Eli’s All-Stars at the Sherborn Inn, February 4, 2014

Band lined up in front of piano

Eli’s All Stars                                                              photo by Kathy Wittman

Eli’s All Stars with Bob Winter, the pianist with the Boston Pops; giant of the Boston jazz scene, Bo Winniker trumpet, Herb Gardner trombone, Ted Casher clarinet/tenor sax, Jimmy Mazzy banjo/vocals, Eli Newberger leader/tuba, Jeff Guthery drums and Rebecca Sullivan vocals. Over the past year the band has incrementally morphed from a trio to an octet and sounds more dynamic with each new appearance at the Sherborn Inn.  (stay tuned – for more photos and videos)

The original Traditional Jazz bands of Joe “King” Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and W.C. Handy included banjo and tuba in their rhythm sections.  Eli Newberger follows their style of Traditional Jazz, playing tuba while leading a band of outstanding musicians.

The music room at the Sherborn Inn was filled with a crowd from Greater Boston, who appreciate Traditional Jazz and Swing.  There were many musicians in the audience; even Bill Winiker was here to back his brother Bo.

The All-Stars kicked it off with Ted Casher’s 16-bar clarinet improvisation on Lady Be Good.  Winter led vocalist Rebecca Sullivan with a piano intro on I’m In The Mood For Love.  Rebecca did many fine vocals, manipulating the phrasing and tempo.  On ‘Deed I do, Rebecca performed wonderful scatting conversations with clarinet, trumpet and trombone.  My One And Only Love, sung with soul, was performed as a duet with the piano.  Lovely.

Rebecca, Jeff, and Ted

Ted Back’s Rebecca with soft tenor sax

Ted was featured with Klezmer clarinet intro, singing in growling voice on multiple verses of Bei Mir Bis du Schoen, a tune that caught people by surprise.  He settled into the Ted we know while singing the chorus.  Jeff kept time tapping the rims of his simple Traditional Jazz drum set where he has recently removed the hi-hat, excess cymbals, and tom toms to achieve a more authentic Trad Jazz sound. Excellent.

Eli turned the page to Ellington, with Bob Winter featured on Sophisticated Lady.  Bob plays from the heart; constructing deeply moving music.  He has extensive performing experience in clubs, television, radio, and theaters, including performances with Henry Mancini, Teddy Wilson, Buddy DeFranco, Mel Torme, Luciano Pavarotti, Eddie Daniels, Stan Getz, Cleo Laine/John Dankworth, and Airto Moreira.

Rebecca returned  with Jazzy scatting on S’posing  – including a great section of tuba trading 4s with drums, followed by one of Jimmy’s meticulous banjo solos.  The More I See You had Rebecca start with melody backed by Ted’s soft tenor. Ted Casher (our own Coleman Hawkins), plays sweet tenor sax. They moved upbeat, with Rebecca singing and scatting along with Winter’s piano.

Chinatown featured Jimmy on banjo and vocal, with Ted on soprano sax solidly amplifying the front line.   Jeff let loose on drums, turning it into a swinging tune; Eli had everyone clapping the beat.  Delightful performance!

When the band took a break.  Herb Gardner sat at the piano and delighted the audience with his skill on the keys while Bob Winter looked on with a gleaming smile.  Resilient spirit, Herb was supposed to be in New Jersey the night before, playing for the New Jersey Jazz Society.  Our sympathy goes out to them – their concert had to be cancelled because of heavy snow – as were airplane flights, so WE were fortunate to have Herb Gardner here!  Sorry, NJJS.

Herb Gardner at the piano, talking on mic, with Bob Winter smiling in the background.

Herb Gardner during the break

Herb played and sang his own version of “The Ground Hog Song”.  “I want to hibernate with you until it’s Ground Hog Day”.  That’s all we’ll say about that.  A solid entertainer, he is a fine piano player and vocalist, as well as famous for his trombone work, and his daughter, vocalist Abbie Gardner.

Bob and Eli on baby grand

Bob and Eli on baby grand



The emotional register switched to sunny and warm with Ted featured on a special rendition of Night Train with gut-wrenching tenor sax playing. Fabulous!  Jimmy took this vocal scatting, while Bo Winiker played smokey flugel horn.  Eli joined Bob for that last, eight-to-the-bar, rocketing chorus of “Night Train.”  It doesn’t get any better than this!


Rebecca returned with a swinging, rousing vocal Them There Eyes, with Eli in background.  Eli plays tuba behind everyone – but it’s so smooth, you don’t even realize he’s there – the music is subtly enhanced, intensified.

Something new – they played Brubeck’s Take Five; first time they’ve ever played it, and it was the first time Eli played a jazz tune with a 5/4 time signature.

one snare drum, one tom used as bass, one six-inch cymbal

Jeff Guthery on authentic Traditional Jazz Drum

Jeff handled it brilliantly.  He was an international businessman – now he’s finally following his dream as a student at Berklee, and playing drums regularly with the All-Stars.

Eli gave Jimmy a choice of songs – that’s always dangerous, as he has a repertoire that goes back to the late 1890′s.  He only revisited the early 1930’s for this one – I’ll Never Be The Same; a performance of just Jimmy backed by soft tuba.

Pianist Teddy Wilson used this tune to bring vocalist Billie Holiday and tenor saxophonist Lester Young together at a 1937 session.  They would have loved Jimmy and Ely’s version!

Jim singing and playing banjo, Eli looking on, smiling

Friends and compadres, Jimmy Mazzy and Eli Newberger

What a Difference a Day Makes, Rebecca returned for another nice ballad.  She got things moving with up-tempo scatting on Oh, Oh, Oh, What a Little Moonlight Can D, with clarinet, trumpet and trombone bouncing off each other.  Bo’s left leg kept jumping up and down with the beat – it was such a barn burner!

 Closing time approached, and they closed this marvelous evening with another Dixieland War Horse, South Rampart St. Parade. They did justice to its infinite references to many songs, with  Jeff going wild on drums!

Usually it ends in a trumpet flourish, but veteran Herb Gardner took it on trombone, leaving all of us asking for more, more!

There will be more.  This was an evening filled with great Jazz played by the best.  For those of you who missed it, there will be many more.

Eli’s All-Stars will begin a regular gig the 1st Thursday of  every month 7-9:30pm with this same group at the Sherborn Inn.  Come join us for some outstanding Traditional Jazz and Swing!

Videos by Kathy Wittman, BallSquare films, sound by Frank Cunningham