There is something special about watching pros do their thing. For Grover Kemble and Jerry Vezza, that thing is jazz. And when they get “in the pocket”–in the groove–few acts can touch them.
We caught up with these two at Jerry’s place, rehearsing for Morristown’s first annual Jazz and Blues Festival, coming on Saturday, Aug. 20, on the Morristown Green.
Grover, a founding member of swing band Za Zu Zaz, will take the stage at 8 pm with the Jerry Vezza Quartet as headliners of the free, daylong, rain-or-shine event.
Saturday’s program also features the Rusty Paul Band, featuring the son of the late, great Les Paul, at noon; the Duke Ellington Legacy Band, led by the Duke’s grandson, at 2 pm; the Winard Harper Sextet, headed by one of the world’s top jazz drummers; and the street jazz quintet, Baby Soda, at 6 pm.
“It’s a great lineup of jazz and blues,” said Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, who spearheaded the project. “It’s a great event for Morristown, and it’s free.”
The Mayor said he raised about $50,000 from sponsors to make the jazz fest a reality. Sponsors include PSE&G, JCP&L, Riker Danzig, Brown and Brown Metro, The Metropolitan, 40 Park, Weichert Realtors, Roots, Trenk Depasquale, TSS Facility Services, Integra Management Corporation, Realty Management Associates, Belle Associates, Inglesino Pearlman and the Grasshopper Restaurant. Jazz station WBGO, the Star-Ledger and the New Jersey Jazz Society round out the list.
Grover and Jerry, both Morris County residents, have played together many times at Madison’s storied Shanghai Jazz club. Jerry commanded the keyboard for Grover at a recent Za Zu Zaz reunion at The Minstrel; on Saturday Grover is repaying the favor in Morristown.
In this video, the old pals pull one of Grover’s tunes, I Been Around a Long Time, out of Grover’s fedora
How do they feel about headlining Morristown’s inaugural jazz/blues festival?
See for yourself at the end of the video.