Sunday, December 20, 2015

CD Review: Joan Ellison- "Retrophonic Gershwin"

This will be my last review of the year and I wanted to thank all my fellow Jazz lovers for your support during the past year.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!  The CD I have reviewed below is perfect for reflecting back on past years.

Just found a great new CD for anyone who loves Broadway and the Gershwins, and who doesn't?  The lead artist is singer Joan Ellison who Michael Feinstein called " A rare combination of artist, archivist, and arranger.  This album also features singer Mark Flanders and duo-pianists Jason Aquila and Jodie Ricci.  This talented group of musicians has created some authentic and unique arrangements based on original Gershwin recordings of the 1920's, 1930's and 1940's.  In order to make the sound historically correct, the CD was recorded on a RCA-44 reproduction microphone and a pair of 9-foot Steinways at Oberlin Conservatory's Clonick Hall and then mixed and mastered by Grammy-winning audio engineer Robert Friedrich of Five/Four Productions.

Joan Ellison has been praised for her vocal skills and her crystal-clear voice.  All well-deserved compliments as you will hear in the YouTube I have attached below.  Joan has an excellent musical resume including Symphonic appearances in  "Get Happy! Judy Garland In Hollywood" with the Wheaton Symphony,  "Songwriting Giants of Broadway" with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and "The music of Richard Rodgers" with the Erie Philharmonic.

Mark Flanders has had a remarkable career which includes tap-dancing in a production of  "The Boys From Syracuse" under choreographer Donald Saddler at the Ohio Theater in Cleveland, Ohio, the same stage on which Fred Astaire  and Adele Astaire performed, "Lady Be Good!" in 1925.  Mark has also played numerous roles in musical theatre including "A Little Night Music", Juan Peron in "Evita", Joey in "Pal Joey" and Dr. Carrasco in "Man of La Mancha".

Pianist Jason Aquila holds a master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano and Chamber Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music.  He was recently appointed Opera Coach at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory, and was the assistant music director for Baldwin Wallace's production of La Boheme with conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos.

Pianist Jodie Ricci's experience includes music direction at Cain Park for "Sweeney Todd", "Harold and Maude","Oliver" and "Kiss Me Kate".  Her teaching experience includes instruction in piano and music theory at Baldwin Wallace.  Jodie is currently a member of the performing arts faculty at Hawken School in Lyndhurst, Ohio.

           Album Tracks
1. "Syncopated City Overture"
2. "I Got Rhythm"
3. "Where's the Boy? Here's The Girl"
4. "Who Cares?"
5. "Boy! What Love Has Done To Me!"
6. "Treat Me Rough"
7. "But Not For Me"
8. "Do-Do-Do"
9. "A Foggy Day"
10. "The Man I Love"
11. "They All Laughed"
12. "They Can't Take That Away From Me"

I attached a few wonderful songs from the CD I found on YouTube to share the beautiful sounds from this album.

                                                                  "I Got Rhythm"

                                                          "They All Laughed"

Hit the attached site below and you can hear and see how one of the Gershwin songs on this Cd was developed.  

Friday, November 27, 2015

CD Review: Kim Nazarian "Some Morning"

As a music reviewer I have the privilege of being introduced to many great new singers.  Kim Nazarian is not a great singer.  She is a brilliantly talented singer with vocal chops and exceptional timing that every singer yearns for!  Some singers can do ballads, some singers can scat along with up tempo tunes but Kim can do it all.  Her voice is golden and her approach to lyrics is spot on perfect.  Kim has the ability to enhance lyrics without getting in the way.  The result captures the essence of emotion that the composer had in mind, together with fitting her own personality into each song making them her own.  Grammy Award-nominee Kim Nazarian gained fame as a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Jazz vocal group, "New York Voices".

Kim is joined on this CD by the five time Grammy Award-winning producer and Trombonist Jay Ashby.  All the tunes on this CD are arranged in whole or in part by Ashby with help from Kim on several.  The arrangements are Sinatra-perfect and fit both Kim and the talented musicians on this CD perfectly!   Jay Ashby's Trombone performances are pure magic on this CD. The list of contributing musicians is wonderful including special guests: Gary Burton, Paquito D'Rivera, Sean Jones, and John Pizzarelli.  

Kim Nazarian's "Some Morning" is a sensationally good CD.  And how do I know that?  I tried to select a cut from this CD that would give you a feel of Kim's great singing and the fine talents of the musicians with her.  It took me an hour to select the two cuts below that I found on "YouTube" because I couldn't decide which ones were the best.  I loved every cut on the CD!

The First cut below is called "Robbin's Nest Boneology"  and it's a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Trombonist JJ Johnson. It will show the extent of Kim's vocal skills and Ashby's mellow Trombone sounds that blend perfectly together.

