A Baritone Sax Summit was held on the last day in February to end
baritone veteran Cecil Payne's engagement at the SereNgeti Ballroom
in Detroit. It was a wonderful event to top off the visit by one of
the legendary players from Dizzy Gillespie's big band of the forties.
The baritonists who joined Payne on stage were Beans Bowles, Dick Lazon,
Larry Nozero, Ben Pruitt and Vickie Alexander.
Things started off with each of the local
baritonists playing alone with the weekend's rhythm section: Gary
Schunk on piano, Marcus Belgrave, Jr., on bass and George Davidson on
drums. I was particularly taken with Larry Nozero's version of "Laura,"
which included a wonderful coda. Payne came on stage to play with his
cousin, Marcus Belgrave (Sr.), who was his usual irrepressible self
on trumpet. Payne's beautiful and soulful playing was a delight.
The quintet walked comfortably through "All the Things You Are" and
"Lady Be Good" before letting all the baritonists come back together
for the big blow out on "Moon Boogie." It was great fun to hear six
baritone saxophones swinging together and the excitement in the sizable
audience was palpable. For the next blowout the SereNgeti should have
five tenorists when Teddy Edwards comes to town!