A duet for the ages; JCC jazz concert to feature Vince Giordano, Catherine Russell

BY MARLA COHEN

unnamedWhen Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks swing into Rockland County, they’ll conjure up an era of bathtub gin and speakeasies, beaded flappers and gangsters in spats.

And that’s just fine with Giordano, an accomplished Grammy-winning musician who is as much archivist as he is bandleader. To hear him tell it, jazz has an American story to tell and each generation can learn to retell it.

“It’s a wonderful language, it’s something like Shakespeare,” says Giordano, whose work has given a pitch-perfect period flair to HBO’s award-winning “Boardwalk Empire. “His work has been around for hundreds of years, but people have willingness and love to take Mr. Shakespeare’s words and recreate them. The same with Mozart, Brahms and Chopin…That applies to us. We shouldn’t just forget about this music.

“It should be played again and again and again.”

And play it he will at Rockland Community College’s Cultural Arts Center when JCC Rockland hosts him for the annual Chazen Jazz Concert on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at jccrockland.org and cost $25 for general admission and $75 for patrons, which includes reserve seating and a dessert reception. Sponsored by Nyack residents Jerry and Simona Chazen, the concert is meant to bring the best of the contemporary jazz scene to the county.

For Jerry Chazen, the event’s sponsor, the concert offers a chance for jazz lovers to whet their appetite for the kind of high-caliber performance they would take in at Jazz at Lincoln Center without traveling into Manhattan. And Giordano will offer a sharp contrast to last year’s headliner, Anat Cohen, with her contemporary, Brazilian-inflected sound.

“I am a big Vince Giordano believer. I love the music he plays,” says Chazen, a self-described lover of jazz spanning the 1920s through the 1940s. “I appreciate our jazz history and Vince is the best at it.”

Giordano developed his love of jazz listening to old albums on his grandparents’ Victrola. They would crank up the player and talk about their days of rolling up the rug to dance and sing along. The music of Al Jolson, the old Vaudeville routines, and that era’s syncopated sound captivated Giordano.

Giordano found not only a musical career, but also a calling. He collects and preserves old scores, having more than 60,000 in two houses in Brooklyn to his name. He finds enormous satisfaction and inspiration in trying to recreate the music of this bygone era. Through original arrangements and recordings, he and the musicians he works with are able to match phrasing, vibrato and give it a “certain show biz feel that they had in those early days of jazz,” he says.