Over the years, I have seen my share of memorable concerts. Paradoxically, perhaps, one that I missed stands out.
A long, long time ago, a group called Grover, Margret and Za Zu Zaz played Livingston College.
The odd name made an impression.
Lost to memory is my excuse for missing that show. Cramming for an exam? No cash? Fear of the unknown? (Google still was in the distant future.)
Fast-forward to last Friday. Grover Kemble — the Grover of Za Zu Zaz, the Grover of Sha Na Na (which shared the bill with folksinger Burl Ives on The Flip Wilson Show, another one that got away from me), the Grover who played Carnegie Hall with John Pizzarelli — performed with the razor-sharp Jerry Vezza Trio at The Troubadour in Morris Township.
Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin; click/hover on images for captions:
While I’ll always regret passing on the college cafeteria gig, I’m glad for The Troubadour experience. Few performers embody the term entertainer like Grover Kemble. He shifts gears like a racer at LeMans. Calypso, jazz, blues, bawdy numbers, goofy Jimmy Durante tunes, wistful original ballads…he never misses a beat.
Backed by Jerry Vezza on piano, Hal Slapin on bass and John Vourtsis on drums, Kemble showed off the easy-chair-smooth vocals and nuanced fretboard stylings that have made him one of Greater Morristown’s musical treasures.
Kemble is no slouch in the songwriting department, either. Here is a new composition, a pandemic reflection on the long road from there to here, called Journeys:
Video: Grover Kemble, ‘Journeys’:
In this clip, Vezza, a leader in Madison’s cultural scene, leads his band in a deep dive into the Great American Songbook:
Video: The Jerry Vezza Trio at The Troubadour:
And lastly, a lighter take on this journey called life. You don’t need to Google “Jimmy Durante” to appreciate this one.
Turns out making up for lost time is fun, after all.
Video: Jimmy Kemble? Grover Durante?