Owen MCNally

The Savannah, an upscale downtown restaurant, returns to its Amsterdam connection in the next offering in it praiseworthy First Thursday jazz series.

Armando Cairo, a big-toned swaggering tenor saxophonist from Amsterdam, performs with his quartet tonight from 7 to 10.With its 'First Thursday' series successfully launched, the Savannah is expanding its jazz menu to include performances on Friday and Saturday nights.

And the Cairo Quartet, in a three-night stint in Hartford, inaugurates the restaurant;s nrw, expanded jazz programming with performances Friday and Saturday nights running from 9:30 to 11.

Cairo has zero name recognition for most American jazz fans, many of whom are cynical about Euro-jazz talents. But his robust attack on tenor – an approach rooted in such American masters as Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon – is sure to make many converts and maybe even set the most severe skeptic's feet dancing.

One of Cairo’s capital hallmarks is his big, billowing tone, in the tradition of such rococo soundmeisters as Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. His solos light up with the bold, open-ended looseness and highly charged qualities of Bennie Wallace.

Occasionally, they’re even seasoned with the 1960s avant-garde bleats, blats and split tones of Archie Shepp. A modern mainstream player, the saxophonist from Holland never sets foot into the Netherlands of commercialism, now flooded with the brackish waters of 'smooth jazz'.

Instead, he’s totally straight-ahead and swinging on his two quartet albums, Red-Headed Sirens and Tenor Brutality!.

With any luck, the self-taught saxophonist, who has a degree in art and portraiture, will grace his Harford audience with a rendition of “Amsterdam Parade” a celebratory, strutting street-parade number from “Red-Headed Sirens”.

Joining Cairo are pianist Cajan Witmer, bassist Johnny Tevreden and drummer Clarence Becton.

Last June, the Savannah made its first Amsterdam connection when it presented the noted trompeter and Amsterdam native, Saskia Laroo, dubbed as 'the first Lady of European Jazz'.

The Savannah is at 391 Main St., corner of Capitol Avenue and Main, Hartford. Reservations and information: 860-278-2020

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