Sunday, December 30, 2012

CD Review: Tim Warfield's "Jazzy Christmas"


I know Christmas is over, and you are probably sick of hearing the same Christmas music all month long, but I have just listened to the best Christmas Jazz album that I have heard in a long, long time.  The CD is from Tim Warfield and titled "Jazzy Christmas" and it is simply great jazz.  It is so good that I bet after hearing it for the first time, you will be tempted to play it again many times throughout the coming New Year.  The CD was released on December 2, 2013 but due to a mail problem, I did not get a chance to listen to it until the day before Christmas.

This is my first experience with Tim Warfield who plays Tenor and Soprano Saxophones but even after only one play of this CD, I wanted to check out other CDs that he made. Just love his sound and his creative approach to these traditional Christmas songs. Tim's improvisation is fresh and exciting and fits perfectly with the many varied rhythmic tempos he uses. Tim also did all the fine arrangements for all of the songs except two. Here is a list of the songs on the CD:

1. Santa Clause is Coming to Town                    6. Oh Christmas Tree
2. Let it Snow                                                      7. Silent Night
3. Joy to the World                                              8. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
4. Little Drummer Boy                                        9. Snowfall
5. Caroling Caroling                                          10. The Dreidel Song

Featured on this CD is Terell Stafford on Trumpet, Stefon Harris on Vibraphone, Cyrus Chestnut on Piano, Rodney Whitaker on Bass, Clarence Penn on Drums, Daniel Sadownick on Percussion. Neil Podgurski is on piano for tracks 1,3,8, and 10. Joanna Pascale provided lovely vocals on tracks 2,5, and 7 and Jamie Davie provided vocals on track 6.  A remarkably talented group of supporting musicians!

This CD would make a great New Year's gift for any jazz lover!

Tim Warfield resume is quite interesting.  He has won many awards and his 2010 CD "A Sentimental Journey" on the Criss Cross Jazz label was selected as a "Critic's Choice" in the New York Times, by Ben Ratliff. He is currently serving as a board member as well as committee chairman for the Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz. Tim also serves as "artist-in-residence" at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa and recently joined the adjunct faculty at Temple University Music Department, in Philadelphia, Pa.

Congratulations Tim on this fine Christmas Jazz CD. I don't know if there is a Grammy category for Christmas Jazz CDs, but if there is, Tim Warfield's CD should get a nomination.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

CD Review: "Standards" From Cecily Kate


After listening to "Standards", the first CD from multi-talented Cecily Kate, I still wondered how this could be her first CD.  Why did it take her so long to creat her first CD? Cecily has spent years performing in the trenches and paying her dues. After attending college at Indiana University, she worked with the New York Grand Opera conducted by Vincent La Selva and sang the role of Annina in "La Traviata" in Central Park.  She has also performed as a soloist in a Mozart Festival. She received a rave review in her off Broadway debut as "Belle" in a "G & S Christmas Carol". Cecily's Broadway debut in "A Wonderful Life" starring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Judy Kuhn was a huge success. The show was named one of the top ten best theatre shows of 2005 by Time Magazine. She also currently teaches ballet, tap, musical theatre and voice in New York City and New Jersey, her home state. Cecily's background explains exactly why it has taken so long to produce her first CD. Cecily has dedicated her life to music and never looked for short cuts!

Cecily is a pleasure for all of us who love standards from the "Great American Songbook".  It's great  that we have such a gifted young singer who understands the value that these songs still hold for the current generation. According to Cecily "I began putting this album together in my head over a year ago, while performing cabaret shows for an older generation. Half of the audience would sing along, others would get up and dance, and the rest would simply sit back and smile.  The history behind these classics makes them timeless, and I noticed that they had the ability to transport the audience to wonderful places in their memory."

Thank you Cecily for your voice, your inspiration, your vigor and insights into the world of great American standards!

Cecily has worked hard to place her own unique stamp on each of the standards listed below, molding the songs through years of performing. The results are outstanding giving these "evergreens" new life and making them truly her own. To quote Peter Allen, "Everything Old Is New Again".

The supporting musicians Cecily asked to join her on this CD are all highly talented sidemen.  Brand Ross on Piano, Chris Bonner on Double Bass and Brian Pareschi on Trumpet. Finally, all the songs were produced by Cecily Kate adding to her list of brilliant talents.

Here is a list of the Songs on the "Standards" CD:

1. My Funny Valentine
2. Autumn in New York
3. Stupid Cupid
4. Fever
5. Long Ago and Far Away
6. It's Alright With Me
7. How Are Things In Glocca Morra
8. Where The Boys Are
9. Let's Do It
  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Miles Davis:Remembering The Jazz Giants, Chapter 9





There are a lot of talented trumpet players we know and love but there is only one Miles Davis. His projection of a song's emotions is raised to a point where the listener can almost touch, as well as, hear the lyrics coming from his trumpet.  Miles Davis has always been an exceptional instrumentalist who had the musical sense to bring some of the best players in the US to his recording sessions.  His style over the years evolved from Bebop to Standards. Miles taught us that when it comes to playing standards from the Great American Songbook, "less is better". The results of these sessions produced some of the best sounds ever recorded. Picking just one favorite from the vast list of superb songs is almost impossible.  What makes this effort a little easier for me is that I have always been drawn to the great love songs Miles Davis recorded. I found a 1956 recording on YouTube of the Rodgers & Hart classic, "It Never Entered My Mind" that I think perfectly illustrates Miles Davis' ability to transfer great lyrics through his trumpet. Joining Miles on this song are some jazz giants in their own right: the great Red Garland on Piano, Philly Joe Jones on Drums and Paul Chambers on Bass. Enjoy the musical magic of Miles Davis!





