Friday, November 8, 2019

CD Review: Mark Winkler: "I'm With You"


Singer, Songwriter and Arranger Mark Winkler has recently released a terrific new CD, "I'm With You".  The CD is a tribute to "Mr. Hip" Bobby Troup.  For those of you that don't know much about Bobby Troop, you are in for a treat!  I have no doubt that the term "West Coast Cool" was coined with him in mind. Bobby Troup is best known for his great standard, "Route 66" that is still recorded and performed today as much as when it was first written.  It is a classic song both in Music and Lyric that is still a favorite of Jazz players.  Bobby Troup had a lot more to contribute to contemporary Music than just "Route 66".  Mark Winkler has developed an enduring affinity with Bobby Troup and counts him as one of his Musical heros.  Mark says, "It's easy as pie for me to sing Bobby Troup songs.  Once I choose the tunes I want to create new arrangements for, I approach the songs very easily.  I feel like I understand him.  We've got things in common.  He swings and I love to swing.  He's funny, clever and whimsical,  yet could also write and sing the Blues.  As a songwriter, I am always aspiring to achieve that same range of emotions."  Once you hear the wonderful collection of songs in "I'm With You" I am sure you will fully agree with Mark's comments.

Mark Winkler is a mega-talented Musician who never stops learning from other mega-talented Musicians both young and old.  It feels like I see his musical fingerprints on at least one new CD that I receive every month.  He must never sleep because his musical contributions are non-stop and always at the highest professional level.  His musical tastes in what he decided to do is always guided by the highest Musical standards.  I also know that Mark loves to give back to his industry by helping young talented Musicians break through by sharing his ability as a Producer and Arranger and Teacher.  I applaud Mark for his efforts to help up-and-coming young Musicians.

It is an honor to do a review of a Composer/Lyricist who has had over 250 of his songs recorded    and/or sung by Dianne Reeves, Liza Minnelli, Steve Tyrell, Jane Monheit, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lea DeLaria, Kenny Rankin and Sara Gazarek.  Mark was included in the 2018 "Rising Star Male Jazz Vocalist list in "Downbeat Magazine".   Mark's work as a Lyricist has resulted in six musicals that are playing around the country, including "Naked Boys Singing" which is, at 19 years, the second longest running show in Off Broadway history.  Mark has taught a Lyric writing course, "Crafting Great Lyrics: A Songwriters Workshop" at  "UCLA Extension" for 13 years and at the Los Angeles School of Songwriting.

However,  in Mark's latest CD it is singing skills that come front and center.  Mark has a beautiful silky smooth voice and Sinatra-like phrasing that makes him such an impressive vocalist.  The songs he has chosen are not easy for any singer to perform but Mark makes singing these special songs look easy.  I have attached two Bobby Troup songs from Mark's CD that I think you will enjoy.  My guess is that both of these songs will be new to you.  The first tune is "Please Belong To Me" that was arranged by one of my personal favorite Jazz Piano players, Tamir Hendelman.  The Musicians joining Mark on this track are:

Rich Eames- Piano
Gabe Davis- Bass
Dave Tull- Drums
Grant Geissman- Guitar
Ricky Woodard- Sax

The second tune "It Happened Once Before" is a Vocal-Piano duet with another of my absolute favorite Jazz pianists, Jon Mayer.  Mark's Vocal is dreamy and no one knows how to play a standard better than Jon Mayer!

Playlist:





Saturday, October 26, 2019

CD Review: Patrick Barnitt, "Sway"


Vocalist, Composer and Actor, Patrick Barnitt has just released his second CD with the terrific 17- piece Paul McDonald Big Band.  Patrick is a regular performer around the Los Angeles area but grew up in my home state of New Jersey.  When I first received this CD, I looked at the Playlist and was not too optimistic about what I would find on this CD.  After all, what male singer would want to take on Sinatra classics like "I've Got You Under My Skin" or "One For My Baby".  However, as I looked further, I saw that the list contained an interesting, wide-ranging group of songs like "The Truth" written by the great Les McCann, Chicago's "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is"  and the old chestnut, "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey".

