Monday, October 27, 2014

Ben Webster: Remembering The Jazz Greats: Chapter 12

                                                        Ben Webster and Art Tatum

Ben Webster was one of the most influential American Jazz Tenor Sax players and a member of the most important "Swing Tenors" group that included Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young.  His tone was considered tough and raspy, but I always loved the way he played with warmth on ballads. He really made his mark playing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra starting in 1935 and lasting until 1943. After leaving the Ellington band because of a bitter run-in with Duke, Ben played gigs in New York City for several years.  Then in 1953, he recorded "The King of Tenors" with the great Oscar Peterson which solidified his Jazz status as one of the Great American Jazz giants. In the 1950's Ben formed a quintet with Gerry Mulligan and frequently played in the LA area at a club called "Renaissance".

In 1964, he moved to Europe permanently to join other American Jazz musicians and continued to perform there until his death in 1973.

For your listening enjoyment, I have attached three terrific "Youtube" videos highlighting the great talents of Ben Webster especially on ballads.

                            "When I Fall In Love" from the album "Ben Webster For Lovers"

                                  "Blue Moon" From Album "Ben Webster With Strings"

                                             "My One And Only Love" with Art Tatum

Saturday, October 18, 2014

CD Review: Mark Meadows "Something' Good"

Mark Meadows' new album, "Somethin' Good" could also have been titled "Somethin' Cool".  This Cd highlights Jazz at its best! Mark is not only a talented Jazz pianist but has also mastered the art of composing, educating and putting a great band together. Mark is not a casual musician, he is a student and now a teacher of Jazz Piano at the Peabody Conservatory where he recently completed his Graduate Performance Degree in Jazz Piano. Mark started playing the keys when he was only three years old. He has not stopped playing since or studying his trade.  In 2011, Mark earned degrees in Jazz Piano from The Peabody Conservatory and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from The John Hopkins University.

I was not only impressed by his suburb, creatively-interesting piano playing but also his composing and arranging talents.  Most of the songs on this CD were written by Mark, and he produced a wonderful fresh and new arrangement for all songs including "Come Together" the Lennon-McCartney gem. The arrangement of this song while true to its "root" construction allows it to be re-born into a great new Jazz piece. Mark brings similar great new arrangements to "Rock With You" by Rod Temperton, "Groovin' High" by Dizzy Gillespie and the great Ellington classic, "Lush Life".

The supporting cast that Mark has gathered for this CD is of the highest level of musicianship. As a past Alto Sax player, I was especially impressed by the contribution from Brent Birckhead in particular. Joining Brent and also contributing wonderful sounds was Paul Bollenback, Guitar,  Warren Wolf, Vibes, Christine Dashiell, vocals, Lean Seikaly, vocals, Eric Kennedy, Drums and Eric Wheeler, Bass.

I found a "YouTube" of Mark playing his own composition "Somethin' Good" that I have attached.

                                                      Mark Meadows "Somethin' Good"

                                  PLAY LIST
1. "Come Together"                     2. "Just Imagine"
3. "Rock With You"                     4. "Somethin Good"
5. "Once Upon A Purple Night"  6. "Less Catchy"
7. "Way Up Here"                        8. "For You"
9. "Groovin' High"                       10. "Get Lost"
11. "Lush Life"

Sunday, October 12, 2014

CD Review: Isabel Stover "Her Own Sweet World"

"Jazz is my go-to music, my comfort food" says Isabel Stover. "As vocal artists there is a need to bear our souls to the world, but at the same time make our music accessible to people. Which is why all these other musical influences that I bring to the table must inform what I do, from my choice in songs to how I sing a particular lyric". These words explain perfectly how Isabel Stover created her beautiful new CD, "Her Own Sweet World". Combining her rich and clear voice and marvelous arrangements of tasteful Jazz standards, Isabel has accomplished her singing goals as listed above.  Isabel is a seasoned vocalist who has become one of the best Jazz singers on the music scene today. Isabel's pop influences include Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones and Lyle Lovett, not a bad group to emulate!  Her rich voice has been compared to Jazz artists, Jane Monheit and Diana Krall. If you love listening to seasoned brilliant Jazz singing, this is the CD for you! Isabel has been performing in the Boston area and worth the effort to go to hear her sing.

Supporting Isabel on this CD are: Jonathan Alford, Piano, Fred Randolph, Bass, Dave Tidball, Saxophone and Dave Bell, Guitar.

1. "Feelin' Good"
2. "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise"
3. "Never Let Me Go"
4. "Nature Boy"
5  "Lovin' In My Baby's Eyes"
6. "Four For Kids"
7. "The Song Is You"
8. "Human Nature"

Saturday, October 4, 2014

"Unsigned Only Music" Competition

                                                       Dreaming of Summer
I was recently introduced to an interesting new music site called: "Unsigned Only Music". I know that a lot of the followers of "The Music Man Blog" are composers and would have an interest in this site which supports talented songwriters.
Unsigned Only is a unique music competition designed for solo artists, bands, and singers all over the world who are not signed to a major label record company or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries or imprints. The goal of Unsigned Only is to find an outstanding, talented performer: a band, singer, or solo artist...a newcomer or veteran...raw or polished - the “gem” that needs to be discovered. Unsigned Only is looking for the total package.
Conceived and produced by the team who bring you the prestigious International Songwriting Competition (ISC), Unsigned Only is a fresh and novel approach to other music competitions. Yes, it offers great prizes, recognition, exposure, and the chance to be heard by a group of judges consisting of high-profile recording artists and industry professionals. But, Unsigned Only also takes it a step further and puts the Grand Prize winner in direct, personal contact with the influential record label executives who are the ultimate decision-makers. For the first time ever, a music competition offers the Grand Prize winner the unprecedented opportunity to be mentored by a group of record company presidents, A&R reps, and more. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to directly network with the top echelon of record company professionals and get guidance, advice, feedback, and networking opportunities.
Judges include:  John Oates (Hall & Oates); Neon TreesBlack Francis (The Pixies); Mike Posner; David Crowder; Delbert McClinton; Craig Morgan; Robert Smith (The Cure); Rosanne Cash; 3 Doors Down; Darryl McDaniels (Run DMC); Of Monsters and Men; Aaron Shust; G. Love; Jason Gray; Alt-J; Dustin Lynch; Rapsody; The Mountain Goats; Anthony DeCurtis (Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone); Josh Jackson (Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Paste Magazine); Chris Richards (Pop Music Critic, The Washington Post); Michael Hann (Music Editor, The Guardian); Lucy Jones (Deputy Editor, NME); and more to be announced...
Mentors include: Monte Lipman (Chairman and CEO, Republic Records); Jeff Castelaz (President, Elektra Records); Seymour Stein (Chairman, SIRE Records and VP of Warner Bros Records); Pete Ganbarg (Executive VP/Head of A&R, Atlantic Records); Mike Elizondo (Sr. VP of A&R, Warner Bros. Records); Tony Kiewel (VP of A&R Sub Pop Records, Hardly Art, Sub Pop Publishing); Allison B. Jones (VP of A&R, Big Machine Label Group); Josh Bailey (Sr. VP of A&R, Word Label Group); Kim Stephens (President, Forward Entertainment and A&R/Capitol Music Group); Lenny Santiago (VP of A&R, Roc Nation); Dino Paredes (Sr. VP of A&R/GM, American Recordings); Evan Peters (Director of A&R, Virgin Records); Anthony Musiala (Managing Director, Minty Fresh); and more to be announced.

The winners of this songwriting competition have just been announced and you can get to the list of winners and actually hear some of their songs at:(

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...