Great night of Jazz at VIBRATO in LA

Cory Pesaturo, Jacki DePiro and the Rick DePiro Quartet

Not being a Jazz Accordian OR Jazz Organ enthusiast, I was a bit apprehensive when my Fiance suggested we attend a performance including both at the Vibrato Jazz Club in Bel Air CA last Tuesday evening. I am a big fan of Jazz and Jazz vocalists like Nancy Wilson, Ella , Diane Reeves and Sarah Vaughn so when he mentioned Jacki DePiro was also on the playbill, I was at least intrigued enough to attend without the usual “kicking and screaming” known to accompany such a request on our only “date night” of the week.

Cory Pesaturo was the Accordianist, an award winning Jazz player from Rhode Island in his late twenties, according to Wikipedia, who has performed and taught (already) at some of the most celebrated schools and venues in the world. Rick DePiro (Jacki's older brother , and aka Ricky Dee, Country Singer Songwriter) is a well known pianist and jazz organist who played both instruments that evening and has a resume that includes experience at the highest levels. That said, I didn't initially care … it was Accordian and Organ (and granted, piano … but not the typical “piano only” trio/quartet) I would have liked, hoped for and expected, no matter how much I like Jacki DePiro's voice.

Most surprising, and possibly a bit “off-putting” for “true jazz lovers and enthusiasts” was the mix of pure Jazz , standards and even a bit of Funk and Latin Jazz as well as a surprise and featured performance by a young and upcoming artist named Michael Mancuso (newly signed with the DePiro's label JaRic Records) who sang a sad and very deep and moving original about losing a loved one called “Just To See You Smile” from his soon-to-be-completed debut album, written and arranged by Rick DePiro in dedication after the the loss of his Father-In Law last year. Mancuso had a smooth, powerful and extremely “present” voice , along with a polished smile and warm stage presence which all indicate a great career in front of him (hopefully). And, at only nineteen years old, he has time to prove me right! The mix of tunes and styles proved very enjoyable throughout the evening and never got “stale” or felt “out of place”. Instrumentally, the musicianship was truly world-class.

The backing trio consisted of three other amazing musicians, namely Ryan Cross (bass) Gary Gibbons (drums) and Mark Vincent (guitar). None of these guys are 19, and when they played they showed that you can only play that well if you have years of experience. The speed, accuracy, depth and execution of each song and solo were, at a minimum, brilliant. And, watching Pesaturo and DePiro showed that you had to be in that league to just keep up. The tempos at times were tantalizingly mesmerizing!

Pesaturo started the night with the backing trio and a slow song in a Jazz Waltz feel that I didn't recognize, and it was ok but a bit soft and ineffective for my taste. It sounded like a “typical Accordian song” to me but it was played well and thus tolerable. Then he played a couple beautiful pieces including Falling Grace ( Steve Swallow) and executed them well. At that point it was “off to the races”! DePiro joined him on stage and played the Organ (although it didn't look like a traditional Jazz organ / B-3, it sure sounded like one). They kicked off Chick Corea's “Got A Match” at a tempo that made our entire table of friends sit up and take notice! It was worth being there just for that tune alone and each solo was top notch. As the night went on, Jacki DePiro took the stage in each of the two shows after Pesaturo's set and blew the audience away with swing classics like “Do Nothin Til You Hear From Me”, “Where I hang My Hat Is Home” and “Exactly Like You”, ballads like Nancy Wilson's “When October Goes”, which this writer feels she did as well as the great Nancy Wilson, and Latin Jazz renditions of songs like Frank Wildhorn's “Last Tango”.

The audience was not only receptive but thrilled with each song DePiro sang. At one point her brother even sang “More” from Mondo Cane in a very fast swing and did a fine job especially considering his singing background is usually Country Music. It was also enjoyable and entertaining listening to the DePiro's constant banter which often proved very amusing and entertaining, yet never out of place.

The audience members included such luminaries as writer/ actor/ singer Seth McFarlane, Billionaire Beverly Hills Real Estate moguls and Philanthropists Stanley Black and Larry Field and several others and all seemed to be thrilled with the music.

In closing, I don't know who promotes Jazz Accordian Music but they should promote Cory Pesaturo! I also think Rick DePiro should be playing more Jazz Organ publicly and singing more jazz (although he is listed as one of the top jazz organists of all time when you research him and his career), I wish Jacki DePiro sang locally more often so I could enjoy that amazing voice in person AND I hope to follow Michael Mancuso's career as it grows and flourishes in the future.

All in all everyone in the audience, though somewhat peppered with friends, fans and family of the performers, was thrilled and had great things to say throughout the evening. As far as the Venue, well known in the LA area and owned by famous trumpeter Herb Alpert, the food at Vibrato was excellent, albeit a bit overpriced, and the atmosphere warm, inviting and accompanied by excellent sound quality from the stage. In conclusion, this is one Jazz lover that looks forward to the next night like this. I hope there is one soon again at Vibrato or elsewhere locally and no matter where these artists show up next, I hope I get to see them. What an enjoyable and memorable night.

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Ariella Barton