The Second "YouTube"  presents the song "Tell Him I Said Hello" that is a tribute to Better Carter from her big band vocalist, taking on a Bossa Nova spin.  This cut also contains a terrific Clarinet Solo from the brilliant Paquito D'Rivera.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cd Review: John Fedchock "Like It Is"

Trombonist and world-class arranger John Fedchock has enjoyed a 35-year career that has included being the chief arranger for the legendary Woody Herman during the 1980's.  This is the 5th album for the 16-piece band and Fedchock's eighth as leader.  "Like it is" features five Fedchock originals and five arrangements of Jazz and American classics.  I absolutely love his arrangements, they are fresh and new but remain true to the history of the great big bands.  His Trombone playing is superb, his tone is heavenly and his improvisation is what ever master Jazz player strives for.

Fed chock's idea for this album is his musical desire to mesh the old with the new.  "Even though many embrace the big band's evolution, there seem to be plenty of folks who'd prefer everything just remain like it was.  But truth be told, some of the best things in music have come from combining the 'Like it was' with the 'Like it is', melding the greatness of the past with a fresh perspective using today ears". 

The musicians on this album are all experienced New York City superstars and prove the point in eleven different outstanding solos.  Saxophonists Mark Vinci, Charles Pillow, Rich Perry, Walt Weiskopf, Gary Smulyan, and Scott Robinson.  Trumpeters Scott Wendholt and Barry Ries, Pianist Allen Farnham, Bassist Dick Sarpola and Drummer Dave Ratajczak.  Bobby Sanabria's Latin percussion joins the band on three tracks bringing the sound and Rhythm to perfection!

The playlist for the CD is what you would expect from John, some old, some new but all exceptional music.

1, "You and the Night and the Music"
2. "Like It Is"
3. "Never Let Me Go"
4. "Just Sayin"
5. "Ojos De Rojo"
6. " Hair of the Doag"
7. "Havana"
8. "Just Squeeze Me"
9. "For Heavens's Sake"
10. "Ten Thirty 30"

If you long for the big band sound and arrangement of the past re-mastered to today's musical world, you must pick up this CD.  This band captures the emotion of the songs and yet can run with the best of the best bands of yesterday, today and tomorrow.  I could listen to John Fedchock play Trombone forever and never get bored.  His feel for standards and sound are as good as it gets! Don't just take my word for it, listen to the "YouTube" link below of John playing "Never Let Me Go"!

Ok, now listen to the "Youtube" of John Fedchock's New York Big Band playing the Dietz and Schwartz gem "You and the Night and the Music".

Saturday, November 7, 2015

CD Review: Fred Hersch "Solo"

I recently received a review copy of Fred Hersch's new CD, "Solo",  recorded live in a Catskill, NY church in 2014 as part of the Wyndham Chamber Music Festival.  This was my first experience listening to Fred Hersch, and I truly can say that his playing has had an emotional effect for me.  There are only 7 cuts on the CD but the songs Mr. Hersch has chosen to include are wonderful including two original compositions, cut# 3, "Pastorale" that Mr. Hersch wrote in honor of Robert Schumann and cut#4, "Whirl"written in honor of Ballet principal, Suzanne Farrell.

This CD is his 10th solo recording and according to Hersch "I firmly believe this may be the all-around best solo album I've ever done.  I liked the piano and the environment of playing in a small wooden church just big enough to get some reverberance".

Mr. Hersch has played with many Jazz greats like Phil Woods, George Shearing, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Billy Harper, Lee Konitz, Art Farmer, Gary Burton and Toots Thielemans.  He attributes his turn-on to Jazz to John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Miles Davis and Chick Corea.  At this stage in his career, he stands side by side with these greats.

There is nothing casual about Hersch's playing style and his Jazz composition.  It is studied and, yet, seems new and free and the construction of his solos capture the emotion of the songs he plays and puts new life into them.  If you love thoughtful, creative and new Jazz playing, Fred Hersch should be at the top of your favorites list.

1. "Olha Maria/O Grande Amor"- Jobim
2. "Caravan"- Tizol
3. "Pastorale- Hersch
4. "Whirl"- Hersch
5. "The Song Is You"- Kern
6. "In Walked Bud"- Monk
7. "Both Sides Now" Mitchell

I located a cut from the CD, Jerome Kern's magnificent classic, "The Song Is You" on "YouTube" that will let you experience the brilliance of Fred Hersch's Jazz Piano Style.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

CD Review: Scott Hamilton & Jeff Hamilton Trio, "Live In Bern"

Scott Hamilton and Jeff Hamilton are not family related but they are musical brothers. This is the first CD from these two Jazz giants, and I hope it will not be their last.  Scott Hamilton takes the lead on some great Standards accompanied by the fabulous Jeff Hamilton Trio consisting of Jeff on Drums, Tamir Hendelman on Piano and Christoph Luty on Bass.  This CD is a classic swing Jazz album that proves that a warm-toned Tenor and delicious phrasing can still produce magical music.
Jeff Hamilton, every one's favorite Drummer continues to prove that technical ability and intuitive percussive artistry are a winning combination.  Jeff seems to be everywhere you look on the music scene, playing with his Trio, co-leader of the outstanding Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra and writing creative music like his own composition "Sybille's Day",  the 7th cut on this CD.  Jeff also had a hand in Producing this CD, while the playlist is mostly up tempo,  there are also some great ballads.
Tamir Hendelman once again proves on this CD that he is one of the leading Jazz Pianist on the Jazz scene today.  He can do it all, great solos, solid support for other lead players and never interfering with their spot in the sun and seamlessly joining the band together as one.  This is my first experience with Christof Luty who does an outstanding job on Bass.  I should not have been surprised at his talent knowing that these three magnificent musicians would only ask an exceptional Bassman to join them.  This is a great CD to have a drink, turn the lights down low and kick back for an hour of wonderful Jazz sounds.