Patrick Barnitt has a classic tenor voice that is perfectly blended into the exciting sounds and arrangements of the Paul McDonald Big Band.  Singing and swinging with a big band is an opportunity that every singer longs for, but in order for it to work, the singer and the band have to merge and become one, support each other and also give each other space to excel.   This CD accomplished all of these requirements.  Patrick gets a lot of work as an Actor but he deserves more public notice for his vocal accomplishments.  He has a great voice and style which at times brings one back to the 1950 crooning era but he also does some wonderful things with more current music.  I think it would really be good for Patrick to put together a collection of songs from some of the more recent composers on his next CD.

I really liked "Sway" for a lot of reasons.  I loved Patrick's voice and phrasing, the collection of songs he chose and the great sounds and arrangements from the Paul McDonald Big Band.  I would also like to mention the big band arrangements from Paul McDonald that would please any big band music fan!

Playlist:
1. "The More I See You"
2. "Please Be Kind"
3. "Sway"
4. "I've Got You Under My Skin"
5. "ACL Blues"
6. "Cascade"
7. "The Truth"
8. "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is"
9. "Touch Me"
10. "Quando Quando Quando"
11. "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey"
12. "Just In Time"
13. "One For My Baby"

Players:
Vocals-Patrick Barnitt, Laura Pursell
Alto Sax- Rusty Higgins, Mike Nelson
Tenor Sax- Eric Morones, Brian Clancey
Bari Sax- Ken Fisher
Trumpet- Bijon Watson, Walter Simonsen, Jeff Jarvis, Barbara Lorongo
Trombone- Paul Young, Duane Benjamin, Nick DePinna, Rich Bullock
Piano & Arrangements- Paul McDonald
Back-up Singers- Meloney Collins, Kenna Ramsey, Laura Dickinson
Guitar- Ricky Z
Bass- Cooper Appelt
Drums- Jake Reed

There also were some terrific musicians who made outstanding guest contributions to this fine CD:
Stephan Oberhoff: Piano, Hammond B3, Keyboards, Guitar, Percussion, strings               (1,3,4,5,7,9,10,13)
Rusty Higgins: Alto Sax (13)
Kendall Kay: Drums (13)
Celso Alberti: Percussion/Drums (10)
Robert Kyle: Flute/Tenor (1)
Everette Harp: Sax (10)
Meloney Collins, Kenna Ramsey, Laura Dickson: Background Vocals (6)

I had a tough time picking a few songs from the CD for you to review but finally settled on these three because I think it gives the listener the broadest picture of Patrick Barnitt's talents.   The first one is the "The Truth" written by Les McCann and features Vocalist Laura Pursell.  The second YouTube is "Please Be Kind" written by Sammy Cohn and Saul Chaplin and I had to attach the third YouTube one of my favorites from "Chicago", "Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is".



                                                       









Sunday, October 20, 2019

CD Review: Rich Willey's Boptism Big Band, "Down & Dirty"


I have a treat for all my Big Band fans.  I have just listened to Rich Willey's "Boptism Big Band's" new release "Down & Dirty" and it's fabulous!  Trumpeter, Bass Trumpeter, Bandleader and Composer Rich Willey has a remarkable resume consisting of performing with many great musicians including Maynard Ferguson, Lionel Hampton, Buddy Morrow and vocalists Mel Torme, Jack Jones, and Shirley Jones.  The 11 tunes written by Rich Willey are as good as band music gets and will surely be played by lots of other bands in the future who are looking for fresh, new and inspiring music.  Rich Willey's composing is clear, versatile and understandable.  In addition, the talented musicians in this band are all world class and make for a listening feast.  And lastly, the arrangements are sparkling good.  These three elements make "Down & Dirty" one of the best big-band CDs released this year in my opinion.

