Delmarva jazz musicians create unique versions of holiday favorites

December 17, 2021

Just a few days ago, seven of Delmarva’s most talented jazz musicians gathered at Mid South Audio recording studio in Milton to create their own brand of Christmas music for Resort Broadcasting’s Backstage Pass live musical series. Their interpretations of holiday favorites will be broadcast in stereo from 2 to 4 p.m., Christmas Day, Saturday, Dec. 25, with no commercial interruption, during The Rehoboth Foodie’s Beach Eats program that airs weekly on WGMD 92.7FM and WUSX 98.5FM. Excerpts will also be played throughout the weekend on both stations.

The Cape Region boasts a thriving music community, and many local players have become household words. Joe Holt, a master of jazz improvisation (and certified music therapist), takes the lead on Mid South Audio’s concert grand piano. Holt plays with many regional jazz groups and performs regularly at The Mainstay in Rock Hall, Md. He’s joined by jazz drummer Mike McShane. In addition to working with Holt, McShane provides the rhythm for Shore Jazz, Billy Carlins Band, Holly Lane and True Blue Jazz, to name just a few. Electric and acoustic bass lines are provided by Bob Taylor, who toured extensively with David Bromberg and is bassist for the Pennsylvania-based band Llama Dalis. The band will be further filled out with Glenn Miller Orchestra alumnus Cody Leavel on saxophone, flute, clarinet and vocals. Leavel performs with Hammond Hot! Jazz Trio and everybody’s favorite show band, The Funsters.

Jazz vibraphone virtuoso and arranger Paul Midiri also brings his talents to the sessions. Midiri, along with his brother Joe, directs the 18-piece Midiri Brothers Orchestra as well as various small-group ensembles. He’s joined by none other than guitarist Billy West, who adds his distinctive style to regional bands Big Hat No Cattle and Bird Dog & the Road Kings. Cape Gazette restaurant columnist Bob Yesbek gives us a peek at his musical side by providing the sound of the Hammond B-3 jazz organ and synthesizer. He leads local bands 2nd Time Around and Hammond Hot! Jazz Trio.

The Christmas Sessions at Mid South are co-produced by Joe Holt and Bob Yesbek. Special thanks go out to Resort Broadcasting Executive Producer Walt Palmer, Mid South Audio owners Kevin and Debbie Short, recording engineer Frank Marchand, and Touch of Italy Catering for keeping the musicians and studio crew fed (very well!) during the recording sessions. Tune in to 92.7FM or 98.5FM at 2 p.m. on Christmas Day for two uninterrupted hours of Christmas songs interpreted by seven of Delmarva’s local and regional jazz players.

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