The Playlist is an unusual grouping of great songs.  Take a look at the composers, they are all at the  top of the composer list:

1. "September in The Rain"  Dubin/Warren
2. "All Through the Night" Cole Porter
3. "Watch What Happens" Michel Legrand
4. "Soul Eyes" Mal Waldron
5. "This Can't Be Love"  Richard Rodgers
6. "There'll Be Some Changes Made" W. Benton Overstreet
7. "Sybille's Day"  Jeff Hamilton
8.  "Key Largo"   Benny Carter
9. "Woody'n You"   Dizzy Gillespie
10. "The Champ"  Alan Hawkshaw
11. "Ballad For Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus Eaters"  Billy Strayhorn
12. "You and the Night and The Music"  Arthur Schwartz
13. "Centerpiece"   Harry Edison

           I found a "YouTube" for you to hear cut #10 on this CD, "The Champ'.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

CD Review: Daniel Smith: "Jazz Suite For Bassoon"

I would like to start this review with a question:  How many favorite Jazz Bassoon players do you know?  Ok, that question may be too difficult.  How about this one: "Have you ever heard a Bassoon player playing Jazz?  My answers were "none" and "no" until I was sent a review copy of Daniel Smith's "Jazz Suite For Bassoon".  It turns out I love the sound of a Bassoon at least when it's played by the world's most recorded Bassoon soloist.  Even more surprising is that the Bassoon and its unusual warm sounds fits into the Jazz world quiet comfortably.  Daniel Smith is simply an amazing musician who is at easy in all parts of the music world.  This CD is a mix of Jazz and Classical that fits perfectly.  The title of this CD is "Jazz Suite For Bassoon" but all of the performers are seriously, Classically trained musicians.  This CD successful makes its way between Jazz and Classical smoothly and successfully.

The world-class musicians on this CD are:

On Baroque Adaptations of Bassoon and Jazz Trio:
     Daniel Smith-Bassoon
     Bruce Boardman-Piano
     Terry David-Bass
     Martin Drew-Drums

On Scott Joplin Rags:
     Daniel Smith-Bassoon
     Jonathan Still-Piano
     Paul Manley-Violin
     Kate Musker-Viola
     Justin Pearson-Cello
     Michael Brittain-Bass

On Jazz Suite For Bassoon:
     Daniel Smith-Bassoon
     Steve Gray-Piano
     Mitch Dalton-Guitar
     Jim Lawless-Vibraphone
     Roy Babbington-Bass
     Mike Smith-Drums

I found a couple of cuts from the CD on "YouTube" so you can experience Daniel Smith at his best.  The first one is from Daniel's Scott Joplin Rags, "Chrysanthemum" and the second is from his Jazz Baroque Adaptations for Bassoon and Jazz Trio "Allegro from Concerto in B Flat" written by Antonio Vivaldi.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

CD Review: Adair-Aliquo "Too Marvelous For Words"

I have always loved the way the remarkable Beegie Adair plays songs composed by the greatest composers in America.  My CD collection contains at least 10 of her CDs,  each one a gem!  If you like outstanding Piano Jazz Trios you need go no further than to one of Beegie's CDs.  On the other hand, I always wished I could hear what she and her trio would sound like if they added another instrument.   The other day my wish came true as I was sent a review copy of Beegie's new CD,  "Too Marvelous for Words" featuring the great Sax player, Don Aliquo.

Beegie and Don fit together seamlessly.  One would suspect that they have been playing together for years as they anticipate each other's moves perfectly.  Well, Don and Beegie have only performed a few times over the years and this is their first CD together.  So my guess is they must be brother and sister!

The songs they have selected for this album are all part of Jazz history.  The composers are all out of the "Great American Hall of Fame" including 2 gems from Billy Strayhdorn, 2 from Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, and contributions from Thelonious Monk, and Johnny Mercer.  Completing this musical Jazz gem are two of Beegie's Trio, Roger Spencer on Bass and Chris Brown on Drums.  When you combine these four spectacular musicians, the interplay from the quartet sounds like a musical dream.

1. "Johnny Come Lately"                                2. "This Can't Be Love"
3. "Day Dream"                                                4. "Bye-Ya"
5. "Isfahan"                                                       6. "All or Nothing At All"
7. "I Hear A Rhapsody"                                   8. "If You Could See Me Now"
9. "Too Marvelous For Words"                       10. "It Never Entered My Mind" 

I have attached a "YouTube" of two songs from this CD, "This Can't Be Love" and A wonderful version of the Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhdorn and John La Touche classic, "Day Dream". 

