|Brian Nova and Larry Holloway|
|Missoni Lanza and Brian Nova and Larry Holloway|
|Andy Franga Jr.|
|Missoni Lanza, Brian Nova and Larry Holloway|
On Wednesday February 22, I made my first visit of the season to the always wonderful French restaurant, Cafe' Des Beaux-Arts to have dinner and hear one of the most accomplished guitar players in the country, Brian Nova. Brian performs at Beaux-Arts every Wednesday and tonight turned out to be extra special because in addition to hearing Brian sing and play guitar, I also got to hear the emotional and delightful voice of Missoni Lanza who has been singing with Brian on Wednesdays. In addition, I was excited to learn that the bass player tonight was 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!