Saturday, November 29, 2014

Music Man Blog Celebrates Its 5th Birthday


The Music Man Blog celebrated its 5th birthday and it's time to review its progress.  Over the past 12 months, I have met some of the finest musicians in the world, and have been exposed to great talents by way of the CDs that I have reviewed. The best part of writing this blog is the exposure to brilliant musicians who continue the American tradition of leading the world in the creation of exciting and creative music. You may have noticed that there has never been a bad review of a live performance or a CD posted on this blog. The reason for this is I don't see my role as a critic but more as a supporter of music. If I don't really care for a CD or a live performance, I just don't post a review. I will leave that job to the professional music critics. Everyone knows that the music business is in flux today. It has to find the correct path that will provide musicians with the public forum they need for exposure  and the generation of income to support their families. I believe it will come sooner rather than later because life without music, both live and recorded, would be a terrible place to live! So I will continue to do my part to get the word out to music lovers all over the globe.

Over the past 12 months, the Music Man Blog had a total of 67,925 page views by unknown music lovers in over 20 countries throughout the world.  After 5 years of publication, we have had total page views of 264,840. It was a very busy year with 56 new blogs published.

Our International audience of Jazz lovers continues to expand also. China joined the top-10 list for the first time last year in position 9 and the Ukraine moved from 7th place last year up 4th place. I listed below the top-10 countries that follow our blog based on page views:

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

I want to personally thank all the supporters of great American music and the "Music Man Blog" for their strong support over the years. Our blog has a proven track record increasing the support of live music and also helping to give exposure and sales to musicians and their newly published CDs.

Warmest Regards, Bob Nicosia, publisher of the "Music Man Blog".

Saturday, November 22, 2014

CD Review: Carol McCartney "Be Cool"



Carol McCartney was born and raised in North Toronto, Canada and she has just released her second CD, "Be Cool".  Normally when I do a review of a new Jazz singer, I have to play the CD several times to feel the emotions of the vocalist, the musical arrangements and the quality of the supporting musicians. This was not the case for "Be Cool". Carol McCartney has a pure, strong voice and sings lyrics like she is telling her own life story.  She projects a comfortable, relaxed attitude which when combined with her perfect pitch, captures the listener who becomes totally spellbound with the lyrics and melodies. Sometimes when you listen to a Jazz singer, the recording clearly projects a singer singing with a Jazz band.  When you listen to Carol singing, her voice and the band merge and become one. The results are spectacular for any Jazz lover!

Carol is very well known throughout Canada and Internationally.  She has performed at many Canadian and International Jazz festivals.  She is also a noted Jazz educator, teaching Vocal Jazz at the University level in Canada. She is multi-talented, helped mix the songs  and was the Producer for this wonderful CD.  The songs selected for this CD are a great blend of standards, some of which you don't hear very often and yet, all the songs flow together perfectly.

I must mention the arrangers of the songs on this CD because each arrangement is outstanding. Pianist Brian Dickinson arranged the title track, "Be Cool" and also "I'm Old Fashioned", "For Heaven Sake", "West Coast Blues", "Almost Twelve" and "More Than You Know".  Rick Wilkins the multi-talented composer, arranger and Sax player did the arrangements for "Tulip or Turnip", "Ev'rything I've Got (Belongs to You)" and "Solitary Moon".  Paul Keller did "Just You, Just Me". Brian Wray did the arrangement for "S'Wonderful" and Carol McCartney wrote a wonderful arrangement for "Yesterdays".

One of the major characteristics of all great Jazz singers is they understand the value of singing with a great cast of supporting musicians. Gathering great musicians to support a singer is only half the job; the other half ,which is just as important, is to have supporting musicians that fit the singers style, voice and material.  Carol has mastered this requirement perfectly.  The musicians playing alongside Carol on this CD are nothing short of outstanding.  Each musician is a seasoned pro, and the result has produced what I believe should be a "Grammy" nominated Jazz CD. I especially want to mention the brilliant contribution from Brian Dickinson's Piano playing!

The Players:
   Brian Dickinson, Piano
   Lorne Lofsky, Guitar
   Kieran Overs, Bass
   Terry Clarke, Drums
   Chris Robinson, Tenor & Alto Sax
   Mike Malone, Flugel Horn

The Playlist:
   "Be Cool", Joni Mitchell
   "I'm Old Fashioned", Kern and Mercer
   "For Heaven Sake", Bretton, Edwards and Meyer
   "Tulip or Turnip", Ellington
   "Yesterdays", Kern
   "Ev'rything I've Got (Belongs to You)", Rogers and Hart
   "Solitary Moon", The Bergmans and Mandel
   "Just You Just Me", Greer and Klages
   "S'Wonderful", Gershwin
   "West Coast Blues" Montgomery
   "Almost Twelve", Wilson
   "More Than You Know", Youmans, Rose and Eliscu

I found a Youtube of Carol singing "These Foolish Things" that I know you will enjoy.

                                           Carol McCartney Singing "These Foolish Things"



Thursday, November 6, 2014

CD Review: Cat Conner "Cat House"





Jazz Vocalist Cat Conner has released a new CD that all lovers of Jazz singing need to acquire.  I was not familiar with Cat Conner until I received the new new CD with a request to review it.  The first thing that got my attention was the playlist of songs Cat had picked for this CD.  She includes an in-depth explanation of why each song was chosen which also explains why she sings with such a great understanding of the lyrics.  Each song links to a part of Cat's life experience both from the past to present day.  A lot of serious thinking was done by Cat to develop this playlist and the results will please anyone that loves a singer who understands how to transform words into an emotional experience for the listener. Cat has a wonderful voice and performs perfectly whether a swing song, ballad, blues or Latin groove. She is simply a seasoned and skilled professional Jazz singer!

Being the seasoned Jazz singer that she is, Cat has selected an outstanding cast of supporting musicians:

John Chiodini- Guitar and did most of the arrangements
Gene Cipriano- Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Tenor and Bass Oboe
Tom Ranier- Piano
Chuck Berghofer- Bass
Joe LaBarbera- Drums
Ron Stout- Trumpet
Dick Nash- Trombone
Stephanie O'Keefe- French Horn
Bob Carr- Bassoon, Bass Clarinet, Alto Flute

               Playlist
  1.   "Everything I Love/Everything I Desire"       2.   "Handsome Man"
  3.   "Sans Souci"                                                       4.   "Giant Steps"
  5.   "Throw Me Away"                                             6.   "Remind Me"
  7.   "Baltimore Oriole"                                             8.   "Heart's Desire"
  9.   "Wishing On The Moon"                                   10. "You're Driving Me Crazy"
  11. "Come On Strong"                                              11. " Come On Strong"
  12. "What a Little Moonlight Can Do"                   13. "People Say"

I also want to add that I was delighted to find that Palm Springs resident, Michael Dees, has one of his great songs on this CD, "Throw Me Away".  Michael is a wonderful singer and even better songwriter whose lyrics are always new, clever and deliver an emotional message.

You can hear the songs on this new CD by going to Cap's Website: www.catconner.com.

CD REVIEW: MIKE SPINRAD'S "HORNS"

Drummer, Composer and Arranger Mike Spinrad is a stalwart on the San Francisco Bay area Jazz scene.  According to Spinrad his goal as a...