Art center showcases jazz quartet

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Fri., Jan. 4, 2013
Ricky Alfonso and his jazz quartet performed at the Windsor Art Center on Jan. 3. Photos by Colin Rajala.
Ricky Alfonso and his jazz quartet performed at the Windsor Art Center on Jan. 3. Photos by Colin Rajala.

On a frigid and bitter evening, the Windsor Art Center and its guests warmed up inside to the rhythmic swing and groove of the drums, bass, keyboard and trumpet, as live jazz music filled the air.

As part of the center’s Thursday evening concert series, trumpeter Ricky Alfonso and his jazz quartet showcased jazz standards and original compositions, performing their swing and modern jazz improvisation for more than 40 guests on Jan. 3.

“It was my first time here, and it was a pleasure,” Alfonso said. “It is a lovely spot; it’s warm and intimate. The ambience was beautiful. It’s a nice sounding room with the high ceilings and carpeting.”

Accompanied by pianist Chris Casey, bassist Stephen Kingporter, and drummer Tido Holtkamp, the Bridgeport native and South Windsor resident kicked off the show with a rendition of Charlie Haden’s "Nice Eyes," getting the crowd to tap their toes, bounce their knees and bob their heads to music reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood.

“I really dig it when people are feeling the music,” Alfonso said. “I like to play tunes that are accessible to people, tunes that swing and have a groove. We like to play the blues, and people relate well to blues music. They were receptive early, which helps spur the music and move the music forward.”

The quartet moved into original compositions by Alfonso entitled "Amadora" and "Blues for Maya." The two pieces carry blues rhythms throughout and really show off Alfonso’s unique trumpet style and sound with dashes of swing notes thrown in for good measure.

Guests were treated to the jazz standard, or widely known and performed song, "You’re My Everything," to which the quartet added their own improvisation and flair, and it has become a staple of their repertoire. They performed “Ill Wind," a ballad which included a short solo by Alfonso showing off his pipes before burning through the finale, "Spiderman Blues," a rambunctious song Alfonso learned from the late trumpeter Woody Shaw.

Alfonso says music and the trumpet have made him everything he is today. Jazz and blues are an outlet for Alfonso, and he says that he practices more now than ever before. He says it’s the spirit of the music that keeps him going. He hopes his music and performances help keep the spirit of music alive for his audiences.

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