Live Review: Alto Sax player Nick Stefanacci in New Jersey

The Williams Center Rutherford, NJ

Contact: [email protected]
Web: nickstefanaccimusic.com
Players: Nick Stefanacci, alto sax; Wayne Dunton, drums; Gene Torres, bass; Roy Suter, keys; Dave Crum, guitar; Mike Iapicca; baritone sax; Frank Elmo; tenor sax; Reggie Pittman, trumpet; Cat London, background vocals; Rich Aveo; lead vocals.

Material: In his recent sax-centric performance, Nick Stefanacci brought together a rich ensemble of musicians and vocalists to tackle a mash up of well-known classics along with several of his originals. Some gems included Bill Withers’ “Aint No Sunshine,” and the Gershwins’ “Summertime.” Stefanacci’s style has been described as jazz fusion, but he can deliver the classics putting his own spin on them while keeping the melody completely intact In his self-penned work, “Fantasy,” the music reflects what a fantasy state might sound like; dreamy and seductive, with lyrics to match: I want to be your fantasy forever and ever/I’ll be the man you dreamed of/Will you be my fantasy.

“The Masquerade,” the title cut from his forthcoming album, is an all-instrumental piece highlighting Stefanacci’s musical chops surrounded by arrangements featuring various instruments and motifs.

Musicianship: Stefanacci is without a doubt an experienced player with a plethora of performances under his belt in the U.S. and around the world. His technique is smooth and his command of his instrument apparent. His backing band are all seasoned players with long resumes of their own. When it came to any songs requiring vocals Stefanacci enlisted Rich Aveo, a solid singer, whose vocals were a highpoint in the show.

Performance: Though there was no shortage of entertainment, the show could have benefitted from a more focused direction (setlist not withstanding) centered around a theme which would tie everything together. Performing a duet with long time mentor Frank Elmo on tenor sax might have given the set an emotional lift and a moment of poignancy along with other choices that would highlight either his connection to fellow band members or offer some autobiographical relevancy not necessarily achieved through chatting with the audience.

Summary: Nick Stefanacci has much to work with. He is fluent on his instrument and chooses strong players to back him up. Restructuring parts of the show would go a long way to making it even tighter by being mindful of the emotional graph the show follows. His new release is out now.