Monday, September 28, 2015

CD Review: Terell Stafford "BrotherLee Love"

It's time to leave the "Great American Songbook" for a while and get back to the "Great American Jazz Songbook".  I just finished listening to some straight-away Jazz from Trumpeter Terrell Stafford.  His new CD "BrotherLee Love" is a tribute to the soulful musical legacy of Philadelphia's Lee Morgan.  Stafford is not a Philadelphia native but for the past two decades he has helped past the torch to the next generation through his work as Director of Jazz and Chair of instrumental studies at Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance.   According to Stafford, "This project is about how I was embraced by this city and about a Trumpet player who has always been a huge inspiration to me".  Stafford offers this for Lee Morgan, "The Trumpet was merely a vehicle to express who he was.  There was rasp, there was grit, there was personality, there was sass, exactly who he was as a person was inside of his sound and that's what I loved about it".

There are nine cuts on the album, seven were written by Lee Morgan, one "Favor" was written by Terell and the last song is a beautiful interpretation of Alex Kramer's ballet "Candy".  Terrell features his rock-star quintet of Saxophonist Tim Warfield,  Pianist Bruce Barth,  Bassist Peter Washington, and Drummer Dana Hall.  Every one of these guys is a great musical Jazz star.  To put a top on this beautiful piece of Jazz art, Terrell selected the great John Clayton produce the CD.  When you deal with the top musicians, they only surround themselves with the best and this outstanding CD proves why that is the only way to go!

This is a Jazz Trumpet performance at it highest level.


1. "Hocus Pocus"                                       2. "Mr Kenyatta"
3. "Petty Larceny"                                      4. "Candy"
5. "Yes I Can, No You Can't"                     6. "Favor" 
7. "Stop Start"                                            8. "Carolyn"
9. "Speedball" 

I have attached a "YouTube" of Terell Stafford playing a Lee Morgan composition "Petty Larceny" with support from Tim Warfield-Tenor Sax, Bruce Barth-Piano, Peter Washington-Bass and Dana Hall-Drums.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Spotlight on Contemporary Outstanding Singers: Hilary Kole

Over the past few years, I have been involved in many conversations with friends who would remark that there are very few young singers performing today that compare with the great singers of the past.  I think my friends believe this because they have not been exposed to all the great young singers on the music scene today.  How do people find out about today's great singers?  This is one of the main reasons this blog was established, to shine a light on musicians from around the country who have exceptional talent.

I am introduced to a lot of great musicians by recommendations from friends, musicians and materials sent to me by music producers.  I would like to introduce them to you by starting a new series of postings to highlight musicians that come into my life that are simply terrific.  I hope some of these musicians become favorites of yours also.

My first musician spotlighted in this series is the multi-talented Singer/Arranger/Pianist Hilary Kole. Hilary has a wonderful musical resume and has performed in top New York City venues like Town Hall, Birdland, Blue Note, Tridium, 54 Below, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall with Michael Feinstein and the The New Pops.  Her career was interrupted for over 2 years because of a dispute with her management company that stopped her from recording.  She won her release from her former contract in April 2013 and has since been rebuilding her musical direction.  She is currently working on a Judy Garland tribute album that should be terrific.  A friend forwarded a "YouTube" of Hilary singing "Over The Rainbow" that I thought was an example of Hilary's wonderful vocal work.  I wanted to share the "YouTube" with followers of my blog.

Monday, September 7, 2015

CD Review: Henry Prego "Wicked"

For those of you who love the "Great American Songbook", you will be delighted to know that Henry Prego is introducing the songs and the smooth stylings reminiscent of the vocal greats of the past.   Even better news is that Henry is performing to sell-out audiences in venues all over the country.  For the past couple of years, he has been selling out every night at the Las Vegas review hit he co-created "The Rat Pack is Back".  Henry's latest album, "Wicked" represents a great example of his silky-smooth voice and his wonderful styling generating standing ovations at all his performances.

I first learned about Henry Prego from my friend and world-class bass player, Jim DeJulio.  Jim co- produced this CD with producer Henry Prego and also provided the marvelous Bass work.  Henry has selected a playlist of great songs including (the first cut on the CD), Lennon/McCartney's classic, "Norwegian Wood".   The "Great American Songbook" is alive in Henry's hands, and he is attracting new young listeners to these great standards every night he performs in Las Vegas and other venues around the country.  What makes Henry such a perfect ambassador for the classic songs is his confident and commanding stage presence that is larger than life. His unique style and personality is perfect for the music he loves and never fails to capture his audiences.  Henry sings as good as any of the vocal giants of the past, yet he is not trying to be them.  He brings his own unique voice and style to each song, and that's what makes him unique and special.

I must mention the musicians on this CD supporting Henry.  They are among the absolutely best musicians performing today:

Piano: Josh Nelson
Bass: Jim DeJulio
Drums: Joe LaBarbara
Vibraphone: Emil Richards
Sax & Flute: George Young

I have attached a "YouTube" of Henry singing "Beautiful Friendship" for your listening enjoyment.        


Sunday, August 23, 2015

CD Review: "Janice Friedman Trio: Live At Kitano"

Pianist/Composer Janice Friedman has recently released her first live CD, "Janice Friedman Trio: Live At Kitano".  I first met Janice when I was doing a review of "Diva" Rose Kingsley's Cabaret debut at Cafe Noctambulo at Pangea in New York City a few months ago.  I was impressed by the way Janice played Piano in support of Rose's unique vocal approach to standards.  In talking with Janice after the show, she mentioned that she had just cut a CD, and I knew it would be something I would like.

