Review: Gene Krupa Centenary Concert
Review from our Cadogan Hall London concert - a great theatre show for jazz festivals and music clubs around the world.
Sparkling Nostalgia In Gene Krupa Concert -
By Jack Massarik, Evening Standard
Chicagoan Gene Krupa (born 1909, died 1973) was Hollywood’s idea of a jazz drummer. Dashing and good-looking, he walloped the kit with gusto and loved to drive roaring big bands. His heyday, with Benny Goodman, was more than 70 years ago, yet his centenary filled this handsome hall.
Pete Long’s versatile 16-piece band, led for the night by drummer Richard Pite, were ready. In double-breasted Thirties jackets of two-tone grey, apart from Pite (buff) and Long (claret), they delivered Krupa hits — China Boy, Big Noise from Winnetka, Sing Sing Sing — perfectly in period, solos and all.
“We’re doing this because I just bought the genekrupa.com website for £9 from a man I met in a pub,” joked Pite. Yet only a Krupa devotee could have juggled his sticks so expertly during drumbreaks and kept time so quaintly on a choked hi-hat with four bass-drum beats to the bar. But the big-band arrangements, with snappy section-work and brassy “pow” trumpet punctuations, sounded remarkably fresh. The best (Drum Boogie, Let Me Off Uptown) featured tall, elegant singer Joan Viskant and diminutive, ebullient trumpeter Rico Tomasso, reprising the partnership of Anita O’Day and Roy Eldridge, visually and musically. Sparkling nostalgia.