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Concert Review: Tim Coakley Jazz Show 35th Anniversary @ The Linda, 11/12/2022

Tim Coakley Fest at WAMC shares traditional tunes, warm vibes

ALBANY — When WAMC began airing “The Tim Coakley Jazz Show,” Louis Armstrong had just received his first trumpet and Jelly Roll Morton had not yet claimed he invented jazz.

Wait, no – not COMPLETELY the a long time ago.

Veteran drummer, DJ, concert promoter, scene catalyst and staunch keeper of the traditional jazz flame, Coakley began broadcasting jazz records some 35 years ago, when jazz records were still vinyl.

As Coakley recalled in an interview that aired as I drove to WAMC’s The Linda on Saturday afternoon to celebrate Coakley’s long vibrant life, he first recorded his weekly show on a tape recorder. Saturday’s celebration was very, very lively as Coakley played drums in both bands performing before an open jam session.

Tim Coakley (photo by Michael Hocha Nadel)

Bill McCann moderated the show as well as a lavish buffet. He introduced the artists with the light-hearted exhortation that anyone unmoved by the music should seek out immediately — “and I mean instantly– medical attention. McCann actually started his own jazz radio love fest, The Saturday Morning Edition of Jazz, on WCDB two years before Coakley first DJed at WAMC. McCann is Vice President of A Place for Jazz (also in the same Founded year), where Coakley succeeded founding President Butch Conn, who in turn was succeeded by Al Brooks.

Confiding in on some of Coakley’s favorites and enthusiasms, McCann mentioned that the drummer favored gingerbread cookies; So pianist Colleen Pratt brought Ginger Snaps on stage to share.

All of the interlocking relationships in this scene suggest a friendly vibe, and the afternoon felt like a jazz club in the warm, welcoming sense of the word.

Coakley’s longest lasting appearance here since arriving from Utica was with the Riverboat Jazz Band of the late, great clarinettist Skip Parsons. Probably the best exponent of traditional jazz in the area – formerly known everywhere as Dixieland but in New Orleans whose musicians invented it – they played at Albany’s Fountain Bar for almost 50 years.

A lively echo of this band kicked off Saturday, Coakley on drums alongside bassist Pete Toigo behind a front line of banjoist Crick Diefendorf, clarinetist Ron Joseph, trombonist Ken Olsen and trumpeter vocalist Rich Downs. While some bassists “shifted” their lines, Toigo strutted, weaving beats with Coakley to propulsive effect.

Pete Toigo (photo by Michael Hocha Nadel)

They honored both Coakley and their late founder, and pulled off that traditional jazz magic trick of making dense music sound easy by leaving spaces for each other. This veteran band’s close friends also revealed that tunes are often cousins. After Hoagie Carmichael’s “Riverboat Shuffle” (the band’s theme song) set the table, “Tishomingo Blues” was related to “Ain’t Misbehavin” and “New Orleans” was vaguely reminiscent of “Ain’t I Good to You”.

Downs did most of the vocals, expertly using mutes to change his trumpet sound while each got solo time; The book ended with spirited opening statements and codas that had all hands on deck. In “Make Me Down a Pallet on the Floor,” sung by Diefendorf, Coakley himself performed solo, damn nimble for a beat master of any age.

Wavering a tightly worded lyric sheet, Downs warned that he’d never sung it before, warning the crowd that he might screw up the (many!) words of “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me.” In fact, the wheels fell off; but after a reboot that worked, they climbed back up together, proving that everyone plays better after a mistake. Their next number, “At the Jazz Band Ball,” hit hot and happy with its tricky hesitation beat.

A what’s next conference settled on a final two-song plan — Coakley quipped “That’s enough for me” — of “I’m Satisfied with My Gal” and Bix’s “Louisiana,” both with playful guts and long-serving confidence were played.

Skip Parsons Memorial Band (photo by Michael Hocha Nadel)

After a pause, pianist Peg Delaney introduced the second set with “The Cat Walk,” the closing theme of Coakley’s WAMC jazz show on Saturday night, while Coakley beamed behind the drums.

She took the stage fresh from the conclusion of the season at A Place for Jazz with a triumphant big band show; Her combo on Saturday consisted of big band tenor saxophonist Jim Corigliano and trumpeter Steve Horowitz, as well as what she said is “the guy I sleep with,” bassist husband Bill Delaney.

Peg Delaney and Band (Photo by Michael Hocha Nadel)

As usual, she spiced up her small band offering with singers. First Colleen Pratt skated around with the upbeat “All of Me,” then Patti reluctantly performed “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “S’Wonderful” to Melita before cranking up “This Joint Jumps.”

Jeanne O’Connor followed, moving Coakley to tears — though he didn’t miss a beat — in a tender “Once Upon A Time,” with Corigliano breathing the whole Stan Getz. With “I Love You Madly” she lightened the mood from elegiac to energetic.

Pratt returned to lead the mid-slow bossa “I Wish You Love” and the livelier “That’s All” — Corigliano smiled at her as she skated at the end.

Colleen Pratt (photo by Michael Hocha Nadel)

Host McCann then called fans to the buffet table and players to the stage for a jam with players we’d previously seen in the two bands, as well as new faces including drummer David Cavanaugh, washboard-playing Jerry Gordon, and singer Maggie McDougal.

As I left to attend another show – Dende Macedo in Schenectady – they combine in Lady Be Good, air filled with sizzling sound and a warm sense of gratitude for an enduring hero of the regional jazz scene.

Photo gallery by Michael Hocha Nadel

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