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His all-too-short entry in “The Biographical Encyclopedia Of Jazz” tells us that Bobby Militello was born March 25, 1950 in Buffalo, New York and that he studied clarinet and alto sax, having been inspired by the move, “The Benny Goodman Story”.

Over the years, he has played with Maynard Ferguson, the Buffalo Philharmonic, Don Menza, Bill Holman, and others. He is perhaps best known for his 30 year association with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

Straight Ahead, 1993, Positive Music
Because his involvement with Brubeck kept him so busy, Militello has unfortunately only had time to release three albums under his own name.

The one I want to tell you about this time ’round is called “Straight Ahead”.

The personnel are:

Bobby Militello, flute & alto flute, alto & tenor sax
Jeff Jarvis, trumpet
Kim Kurzdorfer, electric upright bass
Mark Manetta, electric guitar
Bobby Jones, piano and Hammond B3 organ
Bob Leatherbarrow, drums

The first two songs were both composed by keyboardist Jones. Track one is the title track, and it admirably sets the pace. This is a wonderfully talented group, and the song “Straight Ahead” showcases everyone’s skills delightfully. From Militello’s sax to Manetta’s guitar to Jones and that magnificent Hammond B3, they all get their turn to show their stuff.

Second up is “Que Bonito”, a bright, happy piece with a touch of Latin to keep it interesting. For this one Militello sets aside his sax in favor of the flute, and it gives the song a cheerful demeanor that would have been difficult to achieve with the sax. It’s obvious that the group enjoyed this one, and as if to dispel any doubts on that, at almost exactly three minutes in one of them can be heard making a short, happy exclamation.

Here is Militello with Joey DeFrancesco, vocalist Nancy Kelly, and drummer Carmen Intorre at a live appearance at the Fulton Jazz Fest in 2011.

Leatherbarrow gives a boisterous opening to track three, the Cannonball Adderley piece, “Wabash”. This is another lively number, and you Hammond B3 lovers will eat up Jones’ solo.
Leatherbarrow is featured prominently again in “Flip Flop”. Not so surprising I suppose when one considers that he wrote it. This song just burns its way along, and even though it’s only a bit less than four and a half minutes long, when it ends you’ll find yourself feeling satisfied. Best of all, despite having been written by a drummer, the song does not burden the listener with an interminable drum solo.

For a change of pace we next hear the first of two Cole Porter compositions on the album, the beautiful ballad, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”. This is a hugely popular song, having been performed by dozens of musicians working in such diverse genres as jazz, pop, and rock. Militello’s group more than does it justice, with Jones trading his B3 for the mellow tones of acoustic piano.

Another Leatherbarrow song is next, “Don’t Mess With The Messenger”. The composer opens this one also, and the rest of the group wastes no time joining in.

“You Stepped Out Of A Dream”, up next, was a hit for composers Nacio Herb Brown and Gus Kahn way back in 1941 when they wrote it. Listening to Militello and company, one can see why. It’s a deceptively simple-seeming song that lifts you up as if it were a river of sound that could carry you away.

The album’s second Cole Porter song is next, “I Love You.” This is considerably more lively than the first one. Jones is back on the B3 and Militello has his tenor up.

“Bijou Blues”, written by the late pianist Ralph Burns, is a nice jazzy-blues piece, and the rhythm section deftly cooks it with a mellow heat.

The final song on the album is “Rain Devil”, written by fellow Buffalo jazz legend Dick Fadale. Militello once again sets aside his sax, this time trading it for an alto flute. The flute always lends an airy feel to a song, and this one is no different.

When it’s all said and done, I think you’ll find that Bobby Militello’s “Straight Ahead” will make a fine addition to your personal playlist for a Saturday (or any other) night!

To learn more about Bobby Militello and his music, visit his web site.
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Thanks for reading this.

Al Evans
Wood Village, Oregon

One thought on “Jazz For A Saturday Night #36: Bobby Militello

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