Rich's tunes are perfectly written and arranged for the 18-piece band that Producer Dan Fornero assembled to record this CD.  An impressive group of Arrangers were brought in by Rich to create arrangements to bring Willey's compositions to life.  The group included Michael Abene, Gordon Goodwin, Wally Minko and Chris Walden and they truly are magnificent arrangements.   Award-winning engineer Tommy Vicari did the remarkable recording of this 18-piece band to complete this great CD.

This CD contains 77-minutes of musical delights including Jazz, Funk, Latin, Baroque, Reggae and Rock.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves exciting new Big Band sounds!

Playlist:
1. "Boogie Beast"
2. "Down & Dirty"
3. "Walter The Ferret"
4. "Eyes All For You"
5. "Dancing Hippo"
6. "Ed Zachary Meets Gregory Peccary"
7. "How Bout That?"
8. "Old Folks"
9. "Little Treasures"
10. "Not So Fast"
11. " Funk Heap"
12. "But For The Grace Of God"

Players:
Rich Willey-Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Bass Trumpet, Composer, Band Leader
Saxophones- Dan Higgins, Brian Scanlon, Bob Sheppard, Jeff Driskill, Sal Lozano, Jay Mason
Trumpets- Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Rob Schaer, Mike Rocha, Tony Bonsera
Rhythm Section- Wally Minko-Keyboard, Andrew Synowiec -Guitars, Edwin Livingston-Bass
Peter Erskine-Drums, Joey De Leon-Percussion
Special Guest Thomas Hooten-Piccolo Trumpet (Down & Dirty)

I can't wait for you to hear the two YouTubes I have attached.  The first is "Boogie Beast" and the second is "Walter The Ferret" both written by Rich Willey.






Friday, October 4, 2019

CD Review: Lisa Rich, "Highwire"


Lisa Rich has an interesting story to tell.  In the 1980's she was one of the most promising Jazz singers in the US.  She and her lush voice performed in some of the most prestigious Jazz settings in the US including a series of concerts in China and India. It was not only her voice that brought her into a national focus, her ability to handle sensitive lyrics and melodies were near perfect.  She recorded two CD's before recording "Highwire" in 1987 but never released.  Lisa Rich experienced serious health issues that caused her to stop performing and pause her career.  She then opened up a music studio and worked as a Vocal teacher and gave private lessons and conducted workshops.  It was not until 2018 that Lisa returned to the music she had begun so long ago and remixed the "Highwire" CD and released it in August of 2019.

"Highwire" is really a tribute to the writing genius of Chick Corea.  A chance encounter with Chick Corea moved him to present Lisa with several of his songs.  Lisa interprets five of Corea's songs on this CD and also two songs by Ralph Towner, one by Duke Ellington, Ornette Coleman and Loonis McGlohon and the standard, "We'll Be Together Again" by Carl Fischer and Frankie Laine.

The supporting musical cast on "Highwire" is terrific starting with outstanding Piano work from Marc Copland, Bassist Drew Gress and Drummer Michael Smith.  David Kane also provides great piano support on tracks 3 and 6.

This CD remix was recorded 32 years ago but proves again that good music is timeless.  Lisa Rich has a natural ease and smoky lush voice that reminds us what Jazz Vocals are all about.  All the songs included in this CD are difficult but sensitive and Lisa sings everyone flawlessly.

Playlist:
1. "High Wire The Aerialist"
2. "Contessa" 
3. "Celeste/Prelude To A Kiss"
4. "Bud Powell"
5. "Stardancer"
6. "Lonely Woman"
7. "Songbird"
8. "The Jinn"
9. "We'll Be Together Again"
10. "The Silence Of A Candle"

Players:
Lisa Rich-Vocals
Marc Copland-Piano
Drew Gress-Acoustic Bass
Michael Smith-Drums
David Kane-Piano (Track 3 & 6) 




I have selected two YouTubes for you to review that showcase Lisa Rich's wonderful Vocal talents. The first one is "High Wire The Aerialist", music by Chick Corea, Lyric by Tony Cohan.  The second is a terrific version of the standard, "We'll Be Together Again", Music by Carl T Fischer, Lyric by Frankie Laine.


