Michael G. Nastos Tribute

A late-night tribute concert for Michael G. Nastos was held at the Blue LLama Jazz Club in Ann Arbor on Friday, December 30, 2022. The concert featured four spirited performances from a wide array of southeast Michigan performers.

Pianist and composer Andy Adamson’s quintet kicked things off with the roaring horns of tenor saxophonist Dan Bennett and trumpeter Ross Huff. The ensemble weaved through Adamson’s soulful, rock-influenced compositions, propelled by the explosive rhythm section of percussionist Jonathan Barahal Taylor and electric bassist, Brennan Andes. The crowd at the Blue LLama was closely attentive to their every move.

Next up was the MGN Percussion Ensemble featuring bassist Dave Sharp and percussionists, Efe Bes, Aron Kaufman, Rico Rosario, and Nick Collins. The Percussion Ensemble brought a hard grooving energy to the bandstand. The pulse of the music was palpable as audience members grooved along. The groove was irresistible to percussionist Bob Sweet who jumped on stage for a tune on percussion.

For the next set, Sweet transitioned to the role of bandleader, leading a trio featuring tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman and Kenji Lee on bass. The ensemble explored a variety of sonic landscapes over the classic jazz standards “Isotope” (Henderson) and “Jitterbug Waltz” (Waller). Dan Bennett joined in on the fun for an adventurous two-tenor affair with Haldeman. The group closed with a free blowing rendition of Ornette Coleman’s “Dee Dee.”

For the final performance of the evening, John T-Bone Paxton & Friends paid tribute to Michael G by singing a few of his favorite songs. The ensemble featured Paxton on vocals & trombone, Dan Bennett on tenor saxophone, William Bennett on piano, Trevor Lamb on double bass, Sean Perlmutter on drums, Aron Kaufman on percussion, and special guest Ralph McKee on electric bass. Paxton began his set with a beautiful bossa nova rendition of the Charlie Chaplin classic “Smile.” The soulful Paxton then launched into a slow blues rendition of “A Room with a View.” Perlmutter and Kaufman then displayed their percussive versatility, moving in lockstep to the South African classic “Ntyilo Ntyilo.” Paxton & Friends closed the evening with a funky, Wild Magnolias-inspired rendition of “When The Saints Go Marching In.”

All four ensembles represented the diverse spectrum of music that Michael G. Nastos championed for many years. It is no doubt that Nastos’ spirit lives on in the music and community he loved so dearly.

A separate gathering for Nastos is scheduled to take place at Silvio’s in Canton, Michigan, later this year.