80.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, May 29, 2024


What is a Mario Cononge? Great piano jazz, that's what!
My wife spent a late afternoon with one of her extended students and we were running late. We have been major supporters of the University's Reichhold Theater since its inception when out neighbor installed the Klieg lights and told us the facility was really something special. Arriving at the parking lot half an hour into the performance we were shocked at the lack of cars. The management, however, had overcome the problems of the evening and surrounded the ensemble of performers with chairs on the stage bringing the few spectators into the closest possible harmony.
Picking our way to a couple of seats in the dark, we were aware of pleasant sounds coming from what appeared to be a cast off from the streets of Marseilles banging away at the drums, the twin brother of my Cairo taxi driver plunking a four string bass and a nappy headed piano player running his fingers around the keys of the Universitys grand piano. As we found our seats, the drummer began a solo set which sounded like certain death for all five of his skins B not to mention serious crumpling of his cymbals.
It soon became apparent this Marseilles street urchin was simply not going to give up and was determined to render damage to his instruments. The word VERVE comes to mind. The next number was a relatively tame rendition of a cutesy lovey dovey exchange with a few lyrics and more piano notes, bass strumming and drum rolls.
Finally, the trio was warmed up. The next number started our as a rather nice reggae; then became a rip roaring, full throttle jazz rendition. I mean the man simply ripped the University's staid grand apart and rung out every inch of it. Needless to say, we were treated to many more examples of superb drumming and technically amazing piano segments.
There is no question. Mr. Mario Canonge is into his music. He sits back on his piano stool and massages the keyboard like it is as extension of his own. Thierry Fanfant, my Egyptian taxi driver's twin, played his four string bass guitar like it was a lead instrument. Finally, Mr. Jean- Philippe Fanfan tried his best to beat his five drums, three cymbals, block and bell into submission. The final word from the audience was ENCORE!
Paul Oscher was sold out at Tillet's Wednesday and on St. John Thursday. Friday night he was back at Tillet's. Saturday night at the Reichhold is the Daniel Perez Trio followed by Sosa/ Santos Duo Sunday. Monday, of course, is BeachJam ‘99 at Magen's Bay featuring Tito Puente.
Gadzooks! What a weekend! After this lead in, you couldn't pay me to miss the BeachJam.

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