Natalie Cole with Mario Romano Quartet @ TD Toronto Jazz Festival reviewed by Stanley Fefferman

June 25, 2012. Sony Centre, Toronto.

Heavy weather in New York delayed her flight forcing Natalie Cole to miss her TD Jazz concert, but a houseful of fans loyal to Mario Romano remained to hear his Quartet open and close the show.

Mario is a beautiful cat. His apologetic introduction was hilarious, and his playing touches the heart.

The Quartet with Mark McLean subbing for Mark Kelso on drums plus trumpeter William Sperandei did a set that made me forget the Unforgettable One. Mario’s arrangements bop in from far left field and make a lovely surprise when they land on the melody, as in “Autumn Leaves,” and his  “Norwegian Wood” is fabulous. Roberto Occhipinti opened “The Sunshine of Your Love” with a masterful, enigmatic bass solo. Pat Labarbera’s monster tenor sax weighed in wonderfully on “St. Dominic” and I remember Sperandei’s work on the closing number “Non Dimenticar,” which Nat King Cole reminds us means “Don’t forget you are (my darling).


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