Wednesday, April 29, 2015

CD Review: Michael Dees, "The Dream I Dreamed"



I just received and listened to the new Michael Dees CD, "The Dream I Dreamed".  I don't think I can express in words how musically great this CD is, but I am going to try.  Michael Dees has been writing and performing music on the West Coast for many years but mostly behind the scenes. His many musical accomplishments date back to the 60's when he was featured several times on "The Steve Allen Show".  As most Jazz lovers know, Steve Allen was a big-time lover and performer of Jazz and once he heard Michael sing, he instantly recognized Michael's musical talents. In 1968 Michael was voted the "Best New Male Singer" at the International Popular Song Festival in Rio de Janeiro.  It was in Rio that he met Elmer Bernstein who asked Michael to record the song "A Walk In the Spring Rain" for the soundtrack of the movie of the same name.  Michael next recorded two albums for Capital Records including "Talk To Me Baby' that featured several Alan and Marilyn Bergman songs.  The Bergmans liked his work so much, they asked him to sing their block-buster song, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life" for the soundtrack of the movie "Happy Ending".

In the 70's Michael began a long career as a studio singer, performing in over 100 television and movie tracks.  In 1995 he recorded songs on the soundtrack for Harrison Ford's remake of the movie "Sabrina".  More recently Michael was asked by HBO to be the singing voice of Frank Sinatra in HBO's "The Rat Pack".  Over the past 30 years, Michael has sung, written and produced hundreds of commercial "jingles" for radio and television.

Two years ago, Michael moved from the LA area to Palm Springs and a few lucky music lovers have been fortunate to hear Michael sing in a couple local Jazz clubs. I first heard about Michael when my friend and fabulous Bass player, Larry Holloway told me he was playing for a great new singer who I had to hear.  I did go to hear Michael, and I became a fan after the first song he sang.

And that brings us to his new CD, "The Dream I Dreamed" due to be released on May 12th, 2015.  Multi-talented Michael Dees wrote all 14 songs on the CD, and his compositions are nothing short of brilliant.  Michael writes in the finest tradition of the "Great American Songbook".  His melodies are powerful and his lyrics are alive and full of passion.  If Sinatra were alive today, I am positive he would have wanted to record several of the songs on this CD.  Michael Dees' compositions are alive and current and tell believable stories that instantly relate to the listener. Young singers today would do well to record some of Michael's tunes; songwriting doesn't get any better than this!

Michael's voice's has deep velvet tones, and, yet, great force when the music calls for it.  I believe his best vocal talents are his wonderful phrasing, very much Sinatra-like, and his skill in vocally telling a story with the lyrics that instantly connects with the listener.  These qualities have been captured by very few singers.  Michael Dees is one of these singers!

The last part of this wonderful CD belongs to the marvelous supporting musicians Michael has captured for this CD. They all fit Michael's voice and style and melt seamlessly together. They make the final product just about as good as it can get.

This Cd deserves consideration for a "Grammy" in several categories; Best Jazz Vocal CD, Best Popular Songwriting and Best Male Vocal of the Year.

       Musicians:
Michael Dees: Vocals, Compositions, and Arrangements
Terry Trotter: Piano
Chuck Berghofer: Bass
Steve Schaeffer:Drums
Steve Huffsteter: Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Chuck Manning: Tenor Sax
Sal Marquez: Trumpet
Bob Sheppard: Tenor Sax, Clarinet
Doug Webb: Tenor Sax
Don Williams: Percussion

                                               Playlist:
1. "In A Moment"                                            2. "Look At Me"
3. "A Kiss"                                                       4. "I Miss You"
5. "So Crazy For You"                                     6. "I'm Home"
7. "Back In New Orleans"                               8. "I Stay"
9. "A Long Time Comin"                               10. "Every Time You Touch Me"
11. "Am I Supposed To Care"                        12. "Where Love Goes"
13. "Truly Love"                                             14. "The Dream I Dreamed"

For you're listening enjoyment, I have attached a "YouTube" of Michael Dees singing "What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life" from the 1969 soundtrack of the movie "Happy Ending".


