Mu­si­cian lends sax­o­phone stylings to mem­oir

The Willow Grove Guide - - OPINION - By M. English

Jour­nal Reg­is­ter News

Ser­vice Lo­cal res­i­dents may know mu­si­cian Frank Ewing from bands like Good for Noth­ing Jazz Trio, ‘Tis the Sea­son and Down­town Har­vest. More re­cently, the Ply­mouth Meet­ing na­tive and fel­low Ply­mouth Whitemarsh High School alums Mike Gor­don and brothers John and Chris Wood have been head­lin­ing area mu­sic venues as Bravo Jazz nuar­tet.

This month, though, Ewing has also been lend­ing his sax­o­phone stylings to “Grow­ing Up Ital­ian-Buon Natale” — area writer Tony Leodora’s mu­si­cal mem­oir about “what it was like grow­ing up in the dual Ital­ian and Amer­i­can cul­tures of the Baby Boomer era.”

Like many area folks, Ewing learned to trea­sure his own Ital­ian roots from a grand­par­ent.

“My grand­mother was from out­side of Naples and was the head of my fam­ily,” he says.

“Ev­ery Sun­day, ev­ery­one would gather at her house to eat a huge meal.”

When the 2000 PW grad trav­eled to Italy “the sum­mer be­fore my se­nior year, [Iz was amazed at how I was wel­comed as part of the fam­ily and fell in love with the coun­try, cul­ture, peo­ple and food.”

“I stud­ied mar­ket­ing and mi­nored in Ital- ian at [Penn Statez and went abroad to Peru­gia for six months … where they hold a huge jazz fest ev­ery year,” Ewing con­tin­ues. “I made it a goal to re­turn, and in 2009, I brushed up on my Ital­ian and went for two months to make con­nec­tions and play mu­sic.

“I found that I could make enough money do­ing what I love — play­ing sax­o­phone and singing with the ac­cor­dion — and work­ing in a wine bar … while im­mers­ing my­self in a beauti- ful for­eign cul­ture and lan­guage. So, I re­turned the fol­low­ing year to study Ital­ian and at­tend a Berklee [in Um­briaz Jazz Clinic. In 2011, I went for three months, trav­el­ing and play­ing all over the coun­try.

“I par­tic­u­larly fell in love with south­ern Italy, Cal­abria and Si­cily. The pace of life is so slow down there, and fam­ily and food seem to vis­i­bly be the most im­por­tant things to life. I’d like to re­turn, fur­ther­ing my mu­sic ca­reer in Europe while mak­ing the most of the con­nec­tions and friends I’ve made along the way .…”

Ewing hopes to re­turn in 2014 with “a big group of fam­ily and friends” in tow.

In the mean­time, he and his Bravo Jazz band­mates are reg­u­lars at Spamps and a num­ber of other Philadel­phia and sub­ur­ban venues, and he con­tin­ues to “[goz full force with mu­sic as a ca­reer and also give gui­tar, sax and pi­ano lessons.”

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