Monday, May 30, 2011

Michael Robinson Returns To Epernay

Michael Robinson

If you love "American Idol" and love to see and hear new talent now you can see a young and upcoming star up close and in person at Epernay Restaurant in Montclair, NJ. Michael Robinson is a Freshman in the BFA Musical Theatre Program at Montclair State University. Michael made his first appearence at Epernay with great reviews this past fall.  He will be singing Gershwin, Porter and Sondheim again at Epernay on Tuesdays, May 31, June 7 and June 14. Epernay has great food and it's a BYO. So grab your favorite bottle of wine and head over to Epernay for a great night out and support this young student. Tell your waitperson that you heard about Michael from "The Music Man Blog" and they will take 10% off your bill.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Great Sounds and Stories From Jazz Legend Benny Golson At Trumpets Jazz Club In Montclair, NJ

Trumpets Jazz Club & Restaurant
Benny Golson

Vitali Imererli & Benny Golson
Rick Crane
Eliot Zigmund
Matt King, Vitali Imererli, Benny Golson, Eliot Zigmund
Matt King

Marlene VerPlanck & Benny Golson
On Sunday May 15, the "Great" Tenor Sax Legend Benny Golson made his first appearance in the metro area in over 10 years.  He was joined in this performance by the talented violinist, Vitali Imererli. There was an air of anticipation in the room waiting for Mr. Golson to arrive. It's not every day that you can get to see an 82 year old jazz legend perform live.  One of the highlights of the evening for me besides the great music was the warm and personal stories Mr. Golson shared with the audience that included stories about jazz giants he has known and played with in his remarkable career.  Benny told us that he got his first sax at age 12 when his family was living in Philadelphia. He related that he started practicing in the summer with the windows open and his neighbors were not that excited about his sound but he was determined to improve.  Shortly after he started with the tenor sax, he asked to bring a friend of his who played alto sax over to practice together. However, the neighbors were even more unhappy now having two kids practicing every afternoon with the windows open. As they both improved, they knew the neighbors were starting to like the sounds coming from his house because they started to request popular songs.  Benny's alto friend's name was John Coltrane. There were several other wonderful stories Benny shared with us including the personal loss he suffered when his close friend Clifford Brown was killed in an auto accident.  Benny told us how he went on to write  his wonderful jazz song, "I Remember Clifford" as a tribute to his close friend.  This song has been recorded more than 500 times over the years since Benny wrote it. Benny Golson is so much more than a jazz tenor player.  He is multi talented and Internationally famous as a composer, arranger, lyricist and producer. 

Joining Benny at this concert, was the fabulous jazz violinist, Vitali Imererli. Vitali is one of the best jazz violinist I have ever heard. I would put him in the same class of violinist as Stephane Grappelli.  He takes no prisoners when he plays up tempo tunes, but I personally loved his approach to slow tunes and would love to hear him play some of my favorites from the "Great American Songbook'.  

The group backing up these two remarkable musicians consisted of Matt King on Piano, Rick Crane on bass and Eliot Zigmund on drums. As they like to say in the PGA commercials, these guys are really good! I would like to hear more from this trio of great musicians in the future. They provided the perfect background for Benny and Vitali and all had the chance to shine with individual solos that were well received by the audience. 
As a side note, in the audience was the great singer and supporter of the "Great American Songbook", Marlene VerPlanck.   

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Steve Tyrell On The Difference Between "The Great American Songbook" and "Contemporary American Music".

Steve Tyrell has been a favorite of mine ever since he recorded his first "Standards" CD and I love everything he has recorded. In addition, he is a great supporter of the "Great American Songbook".  I recently came across a Blog called "Wentzville Patch" that published an article about Mr. Tyrell and his upcoming May 15 performance at The Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis, Mo. I was surprised by Mr. Tyrell's answer to the following question: "In your opinion, what is the difference between the "Great American Songbook" and "Contemporary American Music" that includes the music of Motown, Paul Simon, James Taylor and Elton John?" Mr. Tyrell answered, "The biggest difference--and I'm not knocking them in any way, shape or form--"Fire and Rain" is as good as it gets.  But you don't want to hear anybody else sing them".  "That's the difference", he said.  "I mean, I couldn't make an album of James Taylor songs, you know? Nobody would want to hear it.  Even The Beatles, you don't want to hear somebody singing The Beatles' songs.  But there's been a million versions of Cole Porter songs. Then hundreds of versions, thousands of versions, of the Gershwin songs, or Harold Arlen.  And they've been done in every genre you can think of.  And you can love 25 versions of the same song." I have heard other artists make similar statements and with all due respect to Mr. Tyrell and those other artists, I totally disagree with this opinion on the subject. Let's use The Beatles Songbook as an example.  I put together a songlist of Beatles' songs titled "The Beatles Minus The Beatles Plus Paul" that I think in many cases are at least as good or perhaps even better than the orginial Beatles' recording (My apologies to those Beatles' fans that can't deal with this possibility). My playlist has two songs sung by Paul McCartney because no one does them better than Paul! Before you reject this possibility, head to iTunes and check out these versions of Beatles' songs!