Friday, November 16, 2012

CD Pre-Release Review: Introducing "THE VERGE"


"The Verge"is a new powerfully-charged and musically creative group of musicians formed in New York City in 2011. The result of their labor has produced sounds that merge the music of yesterday, today and tomorrow very effectively. If there is such a thing as serious jazz musicians, this group qualifies. This CD is worth purchasing just to heard the different rhythms and creative arrangements.

Jon Hanser is a musical super star on Keys, plays Trumpet and has a voice that is easy to listen to and smooth. Jon also wrote the arrangements that are all fresh, unique and sure to please any jazz lover. Kenny Shanker plays just outstanding Sax and also sings and plays the Piano solo on cut #3, the Britney Spears 2011 hit "I Wanna Go". This song never sounded better with all due respect to Ms Spears. The third member of "The Verge" is Brian Fishler who plays drums and adds his voice to several cuts.

There are 12 cuts on this CD and I liked every one. "The Verge" is a forward-moving group that mixes intensity with mellifluous lyrics. They are musically perfect together!  This Cd will be released on November 20, 2012.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

CD Review: Tianna Hall & The Mexico City Jazz Trio



Most of the readers of The Musicman Blog have a deep love of the "Great American Songbook". The new CD "Two For The Road" from Tianna Hall and the Mexico City Jazz Trio will be a real treat for you.  This is the fourth release for Tianna Hall, a two-time Grammy recognized vocalist who is based in Houston, Texas. This is also her second collaboration with the Mexico City Jazz Trio. Tianna brought her unique voice and approach to some of the best American songs ever written. Take a look at this spectacular list of songs:

1. Til There Was You- Meredith Wilson
2. What Is This Thing Called Love?-Cole Porter
3. When October Goes-Johnny Mercer & Barry Manilow
4. They Can't Take That Away From Me-Andrew William Thorpe & George Gershwin
5. Black Hole Sun-Chris Cornell
6. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To-Cole Porter
7. Creep-Mike Hazelwood, Albert Hammond
8. I've Never Been In Love Before-Frank Loesser
9. Good Morning Heartache-Irene Higginbotham, Ervin Drake, Dan Fisher
10. I'm Not In Love-Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart
11. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down & Write Myself A Letter- Joe Young, Fred Ahlert
12. So In Love-Cole Porter
13. Moon River-Johnny Mercer & Henry Mancini
14. Two For The Road- Leslie Bricusse, Henry Mancini

Tianna Hall loves to sing standards and she has the musical skills to perform perfectly.  She is blessed on this CD with some super sidemen that bring the total musical product to the highest level.  Miguel Villicana did most of the wonderful arrangements and played piano beautifully, Agustin Bernal's bass playing was great and Gabriel Puentes drumming provided a perfect foundation for the group.  Of note also was the fact that David Caceres sang and played sax on "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and also was Associate Producer and assisted with the audio engineering.  David is a truly talented musician and if you are not familiar with David, look up the June 12th, 2012 blog I posted on his latest CD.

By the way, when is the last time you bought a new CD with 14 songs on it. Yea! to Tianna Hall for giving her fans a bonus number of songs. You can buy this CD for $9.99 on iTunes and other music sources.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

So You've Cut A New CD, Now What?




I recently read an article written by Eliot Van Buskirk that I think clearly painted a picture of recording artists being between a "rock and a hard place". As Van Buskirk put it, "Music Is Still Too Expensive To Be Free, Too Free To Be Expensive". Today's most popular streaming sites, like Spotify and Pandora have millions of users but the bottom line payouts to recording artists are tiny and can take over a year to collect. So what can recording artists do after they cut a new CD? In past years, they would try to pitch their CD to a record label looking for a recording contract from the label. If successful, the label would earn their money by providing the marketing power to get the word out about the new CD and put it in front of the buying public. In return for their promotional and marketing efforts, the label obtains a lock on the artists and their songs.

Fast forward to today and the major labels won't touch a new artist unless they think the artist can sell several million CDs and even then the amount of promoting and marketing would be very limited unless they feel the artist has mega star potential.

As a result many recording artists have moved to self publish their new CDs. The cost of quality recording equipment has dropped to the point where self publishing music is within the reach of most new artists.

This is all well and good but after the CD is cut, most artists are at a total loss as to how to get the word out and as a result just simply sell the CD at one of their live performances.

Considering that new artists today can self publish effectively and inexpensively, it seems to me that there should be more affordable promotional and marketing available to help new recording artists get the word out about their products. Artists who self publish their music have a good chance to produce a profit from their CD because the number of sales needed to break even is low and in many cases is less than 10,000 sales.

I wish I had the answers to these marketing questions because I believe there are answers out there. I can share the names of a couple of marketing firms that do an excellent job with their small recording clients. I have received some great new CDs to review from both of these firms.  KL Productions is owned by Karen Leipziger and can be contacted at Klpzgr@earthlink.net. Karen is a very effective promoter, represents some major league musicians and takes a personal interest in all her clients. Another is Kari Gaffney who owns Kari-on Productions and she can be contacted at Kari@karigaffney.com. Kari has lots of new talented performers that she works with and also takes a personal interest in all her clients.

If any of my readers have other sources that can help in getting the word out for new CDs, please share that information with me so I can pass it on.                      

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sassy Sarah Vaughn,The Divine One:Remembering The Jazz Giants, Chapter 8





"The Divine One" Sarah Vaughn was born in the same town I was born, Newark, NJ on March 27, 1924.  She died much too young in LA on April 3, 1990.  She had a musical career that few will ever reach for over 50 years. It always seemed to me that Sarah Vaughn never got the public recognition she so deserved but was loved by every talented musician of her time. Her voice was powerful and silky and some say her voice range could cover  4 octaves.  Every great singer of her time acknowledged her greatness without exception. The great Ella Fitzgerald called Sarah "The world's greatest singing talent"! The first time I got to hear Sarah sing live was in the late 50's at the great New York jazz dinner club, "Basin Street East", and I have been a fan ever since. Sarah's voice was so versatile that at times it seemed more like a finely tuned instrument rather than a human voice.  

