review by Janet I. Martineau
OK, just about everyone living in Saginaw County knows that a downstate guy named Dave Bennett plays a mean clarinet. He actually channels Benny Goodman.
He’s nearly 28 now .... cut his teeth at age 14 with Saginaw’s own New Reformation Band; a regular these days at Spencer’s.
But on Sunday, at the Temple Theatre for the Saginaw Valley Concert Association series, he proved himself a heck of a pianist, drummer and singer as well. ( And a good master of ceremonies too, with just the right amount of banter and information between songs.)
It was an all Goodman show -- a “Dave Bennett: Benny Goodman Tribute” by title. But the music was all over the map -- boogie woogie, jazz, George Gershwin, the Beatles, Goodman standards and some less familiar. And number of players ranged from a full sextet to a more intimate trio.
Bennett is gracious towards his five-member band -- allowing most of them lengthy riffs within a number. Especially drummer Peter Siers, pianist Tad Weed (who toured with Paul Anka for 11 years) and vibraphonist Jim Cooper.
Which brings us to Bennett at the piano and drums.
“Benny’s Bounce” was played with four hands and one foot -- Bennett and Weed seated at the too-short piano bench pounding the keys boogie woogie style, changing places twice without missing a note, and with Bennett adding his right foot to the four hands at one point. It brought cheers.
Then came “Sing, Sing, Sing” at the end. Bennett was sorta walking up to or near each band member as he played a solo segment. Except when he walked up to Siers, Bennett picked up his own set of drumsticks, stayed standing and with Siers played an absolutely delicious drum duet/duel on one drum set. It was INCREDIBLE musicianship. Breathtaking.
As for the singing, it came with the ballad “St. James Infirmary Blues,” one of the trio entries with just Bennett, the pianist and the upright bass.
“Running Wild” found Bennett playing his clarinet faster and faster. Who can ever get tired of hearing the smooth “Moonglow” or “Stardust.” “I Got Rhythm” -- it was the somewhere amid all the sidetracks.
And the Beatles, you ask. Bennett said Goodman was a big Beatles fan back in the 1960s. And “Yesterday” sounds just lovely on clarinet.
Bennett and crew leave the soul well fed.