Among the many great musicians who call Rhode Island home, Doug Woolverton stands out from the crowd. The trumpeter has played with nationally known artists like Aretha Franklin, Warren Haynes, Roomful of Blues, and most recently, blues keyboardist Victor Wainwright.
Woolverton and his band will be playing a special Valentine’s show at the Updike Room at the Greenwich Hotel in East Greenwich on February 12. The event will feature a full course meal followed by the concert. Click here for tickets.
I spoke to Woolverton last week while he was in Los Angeles preparing for several shows in northern California with his girlfriend’s band. Like many artists, his career was impacted by the pandemic with his performance schedule pretty much wiped out.
“I relied entirely on touring, that was my full income,” he explained. “When everything shut down, so did the income. It affected me for over a year and a half and still does. In my heyday, I was doing well over 200 shows a year and that got cut back drastically.”
He remains optimistic, however … “I’m not the only one in the boat, the good news is we’re all in this together, and that just gives you some peace of mind.”
Meanwhile, he’s looking forward to touring more regularly, starting with the Greenwich Hotel show next month. Woolverton and his band will be playing the complete Kind of Blue, the renowned modal jazz album recorded by Miles Davis and his band in 1959.
“I’ll be celebrating my 10-year anniversary of doing the Miles Davis tribute show. I started the show back in 2012, and the first show was at Fifth Element on Broadway in Newport.”
He says he was inspired to play a Miles Davis show after a chance encounter with a young woman. “I remember talking to this family who had a young daughter and she asked me ‘who’s your favorite trumpet player?’ I said Miles Davis and she didn’t know who he was.” Woolverton realized that the younger generation would become less and less familiar with the famed trumpeter and his legacy.
“So I thought, I need to do something, create something, to really put this in front of people. Kind of Blue alone is just such an iconic record,” explained Woolverton. “Because of that conversation, I got a team together. I was touring with Roomful of Blues at the time, I said ‘hey guys, if I do the show, would you want to be my backing band?’ Everyone was very supportive, and I used Roomful horns for that first show, and it just kind of evolved from that.”
The show became so popular the band added a second night at a recent Bridgefest event. “Newport really supported it, the show moved from the Fifth Element to becoming more of a theater-type production, with backdrops and moving lights and more,” he noted.
The show will feature the full album plus additional Davis classics. “I’m gonna start the evening with some songs that led up to Kind of Blue, all the 1950s stuff, it’s a 90-minute show, and the album is only 48 minutes,” said Woolverton.
Kind of Blue is considered by many critics to be the greatest jazz album ever recorded. It’s sold over 5 million copies, which is unheard of for jazz music. Miles fans will appreciate Woolverton’s take on the music. He explained how the band approaches the compositions.
“The arrangements we’re playing are exact to the record. On the solos, throughout the sextet, we will quote the selected artist that we are representing, but it’s up to the musicians that are hired, I allow them to be themselves. Myself, I’ll be playing some Miles transcriptions, you’ll hear all the colors in the sounds that he played. The arrangements are exact, the solos are up to the artists who will be on stage.”
“Another cool fact – the trumpet I’m playing for this show, it’s very, very valuable, extremely rare, it’s the exact horn and model year, that Miles David played on Kind of Blue,” noted Woolverton. Also, the mute that I am using is the same model to the year that he used on those records. It’s as close to the Miles sound as you can get.”
The band for the show features Woolverton on trumpet, Mike Tucker on Tenor Sax, Chase Ceglie on Alto Sax, Rusty Scott on piano, Keala Kaumeheiwa on bass, and Chris Rivelli on drums.
Bring your Valentine to the show – Doors open at 6PM, with dinner served at 7PM, and the show scheduled to start at 8PM. Dinner includes one Entree, House Salad w/ bread, and a bottle of wine. Vegan and Vegetarian options are available.