I have attached two YouTube videos that will define "Sassy" Sarah Vaughn certainly better than I could. The first is the great evergreen, "Stardust" and the second is everyone's favorite, "Over the Rainbow" Few singers back then or even today could even come close to her magnificent level of musical talent. She left us much too soon. Thankfully, we still have her music to remind us of how wonderfully she could sing.  

I would like to dedicate this Sarah Vaughn posting to my friend from the California Desert, Yve Evans. Listening to Yve singing and playing piano this past winter and feeling her love and respect for "Sassy" rekindled my fond memories of the "Incomparable" Sarah Vaughn.   











Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Music Man Blog Celebrates It's Third Birthday


Another year has past quickly and it's time again to review the progress of the "Music Man Blog". During this past year, the blog was busy posting reviews of live music performances and reviews of new CDs from some exciting new artists and reviews of some really great biographies of the music performers we all love.

I am really excited to report that the number of visitors that viewed "Music Man Blog" in the past 12 months has increased from a total of 18,143 in 2011 to 57,573 in 2012. If we maintain this rate of viewers, we could hit 100,000 visitors in 2013!

We are also developing a jazz-loving following from countries outside the US.  Take a look at the list of the top 10 countries ranked by number of views of the "Music Man Blog".

1. United States
2. Germany
3. United Kingdom
4. Russia
5. South Korea
6. Canada
7. China
8. Ukraine
9. Netherlands
10. France

In our first two years of posting, the highest month of pageviews was May 2011 with 2,172.  After our third years we broke new ground in September 2012  when we recorded 5,886 pageviews.

Technorati, the leading organization that tracks the level of activity for Blogs across the world ranked the "Music Man Blog" number 52,377 out of a blog total of 1,312,806 blogs worldwide.  This puts the "Music Man Blog" in the top 4% of all active blogs. We moved our ranking ahead of 46,685 blogs in the past 12 months.

I want to personally thank all the supporters of great American music and  the "Music Man Blog". We will continue to promote both live music performance and also all the great musicians that continue to record their music and the songs of the "Great American Songbook". Thank you all for keeping the music playing!
Warmest Regards, The Music Man Blog.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Catherine Russell Wows Sold Out Crowd At Shanghai Jazz


The Catherine Russell Quartet
Catherine Russell
Catherine Russell

Catherine Russell

Matt Munisteri

Mark Shane
Lee Hudson

The first time I heard Catherine Russell's most recent CD, "Strictly Romancin" she became one of my favorite Jazz singers. As soon as I found out she was scheduled to perform at Shanghai Jazz in Madison, I called for a reservation. That was a good decision because Catherine's Friday night performance was standing-room-only.

This was the first time I heard Catherine Russell live and she exceeded all of my expectations!  Catherine is a five foot and change "Tower of Power". She has an unbelievably strong voice which is even more remarkable when you realize those great sounds are emanating from such a small lady. At tonight's performance she brought 3 of her regular, super-talented sidemen.  Catherine's musical director and arranger Matt Munisteri on guitar.  Lee Hudson was on bass and Mark Shane played piano. These three talented musicians provided Catherine with the perfect musical support for her voice and style.

According to Catherine, "I only sing songs that my personal life experience allows me to relate to". This is one of the reasons she is such a great singer and what I noticed when I first heard her most recent CD. When I reviewed this CD in my blog posted in December of 2011, I commented "These songs demand 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". The songs Catherine selects are not easy songs to sing but as a testimony to her great singing skills, she performs them with refreshing honesty and clarity.

Tonight's performance was also special for Martha Chang & David Niu, the proprietors of Shanghai Jazz.  Shanghai Jazz first opened on October 1, 1995 and they were celebrating their 17th year in business. The great thing about Shanghai Jazz is that in addition to being one of the premiere
Jazz destinations in the Northeast, this restaurant would be successful even without the great Jazz due to the great food and outstanding service.

It was announced that Catherine Russell agreed to perform on New Year's Eve at Shanghai Jazz as she did last year. My advice is to make your reservation now or you will be shut out as this event will sell out quickly.  You can call 973-822-2899 for a reservation or just visit their site, www.shanghaijazz.com.                                                                                      















Monday, October 8, 2012

CD Pre-Release Review: Sophisticated Ladies, A True Story

I listened to a new CD last week "Sophisticated Ladies, A True Story" that is sure to please most of the readers of this blog.  The Group is made up of four talented women who sing and play their own new and refreshing takes to some great standards along with some new songs and rhythms starting with Swing and moving to Cuban Bolero and Indian Bansuri.

The CD starts with an uptempo version of the Rogers and Hart gem, "The Lady Is A Tramp" that highlights the voice of Rachael Magidson on vocal, Emilie Calme on flute, Nolwenn Leizour on Upright bass and Valerie Chane-Tef on piano.  I think this cut represents the group's talents which were used in the creation of this CD.  Rachael does most of the vocals and also contributes on Flugelhorn and Percussion and Emile, Nolwenn and Valerie also provide vocals on cut #8, "Dancez Sur Moi".

I loved cut# 4, "Autumn Leaves" which is sung in French by Rachael.  It starts slow and moves into a fine Latin rhythm. Cut# 5 is an instrumental that features outstanding jazz flute by Emilie and great Latin rhythm from the rest of the group.

These four women bring not only their musical talents to this CD project but also share a musical story that reflects their personality and life experiences. If you like great standards approached in new ways by talented Jazz musicians, this CD is for you.

