Saturday, December 21, 2013

Listening to Music Can Increase Learning Skills

I read an interesting article in the "Business Standard" published by "Press Trust Of India" on October 10, 2013. The article supported what I have believed for years. The story presented the premise, supported by a new study, that when we hear a song we really like, our brain transmits a chemical called Dopamine. According to the article "Dopamine helps in the transmission of signals in the brain and other vital areas that play an important role in motivation and learning".  The researcher, Benjamin Gold from the University of Helsinki and Alto University stated "The full power of music is more than what meets our ears.  By simply listening to music that we like, we can significantly improve (or hinder) our learning process or skills". The study uses volunteers to pick songs they like and also songs they did not like. Then the volunteers listen to these songs while working on a dopamine-dependent learning task that concluded with a test.

The results were interesting! The volunteers that listened to music more emotionally learned the task better when they liked the background, however those volunteers that listened more analytically learned better when they did not like the background music. This study is one of many recent ones that are looking at the therapeutic use of music.

"Today many afflictions like obsessive-compulsive, attention deficit/hyperactivity, schizophrenia, addiction and Parkinson's disease are currently treated with dopaminergic drugs, however these drugs involve negative side effects such as substance abuse or depression, music might ultimately serve as an alternative or at least complementary treatment".

Saturday, December 7, 2013

CD Review: Annette Genovese "Dream With Me"

Annetta Genovese's latest CD, "Dream With Me" uses three original songs including the wonderful and dreamy title song, "Dream With Me". The music and arrangements in this CD are fresh and have a contemporary feel. Annette has a smooth, rich and strong voice that it perfect for the varied tempos found in this CD. It's simply an exciting new swing Jazz CD that will stay new no matter how many times you listen to it. Annette has tons of experience performing in the New York Tri-State area over the past 25 years. But Annette is much more than just a great singer.  She has always managed her own projects including this CD.  Annette has recorded and performed in New Wave, Gospel Rock, Pop, Funk and Jazz. She had a good sense of what she wants from her projects and involves herself with arrangements, writing, recording mixing and the final mastering.  This is one talented women!

Annette has selected some superbly talented musicians to support her on this CD. Each one them could star on their own CD and have in the past. Rob Reich on Guitar received his BA in Music from William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ in 1993. Since he graduated, Rob has been a fixture of the NYC Jazz scene.  He has toured with Peter Cincotti and opened for Michael McDonald at the Sundance Film Festival. He has just finished his debut CD "Homeward" and is finishing a second CD entitled "Gems".

Jim West is on Keyboards and has performed with many giants of the Jazz world including Buddy Rich, Mel Torme, Anita Ellis, Carly Simon, Gerry Niewood, Ruby Braff and Steve Allen. Jim recently performed at Feinstein's, The Metropolitan Room and the Iridium Jazz Club in NYC.

Bassist Brian Glassman received his BA degree in Jazz performance from Rutgers University.  Since 2003, he has been the instructor of Jazz Bass at Princeton University. He has also performed with a "Who's Who" of Jazz greats like Paquito d'Rivera, John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Lionel Hampton Kenny Burrell, Benny Golson, Liza Minnelli and Anne Calloway.

Paul LaDuca is on Drums and handles the various rhythms on these arrangement perfectly. Paul has played with several R & B/Jazz bands and vocalists Elaina Edwards, Anthony Literati and Paul Del Genovese.

Annette Genovese has a great voice and classy style to go with it.  She knows the value of recording with only the finest musicians and the result is this fine Jazz CD.

1. Senor Blues                                  5. Superstar
2. Simple Magic                               6. Young and Fine
3. Dream With Me                           7. Willow Weep for Me
4. Ain't Nobody                                8. So Many Stars

Annette Genovese: Vocals
Rob Reich: Guitar
Brian Glassman: Bass
Jim West: Keys
Paul LaDuca: Drums
Lee Farber: Percussion

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Music Man Top 3 Jazz Christmas CDs

Most people love the traditional songs of the Christmas season but after hearing your favorite songs for the tenth time in ten days, I am sure you are ready for a change. Well, the Music Man Blog has just the right medicine for your tired ears.  I have found 3 new Christmas Jazz CDs that are just terrific.

The first CD is "Noel" from Tianna Hall & Chris Cortez. Chris is president and CEO of "Blue Bamboo Music" and Tianna Hall is one of the label's star performers. The arrangements on this CD are terrific thanks to the wonderful work of Mark Piszczek who did most of the charts. There are 6 arrangements by Piszczek and 3 arrangements by Cortez. This CD is very professionally done with great arrangements that fit the fine vocals from Tianna Hall perfectly. The other supporting players are all top-notch:

Chris Cortez: Guitar, Additional Vocals                 Warren Sneed: Alto Saxophone, Flute
Anthony Sapp: Bass                                                Thomas Hulten: Trombone, Bass Trombone
Paul English: Piano                                                 Special Guests:
Tom Cummings: Vibraphone, Drums                           Joel Fulgham: Drums on "We Three Kings"
Dennis Dolson: Trumpet                                               Memo Reza: Drums on "The Angels"
Woody Witt: Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet                 Vocals: Tianna Hall

Buy this CD and you will be playing it every Christmas; it's a keeper!

                                              "In Studio" YouTube Video "We Three Kings"

The second CD is by The Manhattan Brass, "Manhattan Brass Holiday". Manhattan Brass has been around for over 20 years.  They have been known for their innovative programming, dynamic performances and a commitment to educating audiences of all ages about live music and the brass idiom.  The sounds and arrangements on this CD are new, fresh and enjoyable.  Jack Walrath did the arrangements on tracks 2,3,4,5 and 10.  Carla Bley did the arrangements on tracks 1,6,7,8,9, and 11. The six brass players performing are nothing short of brilliant. Wayne du Maine: Trumpet, Lew Soloff: Trumpet, RJ Kelley: Horn,Michael Seltzer: Trombone, David Taylor: Bass Trombone, Ann Ellsworth: Horn. This CD would make a great Christmas gift for any Brass lover!