I certainly was correct.  In fact, there was a bonus for me on her CD.  Janice does Vocals, Arranging and Composed four wonderful songs. What I like the most about Janice is her unique approach to music.  When she plays you can hear little parts of the best Jazz Pianists in history, and yet she has the ability to create music that is totally her own.  Her touch on the Plano is soft and thoughtful as are her vocals.  Her arranging skills are also remarkable.  The first cut on the CD is an original composition, "Get Set", and Janice constructed an Oscar Peterson-inspired arrangement that is terrific.  Janice also brilliantly co-wrote a Chopin Nocturne in a beautiful Jass style.  According to Janice "I took Chopin's beautiful nocturne, changed it into a Jazz waltz, straightened up the form to make it comfortable to improvise on, adjusted the rhythms and phrases to have them swing, used my own chords, put in an improvised recitative spot where Chopin had one written and voila!"

Supporting Janice on her live CD are: Victor Lewis on Drums and Ed Howard on Bass.  Both of these musicians are highly talented and clearly fit together with Janice's style perfectly.

I have attached a "YouTube" of Janice Friedman's sensitive and beautiful rendition of Bill Evan's "Turn Out The Stars" live at Kitano in NYC on March 18, 2015.  And after you listen to this performance, just think, she also does Vocals, Arranging and Composing!  Janice Friedman is a super-star musical talent!


Sunday, August 9, 2015

CD Review: "Muddy Waters, 100"

"Muddy Waters, 100" is a new tribute Album that was recorded in honor of Muddy Waters on the occasion of his 100th birthday.  Muddy Waters is to Blues what Elvis was to Rock & Roll!  Producer, Larry Skoller has gathered some of the best Blues musicians still performing today to record 15 classic Muddy Waters' songs. Because of the importance of this CD to the Blues world, I asked Blues "Aficionado" Tim Marchio to do a guest review of this wonderful CD.

                             "Muddy Waters 100"
                                                                              By Tim Marchio

When I first received this assignment, I was excited because Muddy Waters is one of the giants of the Blues genre and has influenced pretty much everyone in Blues and Rock.  As per the press materials accompanying the CD (which comes in a hard cover book-like case with exceptionally well done liner notes), “This officially authorized centennial tribute to Muddy Waters . . . .  celebrates, commemorates and contributes to the musical legacy of this American icon”.  This is not a typical “tribute” album.  Muddy Waters 100 contains 15 newly recorded tracks of his music featuring band alumni and several of today’s blues and roots artists, including Johnny Winter, Derek Trucks, James Cotton, Shemekia Copeland, Bob Margolin, Gary Clark, Jr., Keb Mo and John Primer who played with Muddy until his death in 1983. 

The Blues is a uniquely American musical genre that has its roots in the 1800s when African American slaves were singing work songs, spirituals and field hollers while working on plantations.  It is about hardships and is strongly personal.  The Blues is more about feel than about construct.  Muddy was born in 1915 (some say 1913) in Rolling Fork, Mississippi.  He worked in the cotton fields and started playing harmonica at age 7, then picked up the guitar at age 17.  In 1943, he moved to Chicago and changed the landscape of the Blues.  The full story is quite well documented in the essay included in the CD booklet, written by Robert Gordon, author of “The Life and Times of Muddy Waters”.     

Now to the music, the songs range in years from 1941 to 1978.  As is typical with most Blues classics, many of these songs have been covered numerous times by many artists in many genres (e.g., "Mannish Boy" has been covered by virtually every major Blues artist and the likes of Hank Williams, Wolfmother, Erykah Badu).  Having already named that song, "Mannish Boy" is the most visceral song on the album.  The first time I played it, I was taken aback.  It sounded old and new at the same time (one quick note, the recording itself is done masterfully with excellent mixing and engineering.  It sounds fantastic).  As stated above, some of these songs have new arrangements and this one just nailed it.  I keep playing it as loud as possible in my car.  This arrangement and performance allows me to feel the song, not just hear it.  And this is indicative of the whole CD. 
When I hear “tribute album” with “special guests”, I think - oh no, here we go again.  In many cases, the guests try to show off or take over a song.  Not so here, each artist plays within the framework of the song.  In I’m Ready", Johnny Winter plays along with the song; he doesn’t overplay.  The other guitarists here do the same.   Derek Trucks, Gary Clark, Jr, Keb Mo, and Bob Margolin are great guitarists and could easily play to impress.  It is similarly the case with James Cotton, Billy Branch and Matthew Skoller on Harmonica.  In each song, the band and guest play to respect the man and the song.  They are there to support, not to shine on their own. 
This is a lovingly put together tribute to an American icon whose songs have already stood the test of time and will continue to do so as new artists take over and continue what Muddy and others like him started.  Get this CD, you will not regret it, even if you only have a passing interest in the Blues. 

