On Tuesday March 8, I made it over to "The Desert Home" of live music in the Cochella Valley, Vicky's of Santa Fe in Indian Wells. Vicky's is always the go to place to hear music. What other place in the Valley has live music 7 days a week? None that I know of. My mission this night was to see the "Tony Bennett" show put together by Pat Rizzo. I have seen Pat Rizzo performing as a member of many groups in the desert, but I really wanted to hear him leading a group so I could get a comprehensive view of his talent. My first comment is that there is no doubt that Pat Rizzo has one of the strongest followings in the desert. And for good reason because Pat really does it all, plays tenor and alto sax, is a great flautist and has a great singing voice. In tonight's show, I was really impressed with Pat's sax playing, but the real surprise for me was how well Pat sings. He sounds just like Tony Bennett. This is not an act. Pat's voice is really very similar to the great Mr. Bennett. Pat is not trying to sound like Mr. Bennett. He has an excellent voice and range of his own that is really exceptional. Pat sang a lot of songs without one note he off key. Remarkable for any singer. I was really impressed with his ability to hit every high notes. Young singers could learn at lot listening to Pat. Being a sax player myself, I can only tell you that I love the way Pat improvises his solos. I only wish that I could have achieved the tone and dexterity that Pat puts forth every night. Being the high- level musician that Pat is, it was no surprise to see that he had added the most professional sidemen to support him. His pianist was the "great" Yarek Urant. I have heard Yarek play for many other jazz groups but this is the first time I got to experience what Yarek could do with standards. And the answer is he is one of the best pianist I have ever heard, bar none. If I could sing, I would want Yarek in back of me on the piano. Brian Nova was on stand up bass. I never heard Brian play, but I have heard great reviews from lots of musicians that know Brian. Brian told me that bass is really not his best instrument, but not from my perspective. He was perfect for the group. I intend to catch Brian at one of his performances at "Beaux Arts". I can't wait to hear him play guitar. The last member of the group was the drummer, Steve Neilen, whom I had not heard before. He provided the perfect 4th for Pat's group and, his backup rhythums were solid.
One of the great things about live music events in the desert is that more times than not, talented people in the audience come up to sing a number or two. Tonight was no exception. Pat introduced Beverly Jensen aka: Beverly J. Leys and asked her to come up to sing. What a treat she was! Beverly has a great voice and a wonderfully way with a lyric. She was given a rousing ovation after she sang a couple of standards. Beverly could be staring in her own show, she was that good! There was one other guest that came up from the audience to sing, Denny Seidenfeld. Denny was a burning ball of energy and that's how he sings. He did a great job especially since he later told me that performing is just a hobby with him. Only in the desert do you get this high level of talent every where you go.