This is the first CD from the Sophisticated Ladies and will be available on October 18, 2012.  I know it will be well received and hope we hear more from these talented ladies in the near future.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pre-Release Review: Bonnie Bishop's "FREE"


Usually when I review a new CD from an artist new to me, I need to hear the cuts a few times in order to get a feel for the artist and his or her performance. That was not necessary for the new CD from Bonnie Bishop called "Free". Bonnie Bishop is a very special singer/songwriter/musician loaded with talent. When she sings her songs she paints pictures that our alive with emotion and truth. Only singers that have experienced the kind of stories in her lyrics could make them this believable. Bonnie started touring in 2002 and released four regionally-acclaimed albums over a period of six years during which she received a nomination for "Vocal Performance of the Year". She is simply a "great singer". Bonnie's soulful and raspy voice contains parts of Janis Joplin and her musical hero, Bonnie Raitt and maybe a little Adele also.

In 2008, Bonnie moved to Nashville to focus on her songwriting career. This was an excellent decision because all the songs she has written on this album are outstanding. I could think of several singers who  would have no  problem turning any one of these songs into popular hits. According to Bonnie, "My music evolved because I fundamentally changed. My experiences in the last few years, however painful, taught me humility and personal accountability." It seems that this life experience also taught Bonnie how to sing and write music like a big time musical star!

Bonnie recently had the thrill of having her mentor, Bonnie Raitt record a song she co-wrote with Al Anderson, "Not 'Cause I Wanted To" on Raitt's new album "Slipstream". According to Bonnie Raitt,"Bonnie Bishop is so talented, and very special. She's an amazing presence.  I think she's going to be a big star." I join Bonnie Raitt in stating that Bonnie Bishop's time has arrived. The release of this Album on October 9, 2012 will announce to the world that the next major singer/songwriter/musician to take center stage is Bonnie Bishop.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stan Kenton:Remembering The Jazz Giants: Chapter 9




Stan Kenton and his Orchestra was one of the most controversial bands to come out of the 1940's.  The "Walls of brass" was the most famous characteristic that was used by many in describing the Kenton Orchestra.  Kenton's orchestrations used richly somber trombones, staccato saxophones and blazing-high trumpet notes. The Kenton arrangements were far ahead of their time but many mainline music critics considered his musical product as loud noise. But in time, Stan Kenton got to prove his critics wrong and continued to maintain a strong following long after the rest of the big bands of the 40's and 50's stopped performing.  Stan Kenton was a musical genius far ahead of his time.  Kenton provided a link with his unique sounds and arrangements between Jazz and Classical music. 

I have attached two YouTube videos that highlight the suburb musical arrangements and unique sounds of the Stan Kenton Orchestra.  The first is one of my all-time favorite Kenton arrangements, "The Peanut Vendor" recorded in London in 1972, six years before his death in 1979. The second video is a recording produced in 1951 featuring another of my all-time favorite trumpet players, Maynard Ferguson playing the classic evergreen, "What's New".  I think you will agree that both of these recordings, made more than 40 years ago, still sound new and fresh today.  This is a tribute to why Stan Kenton is considered by many as one of the founding fathers of modern Jazz

Important Note for all Stan Kenton Fans: Some of my readers might not be aware of the fact that there is a "Kenton Alumni Band" that is still touring the country.  I just received an email from them announcing that the band will be touring on the East Coast from April 8th to the 22nd next year.  They will be performing in Ohio, Pa, NY, Mass, New Hampshire, Conn, Rhode Island, NJ, Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia.  You can find additional information on their site: www.bigbandjazz.net which will be up very soon.  You can also contact the leader of the group Mike Vax at: vaxtrpts@aol.com.







Friday, September 14, 2012

CD Review: "Yeah......About That" by Johnny Hodges






I just listened to a remarkable new CD from Trumpeter Johnny Hodges which highlights his ability not only as a Trumpet player but also his talents as a composer/arranger and sound engineer.  John has been playing Trumpet since the 5th grade but don't be fooled by the fact that this is his first solo release.  Johnny has paid his dues over the years performing as a sideman for musical greats across many different types of music and sound.  Just a few of the notable artists he has worked with include: Paul Anka, The Temptations, The Four Freshman, Clark Terry, Roy Clark, Diane Schuur, Vic Damone and Johnny Mathis.

This CD has a funky jazz-inspired sound on some exciting new music that Johnny has composed and arranged.  He also produced all the rhythm programing and the Brass. A virtual one-man band with the feel of a big and serious jazz group.  Bryan Cook added his Trumpet to the mix on track 8, "First Try" and Jeff Barone played some serious guitar licks on Tracks 3 & 8.

I especially liked Track 1, "Dixie Twister", Track 3, "Cozumel" and Track 5, "Para Ti, Mi Amor". There is no doubt that Johnny Hodges is an excellent songwriter, arranger, sound engineer and jazz Trumpet player. This is pure and simple a great jazz CD with a modern but disciplined sound that won't disappoint any Jazz fan.  This CD was released on August 21, 2012.  In my opinion this CD is worthy of a  Grammy nomination. This proves that Jazz is still alive and well in the USA in year 2012.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review: Carole King "A Natural Woman, A Memoir"


I have been a big fan of Carole King ever since I first heard her "Tapestry" album. Over the past years I have learned bits and pieces of her musical and personal life so I was delighted when Carole wrote her memoir, "A Natural Woman".  Carole King, unlike most musicians, wrote her autobiography entirely on her own. Her writing is excellent in both construction and style and has produced a book that tells a very beautiful and personal story laying out the major influences in her life and painting a clear picture of what made her one of the greatest singer/songwriters of modern times. I especially liked the stories she recalls about the relationships with fellow musicians who helped her develop into the singing/songwriting genius that she has become. She was a major creator and participant of the music of the sixties and has continued to have an impact on the music scene.

In my mind, as an artist, Carole will also always be musically linked to James Taylor. They share the same feel for melody and lyric and perform as if they were born as musical twins. Carole relates stories of how she performed as a sideman for Taylor in their musical beginnings at the Troubadour.  Carole also gives us the complete story of how she was literally pushed out on the stage by Taylor , an event she credits for starting her solo career.