                                             Two Tracks From The Manhattan Brass New 
                                             Holiday Album, "Manhattan Brass Holiday" on 

The third CD Tim Warfield's "Jazzy Christmas" was reviewed by The Music Man Blog on December 30th of 2012. I received the review copy late in December 2012 and published the review after Christmas because it was too good not to let my readers know about it. Check out my blog review published on December 30th, 2012. This CD is one of the best Jazz CDs I have heard in many years. Tim's improvisation is fresh and exciting and so are the arrangements he did for 7 of the tracks on this CD.

                                           Live Performance of "Let It Snow" by By Tim Warfield
                                           and Joanna Pascale on vocal.

All or any of these CDs would make wonderful gifts for friends or family and a must in your collection of Christmas music.

Music Man Blog Celebrates It's 4th Birthday

It's time again to celebrate "Music Man Blog's" 4th birthday.  During this past year we have been busy doing live reviews of music events, CD reviews, music book reviews and writing about interesting topics in today's music world.

Even though we have a very narrow audience of Jazz lovers, our blog has continued to grow.  In the past 12 months our page views increased from a total of 57,533 in 2012 to 134,484 in 2013.  Our total page view after our 4th year is now 194,578.

We have followers of our blog living all over the globe.  Here is a list of our "Top 10 countries" ranked by numbers of views.

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

In our first three years of posting, the highest month of page views was September 2012 with 5,886. During the past year we broke this record with a record 16,466 in March 2013.

My thanks to all my blog music friends and musicians throughout the world.  We remain committed to supporting live music performances, new and old CDs and other interesting news about today's music industry.  Keep the music playing!

Warmest Regards, Bob Nicosia

Sunday, November 24, 2013

CD Review: Carolyn Lee Jones "The Performer"

"The Performer" is Carolyn Lee Jones' second CD. Her first CD "Bon Appetit" received wide critical acclaim. Carolyn is a powerhouse musical talent! This is her first try at being a producer and she has done an amassing job of put this CD together, taking charge and putting this beautiful CD together. Acting as the producer, and band leader, Carolyn has spent countless hours of time picking  the songs that fit her musical ear. Once she selected the songs, she then spent more hours bringing in some of the most professional, respected musicians she loved and performed with over the past 5 or 6 years. But Carolyn, being the detailed professional that she has evolved into, was not just satisfied with one band. She then selected the perfect combination of musicians to capture just the right mix of sounds for each individual song. This CD represents a labor of love for Carolyn, and the results have made all this effort worth it!

I was taken back by Carolyn's vocal styling and the richness of her voice. The song list for this CD is very unusual. First, she included 14 cuts on this CD at a time that most Cds never contain more than 10 cuts. Second, the songs are a mix of some classic standards like "East of The Sun", "The Nearness of You" and "Old Devil Moon". Then she added some wonderful newer songs like Stevie Wonder's "Creepin" and two of my old Jazz favorites that you seldom hear performed "Lazy Afternoon" and "The Island".

This is simply a remarkable effort from Carolyn Lee Jones that resulted in the creation of a beautiful musical CD.  Carolyn Lee Jones performs on Vocals, Background and is the band leaders of this fine group of musicians listed below.

Brad Williams-Piano & Keyboard
Jonathan Fisher-Basses
Andrew Griffith-Drums
Todd Parsnow-Guitars (tracks, 4,5,6,7,10,12,14)
Jorge Ginorio-Percussion (tracks,
Shelly Carrol-Alto Flute (track 14), Flute (track 6), Tenor Sax (track, 2,10,12)
Mario Cruz-Flute (tracks, 1,13,14), Tenor Sax (tracks, 1,8,13)
Joyce Spencer-Alto Sax (track, 13)
Paul Elder-Bass Clarinet (track 13)
David Pierce-Trombone (tracks 1,3,5,13)
Tony Baker-Trombone (tracks, 1,3,5,13)

1. Small Day Tomorrow                       2. East of The Sun
3. The Performer                                  4. Creepin
5. Nearness of You                                6. If You Were Shakespeare
7. I Wished On The Moon                   8. Let's Get Lost
9. Piano In The Dark                           10. Old Devil Moon
11. Never Let Me Go                            12. Tell Me All About It
13. Lazy Afternoon                              14. The Island 

                     I have attached a "YouTube" video of Carolyn singing "Let's Get Lost".   

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

CD Review: Listen To Your Dreams, The George Bouchard Group

George Bouchard arrived late to the music scene.  He didn't have formal training in music until his third year of college when George decided to take up the Saxophone. George graduated from the University of Buffalo with a major in Economics and then joined the Navy. While in the Navy, George completed a correspondence course with the Berklee School of Music in arranging. From here George went on to earn a Master's degree in Composition from Memphis State University.  This is when he began his college teaching career. George is currently a full professor in Music at Nassau Community College in New York.

George has used every summer for the past 37 years to perform and travel with some of the greats of American Jazz such as: Slide Hampton, Art Farmer, Bobby Shew, Pat LaBarbera, Bobby Watson, Dave Samuels, James Williams, Ronny Mathews and many others. 

What impressed me the most about George was his composing and arranging.  George wrote and arranged all 8 songs on this CD and each one is a gem.  George has a strong sense of melody and his arrangements act to enhance the strong melodies he has composed. The supporting cast on this album is outstanding also. Each one of the sidemen on the CD are seasoned veterans who can handle anything that George writes for them. Andrew Grossbard plays wonderful Tenor Sax on all cuts except number 4 "Elaine"where George plays the Tenor solo. George also plays Soprano Sax on all the other cuts. Dave Smith plays Outstanding Trumpet and Flugelhorn, Charles Blenzig provides perfect Piano support for this group.  The great rhythm section is led by John Ray on Bass and Ian Petillo on Drums.