Friday, September 13, 2019

CD Review: Fred Hersch & The WDR Big Band Release "Begin Again"


Fred Hersch continues to amaze me with the depth of his musical talents.   His solo recordings are masterful performances and his Piano trio work is possibly the best heard today.  But his talents don't stop there.  In Fred's lastest CD "Begin Again" he joins the wonderful WDR Big Band playing his compositions Arranged and Conducted by six-time Grammy winner, Vince Mendoza.  "Begin Again" contains some supurb compositions by Hersch and some wonderful performances by the members of WDR Big Band recently described by "DownBeat" as "One of Europe's finest large Jazz ensembles".  I find it impossible to determine what brings more to this CD, the magnificent compositions Hersch has written or the impeccable orchestrations Mendoza put together.  It really doesn't matter because this CD has music that needs to be heard by any Jazz lover.   The feel of the songs seem almost classical in nature and yet, they seamlessly provide space for talented solo opportunities from a group of musicians that include Alto Saxophonists Johan Horlen and Karolina Strassmayer, Tenor Sax player Paul Heller, Trumpeters Ruud Breuls and Andy Haderer, Tombonists Ludwig Nuss and Andy Hunter and Drummer Hans Dekker.  All these players are outstanding European Jazz players who were new to me, but Jazz is not limited by boundaries or language.  It  allows great musicians playing great music to be enjoyed by all!


Fred Hersch is one of the most respected Jazz musicians currently performing and is already one of the most influential in Jazz history.  Joining him in this project to provide arrangements, Vince Mendoza provides clear proof as to why he has had 33 Grammy nominations and 6 Grammy wins.  One might think that putting two musical giants together might have some issues but Hersch and Mendoza blend their talents perfectly to produce great music!

Playlist:
1. "Begin Again"
2. "Song Without Words #2"
3. "Havana"
4. "Out Someplace"
5. "Pastorale"
6. "Rain Waltz"
7. "The Big Easy"
8. "Forward Motion"
9. "The Orb"

Players:   
Fred Hersch- Piano and all Compositions and Arrangement for the "Orb"
Vince Mendoza- Arrangements and Orchestrations
The WDR Big Band:
    Alto Sax- Johan Horlen, Karolina Strassmayer
    Tenor Sax- Olivier Peters 
    Tenor Sax- Paul Heller
    Baritone Sax- Jens Neufang
    Trombone- Ludwig Nuss, Andrea Andreoli, Andy Hunter
    Bass Trombone/Tuba- Mattis Cederberg
    Trumpet- Wim Both, Rob Bruynen, Andy Haderer, Ruud Breuls
    Guitar- Paul Shigihara
    Bass- John Goldsby
    Drums- Hans Dekker

I have attached two "YouTubes" from this wonderful new CD that I guarantee will delight you.  The first is "Havana" that speaks well for the composing and playing talents of  Fred Hersch and the Arranging and Conducting unique skills of Vince Mendoza.


The second "YouTube" is "Rain Waltz" and it's also a brilliant combination of composing and arranging.  You might want to grab an umbrella because you may feel the rain.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

CD Review: Larry Fuller New CD, "Overjoyed"


Larry Fuller has released his new CD "Overjoyed" and I think its a gem!  Larry Fuller is a masterful pianist who has not only technical expertise but also the ability to emotionally connect with his audiences.  One reason he has this rare combination of skills is because he learned his craft the old fashioned way, on the bandstand.  Larry has varied experience playings with four giants of mainstream Jazz.  He started with legendary Bassist, Ray Brown, then worked with vocalist Ernestine Anderson, moved to the musical wonder, Jeff Hamilton and then joined with acclaimed guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli.  Four top level musicians by any measure and Larry brought and took from each one of them to develop his personal style.

Larry brought Bassist Hassan Shakur and Drummer Lewis Nash to join him to perform a great group of song from the "Great American Songbook" including Jazz, Blues Pop standards and some beautiful originals.

