Monday, July 16, 2018

CD Review: "Say It" from John Proulx

John Proulx's new CD "Say It" is the first album that he has produced independently and it's terrific!  Pianist, Vocalist, Composer and Producer John Proulx is one of the brightest new stars on today's Jazz scene.  He is a welcome addition to the Jazz world, not only because of his composing, singing and Piano playing but because John has a fine appreciation of the Jazz greats of the past and the wonderful music they introduced to the world.  His musical efforts continue to produce outstanding new music while at the same time, John still addresses some of the great songs of the "Great American Songbook".  On this CD, John has recorded some new songs in addition to recording some gems from the past like "The Summer Knows", Mose Allison's sardonic "I Don't Worry About a Thing" and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now". 

In addition to John's talents, he is a Jazz star that still is always willing to help other new and lesser-known Jazz players with Piano support, arranging, producing and caring supportive direction.  He is a major Jazz star with no overriding ego!

John asked his old friend and outstanding vocalist, Judy Wexler to help him produce this album along with two other friends that are legendary Jazz musicians, Bassist Chuck Berghofer and the great Joe LaBarbera on Drums.  According to John, "Chuck and Joe have been my musical bedrock. I love the way they inspire me to play and sing."  Also joining John on this CD are two more Jazz giants, Guitarist Larry Koonse and Saxophonist Bob Sheppard.   And the topper to this group is Melissa Manchester who recorded the duet "Stained Glass", a tune that they co-wrote. 

I first met John at one of Pete Carlson's Jazz Concerts in Palm Desert, and I have been a fan ever since.

1. "Gentle Rain:
2. "Scatsville"
3. "The Summer Knows"
4. "Watch What Happens"
5. "Say It"
6. "I Don't Worry About A Thing"
7. "The Last Goodbye"
8. "Stained Glass"
9. "Something To Live For"
10. "Both Sides Now"

John  Proulx-Piano/Vocals/Arrangements
Chuck Berghofer-Bass
Joe LaBarbera-Drums
Larry Koonse-Guitar
Bob Sheppard-Tenor Sax/Soprano Sax
Billy Hulting-Auxiliary Percession
Melissa Manchester-Guest Vocals
Alan  Broadbent-String Quartet Arrangements

The Gina Kronstadt Strings
   Gina Kronstadt-1st Violin, leader
   Susan Chatman-2nd Violin
   Rodney Wurtz- Viola
   Stefanie Fife-Cello

Produced by Judy Wexler

I found and attached a "Youtube" of John singing "I've Never Been In Love Before" that from John's album "Moon and Sand" for your listening pleasure.

                                                    "I've Never Been In Love Before"

Thursday, May 31, 2018

CD Review: Bianca Rossini, "Vento do Norte"

A couple of months ago, I received an email from Bianca Rossini informing me that she had just published a new CD.  She offered to send me copy of her CD with a request that if I liked it, would I do a review for my Music Man Blog.  After some research, I agreed to listen to the CD and do a review if I like it.

I received the CD several weeks ago, have been listening to it and it's terrific.  Bianca Rossini was born in Rio de Janeiro and sings with a very sensual style that fits beautifully with the traditional Bossa Nova style.  In addition,  Bianca is a skillful lyricist and composer.  On her latest CD, "Vento do Norte", Bianca wrote all the lyrics for the 10 songs on the CD and also co-wrote the music for 3 songs.  It's such a pleasure to hear new songs written in the timeless Bossa Nova tempo.  With respect to all the great Bossa Nova masters who have delighted us with their music in the past, Bianca brings something new and fresh to the Brazilian Bossa Nova.  She sings in Portuguese and the lyrics she has written are outstanding.

Bianca Rossini has an impressive resume including success in TV and Film.  She is a dancer and choreographer and the author of three books.  She co-produced and hosted a decade-;long weekly television talk show, "The Bianca Rossini Show".  "Vento do Norte" is Bianca's third CD and if you are a Bossa Nova fan, you will enjoy her new CD.

1. "Vento do Norte"
2. "Doce Amor"
3. "Ipanema Paraiso"
4. "Why I Smile"
5. "Que Cor"
6. "Tic Tac do Amor"
7. "Paris in Beverly Hills"
8. "Circular"
9. "Meu Sonho"
10. "Coracao de Ouro"

I found a "YouTube" of Bianca Rossini singing the last song in her CD, "Coracao de Ouro" and I know you will enjoy listening to it.