George Bouchard has written some great songs for this CD and combined them with outstanding musicians.  The result is the perfect album for any Jazz lover.  This CD is scheduled to be released on October 15, 2013, and I highly recommend it for anyone that loves great Jazz-men playing great melodies.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "It's Only Rock 'N Roll, But I Like It" Celebrating 50 Years of the Music of the Rolling Stones

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio

The Rolling Stone Tribute Band

On Saturday, October 26th, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame presented the 18th Annual Music Masters Series celebrating a tribute to the Rolling Stones and their 50 years together.  To celebrate the event, the Hall of Fame brought in a sensational group of musicians who performed with the Rolling Stones over their 50 year career and contributed to the band's long lasting success. The group was led by Grammy Award-winning drummer Steve Jordan acting as the group's musical director. I found out about this Rolling Stones Tribute Concert from my dear friend, Steve Madaio who was one of the invited musicians who participated in the concert. Steve toured with the Rolling Stones on their European tour during the early 80's and was delighted to join some of his old musical friends again to play the Rolling Stones' songbook. 

This was my first visit to the Hall of Fame and also my first visit to Cleveland.  I was very impressed by both!  At one of the pre-concert events that I attended, we sat at a table with a couple from Cleveland. When they found out I were from New Jersey and this was our first visit to Cleveland, they asked me what I thought of Cleveland. I thought for a moment and told them that I was greatly impressed with how clean the city was.  We saw no trash or paper anywhere in the city and noticed several employees cleaning throughout the day. The couple seemed very pleased at my observation and then the man told me that his name was Joseph A. Marinucci. It turns out that Joseph is the President & CEO  of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and one of his responsibilities is running the Clean and Safe Ambassador Program.  Joseph was really pleased that this was my first impression of Cleveland.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a must for anyone that loves rock and roll music. I was literally overwhelmed by the number of outstanding exhibits, movies and lectures available on a daily basis at the Hall. There is so much to see and hear in the Hall of Fame. I recommend that anyone planning a visit should plan to spend two days at the Hall. There will be too much to see and hear if you only spend one day there!

The excitement in the sold-out audience for this Tribute Concert was almost electric, and when the band started playing the audience exploded. The opening song was my personal favorite Rolling Stones song, "Brown Sugar" and the band never slowed down from here.  Over the next 3 hours, the band played tons of Rolling Stones classic songs to the delight of everyone.  The sounds were unbelievable considering that this group had less than 3 days to come together as a group and recall all the Rolling Stones' charts. Consider the quality of these band members who performed this concert with no written charts,  just from their memory of past performances. The emotional level of the musicians for this concert was as high as I can ever remember for any concert I have attended. I highly recommend a trip to Cleveland to visit The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CD Review: "From The Heart" by Anya Malkiel

Anya Malkiel released her debut album, "From The Heart" in late August of 2013. Anya has an interesting story to tell that proves that the allure of Jazz music can capture the hearts of individuals no matter how controlled the musical environment. Now living in California, Anya grew up in Russia where at the time, Jazz was considered taboo.  The music that she heard in her house was classical, and she was given lessons in violin and piano. But her fascination was always on singing. Anya was first introduced to Jazz in St. Petersburg's only Jazz club. Once hearing the freedom that it allowed performers, Anya was hooked. From here, Anya got her hands on a bootlegged Ella Fitzgerald album and listened to it until she could visualize every vocal move Ella made. Anya went on to collect other albums of artists that she just fell in love with like Billie Holiday, Louie Armstrong and Carmen McRae and other American Jazz greats.

When Anya was able to move to the United States, the Jazz music opened up to her and she embraced it with body and soul.

On her new CD, "From The Heart", Anya has selected 10 rather diverse songs that all have a couple of things in common.  First, they are all American Jazz classics and second, Anya had a deep love for all of these great songs. So "From The Heart" contains songs that truly are part of Anya's heart. The Album starts with the classic Billie Holiday tune "Fine and Mellow" and immediately the listener can feel the emotional lesson of the lyric. It's one of the best cuts on the album. Anya brings this same emotional interpretation to the other 9 songs on this album. My favorites was: cut 4, "Lullaby of The Leaves" first sung by Ella Fitzgerald. It's always dangerous for a singer to cover a song made famous by one of the greats, but Anya handles the task by presenting her own unique interpretation to this great song. I loved the arrangement that Anya wrote for the classic "I Thought About You". Two other cuts that I thought were outstanding were "There'll Will Never Be Another You" and a great ballad, "Beautiful Love" that had a terrific arrangement by Christian Tamburr.

The supporting group of musicians Anya collected for this album fit her singing style perfectly. Randy Porter, Piano, John Whtala, Acoustic Bass, Jason Lewis, Drums, Jim Schneider, Tenor Sax & Flute, Christian Tamburr, Vibraphone. 

Congratulations to Anya for producing a great first album with her true and unique approach to the music that fills her heart.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

CD Review: "Remembering Blakey, A Tribute to Art Blakey" The Ron Aprea Sextet

My good friend and Trumpeter extraordinaire, Steve Madaio recently called me to turn me on to a new CD he had just listened to that he thought I had to hear.  The CD was "Remembering Blakey, A Tribute to Art Blakey" by The Ron Aprea Sextet. This was all I needed to peak my interest.  First, if Steve is impressed by another Jazz musician, I have to hear the player myself.  Second, when I was 16 years old and just getting into the Jazz scene, I still remember traveling from Northern NJ to New York City almost every weekend to hear Jazz at Birdland. I remember the great sounds that I heard there from Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers. Blakey was in the center of the growing musical world of "Bebop" music.  He played with many young musicians in his group over the years with an unbelievable number of these musicians became Jazz Giants. His list of alumni included the giants of Jazz: Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson, Wayne Shorter and Cannonball Adderley just to name a few. This was the music that I loved as a young teenager, and I have never lost this love.