The playlist is a wonderful collection of songs with "Overjoyed" by Stevie Wonder, "Bossa Beguine" by Oscar Peterson, "Fried Pies" by Wes Montgomery, "Cubano Chant" by Ray Bryant, "Lined with a Groove" by Ray Brown, and the standards, "How Long Has This Been, "Going On"Never Let Me Go", and "Mona Lisa".

Larry Fuller is a Jazz giant and tours around the country.  When he is in your area,  let nothing stay in your way to see him perform live.  I guarantee it will be a musical treat you will not forget!

PLAYLIST:
1. "Fried Pies"
2. "Overjoyed"
3. "Lined With A Groove"
4. "Jane's Theme"
5. "The Mooch"
6. "How Long Has This Been Going On"
7. "Cubano Chant"
8. " Mona Lisa"
9. "Bossa Beguine"
10. "Bossa Nova Do Marilla"
11. "Never Let Me Go"
12. "Go My Mojo Workin"

Players:
Larry Fuller- Piano
Hassan Shakur- Bass
Lewis Nash-Drums
  
I have attached two "YouTubes" from Larry Fuller's terrific new CD "Overjoyed"  The first is Wes Montgomery's "Fried Pies" and the second is Stevie Wonder's class "Overjoyed".




Thursday, August 8, 2019

CD Review: Beata Pater releases Her 9th CD, "TeT"


Beata Pater has just released her 9th CD entitled "TeT" and it's a beautiful piece of musical art.   Backed by an 18-piece band that includes a wind and brass double quartet, and a double string quartet,   Beata began playing violin at the age of 6 and became "totally obsessed with the instrument".  She was a serious student of classical music but at age 15 she joined a Funk/Jazz/Fusion band that enjoyed some success while still living in her native Poland.  Still looking for something new, she moved to England to continue her violin studies.  While studying in England another opportunity arose in Japan.  She was contracted to teach violin at the Yamaha school for six months but stayed for 10 years.

All this instrumental training  and experiment with genres allowed Beata to develop her singing voice and style from the perspective of a highly trained instrumentalist.  Beata uses her voice as a finely tuned instrument and the results are rich and satisfying.  In fact, at times when I was listening to her CD, I almost forgot she was doing a vocal since the sound of her voice was so soft and beautiful .  She is one of the finest examples of what a Jazz singer is all about.

 "TeT" contains a selection of Jazz standards and original tunes by contemporary composers.  Each tune is beautifully and musically done to the highest standards.  Pater calls the CD "TeT" because there are nine tunes on this recording and "TeT" is the ninth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the symbol for the number 9.

PLAYLIST:

1. "Little Sunflower"
2. "Lazy Afternoon"
3. "I feel You"
4. "Crystal Silence"
5. "Old Devil Moon"
6. "Invitation"
7. "The Contessa"
8. "Strays"
9. "Ode to Max"

PLAYERS:

Beata Pater- Vocal
Hiromu Aoki- Piano
Dan Felszli- Bass
Brynn Albanese- Violin
Emily Lanzone-Violin
Peter Janduloa-Hudson- Viola
Barbara Spencer- Cello
Stefen Kuehn- Trumpet/Flugehorn
John Gove- Trombone
Meredith Brown- French Horn
Aaron Lington- Bass Clarinet/Flute

I have attached two "YouTubes" for your listening pleasure.  The first one is the classic Jazz tune, "Little Sunflower" composed by Freddie Hubbard and Al Jarreau.  This is one of my favorite Jazz tunes and I loved hearing my good friend who recently passed, Steve Madaio  play this on his Trumpet.  Steve's version was a lot faster than Beata's but both version are just terrific!  The second "YouTube" is an absolutely brilliant version of the Jazz standard "Invitation".  I know you will enjoy both!



 
          

CD Review: Mark Winkler: "I'm With You"

Singer, Songwriter and Arranger Mark Winkler has recently released a terrific new CD, "I'm With You" .  The CD is a tribu...