The Mark Pradella Band – Sunday January 24 2021

Sunday afternoon sessions at the Brisbane Jazz Club are proving to be very popular, and they regularly attract a Full House. Performances like today will certainly tell you why!!

Treating us to an afternoon of exciting Jazz/Funk instrumentals and personality-filled vocal numbers, The Mark Pradella Band featured:

  • Band leader/arranger Mark on tenor, alto and soprano sax and clarinet…and, briefly, the EWI – Electronic Wind Instrument.
  • Mark’s long-time collaborators…
  • Sammy Pace on keys, under his soft black cap.
  • Ian Townson on percussion…with his unmissable Jack Daniels congas and a table full of shakers and noise makers.
  • Three of Mark’s current and/or former students…
  • Benny Wood on guitar.
  • Hal Chandler on electric bass.
  • Connor Townson on drums.

Talented father and son combo, drummer/percussionists, Ian and Connor Townson, seamlessly swapped spots occasionally. And across the afternoon, Mark introduced several Special Guests:

  • The Cool Dude. The Man In Black. Vocalist, Peter Vance, with whom Mark shares an obvious brothers-in-music understanding and an effervescent camaraderie on stage.
  • Tom Henderson on trombone.
  • Marcus Rozenberg on tenor sax.
  • Matt Teakle on electric bass.

All these guys love playing here, but for Mark, who is Head of Wood Wind and Bands at St Peters Lutheran College in Indooroopilly, his connection to the Brisbane Jazz Club goes back a long way.

Having started coming to the Club as youngster, he eventually realised his childhood ambition to play here….which, of course, he now does regularly!! And he takes great pleasure and pride in teaching and introducing his students to the appreciative audiences at Brisbane’s Home of Live Jazz!!

And what an afternoon of quality Jazz they gave us today!!

Mark’s classy arrangements were on display across a range of styles, with  instrumental and vocal numbers nicely distributed across two sets.

Among the instrumentals were touches of Pat Metheny, Spyra Gyra and Duke Ellington…and a couple of left-field tunes such as Eddie Harris’ ‘Cold Duck Time’ and Pee Wee Ellis’, ‘The Chicken’.

And neither Nat King Cole nor Eva Cassidy would have recognised a memorable swinging, up tempo, instrumental version of ‘Autumn Leaves’, with Mark on the clarinet.

Their performance of the 1947 classic, ‘Green Dolphin Street’, was just one outstanding example of the combined talent and power of these musicians.

And while all the guys had their instruments singing, vocalist Peter Vance’s voice, style, energy and enthusiasm were right at home, as he regularly stepped up to the mic with lush, velvety vocals on songs such as ‘Nature Boy’, ‘Our Love Is Here To Stay’, ‘You Can’t Take That Away From Me’…and ‘The Two of Us’, a performance which spot-lighted the powerful on-stage connection between Peter and Mark.

The band sent us on our way with a roar and a swing in our step, to The Doobie Brothers’ ‘Taking It To The Streets’ and an encore of a smooth, swinging version of Bobby Troup’s ‘Route 66’.

So, thank you, all ten of you talented musicians, for bringing your mini-Big Band sound to the Brisbane Jazz Club.

Thank you for all the Swing, the Blues, the Ballads, the Funk, the Fusion, and for every one of those ear-catching solos.

And thank you too, for the sense of joy that you brought to our stage; the memorable ‘Happy Sunday’ vibe, which the audience felt, embraced and enthusiastically applauded.

The range of ages and skills was impressive too, and with all of those youngsters on board, the future of this music at the Brisbane Jazz Club is assured!!

Alan Smith

Brisbane Jazz Club