For anyone coming of age during the sixties, this book and the music of Carole King will touch many emotional buttons and is a must-read. Her "Tapestry" album holds the record for the longest time for an album by a female to remain on the charts and the longest time for an album by a female to hold the #1 position. She has won four Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She has recorded over twenty-five albums and is still touring the country today.

I have attached two "YouTube" videos for your listening pleasure. The first is a duet with Carole and James Taylor singing "Up On The Roof" a song written by Carole and Gerry Goffin.  The second is Carole alone singing her classic song, "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman".

                                                         BOOK REVIEW
                                       The Music Man awards this book  "4 Quarter Notes"

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





Tuesday, September 4, 2012

CD Pre-Release Review: "Drink My Wine" by Darren Jay and The Delta Souls

Darren Jay & The Delta Souls

Darren Jay

Laura Cupit
If you love "Memphis Blues" and who doesn't, a new CD released on September 18, 2012 is for you. Darren Jay has been playing in bands since he was 15.  In 2007 he released his album, "Panhandle Blues" which won him critical praise for his songwriting and guitar skills. Darren joined the U.S.Navy in 1996 and when he completed his active duty, Darren spent most of his time playing in the Miami music scene.  His next move was to Washington D.C. where he joined The Stacy Brooks band as her guitar player.  Since 2010, Darren has been based in Memphis, TN where he met bass player Laura Cupit where the idea for this CD was born. "Drink My Wine" is their debut release. There are some great Blues Songs on this CD including "Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Tin Pan Alley".  The balance of the tunes were written by the talented Darren Jay. There are a bunch of highly talented musicians that supported Darren Jay and Laura Cupit:  Toby Thomas, Piano & Organ; Hubert Crawford, Drums; Laura Cupit, Bass & backup vocals; Darren Jay, Guitars and vocals; Chris Cloys, backup vocals, Marc Franklin, Trumpet; Art Edmaiston, Tenor & Baritone Sax; Wayne Jackson, Trumpet; Rodd Bland, Drums. This is a superbly produced Blues CD showcasing great guitar licks, soulful lyrics and some of the best Blues sidemen in the country.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chicago And The Doobie Brothers Rock The House In New Jersey




















Fans of Chicago and The Doobie Brothers enjoyed a real treat on Sunday August 19 when both groups performed together at the PNC Bank Arts Center. This performance was part of a national tour, and I thought you might enjoy some live shots from the show. Even though these bands have been performing for more than 40 years, they are still musically right on their game. The Doobie Brothers performed first, and I thought they were just outstanding. They performed many of their classics and also covered some newer songs.  Their vocal harmony was simply great, and they received a friendly and loud response from an audience made up of people in their 50s, 60s and 70s. It's clear that these age groups still like to rock!

Chicago performed many of their classics which included their unique arrangements. Chicago is considered a popular rock band by many but their roots have always been and still are in jazz. Chicago still has a few of the original players in the band as you can see from the pictures above. If you are a Chicago fan you don't want to miss this concert tour when it gets to your area. I have to say that I did miss the voice of Peter Cetera in some of the older songs.

The level of musical talent from the musicians in both Chicago and The Doobie Brothers is outstanding; well worth the effort and cost of the ticket.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book Review" "Buddy Guy, When I Left Home, My Story" with David Ritz


When blues guitarists talk about the blues, especially the Chicago blues, Buddy Guy's name will always be mentioned.  If you're even a casual fan of the blues, this book is a must read for you.  Buddy Guy tells his story just like he plays the blues, with honesty that incorporates deep personal insights from his early life in Louisiana right up to his present life in Chicago.

This book is more than an autobiography of one of the greatest blues guitarists of all times.  The book also details the story of a black blues musician starting out playing in Louisiana, moving on to Chicago and dedicating his life to playing the blues. 

The story is upbeat although there is a sadness the reader will experience when Buddy takes us through his early years of picking cotton with his family. Guy and his entire family lived and worked on a farm.  The family that owned the farm got half of everything Guy and his family produced. The Guy family got to live on the farm and keep half. 

The work was long, hard and six days a week.  But Buddy's words show no bitterness. He talks about working in the fields all day at age 9 with his family, "Depending where you coming from, you could feel sorry for that little boy, thinking he's being misused. You could feel he was too young to work like that. You could decide that the world of sharecropping was cruel and unfair.  And you wouldn't be entirely wrong.  Except that if that boy was me and you were able to get inside my little head, you'd find that I was happy being out there with my daddy, doing the work that the big people did. I wanted to be grown and help my family anyway I could." Buddy Guy had it tough for much of his life and yet he never complained, he always did whatever kind of work he could find and then played his guitar all night where ever he could get a gig. 

Buddy Guy is a remarkable talent who even at age 75 is still performing and delighting blues fans all over the world including in his own Legends Jazz Club in Chicago.  I was able to find two great Buddy Guy live performances on YouTube and have attached them below.  Please enjoy these two classic performances.  

The coauthor of this book is David Ritz who always does a wonderful job of capturing not only the works of great musicians but also their spirit.  David also co-wrote "Hound Dog", the Leiber and Stoller autobiography that was reviewed on this blog on 4/16/12. Keep writing David, you are producing outstanding word pictures of the musicians we love.

