Published in the January 17, 2008 issue
sunshine and bright music chases blues away in Ventnor
The bright sunshine was matched by
equally bright music that helped Pastor Clancy Wilson chase
away the blues and January blahs on Sunday, Jan. 13.
Battling a series of problems has
prevented the popular preacher at Ventnor U.M. Church form
continuing his afternoon Jazz Vespers series lately, other
than on a sporadic basis. Thus it was good to see a healthy
glow on Wilson’s smiling face as he presided over a morning
jazz session which he combined with a more conventional
morning church service.
You can always count on Wilson to be
unconventional and somehow make it work. The jazz service is
now being held on a monthly basis, on the second Sunday, and
it has made attendance figures swell. Some picayune
individuals might take issue that, since the services are
being held in the morning they shouldn’t be called vespers,
but calling them anything else might be confusing to fans.
After Wilson’s opening remarks,
quintet of experienced professional musicians became the
musical portion, under the direction of flautist Geri Rizzo.
The quintet consisted of Rizzo on flute and vocals,
Catherine Boyd on violin, guitarist Norm Spurgeon, Sharon
Kruk on electric stick bas and drummer Ray Nunzi.
Many of the selections they played
were in the bossa nova category of Brazilian jazz. Even more
typical tunes like “But Wonderful,” “You go to my head,” and
Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” were permeated with bossa nova
rhythms and harmonics. The musicians exhibit a fondness for
this gentler style of jazz, with its romantic overtones,
rather than the more raucous forms of jazz like bebop or
fusion. This was obvious when they opened with Jobim’s “The
Wave,” which was a big Sinatra hit.
In addition to her artistry on
flute, Rizzo has developed a unique vocal style in which she
utilizes the microphone to produce an intriguing echo
effect. This was especially effective on “The Girl from
Ipanema,” another Jobim tune called “In My Loneliness,” and
in the hymn, “Amazing Grace.”
Rizzo combined with Boyd and
Spurgeon to produce some very pleasing sounds. Boyd, a
newcomer to this area, plays with a jazz style reminiscent
of the late, great Stephane Grapelli, while Spurgeon plays
with the energy and style of a true bossa nova performer.
Kruk and Nunzi provided a perfect rhythmic framework for the
quintet. It’s why they are both popular performers in this
The Jersey Shore Jazz Vespers
continue to produce some of the best music in South Jersey.
press of ATLANTIC CITY
"My Small Business"
25, 2011 7:28 pm
Business: Magic Flute Weddings
Geri Rizzo, of Somers Point
Location: Somers Point
Employees: 12 freelance musicians
When I was young, I was precocious with music and won
a full scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music in
I ended up
having a family and a corporate
career for 20 years. I got sick,
and a doctor in New York told me
to quit my job and start playing
flute again, so I did. I
started studying with world-class
flutist Gary Shocker in New York
to get back in shape. I practiced
for two years straight, three
hours a day. Art DOES save
I came to Atlantic City in
2001, and I started going to Jazz Vespers at the Ventnor United
Methodist Church, and I got to know most of the musicians in the
area. The Rev. Clancy Wilson was instrumental, pardon the pun, in
introducing me to people, and I got a lot of work. Soon I was
working at the casinos, but that dried up. I put the website —
www.magicfluteweddings.com — together in 2004. At the time there
weren’t too many wedding ceremony musicians on the Web, so I had an edge.
We’re wedding musicians. I
also give advice on the website about wedding music, and I have a
page of wedding song clips that are popular. I direct brides to the
site and help them with music choices. We are about 12
musicians, playing together: harp, guitar, violin, cello and piano, are on
call for jobs.
I’m a member of the American
Federation of Musicians in Atlantic City, the New Jersey Flute
Society and the National Flute Association. I love doing
weddings; it’s a sacred event. I think it’s recession-proof because
people are always going to get married. We might have to lower our
fees, but people are going to use music.
Sometimes you get a
bridezilla, and I had to develop a bit of a hard nose and remember
that it is a business. But for the most part, brides are really
lovely people. I just hope I can play the flute until I’m 70
at least. I have some arthritis, but I’m very active holistically,
take one day at a time and try to keep myself healthy. I think music
keeps you young. Staff writer Elaine Rose