                                                                   Coracao de Ouro

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Rich Bono Excites the Audience At AJ's With His Impressive Jazz Piano Performance

Wednesday night at AJ's is usually covered by Doug MacDonald.  However Doug couldn't make the date, so he asked Piano marvel, Rich Bono to stand in for him.  Rich was joined by Bassist Larry Holloway and Drummer Tim Pleasant and these three master-class musicians put on one of the best musical shows of the season to the delight of the capacity audience at AJ's.  Rich wasted no time tonight launching this Piano Jazz Trio into 4 great up-tempo standards, one better than the next.  Rich was at the top of his musical game, as he usually is, and inspired and excited the audience. It appeared that Rich's outstanding Jazz Piano playing also inspired Larry and Tim, who not only performed well,  but looked like they were having lots of fun doing it.  Before long the room took on a party feel as the Trio had totally engaged the attention of the audience.  The first set flew by and when it was over, the audience was on their feet cheering.

During the second set, several talented vocalists who I am familiar with, sat in with the Trio .  They too were inspired by Rich and his Trio and responded with some of the best musical performances I have witnessed in the Valley.  It was a special night for all!

Rich Bono has a sterling musical resume including several tours with Frankie Lane and the Harry James Band.  He has performed in many of the finest casino Hotels in Las Vegas for over 30 years where he performed with some of the biggest stars in the country.  Sadly, we just don't get many chances to hear Rich play with a Jazz Trio.  When he does, he creates musical magic!

I was able to record a short video on my iPhone which I posted on "YouTube" that will give you a taste of what the music sounded like on this special night. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Entertainer, Vocalist, and Composer Johnny Meza Performs at Chef George Every Wednesday

Johnny Meza has been performing and exciting audiences in the Valley for many years.  I first discovered Johnny in the Desert Sage Restaurant in Old Town La Quinta around 10 years ago.   I loved the way he played Keyboard and sang but most of all I loved his stage presence and the way he connected with everyone in his audience.  Even though Johnny is a highly talented musician,  he never developed a performer's ego.  He is a truly kind and wonderful person who loves to perform for all audiences. He also has a great sense of humor.  So if you love the best of the Pop tunes from years gone by and love to laugh,  Chef George and Johnny Meza needs to be on your night out "To Do" List.

Johnny performs every Tuesday night starting at 7:00 PM at Chef George's Picasso Room in Bermuda Dunes.  The room is perfect for Johnny's style of performing.  It's small enough so Johnny can reach out and touch everyone in the audience, and he does.  Johnny talks to his audience between each song,  about the songs and takes requests.  His sweet spot is Pop tunes from the 50's through current Pop hits.  He also included some of the best songs from the Great American Songbook.

Chef George is located at 40100 Washington Street, Bermuda Dunes, CA.  The food at Chef George is a mix of Hungarian and Italian.  It's terrific and the portions are large but the prices are very reasonable.  Call for reservations at 7670-200-1768.

I have attached a "YouTube" of Johnny Meza playing and singing the popular hit he composed, "Dirty Martini"  along with Will Donato on Sax.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

New Arrivals To The Desert, Jasmine Tommaso and Lorenso Grasi Make Their Musical Debut At Backstreet Bistro

Bill Saitta, Lorenso Grasi and Jasmine Tommaso

Jay Lewis, Bill Saitta and Lorenso Grasi

Singer Jasmine Tommaso and Guitarist Lorenso Grasi have recently moved into the Valley from Italy.  They are two highly trained (Berkelee College of Music) musicians who want to start performing in our area.  Based on the audience response at Backstreet Bistro, finding venues to perform should not be a problem.  Vocalist Jasmine Tommaso has a wonderful, warm voice, sounding like a mixture of Lady Day and Nancy Wilson.   Her phrasing is very Jazz-like and pleasing,  especially when she sings great standards, like "You've Changed" and "All of Me".   Her stage presence is strong, and she knows how to lead her sidemen who quickly recognize they are dealing with a very experienced musician.  It didn't take long for the group, all new to playing with each other, to merge into one group voice.  Guitarist Lorenso Grasi who will be marrying Jasmine in a couple of months, worked perfectly with the rhythm section of Bassist Bill Siata and Drummer Jay Lewis.  Lorenso also provided some excellent solos in support of Jamine's vocals.  Another wonderful Tuesday night of Jazz at Backstreet Bistro.  Also, I have to mention the food at Backstreet Bistro continues to be excellent so you can come out on Tuesdays for great food and great Jazz.

You can get to see and hear Jasmine and the group as they performed at Backstreet Bistro on the "YouTube" attached below:

I am also attaching a "Youtube" I found with Jasmine Tommaso singing "Someone to watch Over Me".  Jasmine performs this musical gem perfectly at her father's 50th Jazz anniversary at the Auditorium Parco Della Musica in Rome Italy in 2014.  Jasmine's father is the internationally acclaimed Bassist, Giovanni Tommaso who makes some remarks in Italian about his daughter's singing.  Even if you don't understand Italian, you can feel his fatherly pride pouring out!

