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SB Jazz and The Yankee Wailers
updated: Apr 01, 2014, 1:30 PM

By Mark McDonald

The Yankee Wailers with Wally Holmes rocked SOhO Music Club last Sunday with a kaleidoscope of musical interpretations and original numbers, including classic jazz and boogie woogie. The SB Jazz Society presented this group of well-seasoned musicians that included exceptional playing from professional sax and clarinet man, John Bainbridge, who played with the Johnny Carson band for many years. His Memories of You blended mellow tones and punctuating clarinet squeaks.
Backup men included, Vinnie Armstrong on piano who was introduced has having the fastest hands in the business, Don Hook on drums with his compact playing, including the "Cal-Cal Boogie" style with rattling inflections, and Clarence Robinson who played with a light, signature touch on the stand-up bass and he played sitting on a high red wooden chair which seemed to add to the style.

Band leader and trumpet player, Wally Holmes who ran the Sweet and Hot Jazz Festival in LA for years brought his smooth, spot-on, economical style to each tune, matching notes with Bainbridge at times and also allowing each musician his own spotlight moments. Going outside the music box, he switched style and played the Song Flute, a small, child-like, plastic flute, to a Latin beat that roused the house. He also introduced many in his audience to Solfeggio style singing which uses only the tonic scale, Do-Re-Me…, as lyrics.

Interspersed with the tunes, he told how musicians, like Fats Waller, were often unaware their music had more monetary value than they realized. He said Waller would write and play one of his brand new, original songs during a live show. Then he would sell it to hustlers who paid him $50 for it. These thieves would sometimes drive all night to the copyright office and claim ownership of the song to reap the profits.
In a personal experience, Wally said he wrote "It's A Good Life" which Frank Sinatra was interested in (but did not use) and the next thing he knew, he heard Tony Bennett singing "The Good Life."
Wife and singer, Ava DuPree joined the group and pumped up the show with her soulful singing, which included a medley of classic tunes like Pack Up All Your Cares and Woes, and Body and Soul.
The good ole' days were back again as this band of energetic and skillful, pros presented jazz members, family and friends with a smooth and mellow musical Sunday afternoon.

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