Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Rose Mallett Trio Featuring Guitarist Dan Papaila Making Great Sounds at Escena Lounge In Palm Springs

Rose Mallett

Dan Papaila, Blake White & Rose Mallett

Don Papaila

Blake White & Rose Mallett

Dan Papaila & Blake White

I recently received an email announcing that the superb guitarist, Dan Papaila was appearing with Rose Mallett on Wednesday March 21 at the Escene Golf Club in Palm Springs, Ca. I heard Dan play only once last year but that was enough to make me want to hear more.  Dan's performance this night was as good or better than I remembered from last year. Dan is widely known in the San Diego area and his talent extends far beyond his wonderful guitar playing. Dan is an author of several instructional guitar books, teaches on line guitar instruction and has produced several award winning CD's.  His guitar-playing style and sounds remind the listener of the legendary Wes Montgomery. Dan's latest CD, "Guitar Spoken Here" is a great jazz guitar CD that includes wonderful sounds from Mike Wofford on Piano and Johnny "Hammond" Smith on Hammond Organ and Dan playing a nylon string guitar. You can purchase it from CD Baby and I recommend it highly.

I came to the Escene Golf Club tonight to hear Dan but the surprise of the evening was getting to hear Jazz singer,  Rose Mallett. I did not know anything about Rose before this visit but after she sang the first song I had to put her on my entertainer "A" list.  Rose's voice has what I would describe as a silky and mellow feel. In addition,  Rose Mallet is a real jazz singer singing standards with her own unique interpretations.  I was especially impressed by her great low register that few women singers could match.  And yet, Rose's voice can also rise several octaves when she wants to. The sound of Rose's voice reminds me of "Sassy" Sarah Vaughan and her phrasing reminds me of Ella Fitzgerald. The third member of the Trio was Blake White who played Double Bass.  Blake was a perfect complement to Dan's rich guitar work and Rose's mellow voice.

Rose has a CD out called "Building Dreams" that you can purchase on CD Baby.  The Rose Mallett Trio plays at Escene every Wednesday evening from 5:00pm until 9:00pm and should be on your "To Do" entertainment list.  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ella Fitzgerald:Remembering The Jazz Giants: Chapter Three

The Third Chapter of "The Jazz Giants"highlights Ella Fitzgerald. I would like to start with a quote from Ira Gershwin, "I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them". Ella's voice was soft as velvet and yet she could swing with the best!  She was the "Queen of scat" and handled lyrics like they were part of her own life story. She made so many great recordings, it was quite difficult to pick just two but here are my choices.  The first youTube video is of Ella singing "Time After Time".  This song was recorded on July 20, 1966 with the Marty Paich Orchestra. Marty did a great job with the arrangement for Ella just as he did many times for Mel Torme'. I don't think Marty ever received the credit he deserved for the great body of work he produced. Make no mistake; he was in the same class as Nelson Riddle and Hank Mancini in my opinion.
The second youTube I selected is from the album Ella made in 1960, "Ella-Live In Berlin".  Ella sings "Mack The Knife" and what makes this live recording exceptional is that at one part during the song, Ella forgot part of the lyric and beautifully improvised her way through it.  Enjoy!

                                                      Ella Sings "Time After Time"

                                                       Ella sings "Mack The Knife"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Rich And Poupee Show Opens At The Indian Wells Resort: The Newest Hot Spot For Live Music In The Desert

Poupee Boccaccio

Rich Bono

Anita Gardner & Rich Bono

Ken Steele
Aubrey Tadman

Beverly Jensen

Michael D'Angelo (Courtesy of Herb Koenig Photographer to the Stars)
Noel Grennan (Courtesy of Herb Koenig)
Richard Hogue
Richard Aiello (Courtesy of Herb Koenig)
Jenny Irvine (Courtesy of Herb Koenig)
Sally Skeoch (Courtesy of Herb Koenig)
Mel Albert with Tenor Sax Great Joe Canoura (Courtesy of Herb Koenig)
Beverly Jensen (Courtesy of Herb Koenig)

Eleanor Peffley

Bobbi Fletcher (Courtesy of Herb Koenig)