As soon as I put the first cut on, "Flown the Coop" it was like coming home for me. Ron Aprea who grew up in the NY/NJ area has put together all the arrangements on this wonderful CD that would surely have put a smile on Art Blakey's face. Ron Aprea plays alto sax with supreme emotion and fabulous dexterity on his creative improvisations that even someone who had no knowledge of "Bebop" would admire. The tone Ron creates with his alto reminds me of the sounds from Cannonball Adderley's "The Lush Sounds of Cannonball Adderley with Strings Album". Listening to his first two cuts on this CD, I closed my eyes and was transported back to listening again to Art Blakey and some of the best "Bebop" Jazz the world has ever known. But Ron Aprea is not just about "Bebop". Ron can make his alto cry when playing slow classic ballads like "My Foolish Heart", "Lover Man" and a beautiful tune he wrote called "Sophia".  These three tunes will haunt you for days after you listen to them even one time. There is also a standard written by Gordon Jenkins that Ron just kills with an improvised solo that you will seldom hear even from the best of alto sax players.  This is not just my opinion. I have learned that Ron Aprea's "Goodbye" is being considered for a Grammy for "Best Improvised Solo" in a Jazz category. In my opinion the winner is: "Ron Aprea" by a mile. It is with great pleasure that I am attaching a YouTube of Ron playing this great cut from his CD. I hope you all feel the same after hearing this cut.

I would love to get some feedback from my readers. Ron Aprea currently lives in New York. This is a Jazz CD you need to get for your collection!

                                                          Ron Aprea Plays "Goodbye"

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Live Jazz and Great Italian Food at IL Capriccio In Whippany, NJ

Giampolo Biagi, Drums, Dean Tonanelli Piano, Karl Kaminski, Bass, and Bill Robinson, Vocals
Tony Grande, Proprietor
Salvatore Le Rose, Director of Dining Operations
Natale Grande, Head Chief
Some Happy Customers Enjoying the Food and Jazz

Last Friday, October 11, IL Capriccio Restaurant in Whippany, NJ had another Jazz night at this marvelous restaurant. IL Capriccio has Friday Jazz nights a couple of times each month, and this event is now attracting overflow crowds. In addition to IL Capriccio serving some of the best Northern Italian food you can find in New Jersey, adding live Jazz makes anyone's dining experience that much greater.  Tonight we were entertained by the Dean Tomanelli Trio along with vocalist Bill Robinson. This Trio previously performed at IL Capriccio  but  adding the great singing voice of Bill Robinson makes the music perfect. The Trio plays everyone's favorite songs from the "Great American Songbook". The group includes Giampolo Biagi on Durms, Dean Tomanelli on Piano and Karl Kaminski on Bass. Hearing live music playing great standards during dinner adds something special to your dining experience that you just can not get with pre-recorded music.

IL Capriccio has Friday night Jazz events usually twice per month.  You can get information about future events on its web site. By the way, no music charge or cover for these events, just great food and music. I highly recommend you try to attend a Jazz night at IL Capriccio at your first opportunity.

The Dean Tomanelli Trio's next gig will be at Rod's Restaurant in Convent Station on Friday October 19th.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CD Review: "Compared To What" The Redmond, Langosch and Cooley Trio

Jay Cooley, Mary Ann Redmond and Paul Langosch
Mary Ann Redmond is a highly respected singer in the Washington, DC area who has won 22 Washington-area music awards, called "Wammies". Redmond has spent most of her professional life singing Pop and R & B tunes.  While performing at one of her gigs, it turns out that Paul Langosch and Jay Cooley were in the audience and after hearing Redmond's voice, timing and phasing approached her about joining them to jam a little. This first session together and the ones that followed produced the absolutely fabulous Jazz Blues Album named after the famous Les McCann and Eddie Harris recording of the Gene McDaniels' classic song "Compared To What".

Combining Redmond's glorious voice with the deep experience of Langosch and Cooley in dealing with songs from the "Great American Songbook" resulted in one of the best new CDs of 2012. Paul Langosh has worked with many of the giants of the Jazz world including: Phil Woods, Tal Farlow, Al Cohn, Mose Allison, Johnny Hartman, Bud Shank, Zoot Sims, Karney Kessel and Herb Ellis. In addition, he was a permanent member of Tony Bennett's Trio for 20 years. You can't play bass for Tony Bennett for 20 years without being a master of songs out of the "Great American Songbook"! Jay Cooley's career has included appearances with Charlie Byrd, Phil Woods, Keter Betts, Chuck Redd, Ethel Ennis, Ernestine Anderson and Lennie Cuje. He has performed at the Kennedy Center, Blues Alley, Strathmore Hall, The National Gallery of Arts and countless Jazz festivals.

This Album is about bringing the natural brilliance of Redmond's voice and the experience of Langosch and Cooley to new and old standards from the "Great American Songbook".  The selection of songs for this Album is nothing short of outstanding.  Even though the songs cover more than a 60 year span of music, every song on this Album fits Redmond's voice and style perfectly. I assume that Langosh and Cooley helped Redmond with the selections, but I give Redmond tons of credit for taking her Blues and R & B style and transforming her sound into Jazz standards.

I can't say enough about Mary Ann Redmond's voice and style. She has brought new life into the standards she chose for this album with impeccable timing and phrasing. Just one example is her performance of the Leonard Cohen song "Dance Me To The End of Love". Prior to this Album I had only heard this song sung by its composer Leonard Cohen and thought, why do so many people go crazy about Leonard Cohen? After hearing Redmond bring life to the lyrics of this song, I no longer ask that question. It's a good lesson for song writers to consider getting great singers like Redmond to record their songs instead of self-recording.  Most times this brings out the best of the melody and the lyrics for the listener.

