Jazz drummer Krupa to be remembered Concert: A star of the 1930s and 1940s is the centerpiece of the final Jazz of the Music Hall event of the year in Annapolis.

October 22, 1998|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Before Gene Krupa emerged from the Benny Goodman orchestras of the late 1930s, drummers were hardly noticed in jazz orchestras, hardly considered as skilled as the other players.

But Krupa demonstrated that a drummer could be a musician and that the drums could be an important instrument. And the drums made Krupa a star, a matinee idol of his day.

At the Chesapeake Music Hall in Annapolis on Sunday, drummer Brooks Tegler paid tribute to the music of Gene Krupa, from his big bands to his small groups, in the last Jazz at the Music Hall concert of the year.

Tegler, a Krupa fan since childhood, brought back the music in all its glory. His ability to drive the band is similar to Krupa's, and he has like speed, strength and agility.

The musical highlights began with some of the big band #F numbers. With "Drummin' Man," Erika Romberg, playing the role of Krupa vocalist Irene Daye, re-created the sound and look with her vintage dress and matching green gloves. "Manhattan Transfer" was another winner, followed by "Drumboogie," featuring Mary Ann Price as Anita O'Day.

When it seemed impossible to top a number, the musicians managed to do so with another, as with Krupa's theme, "Starburst," which seemed better than the original. There is something so appealing about that insistent rhythmic and primitive beat that it is hard to imagine anyone who breathes being immune to it.

Tegler was joined by Ted Efantis on tenor sax and Rob Redd on piano for the trio numbers, "Dark Eyes" and "Body and Soul." Efantis made his horn talk, cajole, beg and moan low in a whole new way.

Most impressive is the fun the musicians had re-creating this music. Their joy spilled over the audience. They seemed to have a wonderful time, with the joy of discovery mixed with the joy of returning to this happy time and place.

Tegler's father, jazz disc jockey John Tegler, provided an informative and moving narrative.

These jazz concerts are such treats that I'm sorry there aren't more. I'm convinced that the audience would support one every other month. As it is, we have to wait until January for the next one, which will pay tribute to Harry James.

Pub Date: 10/22/98

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