The Great Harmonica Player Ron Kalina (Courtesy of Herb Koenig)

Ilona Albert (Courtesy of Herb Koenig)

Earl Knauss

Margie Grennan

Frank Di Salvo
On Wednesday, March 14, I traveling over to the Indian Wells Resort Hotel for opening night of the Rich and Poupee show.  The Indian Wells Resort Hotel is a place that is steeped in great Hollywood history. The hotel was built in the 1950"s by Desi Arnez and Lucille Ball and it's original name was "The Desi Arnaz Western Hills Hotel".  As soon as you enter the lobby of this attractive, upscale hotel, you experience the feel of he 1950's and 1960's just by looking at all the great pictures of Hollywood Celebrities and Las Vegas performers on the walls. It will bring the viewer back to  the Las Vegas "Rat Pact" days.

The current management of the Hotel has done an outstanding job of upgrading the Hotel.  Last year they added live entertainment with Frank Di Salvo staring in the brand new showroom built within the lobby area called "Frank's Place".  The "Frank Di Salvo Show" has been so successful that management has decided to expand their live entertainment schedule to include the "Rich & Poupee Show" on Wednesdays.
The format of the show is like a cavalcade of stars with Rich Bono playing the piano and Poupee singing and emceeing. The show provides a forum for the great musically performers living in the desert. If you love live music, this is a show you must see.  I had a great time and enjoyed  hearing many great singers that I just don't get to hear enough, and I certainly will be back again to see this show again. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Ted Herman Orchestra Featuring Lee Hartley

The Ted Herman Orchestra
Orchestra Leader Ted Herman
Lee Hartley
Lee Hartley

Eric Lindstrom
Vito Pizzo
On March 10, 2012 I traveled back to the Indio Performing Arts Center to hear the Ted Herman Orchestra and the night's featured singer Lee Hartley. I hadn't not heard Lee sing since last year and was looking forward to her performance.

The night began at 6:15 pm with Carl Davis, the resident dance instructor, teaching the group how to do the "West Coast Swing". As I noted in my last blog about the IPAC, they always have ballroom dance lessons before the band comes on at 7:00 pm. Lots of fun and at no cost!

The Orchestra started playing at 7:00 pm and the majority of the audience in attendance started dancing. The band was swinging and playing some of the greatest songs in the "Great American Songbook" to the delight of the dancing audience.  After a few songs, Lee took center stage and sang a great arrangement of the Irving Berlin gem, "Cheek To Cheek" from the 1935 Movie "Top Hat".  Lee followed this great song with her version of "Besame Mucho" that received well deserved applause from the audience.  All in all, Lee sang 9 songs including one of my favorites, an original song that Lee wrote "Swinging King Cole".  I thought her closing song was a real showstopper, the classic Fats Waller chestnut, "Honeysuckle Rose".  Lee has a wonderful voice and singing style, and we all need to hear more from her in the near future!  Lee will be doing an encore performance of the sold-out tribute to Dusty Springfield that she recently did at Trinidad during Modernism Week. It will be at Woody's on Sunday March 18, at 5:00 p.m. You will have to get a reservation because this show will be sold-out also! 

The Orchestra sounded great again tonight and if there is any better sound than hearing a great singer singing classic American songs backed by a talented 17 piece orchestra, I am yet to hear it!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pre-Lease CD Review: Lurrie Bell's "THE DEVIL AIN'T GOT NO MUSIC"