Take a look at the creative list of songs and composers included on this Album. Two of the songs were composed by Redmond, "Love Me Anyway" and "Storm is Coming".

1. "Come Rain or Come Shine", Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer
2. "Dance Me To The End Of Love", Leonard Cohen
3. "Compared To What", Gene McDaniels
4. "Storm Is Coming", Mary Ann Redmond
5. "Never Make Your Move Too Soon", Nesbert "stix" Hooper and Will Jennings
6. "Creepin", Stevie Wonder
7. "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good", Duke Ellington & Paul Francis Webster
8. "Coyote", Joni Mitchell
9. "Ain't That Peculiar", Smokey Robinson, Ronald White, Pete Moore & Mary Tarplin
10. "What'll I Do", Irving Berlin
11. "Fool on the Hill", Lennon & McCartney
12. "Love Me Anyway", Mary Ann Redmond & Todd Wright

Mary Ann Redmond: Voice/Guitar
Paul Langosch: Bass
Jay Cooley: Keys

Special Guests: Dave Mattacks, Drums, Dan Hovey, Guitar, and Bruce Swaim, Tenor Sax  

Friday, October 4, 2013

CD Review: "Duke at the Roadhouse Live in Santa Fe" with Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway

Roger Kellaway

Eddie Daniels

Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway are each true major league Jazz masters in their own right, but when you record the two together, it produces musical magic!  "Duke at the Roadhouse Live in Santa Fe" is their third CD duet and it's as good as Jazz can get. These two brilliant musicians have selected five of Ellington's most recognized compositions and two more that are closely associated with the "Duke".  Daniels and Kellaway each contributed one original song for this CD that were dedicated to Duke.  Trying to reduce orchestral works into a duo format is most difficult in itself but then Daniels and Kellaway added a third voice into the mix on four pieces, Cellist James Holland.

This album was recorded live at the benefit concert in New Mexico for a group called "Santa Fe Center for Therapeutic Riding" which utilizes horses to help young people with disabilities. Daniels focuses primarily on the clarinet but also utilizes the sweet sounds of his Tenor perfectly. Roger Kellaway's piano work on this CD is simply brilliant! The virtuosity of both Daniels and Kellaway is simply astonishing and the listener can sense that the members of the audience lucky enough to attend this concert were held captive by the music of Ellington as performed by these two Jazz giants.

This CD was released a few months ago in June of 2013, and I never got a chance to do a review but this CD has kept calling me and I needed to share it with my readers. This CD presents a marvelous Jazz interpretation of the genius of the writing of Duke Ellington that offers the listener a new understanding of the brilliance of his composing.

Roger Kellaway- Piano

Eddie Daniels- Clarinet and Tenor Saxophone

James Holland- Cello

                                  Musical Program

I'm Beginning To See The Light

Creole Love Cal


Duke At The Roadhouse

In A Mellow Tone

In A Sentimental Mood

Sophisticated Lady

Duke in Ojai

Mood Indigo

It Don't Mean A Thing


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CD Pre-Release Review: "Jason Lee Bruns Jazz Collection"

Jason Lee Bruns
The Jason Lee Bruns Jazz Collection is an 8-piece group based in Los Angles, CA that was founded and led by Ohio-born Percussionist, Drummer and Composer Jason Lee Bruns. It is not often that you can find a band that has a Drummer as its leader, but that's what this CD is all about. What do Drummers think about when they provide the rhythmic foundation for the bands they support?  My guess is they think about different beats and sounds and their own unique arrangements  that they feel would do more justice to the songs they are performing. But does anyone ever stop and ask a drummer how he would approach the tempo or the arrangement of a song? Probably not;  well maybe Paul McCartney because he loves experimenting with sounds and let's not forget, Paul is a major class drummer also!

Well along comes Jason Lee Bruns, a Drummer's Drummer who gets to call his own shots and comes up with tempos, sounds and arrangements that appeal to him. But Jason Lee Bruns is not just on a musical ego trip here. For his CD he gathered 7 outstanding players to support him in this effort.  The results are spectacular, providing the listener with fresh, new sounds and rhythms that bring new life into some evergreens that might need some refreshing.  The new writing and arranging on this CD are wonderful. Jason wrote 5 arrangements for the 9 songs on the CD.  He also composed two of the songs.

This CD cooks and any Jazz buff will love every song.  My favorites included the classic Johnny Mercer tune, "Autumn Leaves" which is played seriously upbeat with a knockout arrangement produced by Jason. Kevin Bachelder does the vocals which includes great scatting that works perfectly with the backing of the group. Kevin also had a hand in my second favorite on the CD, "Send In The Clowns".  Kevin did the vocal and also the great arrangement of this Sondheim gem. Unlike Sinatra's version, that was then and this arrangement and tempo are now. This arrangement should be released as a single, it is really fabulous! K. Richmond did the arrangement for "Speak Low" which is worth listening to also.

The wonderful group of supporting musicians on this CD are listed below:

Jason Lee Bruns, Drums, Pandeiro, arrangements, producer
Mahesh Balasooriya, Piano
Edwin Livingston, Upright Bass
Angelo Metz, Guitar, Portuguese vocals, scat, cuica
Kevin Bachelder, English vocals, scat, arrangements
Kim Richmond, Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, arrangements
Jason Gamer, Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Jacquez Voyemant, Trombone

This CD was recorded live at the Catalina Jazz Club on Sunset Strip in Hollywood, CA.  The CD has a street release date of  September 24 2013.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"The On The Lam Band" Rocks in Franklin Lakes

Jim Bashian, Gary Malajian, Linda Araz Berenson, Dennis Walker, Mark Friedman, Paul Shahinian 
Jim Bashian
Paul Shahinian & Gary Malajian
Dennis Walker
Gary Malajian

Mark Friedman & Paul Shahinian

Gary Malajian & Linda Araz Berenson

On Sunday September 15, I was invited to a friend's house for a "Tailgate" party, and when I arrived I was happy to see that a band was setting up to perform.  The name of the band was "The On The Lam Band" and its made up of local musicians who live in Northern New Jersey in or near the Franklin Lakes area. The band does a terrific job playing country rock and old fashion rock'n Blues. Every player in this band loves to make music and perform and the result is that the audience is quickly captured with their sound.