    

Friday, April 24, 2015

CD Review: Joanne Tatham: "Out Of My Dreams"


Gifted singer Joanne Tatham has published her third CD, "Out of My Dreams" and it's terrific!  Joanne has a beautiful, clear voice that she uses in a wonderful way to put life into the lyrics of the songs she selected for this CD.  The songs she selected cover a great musical territory and would be a challenge for even the most experienced singer but Joanne believe's it's worth the risks and it turns out she was right.  In putting this CD together,  Joanne gathered some of the most sought-after musicians in the business today featuring John Clayton, Tamir Hendelman, Peter Erskine and Bob Sheppard.  She also convinced gifted Jazz singer and Songwriter Mark Winkler to produce her CD.  With a supporting cast like this, Joanne's beautiful voice and sense of tempo and eleven handpicked great songs, I was not surprised at the high quality of this CD. This CD and Joanne's two other CDs are available on Amazon,  iTunes, and CDBaby.

           PLAYLISTS
1. "You Taught My Heart To Sing"                          2. "Without Him"
3. "Devil May Care"                                                  4. "Vivo Sonhando"
5. "Cool"                                                                     6. "Double Life"
7. "Detour Ahead"                                                     8. "Too Long In LA"
9. "You're Sensational"                                             10. "In A Lonely Place'
11. "Out Of My Dreams"

           Artist Credits:


Joanne Tatham: Vocals and Background Vocals, Lyrics on #6, Arrangement on #9

Tamir Hendelman: Piano and Arrangements on  #1,5,6,7,10

Jamieson Trotter: Piano and Arrangements on #2,8 Piano only #3,4,11

Peter Erskine: Drums on #2,5,7,10

Bob Sheppard: Sax on #1,10

Lyman Medeiros: Bass on #2,3,4,8,11

Mike Shapiro: Drums and Percussion on 2,3,4,6,8,11

Marcel Camargo: Guitar on #2,4,9

Eli Brueggemann: Arrangements on #3,4

Mark Winkler: Producer

I found a "YouTube" video of Joanne singing "Devil May Care" performed live at Feinstein's at Loews Regency in NYC on 11/14/2011.  Eli Brueggemann on Piano, Steve Doyle on Bass, Steve Harkness on Guitar and Valerie Naranjo on Percussion.





Sunday, April 19, 2015

CD Review: Robert Kennedy Trio, "Big Shoes"


"Big Shoes" is organist Robert Kennedy's first release as a leader of a Jazz trio.  Normally,  Jazz Organ is not my favorite Jazz instrument but multi-talented Robert Kennedy has caused me to re-think my feelings.  Robert plays a Hammond B-3 Organ as good as anyone I have heard and his compositions and arrangements for this CD put the musical product in a better and different place.   Much of Robert's compositions are a response to life experiences and the writing and arrangements are remarkably good.  Sometimes when I hear an Organ playing with a Jazz group, it seems to me that the Organ overshadows the rest of the players.  Not so in this CD, as the two musicians that support Robert retain their own voices and the three principals blend perfectly together.

Mason Tazavi performs wonderful Guitar and Cody Rhodes brings the three together with his perfect timekeeping and energy.

Even though all the songs on this CD are newly composed by Robert Kennedy, they all seem very comfortable for the listener.  The CD was released on March 24, 2015 and is available at all retailers, it's a fine Jazz CD.

          PLAYLIST
1. "Long Strides"
2. "Pleasant Company Expected"
3. "Root Bound"
4. "Radio Blues"
5. "Upper Market"
6. "Big Shoes"
7. "Never Speak Your Name"
8. "Love and Youth and Spring"
9 "Lambadame"


  

Friday, April 17, 2015

Super-Star Drummer Jay Lewis leads a group of exceptional musicians at Backstreet Bistro








Last Tuesday night April 14 was another wonderful night of Jazz at Backstreet Bistro.  Jay Lewis assumed leadership of the band for Bill Saitta who is off working and partying in the "Big Easy".  Jay invited Tom Keenlyside, Blake White and Pat Tuzzolino to join the fun.  Jay Lewis is one of the most respected musicians playing in the Desert, and I know this is true because every musician I talk to tells me he is on their list of top Drummers.  In addition to his wonderful Drumming talents, Jay is a truly wonderful person.  No flash or ego,  he just gets in front of his Drums and makes wonderful things happen.  If you love intelligent, swinging Jazz Drumming, don't ever miss a chance to hear him.