1. "Got My Mojo Working"                                               2. "Still A Fool"
3. "I Be's Troubled"                                                            4. "I'm Ready"
5. "Mannish Boy"                                                                6. "Rosalie"
7. "Why Don't You Live So God Can Use You"                8. "Good News"
9. "Trouble No More"                                                        10. "She Moves Me"
11. "Can't Get No Grindin"                                               12. "40 Days and 40 Nights"
13. "Last Time I Fool Around With You"                        14. "I Feel So Good"
15. "Feel Like Going Home"

I have attached a "YouTube" of the first cut in this CD, "Got My Mojo Working", enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

John Korba Is Very Impressive at Shanghai Jazz In Madison, NJ

Shanghai Jazz has been one of the foremost Jazz clubs in the country.  The Jazz setting at Shanghai Jazz is perfect, large enough to seat 100 or more Jazz fans, and, yet, small enough to allow everyone in the audience to get up close to the performers.  Also, as I have mentioned in the past, the excellent food and above average service from the waitstaff would make this restaurant popular even without some of the best live Jazz sounds in the East.

Tuesday, July 21, the Jazz star was John Korba on Piano and Vocals accompanied by Julliard-trained Bassist, Hal Slapin.  I hadn't heard John play and sing in person before but he was strongly recommended to me by more than a few well-respected musicians.  John Korba is a multi-talented Pianist, Vocalist, Composer and Producer.  I was aware that Korba had performed with Daryl Hall & John Oates and had recorded with a Blues band called "Hudson River Rats", but I was surprised and very happy when John played and sang several classic songs out of the "Great American Songbook".  He has a wonderful voice and a style that is all his.  His playlist tonight consisted of songs from Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and Nat King Cole.  I loved his vocals however it was his thoughtful and intelligent Jazz Piano solos that represent his greatest talent.  John has a gentle touch that he applies to his piano that puts him in a class above most other performers.  John just doesn't just go through the normal motions when he plays, he brings his own musical ideas that seem to just spring out of songs that have been around for years.  John Korba can superbly play and sing every musical genre at a high level and keeps the total interest of his audience.

John Korba performs at Shanghai Jazz quite frequently and I highly recommend that you try to get over there to hear him.  Shanghai Jazz is located at 24 Main Street, Madison, NJ and you can call for reservations at 973-822-2899.  You can also check future performers at Shanghai Jazz on their site:

I found a "Youtube" live performance of John Korba playing and singing the Hall and Oates classic, "Sara Smile" at Shanghai Jazz.     I hope John will think about cutting a CD of standards in the near future.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

CD Review: "Ron Aprea Plays Tribute to John Lennon and the Beatles"

 Ron Aprea, the world-class Sax player, Arranger and Producer has just released a terrific CD cover of some of the best songs written by John Lennon and the Beatles.  The inspiration for this CD was born as a result of the musical experience Ron had when he recorded with John Lennon in 1974 on Lennon's award-winning Album, "Walls and Bridges".  This CD also celebrates the reunion for Ron with Trumpeter and my long-time friend, Steve Madaio.  Turns out that Steve was also on the recording session for "Walls and Bridges".  

Part of the musical joy of this new CD from Ron Aprea is the wonderful arrangements he has penned for this Album.  Ron's playing ability is well known throughout the music world, but I have always believed that his arranging skills put him up with the top arrangers writing today.  When you listen to Beatle songs that you have probably heard hundreds of times and hear some of the new and imaginative arrangements from Ron, the songs take on a new, wonderful feel.

Ron Aprea can and has played everything from BeBop to Ballads but when you add his arranging talent to the mix, he truly stands out as one of the most talented musicians performing today.

The CD starts with an unusual arrangement of "Let It Be" that Ron opens with a soulful playing of the melody and then moves into an upbeat full band treatment of the rest of the melody.  Next up is "Imagine" with Steve Madaio sharing the lead with Ron.  I have been privileged to hear Steve play this classic many times in person but adding Ron's mellow Sax work with Steve's lush Trumpet sounds, produces a brilliant result.

I enjoyed every cut of this Album but would like to spotlight a few of my favorites in addition to "Imagine".  Ron has written a wonderful arrangement for "Can't Buy Me Love" that is not high on my list of Favorite Beatles songs but Ron's arrangement of this song is marvelous.  The swinging arrangement calls out  "Count Basie" and any Basie fan would love it.  Ron's technical and sweet-sounding performance on "Yesterday" just knocked me out.  It reminded me of one of my favorite Albums recorded over 50 years ago, "Cannonball Adderley and Strings".

Ron has gathered a wonderful group of musicians together for this session including special performances by Brian Lynch- Trumpet , Matt Aprea-Violin and Viola,  Steve Madaio-Trumpet, Dom Minasi-Guitar and singer Angela DeNiro.