Paul Shahinian plays lead Guitar and is very comfortable carrying the lead on many of the classic Blues songs the band performs.  Paul is an excellent blues Guitar player!  Jim Bashian is the backbone of the band on Keyboard, and he also has a fine Blues voice that's perfect for the songs the band played. Dennis Walker on Drums and Gary Malajian on Bass provided just the right rhythm line for the rest of the band. What really makes this band really special is its singer, Linda Berenson.  Linda has a great country rock voice that reminds me of some of the greats of country rock music. Putting all these talented musicians into the same band produces music that is just plain fun for any listener.  It's a fun band!

"The On The Lam Band" plays around Northern New Jersey and in New York.  Their next gig will be at the The '76 House, 110 Main Street, Tappan, NY on October 5th.  They will also be performing at "Blue Moon" in Wyckoff, NJ on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This band has a large following, and I strongly suggest that if you want to see them, you make a reservation in advance.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The 10 Best-Selling Vinyl Albums of 2012 in America

I have written previous articles about the growing popularity of Vinyl albums.  In the September 8, Sunday issue of the "New York Times Magazine" there was a listing of "The 10 Best Selling Vinyl Albums of 2012 in America" and I thought I would share it with you.

1. Jack White "Blunderbuss"

2. The Beatles "Abbey Road"

3. Mumford & Sons "Babel"

4. The Black Keys "El Camino"

5. Mumford & Sons "Sigh No More"

6. Beach House "Bloom"

7. Bon Iver "For Emma Forever Ago"

8. Alabama Shakes "Boys and Girls"

9. Adele "21"

10. Bon Iver "Bon Iver 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: Paul Anka's Autobiography "My Way"

I grew up with Paul Anka, and he has always remained one of my favorite performers.  Paul has re-cycled himself more times than I can remember, each time emerging as a more clever and astute singer/composer and performer. I never knew much about his personal life except that he was from Canada and had four beautiful daughters. Even though he was an extremely popular singer, he always conducted himself as a gentleman, and he was able to avoid getting in the middle of any press scandals. No small accomplishment for someone who has been in the public view for over 50 years. When most of the singers who started out in the 50's and 60's became old, they stopped performing.  Paul had the smarts to recognize major music changes during his career and made the necessary changes to become new again.

This autobiography is not just the story of Paul Anka's life and career. It is a story about the music and entertainment business of 6 decades starting in the late 50's and continuing right up to present day. Certainly for anyone who was around when Paul had his first hit, "Diana" this book covers life as you lived and observed it through these years. The focus on Vegas, Sinatra, the "Rat Pack" and the changes in the music business over the last 60 years are nothing short of fascinating! We all have our memories and perceptions of what Vegas was like in the 60's and 70's but Paul gives the reader an insider-look.

I was very surprised that Paul's writing was so frank and detailed.  If you are an Anka fan, you will flip out reading this book. Paul talks about all the rock and roll singers at the time he had his first hit and for me it was like opening a college yearbook and remembering my past. He pulls no punches and what he has written in his autobiography are the facts as Paul remembers them.

I know a lot of my readers are Sinatra fans so I know you will love the following quotes from Anka.

"I finished typing my final draft of "My Way" at five A.M. in the morning. I know Frank is at Caesars, I know he's offstage, drinking at the bar and I know he's there with Don Costa and I say, "Frank I've got something very interesting, I'm gonna bring it out. I flew to Las Vegas in August 1968 and I played it for Sinatra.  I knew Frank loved the song when I originally played it for him but he always wanted to be cool, so all he said was "That's Kooky, kid. We going in." Coming from him, you have to understand that meant he was ecstatic."

"Frank went into the studio on December 30. He knew the song so well he sang it in one take.  All the musicians were there, this huge orchestra playing live. Everybody who'd worked with him through the years was there, they all stood up and gave him a standing ovation.  I got a phone call from the studio on Sunset Boulevard and Sinatra played it to me over the phone and I started crying."

Paul Anka's autobiography is just a wonderful read and a must read for anyone that lived through the same period of time Anka did!

 I have attached a "YouTube" of young Paul singing some of his early hits.

                                                                   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

Saturday, August 24, 2013

CD Review: "What I See" by Judy Wexler

Judy Wexler
Judy Wexler has just finished recording her 4th album, "What I See". Judy has a marvelous, pure, clean voice, but that's only one part of what makes her such a special singer. First and foremost, Judy is a wonderful storyteller. When you hear Judy sing any of the songs that she carefully hand picks, she brings life to the lyrics. She has the rare ability to magically combine the story with her beautiful voice and captures the full attention of the listener. The songs Judy recorded on this album cover a wide range of times and styles; and, yet, Judy has been able to put them together as if these songs were written just for this album. There are few singers who have the ability to select the songs Judy has and bring them to life as she does. After selecting her songs, Judy applies the final magic to her CD by bringing together some of the most talented sidemen on the West Coast: Larry Koonse on Guitar, Bob Sheppard on Bass Clarinet and Alto Sax, Ron Stout on Trumpet and Flugelhorn, Scott Whitfield on Trombone, Billy Hulting on Percussion, Chris Colangelo on Bass, and Steve Hass on Drums. These are a lot of parts to pull together and make it all fit together perfectly. So Judy, brings in her long-time Pianist/Arranger, Jeff Colella to co-produce the album. Jeff who spent almost two decades as the Music Director for Lou Rawls put together all the beautiful arrangements that make this CD one of the best Jazz albums of the year.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