BOOK REVIEW    
The Music Man Awards This Book "4 Quarter Notes"

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


Buddy Guy Live at the Jazz Lugano Festival in 2008
Medley of "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man"/"Love Her With a Feling"



                                                                                 Buddy Guy Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival 



Friday, August 10, 2012

CD Review: Sylvia Herold and the Rhythm Bugs Sing "The Spider and the Fly"

Sylvia Herold, Jennifer Scott, Jason Lewis, Ed Johnson and Cary Black

Jennifer Scott, Sylvia Herold and Ed Johnson
This CD takes the listener back to the best music of the 40s and 50s.  How great is it that today we can still get great new music that has its roots in swing and folk? Sylvia Herold has been singing professionally since she was 16 when she fell in love with traditional folk songs and began singing, collecting songs, and honing her guitar skills. The title of this CD comes as a result of the title song, "The Spider and the Fly" a song written by Fats Waller.  Sylvia Herold's voice is smooth, silky and always in perfect pitch.  The vocal arrangements are new and terrific, and yet still true to the best three part harmonies of past years. Jennifer Scott's and Ed Johnson's voices fit perfectly with Sylvia's voice and at times it sounds almost like one voice singing three part harmonies.  If you were a fan of the Pied Pipers or the Boswell Sisters, then you will love this CD. The three great voices of Sylvia Herold, Jennifer Scott and Ed Johnson are supported by a highly skilled rhythm section of bassist Cary Black, drummer Jason Lewis and  Sylvia Herold also joins in on guitar with Jennifer Scott playing piano and Ed Johnson playing guitar. There are some special guests that also add greatly to the final sounds on this CD, Christian Tamburr, vibraphone, Charlie Hancock, accordion, John Worley, trumpet and Flugelhorn, Evan Price, violin, Orville Johnson, dobro and Tony Marcus, voice.

All and all, this is one highly talented group of skilled musicians, and I would like to personally thank Sylvia Herold and her group for keeping these wonderful sounds of yesteryear not only alive but fresh and new.  Sylvia Herold produced this CD with skilled experience, resulting in a fine and musically wonderful product.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Claude Berger Loved by the Crowds in Quebec City, Canada




Claude Berger

In the middle of a very hot summer in 2012, I traveled to Quebec City, Canada  to spend a few days in this beautiful and romantic city.  This city celebrates the first two weeks of July with a city-wide music festival where you have lots of great free music playing all day and night.  The two major groups participating in this festival were Bon Jovi and Areosmith.  However, the subject of this blog is a focus on the wonderful street performers that show up every day and night and play on the streets for tips from the groups of listeners who gather to hear the sounds.  These performers must get approved by the City of Quebec, but they receive no monetary support from the City.  They make their money from tips that individuals give them.

I was most impressed by Claude Berger who told me that this was the third summer he was playing on the streets of Quebec.  Claude is a classically-trained trumpet player and produces wonder sounds from his trumpet.  Claude also has a wonderful "New Orleans" sounding voice that is loved by the crowds who come to listen to him.

I have attached a "YouTube" video that Claude put together and posted with his playing "Autumn Leaves" that is a sort of tribute to the great Miles Davis that I know you will enjoy.

Monday, July 23, 2012

CD Review: Tim Carey, Room 114



Tim Carey
Tim Carey
Tim Carey is a multi-instrumentalist and composer from Seattle Washington.  He is young, but he plays and composes like a seasoned super star.  Tim joins the other lead bass players who have recorded great new CDs this year with outstanding results.  I was very impressed with his playing style and ability, but I was absoultely knocked out by two other talents -- his composing skills and his selection of supporting players for this CD. "Room 114" features 10 original compositions which are nothing short of brilliant. His writing is a mix of modern jazz with melodic melodies combined with great fresh rhythms.   This is the first release by Tim Carey and the music and the band is just world class.  The songs are intelligent and the mix with the band is seamless. Tim is joined by some simply magnificent musicians.  Eric Verlinde plays piano and keyboard and gets the opportunity to show his virtuosity with one great solo after another.  I don't think anyone could perform better than Eric did for this CD. Brendan Odonnell's guitar work was smooth, melodic and creative on all the cuts. Jeff Busch supplied the rhythms of Brazil, always ankering the group but never overpowering it on Drums and Percussion. Tarik Abouzled's drum work fit perfectly together with Jeff's work on Drums and Percussion. Finally, Tim Carey's bass playing was simply terrific supplying the glue to fit all these world-class musicians together into one seamless, musical explosion of new songs and sounds.

This CD was released on May 29, 2012 and it is one of the best releases of the year.  You need to get it, and I promise it will become one of your favorite CDs of 2012.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Johnny Hartman:Remembering The Jazz Giants: Chapter 7




Johnny Hartman
If you like pure, soft sensitive jazz singing combined with a straight forward honest expression of great lyrics, then you need not look any further than to Johnny Hartman. Johnny Hartman was without a doubt one of the greatest singers of his time. Sadly, he was not widely known; and, therefore, never got the proper public recognition for his magnificiant deep and silky voice and his unique approach to the lyrics of some of the greatest American songs ever written. When asked about his approach to a song, Hartman said, "Well to me a lyric is a story, almost like talking or telling someone a story, try to make it believable".  

Many American music lovers first got to know Johnny Hartman as a result of Clint Eastwood's "Bridges of Madison County" in 1995.  Eastwood, a serious jazz lover himself, used 7 Johnny Hartman songs in the movie that added perfectly to the emotional love story Eastwood was painting on the big screen.

There are lots of Johnny Hartman CDs still available today, but if I was limited to only one, it would be the "John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman" CD.  I recently posted a blog entitled, "The top 10 CDs that need to be on your bucket list, and I overlooked this gem.  It belongs on that list also.  If you are not familiar with Johnny Hartman, I have a real treat for you below.  I found two songs on "Youtube" from the Coltrane/Hartman CD that are just sensational! The first is "My One and Only Love" and the second is in my opinion the best recording of the Billy Stryhorn classic "Lush Life".  The combination of Stryhorn, Coltrane and Hartman is as good as music gets! 