I had the pleasure of listening to a new blues CD from Lurrie Bell, "The Devil Ain't Got No Music". This is Lurrie's second CD for Aria B.G. Records and will be released on April 17, 2012.  Lurrie has put together a wonderful blend of music combining gospel with traditional blues. If you ever wondered how the traditional American blues got started, this CD tells the story by way of the great sounds produced by Lurrie Bell's blending of gospel and blues.  The more I listened to the songs on this CD, the more it produced a feeling of peace and tranquility for me. I could picture myself sitting on a front porch or perhaps on the ground with a group of friends and family members on a summer day listening to the sounds of the blues.
Track# 1 "Swing Low" sets the stage for the balance of the songs on this CD. While some people may think the blues can't be uplifting, this CD proves the point. Most blues musicians feel that sometimes the best way to lose the blues is to sing the blues! The title track "The Devil Ain't Got No Music" was written by Bell's longtime friend and producer Matthew Skoller and tells an interesting story. Skoller was inspired by a Mavis Staples interview with Chicago journalist David Whiteis. Whiteis asked Staples if the blues really was the devil's music. Mavis immediately retorted "Come on, the devil ain't got no music".
Lurrie Bell's voice and his acoustic guitar shine on track #10, "I'll Get To Heaven On My Own", and combine perfectly with  outstanding voice/hand claps and testifying from Joe Louis Walker.

There are some great musicians featured on this recording in addition to Lurrie Bell's fine voice and acoustic guitar performance.  Lurrie used Billy Branch on harmonica , Chicago percussionist Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith and noted New York blues and gospel musician Bill Sims, Jr.  Joe Louis Walker also made a big contribution to this great traditional blues CD playing slide guitar on several songs  adding background singing and hand claps on others.

Lurrie Bell sings and plays the blues like the feelings and sounds are burned into his soul.  This CD blends Lurrie Bell's marvelous singing and guitar playing with the efforts of a talented group of professionals that produce a powerful blues and gospel message.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dance The Night Away With Music By The 17 Piece Ted Herman Orchestra At The Indio Performing Arts Center

Ted Herman And The Ted Herman Orchestra
Beverly Jensen
The Ted Herman Orchestra with Beverly Jensen

Beverly Jensen and John Leys
On Sunday February 26th I went over to the Indio Performing Arts Center to see "The Ted Herman Orchestra".  I had learned that "The Ted Herman Band" has a weekly gig every Sunday evening at the Arts Center and that my good friend, Beverly Jensen, was singing this evening. By chance, I happened to sit next to Ronald Hagan and soon learned that he was a member of the IPAC Board of Directors and he filled me in as to what the Indio Performing Arts Center is all about. The music and dance program at the IPAC is not advertised much and those who know about it most likely discovered it from word of mouth.  Here is the deal, every Sunday at 6:15 PM, the program starts with a dance lesson taught by Carl Davis.  Then at starting at 7:00 PM until 9PM, the 17-piece Ted Herman Orchestra takes over and plays some great "big band" standard classics from charts that Ted Herman has put together over the years. All all this great music and dancing will cost you $10.00.

There were about 120 people that came to participate in tonight's program and I do mean participate.  Everyone danced and the dance floor was large enough for everyone to show off their dancing moves. Even when the band took it's breaks, the floor was still full of dancer, dancing to pre-recorded music.
I am pretty sure that at lot of my Desert followers are learning about the IPAC from this blog and that's a good thing.  There are very few places in the country where you can go to dance to live music by an 17-piece live band, never mind for $10.00. I know I will be going back especially to see two of my favorite singers that are usually featured with this band, Larry Capeloto and Lee Hartley.

I heard the Ted Herman band last winter when they were playing in Palm Springs at Dinks but the sound tonight in this big dance hall compared to the small space they were in at Dinks was so much better in opinion.  They sounded as good as any big band I have heard and being able to dance on such big dance floor with the band elevated on a full stage made the experience just about perfect.

My good friend, Beverly Jensen was featured with the band tonight and she came to sing and take no prisoners.  She opened with the great standard, "Lullaby of Broadway" and continued with several other standard classics including a great rendition and arrangement of "Come Rain or Come Shine". Beverly has a great resume' that includes touring with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Trombonist Murray McEachern. She recorded her first and very successful CD "Ken and Beverly, Watch What Happens" in 1966. Over the years, Beverly has sang with many musical greats, like Cal Tjader, Ted Herman, Bob Hardaway, Ray Sherman, Buddy Childers, Joe Pass, Jeff Hamilton, John Clayton and her husband, John Leys. The vocal arrangements for Beverly tonight were just outstanding and I found out later that Beverly's husband, John Leys did all the arranging. Beverly has a pure strong voice that never fails to amaze me.

