'Dr. Joe & Friends' Jam For Music Scholarship

The Branford Eagle | Published April 4, 2016
By Bill O'Brien

The Branford Jazz Concert Series & the Stony Creek Brewery teamed up last week for a swinging evening of jazz, their first ever effort to raise funds for a high school student music scholarship.

The two hour event got underway Wednesday evening at the Brewery with more than 125 on tap to hear “Dr. Joe & Friends” perform. “We are very happy with our first scholarship concert,”  Charlotte Mattei, spokesperson for the Jazz Series committee, said afterward.

“The goal is to establish a scholarship fund for Branford student to study music,” said Dr. Joseph Cardinale, a member of the Jazz Concert Series and the guitarist for Dr. Joe & Friends. The group played for an enthusiastic jazz audience on the upper level in the Brewery.

The quintet included Donn Trenner on piano. Trenner, 89, directed the Steve Allen orchestra back in the ‘50s and is the author of a book entitled, “Leave it to Me…My Life in Music.”  Trenner’s biggest break came in 1961, when the Steve Allen Show hired him to lead the orchestra. He has had a long, illustrious career in the jazz world, including playing with Les Brown and his Band of Renown, a band he adored. 

Other “friends” in the jazz group included Dave Daddario on bass, Ben Bilello on drums, and Chris Coulter on sax. 

Committee members at the greeting table included Dale Izzo, Karen Palluzzi, Charlotte Mattie, and Alex Palluzzi.

Several sponsors attended the event, including Al Canosa of Mosaic Printing, Signage and Marketing Services, who toasted the event by raising his Stony Creek brew, saying “It’s good to have jazz back in Branford.”

He enjoyed the concert and said he looked forward to the jazz series, which begins on Thursday, June 23, the week after the Branford Festival. “It’s always a great night on the Green,” Canoas said of the Thursday night jazz series, which runs until Aug. 21.

Another sponsor attending the event was Matt Reale, of MN Reale Construction, who came with two of his staff members, Brendan Page and Traci Knapp. Reale said he was pleased to be a sponsor of the jazz series again. “We get a lot of satisfaction being identified with the jazz programs in the summer. We feel it adds to the quality of life in Branford. The big crowds every Thursday mean people like it.”

Those at the Brewery event purchased tickets for $25. The fee entitled them to a Jazz Series pint glass and their first beer plus the music of the jazz ensemble. A number of attendees purchased a pizza from Frank Andrews Mobile Kitchen, which was set up outside in the parking lot. Others brought their own favorite dish.

Mattie told the Eagle that “we hope to make between $1,000 to $1,200 from this year’s concert and want to add to that amount with another event or two in the next year. That’s when we are planning to start giving out the Branford Jazz Music Scholarship Fund. “