Panorama Jazz Band

Rosy's Jazz Hall

June 17, 2004

BY JASON SONGE


The Panorama's Jazz Band's music was vibrant, wacky, intelligent, humorous, and irreverent. The eclectic "traditional jazz" quintet performed for Scat Magazine's party at Rosy's Jazz Hall Thursday evening. Their songs were extremely enjoyable, but more importantly, they gave an education in different styles of music—from Jewish klezmer to Caribbean Creole Biguines to traditional Balkan folk songs. Their music was joyous, and it got the people dancing. The band was clarinet player/vocalist Ben Schenck, accordionist Patrick Farrell, banjo player/vocalist Patrick Mackey, bassist John Lutz, and drummer James Clark.

Since they used a clarinet, accordion and banjo as their main melodic instruments, Panorama automatically lent themselves to a very worldly feel. I can't explain how refreshing it was to hear such leftist instruments used together. They went around the world with the music, but they also played traditional pieces by Sidney Bechet and Jelly Roll Morton. They got up to a punk tempo for a march, or they took it down for a slow dance.

The set's highlight was "Baym Rebn in Palestina," a cut off their new album, Another Hot Night in February. It was a Jewish klezmer with a catchy, celebratory high-pitched chorus melody that I was sure I had heard before. If they said they had re-done Van Halen's "Panama," I would have believed them. Check the song out and make sure I'm not crazy.

The band was in good spirits, but since they were at a party where the dancing didn't begin until close to the end of it, I forgive them for being less than effusive. It was fun to see Schenck try to liven up the ceremonies by waving his arms and snapping his fingers in a silly fashion. The evening's only aberration was the absence of trombonist Jaja Duval, who is known for her enormous smile.

These guys played fun dance music. Check them out at The Dragon's Den Sunday night.


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