CD Review: "Introductions" by Resonance

Resonance is a Jazz octet that consists of eight of the most wonderfully talented musicians you will find in any Jazz group performing today.  On their new CD "Introductions" this contemporary ensemble uses an unusual fusion of instruments that produces a new and fresh sound. At times, the sounds produced seem to be a blend of Classical and Modern Jazz. Each of the performers on this new CD which was released on August 6, 2013 has remarkably strong resumes and performing credentials.  As a  result the sounds produced are wonderful to hear. Stephen McQuarry the leader of the group and its piano player did a superb job producing this CD.  Stephen also was responsible for the great fresh arrangements and Orchestration.  The members of the group were gathered from all parts of the country: Nancy Blen on Cello, Ted Burik on Bass, Greg German on Drums, Georgianna Krieger on Sax, Michelle Mastin on Viola, Michele Walther on Violin and Laura Austin Wiley on Piccolo, C-Flute, Alto Flute and Vocal.

This CD is available at most music sources, and you can sample the sounds by going to The Resonance Site:

Album Cuts: 
1. Eleanor Rigby                           7. Jupiter
2. Gemini                                        8. The Journey Of Each Other
3. In A Sentimental Mood            9.  Moon and Sand
4. Opus                                           10. See You Next Wednesday
5. Gaviota                                       11. Song To John Pt 1
6. Prelude/ So What                      12. Song To John Pt 2

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

CD Review: Graham Dechter "Takin It There"

Graham Dechter

John Clayton, Graham Dechter, Tamir Hendelman and Jeff Hamilton

Listen up all my Jazz guitar fans!  New guitar sensation, Graham Dechter is in the house with his first lead album, "Takin' It There" and the sounds on it are just out of sight. Graham is in his early 20's but you would never know it from the great riffs and sweet sounds he gets out of his guitar. And if Graham's fresh sounds and arrangements are not enough for you, he comes prepared with sensational piano player Tamir Hendelman who is joined by two of my all-time living Jazz greats, John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on Drums. I have been in love with the music of Clayton and Hamilton ever since they teamed up with Diana Krall on perhaps her best Jazz album of all times, "Diana Krall, Live In Paris".  What comes to mind when listening to Graham and this group is fresh arrangements that are crisp and clean. This group of musicians could possibly be the best Jazz group playing today.

All four of these great musicians had a hand in the arrangements and Graham wrote two of the songs on the CD.  John Clayton also wrote "Grease for Graham" for the CD. If you know someone who loves great Jazz whether young or old, get them this CD. It is a high-end University course for anyone who wants to know the best of Jazz that being made today.

Graham Dechter and his group are touring around but mostly on the West Coast.  Check out Graham's site for his schedule.  This group is worth any effort to get to hear them in person. Congratulations, Graham for recording such a wonderful album and for bringing Tamir Hendelman, John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton to the party! I have attached a "YouTube" clip of Graham playing "Takin' It There" from his album of the same name.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Barbara Rose is Spectacular At The Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank, NJ

Barbara Rose

Thursday evening I went to the newly renovated and beautiful Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank, NJ to have dinner and hear pianist extraordinaire Barbara Rose who plays in the bar area,  A long-time close friend of mine, Bill Kennedy had been begging me to hear Barbara Rose whom he claimed was just sensational.  How right he was!  

Barbara Rose began her musical life at age 3 as a prodigy.  I was able to meet Barbara's sister who was sitting at the next table and she shared the following story with me.  Barbara's sister who is four years older, told me that she started taking piano lessons first and had the usually hard time trying to get it right. When Barbara was 3, her parents played a Mozart recording and when it ended, Barbara walked over to the piano, sat down and played the song she had just heard on the piano. 

Barbara attended Julliard and graduated at the age of 10. That's correct, age 10. At 17, Barbara was playing in the best venues in New York City like: The St. Regis Hotel, The Oak Room At the Plaza Hotel, The Oak Room at the Algonquin, Tavern on the Green, and Peacock Alley at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel just to name a few.

Barbara Rose is a "gem" right here in the "Hometown of Count Basie" Red Bank, NJ.  She plays classical pieces, songs from all the best American composers, American Jazz, New Orleans style Jazz, the Best of Broadway and any favorite song you can name. Her arrangements are brilliant, fresh and unique.  When you go to hear Barbara, close your eyes and you can easily image you are sitting listening to a great piano performance in Carnegie Hall. As added bonus is that Barbara also has a uniquely distinctive voice.

Consider these quotes: 

"I have been inspired to produce and write for one other artist in my life before hearing Barbara Rose, and her name was Barbra Streisand" Michel Legrand.

"Barbara Rose has a thousand fingers that dance on your heart and a voice that melts you" The New York Times.

Barbara has a new CD out that you can only buy at her show called "La Vie En Rose".  I have attached a "YouTube" of Barbara playing her  own masterful version of "Bali Hai" and "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific for your listening pleasure. It took me too long to get to hear Barbara, don't make the same mistake and when you get there, tell her the MusicMan sent you. Barbara performs at the Molly Pitcher Inn every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. She also plays at the Sunday brunch starting in October. The food is wonderful and so is the view at the Molly Pitcher Inn and there is no cover or music charge. The bargain of a lifetime for music lovers!