Make sure that the next time you feel like going out to dance, that you make it over to the IPAC.  By the way, I did see that there were two large tables that were set up for singles and I saw most of these guests dancing most of the time also!  Believe or not this program has been running for 5 years and "The Ted Herman Orchestra" has been playing here on Sunday for the last two years. If you want to hear this band this season, make plans to go before the end of March as the program will stop.  It will begin again in November.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Brian Nova Sings And Plays Amazing Guitar At Cafe' Des Beaux-Arts

Brian Nova and Larry Holloway

Missoni Lanza and Brian Nova and Larry Holloway

Andy Franga Jr.

Missoni Lanza, Brian Nova and Larry Holloway

Tom Keenlyside

Larry Holloway

Brian Nova is one of the most understated, superb and multi-talented performers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. His dexterity and speed on the guitar is so smooth that unless you pay close attention, you are not aware how fast his fingers are moving.  His lush tones wash his sounds in the warm colors of red, brown and orange. In addition, Brian has a "Sinatra" like feel of timing and lyric when he sings. Last season, I did not get to hear Brian sing much and I was so happy that tonight Brian sang a lot of great "standards".  His level of excellence shone through when he combined his singing and guitar playing. For those of you who don't know Brian, he studied with two of the greatest guitarists in Jazz history, Herb Ellis and Joe Pass.  Brian has performed with literally every great in the business like Arturo Sandoval, Dave Koz, Ernestine Anderson, Freddie Cole, Joe Williams, Jeff Hamilton and the one and only Ray Brown just to name a few.  Make a note to get to see Brian at Beaux-Arts or at any other venue where he is performing.  I will try to list his future gigs on my "Support Live Music In The California Desert" blog.

I had heard Missoni Lanza sing one or two songs last winter and thought she had a unique voice and feel for a lyric.  Missoni has her own singing style that is sultry, intimate and emotional. She brings the audience her own personal readings of songs and lyrics and at times reminds me of a combination of Norah Jones and Flona Apple. I hope I get to hear more from Missoni in the future.

If you love great bass playing Bassist Larry Holloway will put you in orbit.    I ran into Larry at the end of the winter season last year at a private musicians' party and was blown away with his playing.  Larry is from the Northwest and has recently been spending the winter in the Valley. I recently learned that Larry tunes his bass in fifths, which gives his bass a wider range of sound and clarity.  This technique was first developed by one of the most respected bassists in the world, the late Red Mitchell who was Larry's mentor. The results give his bass a much greater range of notes, colors, dynamics and chords. If you like great bass playing, you have to find a way to hear Larry.  He is busy most of the time playing private events but will be playing at Vicky's on March 11, 2012.  I will publish any information I get as to where Larry is performing in my "Support Live Music in the California Desert" Blog, so keep checking it out from time to time.

After the first set,  in walks one of the best flute players in the country, Tom Keenlyside carrying his flute over his shoulder.  Tom joins the group for the next set and the music for the next 50 minutes is a delight.  I have seen Tom join in with other performers and he is nothing short of amazing! He can do it all, never a written note, just give him the key and off he goes. I love the soft sounds Tom produces on his flute and his solos are always creative and yet retain the structure of the melody at the same time. Tom has done it all and has recorded with the Best of the Best in Music: Diana Krall, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard and Oscar Peterson just to name a few. Can't hear enough of Tom Keenlyside!

The night's final chapter occurred after the second set. The young but very talented drummer Andrew Franga Jr shows up and sets up one of the smallest drums sets I have ever seen.  The drum set may have been small but the sounds were perfect for the small space given to tonight's talented group of musicians. Andrew is young but has already gathered an impressive resume'.  He graduated from the Idyllwide School of Music in 1997 and in 2003 founded Mainstream Source with Ted Sisler.  Mainstream is a successful company that provides music to the worldwide film, television and advertising industries.

Needless to say, tonight's performance was a blast for me and the rest of the audience. There was more music per square inch tonight at Cafe' Des Beaux-Arts than anywhere in the US!

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...