Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Oscar Peterson:Remembering The Jazz Giants: Chapter One

The other night I was looking at some YouTube videos of some of the great musicians that had impacted my life when I came across a few great videos of Oscar Peterson. I enjoyed these videos so much that I decided it would be interesting to do a series of blogs on the "The Jazz Giants "
Oscar Peterson is considered  one of the greatest jazz pianists of all times. I think he was the absolute best! During his long career, Oscar recorded with most of the jazz greats including Louis Armstrong, Ella, Count Basie, Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and almost all of the great singers of the past 50 years.  He released over 200 recordings and won seven Grammy Awards. He was much more than just a jazz pianist, he was a teacher and composer. But don't take my word for it.  Take a look at the YouTube videos I have attached below. On the first YouTube, Oscar plays "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" and his playing has been transcribed so you can follow along. Hearing what Oscar is playing is one thing but seeing the actual notes is just heaven.
On the second YouTube, Oscar plays "I Can't Get Started" and it just flows with emotion and grace. Hope you enjoy these videos as much as I did! PS: Playing on guitar with Oscar at this session was another of my favorites, Joe Pass.

                                            Oscar Plays "On The Sunny Side Of The Street"

                                                   Oscar Plays "I Can't Get Started"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Clive Robbins, Developer of a Method of Music Therapy

California Poppies
I read in the NY Times December 13, 2011 issue that Clive Robbins died.  In reading his obituary, it brought to mind the power of music and how it can reach deeply into human beings.  Mr Robbins was the developer of music therapy designed to help people with various disabilities meet the physical, mental and social challenges through the use of music. Mr Robbins, a British-born special education teacher joined forces with an American pianist and composer, Mr. Nordoff to develop what became to be know as "The Nordoff-Robbins" music method.  Their method is now used by hundreds of therapists around the world to treat people of all ages with conditions such as autism, mental retardation, psychiatric illness, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and physical and learning disabilities.

Many of the Nordoff-Robbins therapists are skilled musicians who use music to mirror a patient's emotional state throughout a session,  joy, anger, sadness and all the shifts between. They also try to mirror the repetitive motions made by an autistic child.  Patients are also encouraged to join in with the music making by beating drums, strumming guitars, and singing.  Clive Robbins deserves much credit for developing and executing this research.

I believed for a long time that the power of music has the ability to change a person's mood, thought direction and emotional state. Years ago I developed a seminar that I taught around the country that was titled; "How to Get High Without the Use of Drugs or Alcohol" to young insurance agents to help them use music to move into a more positive place before making a prospect presentation. The results of this seminar have proven to be valuable to this day. The process involved listening to no more than 10 seconds of a series of 40 songs individually picked by the students that were played with matching motivational pictures on a large screen. After playing the music over several days, the student found that they could raise their motivational level without the pictures.  This exercise allowed them to play their personalized motivation tape whenever they felt a need to move to a better place.  If anyone would like more information about this motivational method, please let me know and I will be glad to pass on more details.

Monday, December 12, 2011

CD Review: Catherine Russell's "Strictly Romancin"

