Ben Stocker is a tenor saxophonist from Hollywood, this weekend playing at Books and Books in Coral Gables, one of his last South Florida gigs before he heads off to college and, with hard work and perseverance, a career as a musician. He hopes he’s still performing 70 years from now.
Jimmy Cavallo is a tenor saxophonist from Pompano Beach, this weekend playing at Blue Jean Blues in Fort Lauderdale, one of his regular gigs before he heads off on a quick tour of his old stomping grounds in upstate New York. He’s been performing for more than 70 years.
“That’s … that’s a long time,” says Stocker, by phone, sounding a little intimidated. The 18-year-old recently graduated from the acclaimed jazz program at Dillard Center for the Arts in Fort Lauderdale and will attend Michigan State University on a music scholarship. “I wonder if he thinks it’s the music that has kept him going that long.”
Cavallo has performed with Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole and Bobby Darin, and sounds like he’s never been intimidated by anything.
“Oh, it’s been my lifeline. If I stopped, that’d be it,” says Cavallo, 87. “My wife wasn’t feeling so well awhile back, and I took July off to be with her, and I was going nuts. I’d go out and play for free.”
No matter the age, the vernacular of the jazz musician is similar, especially when it comes to the prominent swagger of the tenor sax. Asked about their upcoming sets, both reference similar leading men: John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, Charley Parker.
“It’s one of the most powerful instruments in jazz. It has such a commanding place,” Stocker says. "The tenor player has to be coming with a lot. It’s a cool role, that I like to have on the bandstand.”
Echoes Cavallo, a former alto saxophonist: “Once I saw Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five doing ‘Caledonia’ and songs like that, I knew I had more to say. I knew I had to be out front, playing the solos, singing. That was for me.”
And the ladies love the tenor, right? “Oh, yeah. Of course,” Stocker says with a laugh.
“That’s if you’re a performer,” says Cavallo, a showman with an easy gift of gab and plenty of stories, which he'll soon be sharing again at his regular gigs at the City Pub in Deerfield Beach and Nick's Italian Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. “Some guys just sit there and look at their instrument when they play. I always want to bring the audience into my world. I might introduce a song with a story, but I don’t put on airs," he says. "When I tell them Bobby [Darin] and I used to have pizza every night in Wildwood, N.J., that’s the truth."
And that's the advice that Cavallo has for Stocker: Enjoy yourself and share your enthusiasm. "I make sure to keep smiling, like Bobby did and Sammy [Davis Jr.]," Cavallo says. "I get so much enjoyment out of this. It’s natural. I’m just being me.”
The Ben Stocker Quartet (which includes Zachary Auslander on guitar, Chris Mills on bass and Zack McKinney on drums), will perform in the courtyard at Books and Books 8 p.m. Saturday. The band’s final South Florida performance will be at Books and Books on Aug. 16. Info: BooksAndBooks.com.
Cavallo's trio (Dolph Castellano on piano and Danny Burger on drums) will play 5-8 p.m. Saturday at Blue Jean Blues, a weekly gig throughout August. Info: BlueJeanBlues.net.
Here's a look at both saxophonists doing what they do, stylishly:
Looking ahead a little, Acoustic Garage is the name of a night of acoustic guitars and 100 craft beers on Aug. 15 at the Inkwell Pub (238 N. State Road 7, Margate). Among the merry noisemakers will be Mark Dubin (the Johnsons, Los Diablos), Jim Wurster (Black Janet), Dan Bonebrake (Vacant Andys, Dashboard Confessional) and Russ Rogers (New Way To Live Forever, Dot Fash). If you have not heard Wurster’s dark and cinematic new album, “Raw,” you are in for a memorable ride. Info: 954-532-3511, InkwellPub.com.
This weekend’s beneficiary of the Funky Buddha Brewery’s Saturday Yappy Hour is the nonprofit 100+ Abandoned Dogs of Everglades Florida, which has rescued more than 2,000 dogs (and some cats) in less than three years of existence. On Saturday, for a donation of $5 or more, you’ll get a wristband good for an extended Yappy Hour, which offers $1 off Buddha drafts from 2 to 6 p.m. Down the road, the Aug. 16 deal will raise money for Shepherd Help and Rescue, which works for German shepherds. Info: Facebook.com/FunkyBuddhaBrewery.
Who’s your favorite Jay Pharoah? Is it Kanye Jay Pharoah? Barack Jay Pharoah ? Denzel Jay Pharoah ? Clearly, right here, it’s Stephen A. Jay Pharoah. Clearly! Especially when he goes off on LeBron and the Heat, as he does below. Catch the real Jay Pharoah at the Palm Beach Improv in West Palm Beach Friday-Sunday. Tickets. $22. Info: 561-833-1812, PalmBeach.improv.com.
