If you haven’t heard about or ever been to a performance of VIVO, then”This Is the Time” for you to familiarize yourself with them. That is the title of the group’s latest CD which is available on their website. And itt couldn’t have come at a better time.
VIVO has been around for about four years now, but collectively the members more than a century’s worth of experience performing and entertaining in Milwaukee and its environs for decades more.
Warren Paul Vito Wiegratz, for example, has been wowing crowds with his unique slant on jazz and many other genres for more than fifty years. He still sports the boyish grin we all got to see at Giorgi’s and The Bull Ring in the 70s with Sweetbottom as they rode the wave of popularity that fusion had back then.
Warren plays the saxophone, flute, melodica and keys with equal aplomb. Pam Duronio provides her considerable vocal prowess, effortlessly switching back and forth between octaves with the savvy of a Manhattan commuter.
Pam’s husband, Tim Stemper, plays the heck out of the guitar going from flamenco to acoustic folk to Latin jazz with an inherent ease that speaks to his many years playing in the Caribbean, Florida and elsewhere. Duane Stuermer endows this effort with his one-of-a-kind gift on the bass guitar. VIVO added Brian Dale to drum on this drop. Dale headlines his own group, plays in Streetlife with Wiegratz, Powered by Five with Tracy Hannemann and so on. Space limitations preclude naming them all.
As the title of VIVO’s first disc, “Sunny Side of the Street,” implies, it covers the jazz standards. Warren, Pam and Tim wrote and produced the eight tracks on this one. It is most definitely a keeper.
Each of the songs stay true to the genre while at the same time incorporating a little something extra to make them sound just that much sweeter. Case in point would be the haunting ballad “Ask Me How I Feel.” On it, Duronio’s pleas, as she recounts a love lost, are dripping with pure emotion so powerful they jump off the disc and into the listener’s heart.
Wiegratz’s influences clearly include Antonio Carlos Jobim and his fingerprints are all over the gentle, breezy instrumentals “My Apologies to Joao” as well as the aptly dubbed “Sammy’s Tango.”
“Closer to You” is one of the more up tempo cuts and borrows from 70s Rock & Roll with a dash of Soul from the same era tossed in for good measure. Listening to Vivo only wants you go and see them perform live. Denizens of this area are in luck because one configuration or another of this gifted bunch is playing out several times a week throughout the year.
“This is the Time”
· Where You Want to Go
· My Apologies to Joao
· This is the Time
· Ask Me How I Feel
· The Winds of Spring
· Make You Mine
· Sammy’s Tango
· Closer to You