I just received an advance copy of Catherine Russell's soon to be released new CD, "Strictly Romancin".  Catherine has been singing and paying her Jazz dues for a long time backing artists like Carrie Smith, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein and Rosanne Cash. She finally released her 1st CD, "Cat" in 2006 to rave reviews. Her 2nd CD, Sentimental Streak", was released in 2008 and she won the prestigious German Record Critics' Award and a Hot Club of France Discovery Award. Catherine's 3rd CD, "Inside This Heart of Mine" reached #1 on JazzWeek, Roots Music Report and iTunes Jazz Charts.
"Strictly Romancin" Catherine's 4th CD was my first introduction to Catherine Russell and I was just knocked out by her voice, her style and her approach to lyrics. This CD contains a collection of great old jazz tunes out of the "Great American Songbook" that even avid Jazz lovers don't get to hear much these days. And why don't we hear these songs sung today? One reason is because they are simply not easy to sing. These songs require an emotional understanding of the story the lyric is telling and requires the singer to sing the story with style and clarity. I believe one needs to call upon past life experience to perform these songs in a way that can bring the listener in. Catherine brings a refreshing honesty and clarity to these songs. The first song on the CD is "Under the Spell of The Blues. The original was covered by Chick Webb/Ella Fitzgerald. When I first heard Catherine singing this song, I heard sounds that reminded me of Ella, Peggy Lee and Sinatra-like lyric stylizing. Please don't misunderstand, Catherine is not copying any of these mega performers, she is approaching her trade with her own great interpretation that makes her refreshingly unique.  The 4th cut on the CD is "Ev'ntide" and it has quickly become one of my personal favorites.  This tune was written by the great Hoagy Carmichael in 1936 and Louis Armstrong recorded it. Sadly the tune has rarely been recorded until now. Catherine has given us the gift of rediscovery. The 6th cut, "I'm Checkin Out Goom'bye" is an Ellington-Strayhorn song about breaking up and it includes some great trombone work from John Allred.
What puts this CD over the top, is the group that supports Catherine.  They are all perfect in their musical support and fit with Catherine like a hand going into a glove.  The producer of this CD was Paul Kahn and the recording engineer Katherine Miller and they both deserve praise for the smooth and effective way all parts of this CD were put together and mixed. The wonderful supporting cast of performers consists of Musical Director/Guitarist/banjoist/Arranger, Matt Munisteri, trumpet Jon-Erik Kellso, trombonist John Allred, Sax/clarinetist Dan Block, Saxophonist/arranger Andy Farber, accordion Joe Barbato and violin Aaron Weinstein, Piano Mark Shane. Bass Lee Hudson and drums Mark McClean. 
Catherine was born to musical royalty. Her dad, the late Luis Russell was a pioneering pianist/composer/bandleader and Louis Armstrong's long time side-kick.  Her mother, Carline Ray, is a bassist, guitarist, and vocalist who has performed with Mary Lou Williams and The International Sweethearts of Rhythm.
The CD is scheduled to be released on February 14, 2012 and I strongly recommend it. 
For those readers in New York/New Jersey area, Catherine will be performing at Shanghai Jazz in Madison, NJ on New Year's Eve.  It is a great way to bring in the New Year with great sounds and great food!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review: Phil Raimone's "Making Records: The Scenes Behind The Music" .

Phil Ramone
What do Sinatra, Streisand, Dylan, Pavarotti, McCartnery, Sting, Madonna, Joel, Simon, Minnelli, Estefan, Previn, Manilow, Mathis, Bennett, John, Bolton, Stewart, Charles, and Chicago all have in common besides their supper-stardom?  They have all asked Phil Ramone to work with them on either new CD's or live performances. Not a shabby list of clients, Phil!  Stay at it, I'm sure you can find success one day!

In 1993, when the first "Duets" CD was released by Sinatra, it quickly became my favorite CD.  I just loved the way Sinatra sounds singing his great songs with other great singers.  Then, when I found out that each singer was recorded separately and then combined into the final product, I was floored. Then "Duets II" came out in 1994 and it too became one of my favorite CD's. In 2001 Tony Bennett released; "Playin with My Friends" and again I added it to my all time favorite CD list. In 2005 Ray Charles released:"Genius & Friends and then in 2006, Tony Bennett released his "Duets" CD. All through this period, my focus was on the performer and the product, and I really never gave any thought to the producer of these records until one day for a reason I can't remember, I decided to check and see who the producers were.  It wasn't producers. It was one unbelievably talented producer, Phil Ramone.  So I went to the web to check out Phil Ramone, and I saw that he had published a book that was sort of his musical biography in 2007.

I would like to start the review of this book by saying that Phil's book should be absolutely required reading by any musical performer, any performer even thinking about cutting a CD, and anyone else who considers music more than a casual form of entertainment.  I believe most music lovers have interest in details about the records they love. I will let Phil's words tell the story and answer the questions most music lovers ask: "Who wrote the song, and why did the artist choose to perform it? Why was it done in a particular style? When, where and how was it recorded? What decisions went into building the mix? The answers to these questions are what I live for, and I'm grateful that people are fascinated by the magic behind what we as engineers and producers do." In "Making Records" you will get the answers to these questions and so much more.  Phil will bring you inside the recording studio and inside the mind and soul of many of the greatest singers of our time. "Great records aren't recorded. They're mixed." In chapter 16 or as Phil writes, Track 16, "It's All In The Mix" Phil takes us deep into the recording studio and describes in great detail how some great songs that we all know and love were born from start to finish.  If Phil was in a class room and just telling us about sound engineering theory this would be hard to get through but Phil is talking about the making of great recordings that we have experience. We get into the studio to find out how it started and then evolved into great unforgettable music.