Tom Keenlyside, the talented Canadian Sax and Flute player has only been in the Desert for a few years but, he has already become a Jazz household name here.  Tom plays the greatest Flute I have been privileged to hear and his Sax playing is top rate.  Tonight, Tom also proved he is also quite the singer, performing several tunes with the band. What's also great about Tom is that his whole life is focused on music and not just playing it.  Tom composes, records in his own music studio, arranges and tours with the best groups in the business when he has any free time.  He is a true professional and brings no agenda with him.  He always has time to help other musicians with suggestions and direction expecting nothing more than a thank you!  I understand that Tom will be back at Backstreet next Tuesday, so make your plans to be there.  The opportunity for Jazz lovers to get up-close to a talented performer like Tom are rare, so don't miss any chance you get to hear him.

On Bass tonight was the young and talented Blake White.  I have heard Blake a few times over the past few years and in my opinion he is now playing as good as I have ever heard him.  His solos are new and crisp and original.  Blake has obviously has been working hard to lift the level of his Bass playing and the results are terrific.

The last member of the group tonight was Pat Tuzzolino.  I found Pat a few years ago and became an instant fan.  Pat played wonderful guitar tonight, and also sang several songs.  Multi-talented Pat also plays keyboard and Bass.  But in my opinion, Pat's real brilliance is in his singing.  Pat sings Jazz standards in his own unique way,  and he provides his own arrangements that are outstanding and can turn an old classic "Chestnut" into something new and beautiful.  It always surprises me that so many Jazz fans in the Valley are not familiar with Pat because he is without a doubt one of the most talented musicians you will ever hear.  I know this is a bold statement but I believe it is true.  Pat plays in the bar area at Castelli's Restaurant in Palm Desert on Wednesday through Saturday.  Never miss a chance to hear him.

I found a "YouTube" of Pat singing "Yellow Days" at Vitello's on 7/29/13.  He is joined by Larry Koonse on Guitar and Dan Williams on Drums.  This video will give you a good idea of the remarkable musical talents of Pat Tuzzolino.


   

Saturday, April 4, 2015

CD Review: The Susan Krebs Chamber Band "Simple Gifts"


"Simple Gifts" is a new CD released this month by The Susan Krebs Chamber Band.  When I received my review copy of this CD, my first thought was "what's Jazz got to do with Chamber music?".  It turns out that Jazz and Chamber music fit perfectly together especially when Susan Krebs is leading the direction of the music.  

Chamber Music is defined as "music composed for small instrumental ensembles and performed with a conductor.  Traditionally intended for performance in a room or reception hall, often solely for the performers' own pleasure."  The Susan Krebs Chamber Band takes the classic Chamber music concept, infuses wonderful modern day musical thinking and performing and suddenly it becomes a new Jazz paradigm.

The songs on this CD have been around for a while, but I would bet that when you listen to them they will feel fresh and brand new.  The selection of supporting instruments is unusual, but the sound that this amazing group of musicians produce is pleasing to the ears!  The idea for "Simple Gifts" came out of music salons hosted by Vocalist Susan Krebs at her home.  Susan calls these salons "ThemeScenes" in which she and a small group of her friends who just happen to be some of the finest Jazz musicians in Southern California get together to explore various motifs through wide-ranging music, poetry and spoken word.

Supporting Susan's wonderful Vocals on this CD are:

Rich Eames, Piano
Rob Lockart, Woodwinds
Scott Breadman, Percussion
Paul Cartwright, Violin/Viola

I can only describe the music on this CD as fresh and beautiful.  Susan Krebs has a glorious voice and the musical performance from Eames, Lockart, Breadman and Cartwright produces sounds that are heavenly!  Paul Cartwright's contribution with Violin and Viola is terrific!

               Playlist
1. "Let's Call A Heart A Heart"
2. "Looking Back"
3. "So Many Stars"
4. "Once Upon A Summertime"
5. "Falling Grace"
6. "Throw It Away"
7.  "For All We Know"
8.  "Simple Gifts"

I am excited to attach a "YouTube" video of The Susan Krebs Chamber Band playing "Let's Call A Heart A Heart".  This tune was originally recorded by Billie Holiday.  Enjoy!



CD Review: Shirley Crabbe, "Bridges"

Vocalist Shirley Crabbe is a marvelous Jazz singer who makes singing seem effortless.  Her interpretation of Lyric and her beautiful ...