1. "Let It Be"                                                2. "Imagine"
3. "Norwegian Wood"                                  4. "Yesterday"
5. "Happy Xmas"                                         6. "Can't Buy Me Love"
7. "Here There And Everywhere                 8. "Blackbird"
9. "Something"                                            10. "Fool On The Hill"
11. "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night"  12. "Goodnight"

I have attached some clips from the CD listed on Ron's site for your enjoyment.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

CD Review: George Gee Swing Orchestra, "Swing Makes You Happy"

Ok lovers of the "Big Band" sound, here is a new CD that will be guaranteed to make you feel good! Bandleader George Gee and the talented Musical Director, Composer, Arranger and Trombonist, David Gibson have recorded an excellent group of 19 swing songs that while staying true to the foundations of the swing tradition, sound fresh and new.  The Gibson arrangements are terrific as are the five originals he wrote, and he also produced three excellent transcriptions from the Chick Webb repertoire.  This band really cooks with these arrangements and produces a much larger sound than one would expect from a 9-piece orchestra.  And in the tradition of great swing bands of the past, Gee has brought along two wonderfully-talented singers, Hilary Gardner and John Dokes.  They are both great big band singers and seal the total package for this swing orchestra.

The members of this orchestra are all high-end professional players and should receive much credit for producing a CD of such high quality as "Swing Makes You Happy".

George Gee: Bandleader
David Gibson: Musical Director & Trombone
Hillary Gardner: Vocals
John Dokes: Vocals
Ed Pazant: Alto Sax
Michael Hashim: Tenor Sax
Anthony Lustig: Baritone Sax
Andy Gravish: Trumpet
Freddie Hendrix: Trumpet
Steve Einerson" Piano
Marcus McLaurine: Upright Bass
Wilard Dyson" Drums

If you ever find yourself in the NYC area, The George Gee Swing Orchestra has been performing at the Swing46  Jazz and Supper Club in NYC's Times Square for almost 18 years.  You can catch their act every Tuesday at 8:30pm to 11:30pm and on selected Fridays from 9:30pm to 1:00am.  You can call for reservations at 212-262-9554.

I was able to find a "YouTube" of the George Gee Swing Orchestra performing the first cut from their new CD, "Comin' Home".

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CD Review: The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, "The Thompson Fields"

Composer, arranger and bandleader Maria Schneider has just released her new CD, "The Thompson Fields" recorded with her highly recognized Jazz orchestra.  I never heard any of Maria's compositions before nor have I ever heard her Jazz Orchestra.  After listening to the first cut on the CD, "Walking by Flashlight" it became clear that Maria Schneider is a brilliant composer and arranger.  While Maria has written 8 new Jazz compositions for her CD, the construction of the songs is much more than Jazz.  I would say it's a fusion of Jazz and Classical with Jazz in the leadership position.  Maria's public recognition has been on a hot roll after she released her last CD, "Winter Morning Walks" that won three Grammys in the classical category of the 2014 Grammy Awards, making her one of the rare musicians to win Grammys in both the Jazz and Classical categories.

Maria is known for her autobiographical music and in the songs she has written for "Thompson Fields" she shares her relationship to southwest Minnesota, where she spent her childhood years.  Her music reflects the calming effects of her love of landscape, birds, and prairie.

Maria has been a leader over the last decade in successfully demonstrating how music could be funded and released using "ArtistShare".  Maria's first "ArtistShare" album, "Concert In the Garden", not only won the first Grammy with Internet-only sales but opened the crowd-funded era.  Over the past thirteen years, Maria has developed a growing concern for intellectual property rights,  engaging with lawmakers, the Library of Congress and others to protect the rights of music creators.

"Thompson Fields" was supported by "ArtistShare" and is available exclusively at

The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra:

Maria Schneider-Conductor
Steve Wilson-Alto, Soprano,Clarinet, Flute, Alto Flute
Dave Pietro-Alto,Soprano,Clarinet, Flute, Alto Flute, Bass Flute, Piccolo
Rich Perry-Tenor
Donny McCaslin-Tenor,Clarinet, Flute
Scott Robinson-Baritone, Bass Clarinet, Alto Clarinet, Clarinet
Tony Kadleck-Trumpet, Fluegelhorn
Greg Gisbert-Trumpet, Fluegelhorn
Auge Haas-Trumpet, Fluegelhorn
Mike Rodriguez-Trumpet, Fluegelhorn
Keith O'Quinn-Trombone
Ryan Keberle-Trombone
Marshall Gilkes-Trombone
George Flynn-Bass Trombone
Gary Versace-Accordion
Luge Lund-Guitar
Frank Kimbrough-Piano
Jay Anderson-Bass
Clarence Penn-Drums
Rogerio Boccato-Percussion on "Lembranca"

I have attached a "YouTube" of Maria reviewing the birth of "The Thompson Fields" her new CD.

Monday, June 29, 2015

CD Review: Deborah Latz "sur I'instant"

Take a look at the picture of Deborah Latz on the front of her new CD, "sur I'instant".  She looks like a happy and carefree person, right?  I think these personality traits present themselves when she sings. I had never heard Deborah sing before this CD but after listening to her sing a couple of times, it feels like I have known her all my musical life.  Deborah has a clear voice and perfect pitch and when combined with her sensitivity and interpretive skills makes her a major-league Jazz vocal star!  Deborah tries to extract from each song its core narrative.  In her words, "With each interpretation I ask myself, Did you tell the story?  ---that's the ultimate goal. I wanted the album to be about focus-to always ask "What is this song?" Deborah has been performing around New York for the past few years.  I recently caught a "YouTube" of her recent performance at the "Blue Note" that you might want to check out.