                Barbara Rose Playing "Bali Hai" and "Some Enchanted EveningFrom Her New CD "La Vie En Rose"
                                                                                      As Posted on "YouTube"

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

CD Review: "Jimi FITZ"

The Jimi FITZ Group: Ronnie King, Patrick Bostrom, Jimi Fitz, Steve Monroe and Francis Cronin

Jimi Fitz

Patrick Bostrom & Jimi Fitz

Jimi Fitz
If you have ever spent any time in the Coachella Valley, you know the name Jimi Fitz.  Jimi "Fitz" Fitzgerald has one of the most popular radio shows in the California Desert, "Fitz in the Morning" that broadcasts every weekday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on 102.3 KJJZ. Jimi has legions of Jazz fans that never miss his morning radio show because Jimi plays the best Jazz classics from yesterday, today and what will become tomorrow's classics.  Jimi has also hosted the highly popular "Fitz' Jazz Cafe" at The McCallum Theatre for the past 15 years. He has brought great Jazz artists into this forum including Diana Krall, George Benson, Natalie Cole and Chris Botti just to name a few. Jimi's career in music is deep into every aspect of the business. He is a giant in the entertainment business and has had success in everything he has been involved with.  He has worked successfully as a producer, concert promoter, director, talent agent, radio and television personality. Music has always been in Jimi's blood. It's who he is!  He is also a talented songwriter and  co-wrote all of the songs on his new CD with the exception of the one cover song, The Chambers Brother classic,"Time Has Come Today".  Jimi's wife and partner Wendy Jayne, who is known by her stage name, WJ Renee wrote the wonderful lyrics for the songs on this album and played a key role in producing the final musical product.

Jimi Fitz has a true life-controlling passion for music that few people ever experience. Music is truly his life and has become his universe. Listening to his new CD, it is clear that Jimi has been able to transfer his passion for music directly into his performance of the songs on this Album. One gets the feeling of conviction and honesty and Jimi uses these emotions to give life to the great lyrics of WJ Renee.

Jimi Fitz' new CD contains 10 great new songs and one of the songs, "American Dream" was recently featured as a lead story on the Coachella Music Festival and Stagecoach blog, as "The new 4th of July anthem". I am sure that his wonderful song with 21st century lyrics will be heard for many 4th of Julys to come by music lovers in the Valley.

Jimi's voice has many of the same qualities as the late Johnny Cash. For me, I think it's probably what Johnny Cash would have sounded like if he was singing songs with lyrics that related to today's fast moving culture. There is no spin in the composing and singing from Jimi Fitz, he is true to his roots and is solidly focused on his take of today's American way of life!

Fitz put together a sterling group of musicians to work with him on this CD.  Patrick Bostrom on Guitar, Francis Cronin on Bass, Ronnie King on Keyboards and Steve Monroe on Drums. Also contributing were Lewis Richards on Bass and Guitar, Jennifer Argenti on Violin, Arianna Harville on background vocals and the great John Stanley King on Guitar.  The album was co-produced by Ronnie King, Lewis Richards and Jimi Fitz.

Check out the "Youtube" below where Jimi sings and talks about the making of this record along with members of his group.

You can hear all the songs on this CD by checking out Jimi Fitz' site:

Songs on the Jimi FITZ CD:
1. Go On                                                         6. I Don't Need This Now
2. Don't Waste My Champagne                      7. Hey Mister
3. Quick Quick                                                8. Hello There My Friend
4. American Dream                                         9. Song For Dad
5. Time has Come Today                                10. A Simple Tune

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Unsung Musical Heroes: Sidemen

Homage to Royo's "Pensentiva" 

A recent documentary film, "Twenty Feet From Stardom" looks at the life and career of backup singers, who are so important to popular music while  at the same time so unknown by the general public.  It's an excellent look at the lives of these singers and started me thinking about the lives and careers of thousands of sidemen that are also critical to popular music and Jazz and yet live their lives virtually unknown to the listening public.

I have a lot of personal friends who have spent their lives making a living as sidemen and appear to have no problem playing 2nd fiddle to some of the most popular musical stars of our lives. I have had many conversations with these sidemen trying to understand why, for the most part, they find full satisfaction in making a living in a supporting musical role.  They seem satisfied in their supporting roles even while watching the lead singer or player take all the spotlight, oxygen, applause and most of the money.

Sidemen are really special musicians! They don't play for the glory, fame or money, their payoff is in the music. They simply love playing music, it consumes their very existence. It is who they are!

I recently observed a couple of my sidemen friends who have retired but still play and have moved into a lead position in groups they put together to perform in local restaurants. I have to say they seem to really enjoy being in front after years of being in back.  Personally, it is a good feeling for me to see at least some sidemen finally getting their day in the sun.

We will always have musical stars but without superb sidemen supporting their performance, their road to success would be a lot tougher.

Sinatra said "Here's to the Band" and I say "Here's to the the Sidemen" bless them all!

                                           Sinatra Singing "Here's To The Band" From "YouTube"

Sunday, July 7, 2013

CD Review: Perry Beekman "So In Love" Sings and Plays Cole Porter

Peter Tomlinson, Perry Beekman & Lou Pappas

If you love Cole Porter's music and who doesn't, "So In Love" by Perry Beekman should be the next CD you buy.  Perry Beekman is a superb singer and guitarist.  This is the first CD he has recorded as a leader and he has selected 15 great Cole Porter songs for this album. Everyone of the Porter songs qualifies as a classic and Perry's approach is true to the spirit in which Porter wrote these songs. This not to say that Perry doesn't bring his own personality and style to this party because he does!  Perry also celebrates the other Cole, Nat King Cole, whose drummerless Trio revolutionized popular songs when Nat first appeared playing piano and singing with just a guitar and a bass.  Perry is supported by two seasoned musicians, Peter Tomlinson on Piano and Lou Pappas on Bass

Perry Beekman has been performing in and around New York City for the past 25 years, and it is hard to believe this is Perry first CD as a leader.  Its been a long wait but the final product makes the wait worth it.  Could Perry's next CD be "Perry Beekman Sings and Plays Gershwin"? Let's hope so!

"So in Love" Was released on June 4, 2013 and is available at beekman.

I found a Youtube "Perry Beekman Plays "In The Still Of The Night" that I have attached for your enjoyment.     

                                              Perry Beekman Plays "In The Still Of The Night"

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...