In the beginning "Overture" Phil discusses the entire recording process that got Sinatra into the recording studio again and the exciting ups and downs he had to navigate in order to produce the first "Duets" CD.  For any Sinatra fan, this opening part of the book is worth more than the price of the book.
Phil Ramone was won 14 Grammy Awards and 4 Honors from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and continues to pursue new projects every year. He deserved every single award he has received. When it comes to sound engineering and production of outstanding musical performance, "He The Man".
If you want to get a copy of the book, the best place I found was on Amazon.

Music Man Awards This Book "4 Quarter Notes"

4 Quarter Notes=  Excellent, Must Read
3 Quarter Notes=  Good Book
2 Quarter Notes=  Somewhat Interesting
1 Quarter Notes=  Save Your Time and Money

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jerry Vivino Quartet Swings At The Shanghai Jazz Restaurant In Madison, NJ

The Shanghai Jazz Restaurant
Jerry Vivino

The Jerry Vivino Quartet

Ken Levinsky

James Wormworth

John Arbo
David Niu Proprietor of Shanghai Jazz

On Friday, November 4, I had my first opportunity to visit Shanghai Jazz Restaurant in Madison, NJ . The only thing I knew about Shanghai Jazz was that there is always a lot of great Jazz performers appearing there on a regular basis. I read that tenor sax player Jerry Vivino was performing Friday night and I had heard some good things about Jerry from other players that I respect.  When I arrived at Shanghai I was greeted and seated by one of the owners, Martha Chang and soon met her partner and husband, David Niu.  Martha and David really know what it takes to run an excellent restaurant.  Their focus along with their excellent wait staff is totally on the customer. This kind of attention to service is rarely found in many restaurants and it is even more rare in Jazz clubs. We then experienced an outstanding gourmet Asian cuisine dinner beautifully prepared. My blog is dedicated to doing music reviews and not food reviews but I have made an exception in this posting due to the excellent food.  Few restaurants can match the quality of their service or their food especially Jazz clubs that are know more for their music programs than their food.  Shanghai Jazz has live Jazz 6 nights a week, Tuesday through Sunday with no cover charge. It's absolutely worth going there not only for the Jazz but for the great food and service.

Jerry Vivino and his quartet was the group I came to see.  Jerry born in Paterson, NJ has always been interested in all types of music but Jazz has always been his sweet spot.  His favorites cover a lot of ground from Elton John, Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Jimi Hendrix and especially Stan Getz. Through tonight's performance, I heard sound influences from many of these greats. In addition to great sax sounds, the audience was also treated to some soulful singing from Jerry and also from his talented bass player,  John Arbo. Jerry's resume is very impressive including a tour with Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons back in 1979. He also has done show work with Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Keely Smith, James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Dr. John and Wynton Marsalis. More recently, Jerry played with the Max Weinberg 7 and was in the studio band for Late Night With Conan O'Brien.  Jerry has also played for many Broadway shows including Annie, A Chorus Line, Cats and Starlight Express just to name a few.

Tonight was a special experience that included a professionally-run restaurant, outstanding gourmet Asian food and great Jazz music from Jerry Vivino and his talented quartet.  I will return!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Music Man Blog Celebrates It's Second Birthday

It's hard to believe that I have been publishing the "Music Man Blog" for two years. Time has a way of traveling at the speed of light when you are doing something you really love.  My first posting was on 9/27/09 and during the first year I posted 46 articles.  During the second year, I posted 63 articles.  The number of visitors that viewed the blog in its second year has exploded from total pageviews of 1,166 in its first year to 18,143 pageviews in its second full year.  In addition, we continued to pick up visitors from many different countries.  I listed the top 10 pageviews by country below:
Pageviews By The Top 10 Countries
1. United States                                 12,802          
2. Russia                                                 534
3. Germany                                             482
4. United Kingdom                                  436
5. South Korea                                        408
6. Canada                                                249
7. China                                                   206
8. Ukraine                                                202
9. Netherlands                                         176
10. Iran                                                    164                            
Total All Time Pageviews         18,354

It was very satisfying to experience the explosive growth of viewers during my second full year of writing the Music Man Blog. While it is fun writing about music and performers that I love, it is nice to know that there are others out there that also enjoy music as much as I do.  I think 18,354 pageviews shows that there are a lot of people who love great singers, jazz and songs from the Great American Songbook.  Last year we reviewed a lot of "live" shows that helped to support some of these great performers gain some new listeners for their music. I am so happy to be able to contribute to the continued recognition and the growth of their audience. I hope to continue putting a spotlight on these wonderful performers in the next year. Last year also marked the first time that Music Man Blog was selected to do a pre-release review of a major CD, "The Three Kings" by the Outstanding Jeff Golub Band featuring Henry Butler. What a thrill that my first  pre-release review would be for a mega-star performance by Jeff Golub, his band and Henry Butler.

