Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

DiBussolo brings melodies of love to Valentine’s ‘Jazz Upstairs’

Saturday, February 16, 2019 by GEORGE VANDOREN Special to The Press in Focus

Frank DiBussolo and the Philly Reunion Group return to Miller Symphony Hall’s “Jazz Upstairs” series in the Rodale Community Room, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 with “Wine, Women, and Song,” a melange of Valentine’s Day weekend-themed tunes for music lovers.

DiBussolo, a veteran jazz guitarist and eight-time Grammy nominee, has performed with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Diana Ross, among others. He has been a featured soloist with the bands of Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Bucky Pizzarelli, Howard Alden, Lester Lannin and a long list of others.

He received an undergraduate degree from Weidner University and a Masters and a Doctorate in music from Combs College of Music, Philadelphia. In addition to being an in-demand guitarist, DiBussolo has been on the faculties at Combs College, Lehigh University, Moravian College, and Swarthmore.

DiBussolo teaches the academic side of the luthier course at Northampton Community College’s Fab Lab. He’s vice president for arts development at TLC Arts, LLC, which develops arts charter schools, including the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts, Bethlehem.

Of the Miller Symphony Hall concert, DiBussolo says, “We’ll play tunes from the Great American Songbook. We might do ‘Days of Wine and Roses,’ maybe ‘Tiny Bubbles,’ ‘You Go To My Head,’ ‘Emily.’

“We play listener-friendly jazz. People like to hear the melody. I like to keep it melodic with a sophistication of variation on a theme.”

Concerning his musical beginnings, DiBussolo says, “I always had sounds in my head. I lived in a blue-collar home. Dad was a cabinet-maker. Grandma lived with us. She was an opera buff and would take me to the opera when I was maybe seven, eight, nine.

“My mom’s sister owned a bar. I would visit in the summer. They had a TV with game shows on during the day and all the music was live.

“I watched ‘Concentration’ and when they went to commercial they had this beautiful glissando. I didn’t know what it was, but I loved it.

“Then at home, listening to ‘The Perry Como Show,’ I heard Tony Motollo play it on his guitar. That was what I wanted to play.

“I studied and played classical guitar. Then I heard Wes Montgomery. Wow! I liked the chill-like sound of the guitar. I listened to Tal Farlow, Joe Pass, Jim Hall, and started to assimilate the stuff.”

Joining DiBussolo for “Jazz Upstairs” is Dave DePalma, woodwinds; Bruce Kaminsky, bass, and Lorenzo Branca, drums.

DePalma plays multiple reed instruments. He has performed with Frank Sinatra Jr., Al Martino, Phil Woods, and Al Grey, among many others. He has performed with the Florida, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Reading and York symphonies.

Kaminsky received a Masters from Combs College of Music. He is an adjunct professor at Montgomery County Community College and the University of the Arts. He’s music director of the Spice Route Ensemble. He has performed with jazz artists such as Tal Farlow, Jimmy Knepper, Larry Coryell and Bucky Pizzarelli.

Branca is a Renaissance man. In addition to drums, he plays flute, guitar, harmonica, and sings. He is also an accomplished painter and sculptor.

Says DiBussolo, “Most of the players I use are guys who grew up together. We’ve been playing together close to 40 or 50 years. We play melodically, but sophisticatedly.

“There’s a lot of spontaneous communication between players and then from the players to the audience. The audience gives feedback. They’re included in the performance. Everybody leaves feeling good.”

Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall box office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; allentownsymphony.org; 610-432-6715