Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Magic Night at Chico's House of Jazz

What are your expectations when you leave for a night out at a sophisticated jazz club?
You may secretly hope the music won't inhibit quiet conversation, that your ear drums won't fall victim to an innovative artist a little too over the top, but rarely are you prepared for a seasoned flautist with a vibrant stage presence -- caught by surprise by a brave young visitor.
        But that's what we encountered Saturday night at Chico's House of Jazz, 631 Lake Avenue, in Asbury Park, where music legend Dave Valentin was holding court with his excellent combo, teasing, flirting, taking his fans to new heights, until he accepted a challenge from someone in the audience. "You want to play?" he said. "Then get up here."
       That's when a tall boy in a pencil straight dark suit weaved his way to the stage and took up his flute next to Valentin. An amazingly polite but confident, Sam Tobias, a 17 year-old high school senior from Matawan, immediately eased into the set. He gradually learned how to mimic then match Valentin's playful musical antics, floating notes up and down his identical looking instrument, as Valentin did, ending riffs with flourishes that might've stumped even a skilled musician. Sam, as he prefers to be called, "just followed" Valentin's "excellent directions."
     Valentin showed his chops by letting his surprise and delight register with every twist and zip his guest delivered, occasionally feigning annoyance, and at times challenging him. Eventually Valentin, confident the boy was as good as 'his press', surrendered the stage to the young man, who brought the capacity crowd to its feet, cheering. The set ended with the audience again on its feet this time for two classy guys at opposite ends of a super-talented career curve.
They left behind very lucky and satisfied listeners!   

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