Highest Month For Pageviews

Last year the highest month for pageviews was September 2010 with 575 pageviews.  This past year, I am delighted to announce that our highest month was May 2011 with 2,172 pageviews.

National Ranking From Technorati

Technorati is the leading organization that tracks the level of activity for Blogs across the world.  Music Man Blog is now ranked number 99,062 out of 1,280,597 blogs that they track.  This puts Music Man Blog in the top 8% of all active blogs after two years of publishing.

Many thanks to all viewers of the Music Man Blog and also to all those readers who have shared their comments with me over the past year. I had the opportunity to hear and get to know some outstanding performers last year and hope to meet many more this year.  My blog is dedicated to supporting musicians and live-music performances. I am looking forward to starting my third year of publishing and will be trying to make the blog even more interesting for music lovers all over the world.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hail, Hail Rock & Roll From The Max Weinberg 7+

Max Weinberg

Joe Delia and The Thieves

Joe Delia

Bill Champlin

Mindi Abair

Steve Madaio

Mindi Abair and Tom Saviano

Carmen Grillo

Bill Champlin, Mindi Abair, Tom Saviano & Steve Madaio
The Max Weinberg 7+

The Max Weinberg 7+ Rock & Roll Band rolled into the birth place of Count Basie, Red Bank, NJ on Thursday night October 28, 2011.  The concert started with a performance by Joe Delia and the Thieves, a rock and roll band out of the 60's and 70's that would make any "Stones" fan happy. The band played some familiar rock and roll songs and also a few songs they had written.  On a cold and rainy night, they were just what was needed to warm up the audience for the main event, The Max Weinberg 7+.
Max Weinberg has a long and impressive resume' and a love for all kinds of music even though his main credits come from being the drummer for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for over 25 years. Max also received rave reviews for musical direction for Conan O'Brien on "The Tonight Show".  Max stills joins Springsteen for special gigs and was featured in the 2009 Super Bowl XLIII from Tampa, Florida which happened to be the largest TV audience in Super Bowl history (Over 105,000,000). He also played with Bruce for the 25th Anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that was an HBO special.
Max started this tour back in the summer on the West Coast, He put together some of the best musicians in the country that produced outstanding musical results. Max teamed with  singer and keyboard artist Bill Champlin. You will probably recognize Bill from his picture above because of his 28 years of work as the keyboardist/vocalist/songwriting contributions for the world renowned rock group "Chicago". Personally, I thought his vocal and musical performance this night were superb especially his singing on his jazzy arangement of "Turn Your Love Around", a hit song Bill wrote for George Benson.  He also ended the show playing acoustic guitar in an emotional and soft version of the "Chicago" hit "Look Away" which he sang originally.

Mindy Abair was as exciting as always. As one of the greatest jazz sax players in American, she still is always fresh and creative and alive!  Every time I see her perform she gives the impression that she is really having fun and loves to interact with the other musicians on the stage. Tonight, she traded several riffs with Tom Saviano that were simply wonderful!

Steve Madaio, the great Trumpet player from Palm Springs provided some absolutely great work for the band on many up-tempo rock and roll songs, He also performed a crowd pleasing soft & emotional solo introduction to a lessor known Springsteen tune, "The Fever". Steve never fails to impress. His resume' is unbelievable including making over 100 million selling CD's, touring with the Rolling Stones in Europe and recording and arranging with Stevie Wonder on many of Stevie's best selling CD's. It's no wonder that he is the "Trumpet" of choice for the greats of the music world.

