective has worked closely with Syracuse Suds' owner, Al Smith, who emerged as the group's biggest fan and patron.
Without Smith's backing the live disc released in 2000 might never have materialized

"From the beginning, Al has supported us by not only providing a very hip venue in which to perform," Lavery pointed out, "but also by letting us develop our own style of performance."
For band info, visit

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