Thursday, July 23, 2009 | 2:14 p.m.
“Smooth blues” had a quiet but auspicious debut Wednesday night at DeStefano’s Italian Restaurant.
The Chicago Blues Busters band a handful of guest singers introduced to the world a concept created by Larry “Wild” Wrice, an 82-year-old drummer who says the escalating noise level of blues was driving older people away.
About 30 appreciative fans witnessed the birth of Wrice’s baby, among them Don and Alicia Cunningham, the famed jazz duo who reside in Vegas, and noted jazz pianist Terrell Prude.
It wasn’t a perfect evening.
“I’m a perfectionist and I saw some faults with the way things went, but the crowd loved it and I made my point about what I wanted to do,” Wrice said. “The basic sound is there – soft blues.”
Wrice used brushes instead of drumsticks.
“Nobody in this town plays brushes all night long, especially in blues,” he said.
"Smooth blues" had a jazzy flavor. The band was without two of the key elements of blues – guitar and harmonica.
The Chicago Blues Busters included Wrice on drums, Stevie D on piano, Lou Lacey on bass, Allen DeVille on trumpet and King Bartel on tenor sax.
Guest vocalists included Sonny Turner (lead singer of The Platters), Lady Day (stage name of an entertainer who does a tribute to Billie Holiday), Christine Wilshire, Pam E. Williams, Donna Lynne, Melanie Moore, Yolanda Quandt and Joyce Carole.
“There were more singers in the house than we had time for,” Wrice said.
That shouldn’t be a problem over time. Smooth blues will be performed at the restaurant from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays.
Wrice also drums for his second band, “Gents of Swings,” playing big band sounds from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays at DeStefano’s.
Fans appreciated the smooth blues evening.
One commented, “It reminds of the old times you don’t hear anymore.”
Said another, “It’s great music, just what I need.”