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!

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...