You can get in some family time and a few laughs at three free outdoor movie screenings this weekend: “A Night at the Museum” screens at 8 p.m. Friday on the Great Lawn at the Waterfront in downtown West Palm Beach (WPB.org/screen-on-the-green); “The Karate Kid” also can be seen at 8 p.m. Friday at the ArtsPark in downtown Hollywood (VisitHollywoodFL.org); and “Big” will be shown 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Canyon Amphitheater in Boynton Beach (Facebook.com/CanyonAmphitheater).
GLAM DOLL SIP
If you’ve ever thought about getting involved with those crazy Glam-A-THON girls (who put on the annual Glam Doll Strut, coming Oct. 18), the group’s young professionals wing, called HYPE, is hosting a mingle 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Capital Grille (2430 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Admission to the “ultimate wine and food pairing experience” is $20 at the door, and benefits the group’s support for women battling breast cancer. Info: Glam-a-Thon.com.
YOUR WEEKEND DRINK
Behold, the beet mojito. TK’s at the Villa Mayfair (2901 Florida Ave., Coconut Grove) is touting this mix of fresh-cooked beets and rum, with hints of aromatic orange, anise seed and cinnamon, for its “stamina-boosting nitrates, folate, potassium, Vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.” Sign me up. Maybe. Info: 305-774-1500, TKsVillaMayfair.com.
Hosted by the charismatic Lance-O of Kulcha Shok Music, the 16th annual Afro Roots World Music Festival is at 7th Circuit Studio (228 NE 59th St., Miami) at 8 p.m. Saturday, with music by Suenalo, Tomas Diaz, Ephniko, the Resolvers, Morikeba Kouyate and DJ Le Spam. Tickets: $10 advance, $15 door. Info: AfroRootsWorldMusicFest.com.
YOUR WEEKEND JAM
Rakim and his cohort, Eric B., were responsible for two of the most memorable songs of the golden age of hip-hop, “Paid in Full” (1987) and “Don’t Sweat the Technique” (1992). Rakim has a follow-up to “The Seventh Seal” coming (still), but the opportunity to catch him even allude to the old-school jams on Friday night at Grand Central (697 N. Miami Ave., Miami) is worth the $25 cover. Info: GrandCentralMiami.com.
Coral Springs punk-pop quartet New Found Glory will hit the road this fall in support of a new album, “Resurrection,” stopping at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 11. South Florida amphitheater favorites O.A.R. have announced a tour stop with Andy Grammer on Nov. 15 at Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton. Tickets for both shows go on sale 10 a.m. Friday at the box office, LiveNation.com and all Ticketmaster outlets.
Who gets to see Jared Leto perform live for the first time in the U.S. since he won an Academy Award? You do. The word is scattered tickets remain to catch Leto’s band, 30 Seconds to Mars, when they open their North American tour with Linkin Park and AFI on Friday at the Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach. Tickets: $20-$117.80 via Ticketmaster.
Sometimes a band and a bar are just made for each other. Saturday night Joel DaSilva and the Midnight Howl return to Stache (109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale), where he debuted his album "Durty Howlin' Blues" a few months back. Admission is free, which must be some kind of mistake. Info: 954-449-1044, StacheFTL.com, JDandtheHowl.com.
MOON IN YOUR EYES
The Hungry Ghost Festival, when tradition says the deceased arrive in search of food and entertainment, has nothing to do with the imminent snowbird season, but rather Chinese custom. Tsukuro (225 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) will use the Hungry Ghost Festival as a theme for its full moon party on Saturday (Aug. 9), an evening that will include ritualistic food offerings, the burning of “ghost money” (joss paper), ribbon dancers, fire dancers, magic and DJ Eran Hersh. Guests are encouraged to also wear white, the color of mourning in Chinese culture, and ancestral spirits. Info: 954-523-1407, TsukuroFL.com.
Movie for a Mission is the name of a Monday night event hosted by the Broward Partnership’s Young Partners Council at Cinema Paradiso (503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale). For a $15 donation, you get a free cocktail and light buffet during a 6-7 p.m. reception, followed by a screening of “Night Moves,” starring Dakota Fanning and Jesse Eisenberg, as a complicated eco-terrorist. Proceeds support the nonprofit Broward Partnership’s broad range of services for the homeless. Info: BPHI.org.