The sounds of the Big Easy inside Kleinhans Music Hall knocked the chill right out of the air Friday night as Byron Stripling, a former lead trumpeter with the Count Basie Orchestra, spiced up the stage with his Louis Armstrong-style playing.
From the sultry, opening strains of "Tiger Rag," Stripling's masterful command of his instrument was unerring, powerful, playful and woozy. You could almost see old Satchmo standing in the wings, smiling from ear to ear.
Stripling, a frequent soloist with the New York and Boston pops, was featured in the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's "Mardi Gras Celebration" program of authentic jazz from a bygone era, mainly the 1930s and 1940s. Robert Franz conducted.
Even though Stripling mockingly genuflected before tackling a gorgeous D-flat at the end of "Sounds of New Orleans," he later hit the same difficult note with ease, time and time again on such numbers as "South Rampart Street Parade" and "St. James Infirmary."
And the nattily attired Stripling's channeling of Armstrong didn't end with his trumpet playing. He has a fine baritone capable of evoking Satchmo's distinctive growl, as well as capturing the essence of dearly departed greats such as Cab Calloway, Billy Eckstein and Joe Williams.
"Your applause is the food that feeds our souls," Stripling told his audience during a brief break from the program.
"You can tell I've been getting a lot of applause lately," Stripling added with a sly wink, though he did look perfectly svelte in his single-breasted, tailored black suit.
Other numbers included in the program were "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans," "West End Blues," "Sleepy Time Down South," "Basin Street Blues," "What a Wonderful World" and the unfailing crowd-pleaser, "When the Saints Go Marchin' In."
There was even a little Broadway, from Jerry Herman's "Hello Dolly" to Kurt Weill's "Mack the Knife" to keep spirits and temperatures rising.
A post concert party with live music from the Bar Room Buzzards in the Mary Seaton Room was also promised.
The show repeats tonight at 8 o'clock.
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Mardi Gras Celebration on Friday in Kleinhans Music Hall. Another performance at 8 tonight.