Jazz men in black sweep East Taunton:
A Vatican III review


By Dr. Joseph Doolin
Special to The Anchor

EAST TAUNTON, Mass. — It takes a while to get over it.

Like coming into the sunlight from a darkened room. But once your visual/aural senses are adjusted to four men in black suits and Roman collars playing jazz, you realize that they are, in fact, accomplished musicians.

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Two hundred-plus people filling East Taunton’s Holy Family Parish Center on the Friday evening going into Memorial Day weekend learned that when Vatican III, a jazz-funk fusion quartet, performed. 

For those new to the genre, seminarian Matthew Laird (on saxophone) provided Jazz 101, in which he instructed the audience that during jazz performances they are expected to interact with the musicians by grunting and other visceral means of demonstrating appreciation and encouragement. Like a call-and-response. He also discussed the differences between rock and jazz, the former known for its intensity, the latter for its “cool.” 

Most of the evening, however, was music, food, fellowship, and fun.

There were pieces by Coltrane, Gillespie, and other composers, as well as a Vatican III original by Father Matt Gill, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Victory and Our Lady of the Assumption parishes in Centerville and Osterville. He is also a leader in the Hispanic Apostolate in the mid-Cape area. 

Father Gill, whose piece is entitled, “If You Give a Man a Piece of Cheese ...,” is the group’s bass guitarist. His solo within this set was enthusiastically received. 

Perhaps it was his positioning on the stage, perhaps it was the space taken up by his drum kit, or maybe the sheer energy expended, but drummer Father Patrick Fiorillo seemed to hold the show together. The parochial vicar at St. Paul’s in Cambridge and Harvard undergraduate Catholic chaplain never missed a beat without appearing to work up a sweat. And, he was wearing ear plugs during the performance. 

As we know it today, jazz traces its century-old origins to a fusion of African and European influences, blending African feelings and sensibility with European harmony and use of instruments. Both influences stress improvisation. New Orleans was an incubator of the art form in the early part of the last century. 

Many jazz fans associate performances with some expected props. Perhaps containers of what could be construed to be liquid refreshment, maybe a cigarette drooping from a curled lip, or funny-looking hats that could double as muffs. But the most important prop expected is attitude. 

Only the saxophonist seemed to be riffing without sheet music, and the only hat was a cross between a porkpie and fedora on the electric guitarist. However, all four of the fine gentlemen of the cloth displayed appropriate attitude. From Larry Valliere’s proud rhythmic strut and virtual plucking of the strings, to Father Fiorillo’s Energizer-bunny nonchalance, to Matt Laird’s sturdy bounce, to Father Gill’s carefully positioned elbow — they all had that jazz musician’s attitude.

A test of the audience-holding quality of Vatican III’s show could well be read in the two children in the row ahead of this reviewer. As experienced parents are wont to do, the six-year-old boy was separated from his 11-year-old sister by both father and mother. The boy did a minimum of squirming, spent some time shooting pictures of the group on his phone, but was otherwise a thorough little gentleman for the two-hour concert. His sister did not pull out her phone until intermission, seemed involved in the music, and was not observed complaining. Once. 

The ladies of Holy Family Parish provided bountiful refreshments at the break. The audience had to choose between the role of groupie and chat with the musicians, and mingling in the food aisle while enjoying work of many domestic chefs. 

In attendance was pastor Father Richard Wilson, and Anchor editor Ken Souza, who professionally coordinated light and sound. Father John Perry, Father Gill’s pastor, led a delegation from Cape Cod’s Our Lady of Victory and Our Lady of Assumption parishes.

Father Perry will host the group’s next gig at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Centerville on Friday, July 26. 

Be there or be square!

A parishioner of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Osterville, Dr. Joseph Doolin is the former Secretary for Social Services for the Archdiocese of Boston.


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