On Saturday, December 13th the Philadelphia Jazz Project hosted, “Frosty 2: A Cool Holiday Jazz Celebration” in Philadelphia at University of Pennsylvania’s Irvine Auditorium. The audience was treated with a powerhouse of Jazz singers and musicians. Amongst the incredible line-up was the talented and well known saxophone jazz musician and native Philadelphian Carl Grubbs, my cousin, who received saxophone training from our cousin the great John Coltrane. Carl lead the Combined Instrumental Ensemble piece originally written by Carl and his brother the late Earl Grubbs entitled, In My Youth. The piece was brilliantly and soulfully rewritten and arranged by Carl especially for this 2014 Frosty 2 jazz event.
Frosty 2 included something for all music lovers. The phenomenal House Band including Diane Monroe on violin, Tony Mitchell on vibes, Philadelphia’s one and only Monette Sudler on guitar and bass, Matt Parish on bass and cello and Craig McIver on the drums kept the house rocking and grooving to the holiday tunes. DivaNation’s Carole Harris and Elizabeth Sanders kicked off the fun with their soulful rendition of You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To. Then we all had fun as the House Band played Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with Arturo Stable and was reminded of the reason for the season by O Little Town of Bethlehem with Matt Parrish and Noah Jackson. The talented Eboni Strings’ transported us to A Night in Tunisia and Centro Habana with Kathleen Thomas-1st violin, Tanya Murphy-2nd violin, Chrysyn Harp-viola, Ajibola Rivers-cello and Ben Sutin, Matt Parish and Oriente Lopez.
Guest vocalist Paul Jost demonstrated his musical versatility and style with I’ll be Home for Christmas in acapella, then switching gears with A Change is Gonna Come and finishing with a joyful, Santa Clause is Coming to Town. He was then joined by the velvet voice of Renda Fearrington in My Favorite Things. Ella Ghant and Kevin Valentine was the perfect duo singing Baby It’s Cold Outside. Then Ghant brought out her mellow side as she sung, The Christmas Song. The vocal trio Gretchen Elise, Barbara Montgomery and Elizabeth Sanders was playful and clever with their rendition of Let it Snow. Elizabeth Sanders made us feel good as she sang Feelin’ Good. Extremely gifted vocalist Bethlehem lent her beautiful voice to the song You are so Beautiful after which she performed a remarkable Acapella Stomp of the 23rd Psalm in both English and Hebrew. The first set left the audience “wowed” as the House Band, Tenor Madness Ensemble including Carl Grubbs, Elliott Levin, Michael Pedicin, Sam Reed, Tim Price and Eboni Strings all together played In My Youth.
Host, J. Michael Harrison of WRTI kept the program lively and interesting with the help of his dancing elf Anthony Myles Batchelor who performed a hip hop holiday themed dance solo. C. Young, Gretchen Elise, Carol Harris and Daudah Al Akbar sang moving and poignant solos. Michael Pedicin and Tim Price sang a tenor duet, from L.A. to Philly. The unforgettable voice and altruistic nature of vocalist Barbara Montgomery led us all in a traditional spiritual, Children Go Where I Send Thee. Ms. Montgomery is a very special person. I had the pleasure of working with her when she lent her talented voice in her volunteer work with the group Mother’s In Charge. She sang and spoke out presenting legislature in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. to end violence.
The evening ended with all sax players joining Carl on stage with the house band and all of the singers for a terrific finale that brought the audience to their feet joining in with the remarkable Denise Montana leading us all in Let the Good Times Role. Frosty 2 put us all in the holiday spirit. The concert left us feeling happy and joyfully singing. Be sure to join Frosty 2 next year. Happy Holiday!