                                                        "My One And Only Love"


                                                                  "Lush Life"

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Pre-Release CD Review: Ray Parker "Swingin' Never Hurt Nobody"


Ray Parker

The Ray Parker Trio














When I was asked to do a pre-release review of the Ray Parker CD "Swingin' Never Hurt Nobody" my first thought was how exciting could a jazz string trio consisting of a bass, guitar and violin be? Well "Who Knew"? The musical sounds and skills showcased in this CD are simply superb. Personally, Ray Parker's work with his bow is fabulous. I love the sound of the upright bass but the pure clear sounds Ray produces with his bow take the listener to a new level of excellence. Joining Ray on this CD are Russell George on violin and Jon Hart on guitar.  These three players produce sounds that would make you think they are brothers. Each of three produce solos that are soft, imaginative and lush.  And when they play together, they fit like a hand in a glove. You can count on one hand the number of great jazz violinists playing today but now you will need another finger because Russell George's performance is outstanding and fresh.  Ray refers to Jon Hart as "Every bass players favorite guitarist" and after listening to this CD just once, it will be clear to all that he is absolutely right.

There are 9 tunes on this CD, great standards that are given new life again by this talented string trio.

1. Guitar Sammich/Now's the Time
2. The Best Things in Life Are Free
3. My Heart Belongs to Daddy
4. Always
5. The Nearness of You
6. Too Close for Comfort
7. Zingaro
8. Just in Time
9. Goodbye

Ray Parker produced this recording and Jon Hart did the engineering.  I congratulate both for the very professional way this product was completed.

This CD will released on July 24, 2012 and will be available at iTunes and CD Baby. It's a must have CD and one of the best new releases of the year!  I looking forward to hearing lots more from this trio in the near future.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Top 10 CD's That Need To Be On Every Jazz Lovers' Bucket List


If you were limited to listening to only 10 CDs in the next 10 years, have you ever given any thought to what CDs you would put on the list?  I have, and I would like to share my picks with you.  I have listed below in no particular order the top 10 picks that would be on my bucket list.

1.  Dave Brubeck: "Time Out"1959. This CD is intriguing in that it introduces us to complex rhythms that never get old. This was the first instrumental Jazz album to sell over a million copies and was personally responsible for taking me over the bridge from popular music to real jazz. This album also introduced the world to the soft sax tones and phrasing of Paul Desmond.  Listening to this album today, 50 years after it was recorded, it still sound new, fresh and musically unique.

2.  Carol King: "Tapestry" 1971. How can anyone not like this CD with Carol singing all her great songs.   This CD while especially important to the women's movement in the 1970's also had a big impact on a lot of men. The test of time confirms that this CD belongs on this list. You still hear songs from this album being played on radio stations everyday.

3.  Diana Krall: "Live In Paris" 2002. Personally I think that this CD is sensational.  Diana plays jazz piano and sings as good as anyone I have ever heard.  This CD was recorded live in Paris, and you can feel the high emotions from the audience responding to the great singing and playing. I don't think I have ever heard a better CD. What more can I say?

4. Ella Fitzgerald, "Live In Berlin". If there is only one album from Ella you could have, this is the one you need to get.  This recording was released again on 01/05/2011 so you can find it on iTunes, and I believe it sells for $9.00.  Ella kills on this album with classic Ella recordings of "Mack The Knife", How High The Moon", Too Darn Hot and "Gone With The Wind". She also covers "Misty", "The Man I Love", "The Lady Is A Tramp", "Summertime" and "Lorelei".  Simply great singing from Ella at her best!

 5. Andre Previn With Joe Pass & Ray Brown: "After Hours" 1989.  The story of this CD is very interesting.  Andre Previn was asked if he wanted to do a CD with Joe Pass & Ray Brown, and he jumped at the chance. The only date that they are all in the same place is on a day when Previn is conducting a major orchestra so he arranges to meet Joe Pass and Ray Brown at a recording studio after his classical concert.  They all met around 11:00 pm at the studio with no music, no agenda, no charts, just ideas of certain songs that would work for the three of them. Previn picked a song and a key and off they go cutting all 11 tracks that first night finishing about 4:00 am that morning.  The result is the "After Hours" CD and it's a beauty! My favorites on this CD are "There Will Never Be Another You", "All The Things You Are", "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "Laura".

6. Paul Desmond & Gerry Mulligan: "Two Of A Mind"1962. This album was released in 1962 but is still as fresh today as it was back then.  The sound of Desmond's Alto Sax playing with Mulligan's Baritone sax is still fresh and alive to this day.  My favorites on this CD are "All The Things You Are", "Stardust" and "The Way You Look Tonight". 

7. Arturo Sandoval: "Americana"1999.  A classic CD containing wonderful trumpet playing and two of my all-time favorite songs, "Isn't She Lovely" the Stevie Wonder great song and "She's Out of My Life" the fabulous Michael Jackson gem. 

8. "Cannonball Adderley And Strings, Jump For Joy" 1995. While known mostly for terrific Be-Bop jazz classics, Adderley exhibits his deep understanding of ballads on this CD backed by a full string orchestra. It's just great, and my personal favorites are "I Cover The Waterfront", Polka Dots and Moonbeams", "A Foggy Day" and "Two Sleepy People". 

9. "Oscar Peterson Plays The Cole Porter Songbook" Re-released 2011. It's nearly impossible to pick just one Oscar Peterson album out of the hundreds he recorded but Oscar playing the great songs of Cole Porter is hard to beat.  This album spotlights Oscar Peterson at his very best playing "Night and Day",  It's All Right With Me", "Love For Sale"  and 9 other Cole Porter gems.  

10. Dave Koz: "At The Movies" 2007.  This is a lush and elegant CD where Dave Koz gets to express his feelings for some of the greatest movie themes ever written.  Every song on this CD is outstanding.  Dave also brings along some high-power guests for support including trumpeter Chris Botti, vocalists Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow and Donna Summers.  My favorite cuts are "Over The Rainbow",  "As Time Goes By" and The Shadow Of Your Smile".