I am always fascinated by the song selections picked by vocalists for CDs they are recording.  I think it tells a lot about the singer.  I think Deborah's selections match her love for lyric and melody. The mix is perfect for me, some classics and some Jazz compositions that are great stuff but we just don't hear them too often.  Take a look at the list below and you will see what I am talking about.

Deborah spotlights "Weep No More" written by Dave and Lola Brubeck,  "MR. P.C". by John Coltraine with lyrics by Jon Hendricks and Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk".  These terrific Jazz compositions, combined with some great "Evergreens" make Deborah's interpretation a delight for any listener.

Deborah is greatly supported on this CD by the Marvelous Pianist Alain Jean-Marie and Bassist Gilles Natural.

1. "Love Theme From "Spartacus"          2. "Throw It Away"
3. "Weep No More"                                     4. "All The Things Your Are"
5. "Four"                                                      6. "Blue Monk"
7. "Mr P.C."                                                 8. "Nature Boy"
9. "Over The Rainbow"

Deborah Latz-Vocals
Alain Jean-Marie-Piano
Gilles Naturel-Bass

I have attached a "YouTube" video of Deborah singing the great American classic "All The Things You Are" from her new CD.  The Piano work from Alain Jean-Marie is terrific on this cut.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

CD Review: The City Boys Allstars "Personal Thing"

"Personal Thing" is the second album from a talented group of musicians called "The City Boys Allstars".  After listening to this new CD, my first thoughts were what a great sound this band gets and how remarkably talented are the members of this group.  My second thought was I had to get to see this group in person.  The group is made up of three wonderful singers and ten outstanding musicians.  The City Boys Allstars are based in New York which is appropriate because their music captures the personality of New York City with its fresh mix of Jazz and rock combined with funk, soul, blues and gospel.

This Group really cooks and the excellent songs included on this CD were written by four band members who makes the group's musical sound outstanding.  The leader of the band, Mike Merola, who has been recently inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame, is an outstanding Guitarist who has put together a marvelous group of talented musicians.  Generally when I do a review, I highlight the major players in the group but that is not possible with The City Boys Allstars because every member of this group is truly an Allstar!  All the wonderful arrangements on this CD were written by Tony Kadleck and Tom "Bones" Malone.  Don't miss a chance to see this band when you are in the NYC area. You can find their CD on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.

        Band Members:
Guitars: Mike Merola
Bass: Al MacDowell
Keys: Rob Clores
Drums: Nick Saya
Percussion: Daniel Sadownick
Trumpets: Tony Kadleck and Lew Soloff
Saxes: Andy Snitzer, "Blue Lou" Marini and Tom "Bones' Malone
Trombone: Tom "Bones" Malone
Vocalists: Bill Kurz, Angel Rissoff and Horace Scott

I have attached a "YouTube" video of The City Boys Allstars playing "Testimony" for your listening pleasure.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Rose Kingsley Is Sensational In Her New York Cabaret Debut

Janice Friedman

William Dyson

Greg Ryan
Rose Kingsley made her New York City Cabaret Debut on Saturday June 6 at Cafe Noctambulo At Pangea, and she was a smashing success in every respect!  As many of my readers know, Rose sang Opera at the Met for over 12 years and recently she has been teaching voice to aspiring Opera singers in the Southern California area.  Before moving to California, Rose had a deep attachment to NY and its music scene.  During her time in California, Rose began to feel a strong emotional attraction to some of the best songs in the "Great American Songbook",  especially the torch songs which seem to call to her.  About a year and a half ago, Rose decided that she needed to act on her attraction and began by choosing the ones that she knew she could not live without singing.  This kind of passion combined with Rose's experiences with Opera have now merged and transformed Rose into a powerful and accomplished singer of American Standards.  The combination of passion,  singing skills and Opera training resulted in Rose's first CD, "This is My Life" which was released to rave reviews in January of this year.

What really makes Rose special is that she is true to herself in everything she does.  There is no compromise with Rose.  She sings with gusto and she has no desire to change her rather unique approach to song and lyric.  She sings torch songs exactly as the lyrics move her to such a point that the listener fully believes she is telling her own life story with every song she sings.  Rose has no desire and no intention of trying to sing like anyone else except Rose Kingsley.  No offense to the Opera, but Rose Kingsley was born to be a Cabaret singer!

Tonight's performance was exhilarating and at the same time exhausting for the audience because when Rose sang the wonderful lyrics of every ones' favorite songs she brought their stories to life convincing the audience that they had never really heard these songs before.  It was simply musical magic!  How great to hear and understand all the passionate words of such great songs.  Her rendition of "Where Do You Start" moved everyone in the audience.  Her opening song "Here's To Life" was perfect to set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Rose was supported tonight by a strong cast of musicians.  Janice Friedman was her musical director and pianist and she provided perfect support for Rose on every song.  Greg Ryan was on Bass and Willard Dyson was on Drums.  I have a strong feeling that I witnessed the birth of a New York City Cabaret star tonight! 

I have attached a "Youtube" video of Rose's performance at Cafe Noctambulo at Pangea.

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...