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Tim Onasch, Publicity, PRJC

On Saturday, May 16, the PRJC held its most recent monthly special. And, boy, was it ever special! For the third year in a row, the PRJC invited Neville Dickie to perform for the club. Just who is this individual, you may ask? Why, he is the #1 stride pianist in all of the United Kingdom and definitely one of the top such pianists in all of Europe! As many of you may know, Neville has delighted audiences all over the globe for more than 5 decades now. He has been featured on the BBC a countless number of times during this period. So, when Neville asked This Writer if the PRJC would like to have him do a return engagement, I enthusiastically said "Yes"!


   For the third year in a row as well, Neville would be backed up by our own prestigious Conservatory Classic Jazz Band (to be known as CCJB from here on). This exceptional trad jazz ensemble needs no formal introduction to most of us PRJC folks, as it has been entertaining audiences for nearly two decades now. Its regular monthly venue is Normandie Farm and the club has also featured the CCJB at a number of monthly specials over the years. Fronted by leader and superior horn-player, Dave Robinson, the rest of the musicians include Brian Priebe on trombone, Gary Gregg on reeds, Dan Hall on bass, Jeff Reynolds on banjo/guitar, and Anders Eliasson on drums. On vocals, the CCJB proudly offers the ever-popular Lena Seikaly whose star continues to rise in our area (and elsewhere, too!).


   As Brian is the musical director of the Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church, we were most fortunate to use this splendid locale for the event also for the third consecutive year. The acoustics are fantastic and, much to Neville's delight, the church's piano is always tuned to perfection. So how could we go wrong on this fine mid-May afternoon!s Brian is the musical director of the Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church, we were most fortunate to use this splendid locale for the event also for the third consecutive year. The acoustics are fantastic and, much to Neville's delight, the church's piano is always tuned to perfection. So how could we go wrong on this fine mid-May afternoon!

   The CCJB led off the first of three sets with a good old chestnut, "Everybody Loves My Baby", with Lena adding her tremendous voice to the song. The band was then joined by Neville on "It's Been So Long". Next the famed stride piano man played two solos from his rather extensive repertoire, "South Side Strut" and "Shout for Joy". This initial set also featured a trio of Neville, Anders and Lena on the classic Fats Waller tune, "Ain't Misbehaving". The CCJB ended the set with another classic, this one from Duke Ellington titled "Stevedore Stomp". This last explosive number had quite a few folks stomping in their pews!

   After a short break, the CCJB began set #2 with "Blue Lou". Lena again lent her dulcet tones to "Am I Blue?" along with the CCJB's fine instrumentation. Neville then regaled us with 2 more of his favorites, "You've Got To Be Modernistic" and "Humoresque", the latter featuring Anders keeping time on drums. Lena joined the previous two musicians on "Rocking Chair", that good old good one that Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden performed so well together so many years ago. Next came a duet featuring Neville and Dave, this time on one of Yours Truly's all-time favorite trad tunes from King Oliver, "Mabel's Dream". Both gentlemen asked me a month or so before the event if I had any suggestions for a theme or possible tunes that I'd like to hear. I mentioned King Oliver and "Mabel's Dream", as I observed that Neville lists the song in his repertoire (it's also on one of his CD's as well). So I was truly grateful when both elected to play the number and play it they did - wow! The CCJB with Lena aptly supplying her voice then performed "I Double Dare You". To top off this fabulous set, the CCJB and Neville played another King Oliver tune that you don't often hear nowadays, "Working Man's Blues".

   After another brief intermission, the CCJB opened its third and final set with a Bessie Smith classic not heard much any more, "See If I Care". Lena again mastered the vocal on this tune to perfection. Yes, I think ol' Bessie was smiling down from the heavens above! Neville then rewarded our ears with "Out of Nowhere" (with the CCJB backing him) and "Little Rock Getaway" (a duet with Anders). Next came a rousing rendition of a fine old spiritual, "On Revival Day". Lena belted out the song in spirited fashion, unlike This Writer had ever heard it done before! This third and final set featured Neville and the CCJB on the soft and sweet ballad, "Sunday". Neville with two CCJB members finished off the day's entertainment with "Swanee River Boogie", a bouncy, up-tempo rendition of the old Stephen Foster classic.

   As the final notes wafted up to the church's rafters, all 60 or so of us in attendance rose as one and applauded the outstanding efforts that our day's musicians provided. Each of the last 3 years' performances has featured something different from the CCJB and our distinguished guest, Neville Dickie. If you were among those in the crowd all 3 times, I think you'd agree with me. Horse racing has its Triple Crown; we just had our own sensational version. I'm fairly certain we'll experience this special union again, hopefully in 2016. If so, I hope to see you there...

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