This is my personal top 10 list and I would love to hear from you about your personal list or maybe a CD or two that can't live without. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

CD Review: "DAVID CACERES"

David Caceres
I read some really good comments about alto saxophonist David Caceres in the past few months and  was very excited when I was asked to review David's latest CD "David Caceres".  David comes from Texas and belongs to a long line of talented family musicians. This enriched musical environment provided David with a foundation of jazz that he openly embraced and built upon. David earned a scholarship to The Berklee College of Music and graduated in 1989. It was during his years at Berklee that he developed his wonderful alto tone, dexterity and musical imagination. It was also during his years at Berklee that David found his singing voice. According to David, "It feels just as good to sing one note as it does to play one note. However, they have very different roles and somewhat different languages when used in the same song. The voice sets the tone of the tune, drawing the listener in with a direct, rather vulnerable statement. Then the sax is allowed to stretch out and explore some of the other emotional layers of the song." David plays and sings on most of the tracks on this CD, and the results are simply wonderful.  David's musical heros were John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, and you can hear the influence from these giants in his playing. His singing brings to mind the vocal sounds and style of Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway.

This CD is marvelous in every aspect! David Caceres gets to showcase his skills as a alto saxophonist, vocalist and composer and the results are impressive. The selection of songs chosen for this CD work perfect together including two composed by David, "Sacred Path" and "Gratitude".  The song list clearly indicates that much time and thought expended to select the 11 great songs. I particularly liked Ray Lamontagne's folk/pop number "You Can Bring Me Flowers", Van Morrison's "The Way That Lovers Do" and the two Stevie Wonder compositions, "Seems So Long" and "Bird of Beauty".  David also has a wonderful singing performance of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight".

David is supported by a sterling group of musicians: arranger and keyboardist, Gil Goldstein, bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Bill Stewart organist Shedrick Mitchell, percussionist Bashiri Johnson, guitarist Larry Campbell and pianist Aaron Parks. Gil Goldstein's arrangements were perfect!

The producer of this CD was Matt Pierson and deserves outstanding recognition for the high level professional level of skill and talent that he provided to produce this musically wonderful product.



Friday, June 8, 2012

Freddie Hubbert:Remembering The Jazz Giants: Chapter 6





As readers of this blog probably know by now, I just love musicians who can sing and play songs that make the lyrics come to life and project the emotion of the composer to the listener. Few musicians ever reach this sweet level of sound but Freddie Hubbert is universally heralded as one of the greats.  Freddie Hubbert played music magnificently which was beautiful and intoxicating but also could be heartbreaking for the listener. One thing is for sure, if you are listening to Freddie Hubbert play,  chances are that you will experience an emotional reaction. Freddie is considered one of the greatest be-bop trumpeters of his era and had a rich, full tone.  He was influenced by jazz greats, Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, and he has influenced many of the great trumpeters playing today. But for me, it's not Freddie's be-bop legacy that is the most impressive I just love the amazing technical trumpet work that Freddie produced playing great ballads.  I have selected two perfect examples of  great trumpet playing by Freddie Hubbert that exhibit my love for the music product he produced. The first is Freddie's version of "Moment To Moment" and the second is "You're My Everything". Both of these tracks are off of one of the greatest Freddie Hubbert albums, "Hub Tones".  Joining Freddie on this album are Herbie Hancock on piano, Reggie Workman on bass and Clifford Jarvis on drums. I hope you enjoy the great sounds of Freddie Hubbert!







Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Music Man's 2012 "Coachella Valley Live Music Hall of Fame"


Dreaming Of LaQuinta
Oil by Robert Nicosia
                                                                   
Well the winter music season is just about over and it's time to publish the 2012 "Coachella Valley Live Music Hall Of Fame."  This year has been a wonderful season for live music, and I had the great pleasure to meet and hear the marvelous musicians listed below. I would like to personally thank all of these musicians for the hours of great music they provided me and all the music lovers in the Valley. I know there are other great musicians that I have probably missed and I apologize for any oversights. Please keep the music playing, and I look forward to another great season next winter!

 I would like to give special recognition to two new music venues that excelled in their efforts to support live music in the Desert this past season.

The first is "The Indian Wells Resort" that brought Frank Di Salvo to us last year.  This year they expanded their music program to 6 nights a week to the delight of all of us. I can't wait for next winter to return to this great hotel for more great food and music! For those readers that live in the Desert year-round, please continue to support The Indian Wells Resort so we can keep the live music playing.

The second is "Woody's Burgers & Beer" in  Palm Springs.  Woody's opened this past year and has booked live music 6 nights a week to sell out crowds.  It used the formula of reasonably-priced good food and great music with no cover charge to become one of the hottest music spots in the Desert. Woody's will continue to have live music through the rest of the year, so anyone staying in the Desert, please continue to support this great live music gem!
Eric Lindstrom

Blake White

Pat Rizzo
Steve Madaio
Frank Di Salvo
Ken Steele
Leo Vigil
Yve Evans
Kelly Corbin

Poupee Boccaccio
Bill Saitta
Jack Jones
Dan Papaila
Gino Antonacci
Ron Kalina



Dale Curtis



Beverly Jensen
Missoni Lanza
Larry Holloway
Brian Nova

                                                 
Mikole Kaar

Josh Parker

Mike Costley

Ted Herman


Ted Herman Big Band

Carole Hampton



                                 


                                       
Jimmy Dykes

Carolyn Martinez

Barnaby Finch

Ron Kokolj

Tom Kennlyside

Vito Pizzo

Anita Gardner

Aubrey Tadman

                                        
Jim DeJulio

Yarak Urant

Rich Bono

Jeanie Stanhope

Jeff Olsen

Andy Fraga Jr.

John Leys

Joe Canoura

Jay Lewis
The Four Freshman

Jenny Irvine

Eleanor Peffley

Michael D'Angelo
Margie Grennan
Ilona Albert

Noel Grennan

Rich Aiello


Sally Skeoch

Mel Albert

Johnny Morris
Earl Knauss
Bill Marx
Lola Rossi
Bobbi Fletcher

Chase Huna
                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                             

CD Review: Stephane Spira :New Playground"

Stephane Spira Saxophonist and Composer Stephane Spira's success has not come easily or quickly.  Stephane is self-taught while...