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, Mycoachella.com 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: jimifitz.com.

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 www.cdbaby.com/cd/perry 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"

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pre-Release CD Review: Kara Grainger's "Shiver And Sigh"

If you like down-home country Blues sung in the style of Bonnie Raitt, then Kara Grainger's new CD, "Shiver and Sigh" is the perfect CD for you.  Australian native, Kara Grainger is a powerhouse talent. She sings, plays guitar and writes her own songs.  This is the 3rd CD for this triple-threat star who writes great songs that only improve when she sings them.  Now living in Los Angeles, Kara started learning the guitar at age 12.  She has had a long performing history and while still relatively young, Kara has honed her skill over the years and now has arrived on the music scene in a big way.

When I listened to her sing, I heard the influence of Bonnie Raitt, and that's a good thing.  The fact that Kara writes her owns songs only makes her presentation more impressive.  Kara wrote 5 out of the 11 tracts on this CD.  She also sings a soulful interpretation of Robert Johnson's "C'mon In My Kitchen" and Al Jackson Jr/Timothy Matthews "Breaking Up Somebody's Home". Supporting Kara are a stellar group of seasoned musicians: Kirk Fletcher and Josh Sklair on Guitar, Mike Finnigan on Keys, Hutch Hutchinson on Bass, Kimi Bott and James Gadson on Drums, Lenny Castro on Percussion Mitch Grainger on Harmonica, Pauli Cerra on Sax Paul Litteral on Trumpet and George Stanford on Trombone. I have to mention that David Z was the producer/engineer and he did a superb job putting this CD together.  Everything works on this CD,  the songs, the vocals by Kara, the supporting musicians and the producer who put all the parts together to achieve this wonderful Country Blues CD.

This CD will be release on July 16, 2013.

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...