Other highlights of the show included some wonderful guitar work from Carmen Grillo and his playing and vocals on the Wilson Pickett song "634-5789".  Bill Champlin's son Will was impressive playing the keyboard and with his vocal "Deep In The Heart of Texas". Seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

All and all, a great night of Rock & Roll music.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Support Live Music in the California Desert

                          Live Music In The California Desert

We all love winter in the Desert. Not only because it has the best weather in the world but also because there is more live music per square mile than anywhere. In the past I have had many requests from readers asking where the best music is playing.  This season I am posting on a weekly basis where the players and singers are hanging out.  My hope is that this will get more people to connect with and support these performers.  If you will bookmark this post as a "favorite" on your computer, you will be able to check back to it whenever you want to see what's going on musically in the Desert.  I will try to update changes on the post every week.  I won't be out to the Desert until mid January, but I am starting the list now since there is already lots of great live music being played.  If any of my musician friends want to be listed, or if you know someone who is performing, just email me the information and I will add the gig to this post.

Frank DiSalvo
Beverly Jensen
Steve Madaio

Bill Saitta
Derrik Lewis & Jeff Stover
Pat Rizzo

Lee Hartley

Johnny Meza

Lola Rossi

Brian Nova

Larry Capeloto
John Leys                                               

The Ted Herman Big Band

The Jackson Garrett Jazz Band
Mikole E. Kaar

Dan Papaila

Yve Evens

Jeff Olsen

Barnaby Finch

Ruth Gibson

Ron Kalina

Ken Steele

Kelly Corbin

Ron Koklj

Mike Costley

Bobbie Flelecter
Carolyn Martinez

Carol Hampton

Leo Vigil

                                                      Entertainment Detail

Frank DiSalvo: Sings at the Indian Wells Resort on Thur, Fri, and Sat starting 5:30 to 9:30.

Beverly Jensen: Will be singing with the Ted Herman Orchestra at the Indio Performing Arts Center.

Steve Madaio: Performs on Sunday afternoons at Blue Embers at the Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage.

Bill Saitta: Performs live Jazz at Woody's in Palm Springs on Thursday evenings at 7 pm. 317 N. Indian Canyon in Palm Springs.  Reservations: 760-230-0188. Also performing at Backstreet Bistro almost every Tuesday.

Derrik Lewis & Jeff Stover: Performs in the lounge at The Tropicale & Coral Seas Lounge in Palm Springs on Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30pm to 9:30pm. The Derrik Lewis Trio also performs with Michael Holmes Fridays at Azul in Palm Springs.

Pat Rizzo: Performs at Vicky's In Indian Wells on Monday & Tuesday.

Johnny Meza:  Performs at Arnold Palmer's Restaurant in La Quinta every Wednesday and Thursday (6:30 to 10:30).

Lee Hartley: Performs at the "Ted Herman Big Band Ballroom Sunday Dance" at the Indio Performing Arts Center on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m..

Lola Rossi: Singing every Thursday night with Reggie Vision at the Escena Lounge & Grill 6 to 10 p.m.

Brian Nova: Performs at Cafe' des Beaux Arts in Palm Desert every Wednesday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.

Yve Evans & Co: To Be Continued As New Info Comes In.

Linda Peterson: Appearing at Backstreet Bistro in Palm Desert every Saturday on the Patio 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.  Also appears at Cafe' des Beaux on Friday evenings.

Larry Capeloto: Performs  at the "Ted Herman Big Band Ballroom Sunday Dance" at the Indio Performing Arts Center on Sundays 7 to 9 p.m.

Rich Bono & Poupee: Appearing at the Indian Wells Resort Hotel in Indian Wells every Wednesday 6 to 9 p.m. with many special guests.

The Jackson Garrett Band: 

John Leys:  Playing great Trombone with The Ted Herman Big Band and Pat Rizzo's big band.

The Debonaires: New big band playing at the Joslyn Senior Center once every month. More details to follow.

The Ted Herman Big Band: Performing every Sunday at the Indio Performing Arts Center on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m.

Mirage Band:

Mikole E. Kaar: Tues night PRO JAZZ JAM at The PS Tavern from 7:30 to 11:30p.m. 3700 Vista Chino at Gene Autry.  Friday & Saturday at La Brasserie from 6 ti 10 p.m. Corner of 111 and Washington in La Quinta.

The Desert Cities Jazz Band: Performing every Sunday 2-5PM at Vicky's of Santa Fee in Indian Wells.

Dan Papaila: 

Rod Kokolj:

Mike Costly and Friends : Thursdays at Three Sixty North in Palm Springs at 7:30.



CD Review: Clairdee Releases Her Forth CD, "A Love Letter to Lina"

San Francisco based Vocalist Clairdee has admired and been a fan of Lena Horne since she was four years old.  Clairdee was not just in...