Story and Photos by James Walker
Trumpeter Art Hoyle and his exceptional band mates of keyboardist Brad Williams, saxophonist Pat Mallinger, bassist Danny Shapiro, and drummer Robert Shy provided the music at August 9th's Hyde Park Jazz Society's Jazz at Room 43. It was quite appropriate to have such a group of seasoned musicians to be in charge of the night's entertainment , since the Society, with the support of the John Wright Music, was honoring veteran keyboardist Wallace Burton, bassist Eddie de Haas, and widow of The Jazz Society's founder, Mrs. Almarie (sp) Wagner.
This standing room only crowd was in a festive mood and was rewarded with an outstanding first set , which included one of Chicago finest vocalist, Ms. Freda Lee. Prior to Ms. Lee's performance, this fine band began the set with a few classic standards, including Charlie Parker's "If I Should Lose You" and Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood". Of course, all ensemble members had ample opportunities to express themselves on both with saxman Pat Mallinger showcasing his wide ranging skills on Parker's number and keyboardist Williams exciting the crowd on Duke's classic. Not to be upstaged, leader Hoyle had his moments throughout the first set without having long blasting solos.
The elegant Frieda Lee took charge with 3 selections and had the complete attention of the entire room. Frieda has a way of commanding attention with her stage presence and classy delivery of each note. Her three songs included exceptional versions of "If You Should Care For Me" and "Ordinary People". As she concluded, she wanted to pay special tribute to the honorees and that she did with distinguish and grace. The band concluded the first set with "Walkin'" , which gave drummer Robert Shy an opportunity to let the audience know that he can still swing with the best. Although bassist Sharparo didn't take lead with extended solos, he was none the less recognizable throughout this set keeping the beat for the entire group.
During the first intermission, the previously mentioned honorees took center stage to receive the well deserved awards. Mrs. Wagner was touched and honored to receive her award and felt it was also an honor for her late husband, James Wagner who was instrumental in bringing jazz back to Hyde Park.
Eddie de Haas has played bass with some of the greatest big bands and even to this day, often performs with visiting musicians when they perform at the Jazz Showcase. The least known of the three, Wallace Burton has a long history as a lounge performer and former teacher and administrator for the North Chicago Elementary School district in Lake County. Perhaps his least known accomplishment was his leadership as the predecessor to Ramsey Lewis, when he and drummer Red Holt and bassist Eldee Young originally worked as a trio prior to Burton's induction into the army.
Again special mention must be given to John Wright who is instrumental in sponsoring these tributes that occur every 3 to 4 months at the Hyde Jazz Society's sets. .For detailed information pertaining to future sets, refer to their website at www.hydeparkjazzsociety.org.