by Linda Amiel Burns
Geoff Gallante, celebrated young jazz trumpeter, performed at The Iridium on 8/30/16 with his Quintet of superb musicians plus a surprise guest.
I was first introduced to Geoff Gallante at Ronny Whyte’s Midday Jazz at St. Peter’s several years back and have been following his career ever since. At age 12 he was already a seasoned veteran as an acclaimed soloist playing in arenas with concert bands, and orchestras around the country. The story has been told that Geoff found his brother’s trumpet at age 4 and there was no stopping him after that. The famed Chris Botti is quoted as saying, “I’ve never seen such a rare gift.” When I saw that Geoff was booked at The Iridium on August 30, 2016, I knew it was time to see him again.
The evening was billed as “Geoff Gallante’s Jazz Quintet” and the other four musicians were all masters of their craft (and decades older than Geoff who is about to turn 16). On the keyboard was Jim DeSalvo, Steve Varner on bass, Steve Johns on drums, and Mike Lee on Tenor Sax. The group opened the set with “Sweet and Lovely” and then the mellow “What’s New?” The show felt very spontaneous as each musician took turns playing extraordinary solos, and then the others all joined in. In most Jazz concerts, there is very little patter as the musicians want the music to speak for itself, but Geoff did mention that he had just returned from a two-week trip to Japan with the “Next Generation Jazz Orchestra” and it had been a wonderful experience. The Quintet then played a song called “Ugetsu” (which means fantasy in Japanese). Two of my favorite songs were included in the smooth jazz set, “Darn That Dream” and “Like Someone in Love” that were played to perfection.
Geoff was excited that one of his musical idols, Don Sickler, was in the audience and agreed to come up and play. Don is considered a jazz guru, someone who has brought jazz to another level. He founded Second Floor Music publishing in 1978 and re-imagined jazz publishing, bringing it to new forms. He played “Joy Spring” and it was thrilling to hear what is considered his historic arrangement. Don remained on the stage and joined the group in a terrific rendition of the jazz classic “Round Midnight.”
Geoff has an amazing career ahead of him as he is not only a remarkable and respected trumpeter, but also sings and plays the piano very well. However, at this performance, he concentrated on being a part of his Quintet for a splendid evening of jazz. To close the show, with the song “One By One” Geoff asked another musical prodigy to join him on stage, a young jazz pianist Sam Towse who, at 18, is just starting his freshman year at The Manhattan School of Music. All in all, it was a very satisfying musical evening and for jazz lovers, it doesn’t get much better than this!
For more info on Geoff Gallante and to see where he is playing next: www.GeoffGallante.com