Wilma Ann and The Jazz Disciples at Ricalton’s Village Tavern, South Orange, N.J.
By Gregory Burrus
Wilma Ann and The Jazz Disciples consists of Wilma Ann on vocals, David Caldwell-Mason on keys, and Nate Bloom on guitar. Seasoned performers all, they played the standards and improvised as needed and gave everyone a great evening of wonderful, smooth and exhilarating jazz music. Wilma Ann is currently located in Jersey City, which is where I first saw her sing at a local club in the neighborhood, and then in a few places around my home town. Lately, Wilma Ann has been moving around Essex County, as evidenced by her recent very successful performance at a recent Afternoon of Jazz in Orange NJ. On April 15th, Wilma Ann’s interpretation of the vocally rich, jazz standards proved to be the highlight of a memorable evening that also featured some great solos by the individual band members. Following is a background on the members of the trio and their recent performance.
Wilma Ann Jazz
Wilma Ann, a native of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, brought her dynamic vocal presence to the U.S. Wilma Ann began her musical career in grade school studying the flute. As her love for vocal music grew, she changed disciplines and formally studied vocal music by attending New York City’s "famed" High School of the Arts. There, she studied classical music and learned to sing in Italian, French, German, and Spanish. Classical music study helped Wilma Ann develop her skills in intonation and breathing. You’ll hear the results of this training as Wilma Ann easily lures you to falsettos from hair-raising belts.
When we listened to her sets, she led us through a number of Jazz originals, and her sound is best describe in a quote: “touched with intimate soul, softened by jazzy resonance and glorified with the cunning to flow smoothly through tight gospel-tinged riffs. Her music is at once romantic soul, funky, with an occasional hip-hop edge.” At this appearance, she graced us with some truly rich renditions of the jazz standards, like Johnny Mathis, Misty and more.
Wilma Ann began performing in the church choir at age eleven and has since performed in citywide choruses and vocal artist showcases. She has directed the Cornell University gospel choir and founded the Baraka Kwa Wimbo, a smaller gospel ensemble. Wilma Ann is also a published poet and this genre is reflected in the clever, reflective lyrics of the songs she writes, and she has been known to have a mean turnaround jump shot. http://www.wilmaann.com
Another member of the trio was the pianist/keyboard player, David Caldwell-Mason. David Caldwell-Mason began playing classical piano at the age of five, discovered an affinity for jazz, and improvised music in his teens. He had a growing presence in the jazz scene in upstate New York, and after receiving his Associate of Arts degree from Simon's Rock College of Bard, he continued his education in the jazz program at William Paterson University, under the tutelage of Armen Donelian.
Over the course of a decade in the New York jazz scene, David has released two albums as a leader, had a six year residency at Bethesda Baptist Church in Jersey City where he has forged strong ties to the gospel scene in northern New Jersey and New York City. David has performed in major venues such as the Harvard Club, The UN, the Bitter End in New York, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Uiwang City Hall in Seoul, South Korea along with many other venues.
The best way to describe David’s playing, I found, is a description of his critically acclaimed CD, Cold Snap. Tim Niland of Jazz and Blues stated: "Strong trio interplay is the order of the day on this album, with fine original compositions allowing the band to ably support one another and step out for solo sequences." Well, when they played, this is exactly what came through from the Trio. Playing some standards and improvising along the way, they were clearly in lock step, and then they branched off into some wonderful solos. David went where he had to go to let us enjoy what was unique about his style of play, yet always bought it back to the trio in a syncopated manner that allowed everyone to move on in an easy melodious fashion. http://www.davidcaldwellmason.com.
As the creative force behind BloomNote Music Productions, ASCAP award-winning composer Nate Bloom has scored and produced music for short films, commercials for radio/TV, and released a CD of instrumental music. Born in that great music city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, PA, Nate’s favorable concert reviews go all the way back to his kindergarten report card.
After receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in 1986 from the University of Miami, he later teamed up with commercial composer, recording artist-band leader and trombonist, Rod Levitt, where he gained valuable experience reaping, producing and contracting. He earned a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, where he studied with such notables as the late jazz guitar legend Ted Dunbar, pianist Kenny Baron and bassist Larry Ridley.
At ASCAP, he worked with the biggest names in the business, including Burt Bacharach, Garth Brooks, Hal David, Robert Flack, Art Garfunkel, David Gates, Hank Jones, Lyle Lovett, Kenny Rankin, Lucy Simon, and Dionne Warwick, among others. He appears regularly as a freelance guitarist in the NYC/Tri-State area in a wide variety of ensembles and venues.
When he played at Ricalton's Village Tavern, you hear the beauty of all his past experience. When Nate goes solo, you hear a sweetness of experience in what he plays. Always sharp and crisp, the music seems to flow sweetly out of his guitar and just makes everyone pay attention. He has played and collaborated with a few of my favorites such as Alex Bugnon, Joe Feeney, Rod Levitt and Harold Maybern, among many others. He still makes time to teach and lives in New York City with his wife, Mary, son, Max, and Shetland Sheepdog, Parker. http://bloomnotemusic.com/bio/
All About Love
Love being the theme of many of the songs of the night, Wilma Ann’s voice was captivating from the start. Band members tuned in to the feeling and really supported the melodic and at times strong, overpowering, beautiful voice. Wilma has the ability to build to a crescendo and hold a note for a very long time. It makes a song wonderful and memorable and it stays with you, making you feel good for a long time. Ready for more Wilma Ann Jazz? Check it out https://vimeo.com/album/3911450
About the Writer
Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians and local art exhibitions. On a regular basis he promotes art, music, business, government and local community events through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photo journalism. Gregory Burrus resides in the beautiful, historic town of South Orange, New Jersey, the home of beautiful gas lamps, many historic buildings, some wonderful old trees, the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Seton Hall University, South Mountain Reservation and many gorgeous, vibrant, growing communities in the surrounding North Jersey towns and cities of Essex County. Having fun living life while helping others. Visit Greg at http://facebook.com/gregoryburrus