Side note to Steve Tyrell: I am absolutely sure that you could do a great new CD of songs from James Taylor and Elton John adding the Tyrell touch and style to them.  "Steve Tyrell does James Taylor and Elton John". Please give this some consideration.  I would love to see how you would approach some of the wonderful songs these great performers have recorded. I would be happy to work on a draft playlist if you had any interest.

1. Help                                                              Little Texas

2. With A Little Help From My Friends              Joe Cocker

3. Yesterday                                                      Eva Cassidy

4. Nowhere Man                                               Randy Travis

5. Can't Buy Me Love                                       Shenandoah

6. Come Together                                            Delbert McClinton

7. Something                                                    Tanya Tucker

8.The Long And Winding Road                        Ray Charles and Count Basie

9. Eleanor Rigby                                               Liz Callaway

10. Oh! Darling                                                 Huey Lewis

11. Ticket To Ride                                            Joshua Rifkin

12. Baby I Am Amazed                                    Paul McCartney

13. Lady Madonna                                           Paul McCartney

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Music Man's "Coachella Valley Live Music Hall Of Fame"

Desert Dreams
It's May and as I got ready to make the trip back to New Jersey, I began thinking about all the great musicians I enjoyed this winter in the desert.  I thought the Music Man Blog should have a "Cochella Valley Live Music Hall Of Fame". Here is the class of 2011", "listed in no particular order" to enter the Hall. I know there are a lot of other musicians I missed but I started with the marvelous performers that I have seen. If you have other personal favorites, please let me know so I can make sure to hear them next winter.

                                                                  The Class of 2011

   Trumpet: Steve Madaio
   Bass: Bill Saitta, Jeff Stover, Brian Nova
   Male Singers-First Chair: Jack Jones, Mike Costley, Frank DiSalvo,
Johnny Meza, Frankie Randall, Pat Rizzo, Derrik Lewis, Christopher Gore, Slim Man, Larry Capeloto
   Male Singers-Second Chair: Erich Stratmann, Ken Steele, Tom McMorris, Marc Koltun, Denny Seidenfeld, Jim Salestrom
   Piano/keyboard: Marty Steele, Yarak Urant, Frankie Randall, Johnny Meza, Gino Antonacci, Derrik Lewis
   Sax: Pat Rizzo, Mindi Abair, Euge Groove, George Young, Al Diaz, Ron Coco, Reggie Alexander, Mikole Kaar, Gary Bias, Steve Alaniz, Ted Herman
   Female Singers-First Chair: Ann Hampton Callaway, Liz Callaway, Lola Rossi, Beverly Jensen, Laura Hagen, Poupee Boccaccio, Carolyn Martinez,  Kristi King, Lee Hartley
   Female Singers-Second Chair: Missoni Lanza, Jeanie Stanhope, Carole Hampton, Anita Gardner
   Drums: Andy Fraga, Steve Neilen, Jay Lewis, Julio Cesare, Jack Pina, Sal Frisura

   Flute: Tom Kennlyside, Pat Rizzo, Al Lopex, Steve Alaniz
   Trombone: John Leys
   Guitar: Brian Nova, Dan Papaila, Jeff Golub, Frank DiSalvo, John Pagels
   Vibs: Gino Antonacci

   Bandleaders: Ted Herman, Guy Lake

                            The Great Restaurants Supporting Live Music

       Arnold Palmers, Desert Sage, The Sandbar, Backstreet Bistro, Cafe des Beaux-Arts,  Le Paon, Cafe' Italia,  Indian Wells Resort Hotel, The Nest, Vicky's of Santa Fe, Tormes', Trinidads, Blue Ember, IW Club, Tropicale, Escena Lounge & Grill,  Miramonte Resort & Spa

                                      Businesses Supporting Live Music

      Pete Carlson's Golf & Tennis

CD Review: John Vanore, "Primary Colors"

Trumpeter, Composer, Producer, Educator and Bandleader John Vanore has just released a long-forgotten studio recording of a duet he reco...