Maui resident and jazz musician Joe Caro got together other jazz artists from his old home for "A New York Minute."
A New York state of mind
Joe Caro entices talented pals to join him in Hawaii for two concerts
HAWAII audiences will get a taste of that New York music vibe this weekend when an all-star group mixes business with pleasure in a couple of concerts on Maui and Oahu.
A couple of phone calls from Maui resident Joe Caro to some well-placed friends eager for a trip out to the islands, and "A New York Minute" was born. On the bill are some top-notch concert and session musicians, including Caro, Randy Brecker, Tony Levin, Steve Ferrone, George Whitty and Ada Rovatti. While not exactly household names, they share a century's worth of work.
'A NEW YORK MINUTE'
Featuring: Jazz all-stars Randy Brecker, Tony Levin, Steve Ferrone, Joe Caro, George Whitty and Ada Rovatti
On Maui: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Tickets $22, $33 and $46. Call (808) 242-7469 or visit mauiarts.org.
On Oahu: 8 p.m. Saturday, Hawaii Theatre. Tickets $22, $32 and $42. Call 528-5306 or visit hawaiitheatre.com.
Before moving to Maui, Caro was an in-demand session guitarist in New York. Trumpeter Brecker, along with his late brother, saxophonist Michael Brecker, was integral to the development of fusion jazz. Levin made his name as a bassist with Peter Gabriel and veteran prog rockers King Crimson. Most people know of Ferrone's work behind the drum kit with the Average White Band and as a current Heartbreaker in Tom Petty's band. Whitty -- who has played with the Brecker brothers -- has also worked with Carlos Santana, Dave Matthews and Celine Dion. And Rovatti, Brecker's significant other, is a mainstay in the always busy New York jazz scene.
As Caro explained by phone from Maui, he moved to Hawaii a little more than a year ago to work on a land-development project. "I got a little homesick for my New York friends and New York music. So I thought, let me call some of my session friends to ask them if they'd like to play out here, and see what's doable.
"I used to do a lot of things in New York, where myself or Paul Shaffer would be music directors for special events, like the last Democratic National Convention there. Because of the ability of session musicians, we can basically do any gig with little or no rehearsals. We're all used to hitting the mark right at the moment, and play whatever chart is put in front of us."
THIS WEEKEND'S concerts will mark the first time these musicians play together in this particular combination.
"Michael (Brecker) was originally part of this lineup -- and we thought he was getting better," Caro said, but in January, he died from complications of leukemia stemming from the blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome. (His final album, "Pilgrimage," will be released posthumously on May 22.)
"He'll definitely be here in spirit," Caro said.
Randy Brecker, Michael's 61-year-old brother, said by phone last Friday that he thinks of Michael every day. "I miss playing with him. He was my right hand."
While he's also known as a fine flugelhorn player, Brecker says he'll be bringing only his custom-made trumpet with him, "with the electronic guitar effects, something I've used since the '70s."
On the Ferrone news front, the drummer wrote via e-mail that he's been recording with former Talking Head Jerry Harrison and Eric Thorngren as a band called Black & White Years. "The Heartbreakers are putting the finishing touches to the Peter Bogdanovich documentary on the band and live album that will be released (this) Christmas."
TONY LEVIN is interrupting a current tour with another well-known Hawaii resident, Todd Rundgren, for this weekend's concerts. For the distinctive bassist, it's his first gig in Hawaii since he was here with jazz flutist Herbie Mann in the '70s.
Via e-mail he recalled his past with the Brecker brothers. "Hah, Randy and Mike and I go way back, to a beast of a band, in NYC, called White Elephant. I was never sure how many members it was (hovered around 16) in the early '70s, (but the band was) pretty influential, and a lot of fun. Mostly the band did all night 'rehearsals' which were jams -- when we finally recorded, the appalled engineers had to edit down each song from half-hour takes where everyone soloed."
Levin is also known for playing the Chapman Stick -- a type of electric bass played with two hands tapping the fretboard -- and his own invention, Funk Fingers, basically two small sticks attached to the index and middle fingers.
"I'll be using the Stick and the Funk Fingers for sure, but I won't know exactly how things will go until we rehearse. But the musicianship is so high in this combo, it doesn't really matter to me what instruments I play, or even what the charts are -- it'll be a really good show for sure."
Everyone involved is bringing their own charts and compositions.
"We'll definitely do the Brecker Brothers hit, 'Some Skunk Funk,' and three or four other tunes of theirs," Caro said. "I'm bringing in some stuff I did with a band called the Real Deal. Even though Randy is the featured artist, everybody will get their turn. Tony's stuff rocks out a little bit more and Ada's music is more jazz-oriented.
"It's good to do this ... even though we're under some pressure, it'll still have a nice vibe to it. We're not just players who can play the right stuff, but we're guys who can jell together. We'll sit down, block it all out and we'll have fun with this."