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A CurtainUp Review
Boogie Stomp!

European technique trains all voices to sound like instruments — pure and locked into the note. African American makes all instruments sound like the human voice. — Baldori
boogie stomp
L. to R. Bob Baldori and Arthur Migliazza (photo credit: Rebecca Scheckman)
Two extraordinary pianists, Bob Baldori and Arthur Migliazza, provide all the jivey music, the snappy commentary and the wonderfully playful fun in their hugely entertaining concert Boogie Stomp! Masters of their brand of keyboard artistry, namely playing/interpreting of Boogie Woogie, the Blues, and Ragtime, they notably bring two lifetimes of love and dedication to this totally American genre. Their love for this music is evident in every note they play, every song they sing and every comment they make.

Baldori could use a little help picking out some nice looking clothes to wear (that Hawaiian shirt and skin tight jeans are pathetic), but once he gets to tickling those keys and on occasion playing his harmonica with awesome virtuosity, our attention is strictly on the music. He's been playing the piano since he was 3, and also wrote and directed an award winning documentary, also titled Boogie Stomp!

Baldori's amazing career recording and performing with such jazz and blues luminaries as Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley among many others can be summed up simply by saying he is a truly terrific one-of-a-kind musician. He not only serves as primary narrator (the excellent text is credited to John Campana) of the history of the blues with which has been so closely identified, but fills the room with his enthusiasm and exuberant playing.

Migliazza was also somewhat of a child prodigy and has played professionally since he was 13. His award-winning career, includes playing the Blues on some of the great stages of the world as well as being inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame. Good looking and younger than his partner, Migliazza is another dazzler on the keyboard and more than holds his own in contrast to Baldori's quips with endearing and wry touches of humor.

Together these two are tearing up the Electra Theatre with their piano artistry. Yhey use their flawless techniques in a couple of duets that are astounding complex as well as fun to watch. These are spaced between solos, the show's rather informal narrative thread and some nice visuals.

A revelation to me is the influence on the blues made by the steam engines that powered the trains of yore with their rhythms and sounds. This is terrifically integrated into the program and accompanied by some creatively edited film clips of the old trains in motion. Lovers of the old trains, like myself, will be in a state of bliss.

For many, however, the the background stories of their mentors and such legendary musicians as Bob Seeley, W.C. Handy, and Earl "fatha" Hines that provide an extra dimension to their music journey. But this is not a classroom but a party celebrating the social, economic and roots of the blues and the African-American culture.

These two great guys seated (sometimes) at two grand pianos have previously shared their talents with audiences in Russia, Canada and South America, but a return to New York after a year's absense means that anyone who missed them in their last visit is getting another chance. The joy and the excitement they generate with their own unique blend of (in their words) "rhythm, improvisation, and syncopation" is at the heart of their versions of blues, jazz, swing, as well as some R & B and Rock. Classics are highlighted but given a newly individualized identity through their piano artistry.

You'll be hard pressed not to swing and sway and jive with them as they shake the rafters with "St. Louis Blues," Shake that Boogie," "Bumble Boogie" and that show-stopping concerto based on the original Louis Prima song "Sing, Sing, Sing" (but made famous by Benny Goodman's big band.) The audience at the performance I saw was unable to sit still and not become part of this terrific two hour celebration that's been expertly directed by Kirk Gostkowski.

Boogie Stomp! By John Campana
Directed by Kirk Gostkowski
Cast: Bob Baldori and Arthur Migliazza
Choreographer: Trina Mills
Production Stage Manager: John Michael Crotty
Running Time: 2 hours including intermission
The Electra Theatre, 300 West 43rd Street
Tickets: $39.00 - $99.00
Performances: Wed., Thurs., Fri., at 8 pm and Sat. at 8:30 pm.
From 09/25/15 Opened 10/16/15 Ends 11/28/15
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 10/14/15
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