Players on the Video:
Giovanni Tommaso-Base
Jasmine Tommaso- Vocal
Anthony Pinciotti- Drums
Claudio Fillippini- Piano
Daniele Scannapieco- Sax

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

CD Review: Henry "The Skipper" Franklin Trio: "High Voltage, A Tribute to McCoy Tyner,"

This season in the California Desert, I was privileged to meet and get to know two fine "Gentlemen of Jazz", the talented Bassist and Composer,  Henry "The Skipper" Franklin and Jazz lover, Dan "The Jazzman" Sullivan.  I saw Bassist Henry "The Skipper" Franklin many times this season and each time I heard him I learned something new about his musical talents.  He gave me a new CD entitled, "High Voltage".  I shared this CD with a new Jazz friend, Dan Sullivan who was so excited about this CD that I offered him the chance to be a Guest Reviewer.  His thoughts are recorded below:

"My friend Bob Nicosia turned me on to this CD recently, and before I heard it, I had average expectations, but after hearing it, I was more than pleasantly surprised.  The CD has a very catchy groove with great support from Henry Franklin on Bass, Carl Burnett on Drums and a hidden Gem of a Piano player, Bill Heid.  Bill Heid is also a master-class composer and arranger as you will see listening to the 5 songs he has written and arranged for this CD.

"The CD states it is a "Tribute To McCoy Tyner" which it is but face it, there is only one McCoy.  Nonetheless, McCoy's "The Gathering" is done impeccably with Guest Artist, Chuck Manning blowing some nice Tenor.  I've grown tired of Soprano Sax, but Chuck impressed with his deeper, richer, more intense sound on Henry's composition "Off The Wall".  I was not familiar with Chuck before this listen, but he is really impressive.  Of course, Henry Franklin is greatly respected in all Jazz circles.  Franklin to me is cut in the cloth of Ron Carter and Rufus Reid and he really pushed the group.  No question he was in control of the music contained in this CD.  Drummer Carl Burnett has credits pages long and his performance on this CD explains to all why; he is top-notch.  "High Voltage" is a fine new CD that every Jazz lover should listen to."

1. "Brother George"  Bill Heid
2. "Unit B"  Bill Heid
3. "The Greeting"  McCoy Tyner
4. "Under Tanzanian Skies"  Henry Franklin
5. "Off the Wall"  Bill Heid
6. "Mr Wu"  Bill Heid
7. "Mellow Minor"  McCoy Tyner
8. "Bu Yao"  Bill Heid

Thanks for the review Dan, and nicely done!  I could not agree with you more, this is a fine Jazz CD with superb players!

I was able to find a "YouTube" of the first track from this CD,  "Brother George" and I am sure you will love it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

CD Review: Drummer Dan Pugach's Nonet Releases "Plus One"

Seems to me that it is getting harder and harder to find any big bands recording any more.  It is understandable, of course, considering the costs to bring in a gang of talented musicians, not to mention the talent required to produce new compositions and arrangements.  But when you do find a new big band CD, it's usually a winner.  That's what I found with Dan Pugach's Nonet, and their new CD, "Plus One".  Dan Pugach is a native of Israel who came to the US in 2006 to study at Berklee College of Music and then earned his Master's at The City College of New York.  Dan is a wonderful Drummer and most music fans might be surprised at his composing and arranging skills.  His playing and his writing is what you might anticipate from a Drummer: its on point, concise and selfless.  The result is some great music not so much from individual players but from a big band with a singular voice!  According to Pugach, "I believe playing less is more until it comes to my solo-then I explode. And in my music, I don't want to hear overblown drumming."

Dan Pugach composted 6 out of the 9 tunes on this CD and did most of the arrangements for all nine. The supporting players are top-notch talented musicians that help transform Pugach's written composition to live pieces of musical art.

1. "Brooklyn Blues"
2. "Coming Here"
3. "Jolene"
4. "Zelda"
5. "Belo's Bellow"
6. "Crystal Silence"
7. "Love Dance"
8. "Our Blues"
9. "Discourse This"

Ingrid Jensen-Trumpet
David Smith-Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Mike Fahic-Trombone
Jen Tinkle-Bass Trombone
Andrew Gould-Alto Sax, Flute
Jeremy Powell-Tenor Sax, Clarinet
Andrew Gutauskas- Bari Sax, Bass Clarinet
Nicole Zuraitis-Voice
Carmen Staff-Piano
Jorn Swart-Piano
Tamir Shmerling-Bass
Bernardo Agular-Pandeiro
Dan Pugach-Drums, Compositions, Arrangements

For your listening pleasure, I have attached a "YouTube" of Nonet playing an original composition by Dan Pugach, "Brooklyn Blues".  It is wonderful big band music I know you will enjoy!

                                                                 Brooklyn Blues

CD Review: "Say It" from John Proulx

John Proulx's new CD "Say It" is the first album that he has produced independently and it's terrific!  Pianist, Voc...