Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pahrump Nevada And All That Jazz

Tom Saitta on trumpet - photo credit: MARK WAITE / PVT / Pahrump Valley Times

Last night my wife and I had dinner at the Nuggget Hotel Casino in Pahrump, Nevada, about 65 miles from our home in Henderson. We travel to Pahrump several times a month on business: my wife does paramedical physical examinations for insurance companies and Pahrump is part of her territory. The Nugget is usually where we wind down before the trip back "over the hump".

At 6:00 PM I stopped chomping on my taco salad to hear what sounded like Frank Sinatra singing from their Stage Bar lounge. It turned out to be Tom Saitta singing with keyboard and sax accompaniment. The sax player was the octogenerian Autie Goodman formerly of The Four Freshmen. Tom also demonstrated that he is an accomplished trumpet player ( see photo above). We left the restaurant and while my wife threw away some of our precious nickels, I sat with the assembling group in the lounge ( there were chairs lined in a seating area for those who did not want to sit in the lounge area and one "reserved" table ) and was thoroughly entranced by the performance. I like jazz and I like music from the 40's. Kind of reminds me of when I was 4 years old listening to the big vacuum tube radio console in our living room, but that's another story.

Tom introduced his group, which interestingly included a sound engineer who was recording the sets for a future CD, and a great keyboard artist ( including the bass and rhythm machine ) Dennis Mellen, who played with the U.S. Air Force Band for 11 years. Tom plugged the Nugget Hotel Casino as a up and coming place, where he planned to play on a regular basis with his ensemble band and guest performers. He also plugged his new project Tommasino's Fine Italian Dining restaurant, which will obviously have a restaurant ( but no cover charge, no casino gaming, and no smoking allowed ) a bar or cocktail service, and a live jazz lounge and dance area. Bringing your own food and buying some wine to go with it is not discouraged! Like the old jazz supper clubs which is before my time but sounds like a really cool idea.

As I was getting ready to leave ( I wish I could have stayed longer, but my wife was anxious to get home to process her blood samples ) I saw Heidi Harris of KDWN AM Las Vegas talk radio fame arrive, apparently a good friend of Tom's, and Tom announced that the radio personality and former lounge singer would later contribute a song or two. Darn it, I'm sorry I missed all that. But I am looking forward to returning to the Nugget and seeing how their expansion project which includes a larger casino and new movie theatres is coming along. And to visit Tom's restaurant when it is finally completed. Geepers, Pahrump may become a tourist destination yet!


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