Sunday, April 24, 2016

Steve Madaio Makes His First Appearance at Backstreet This Season

Jazz fans in the Valley were delighted that the brilliant Trumpet player Steve Madaio finally was able to perform again at Backstreet Bistro on Tuesday,  April 13.   Steve has had a rough winter, first recovering from a pretty serious illness and then losing his beloved father last week.  All his fans are so happy his health has returned to top-form and also want to wish Steve their condolences for the loss of his Dad.

Tonight Steve gathered two of the most important and professional players in the Desert, Pat Tuzzolino on Keyboard and Vocals and Jay Lewis on Drums.  Steve showed no sign that his recent health problems had any effect on his playing.  In fact,  his breath control and energy level were  higher than the last time I heard him play.  When it comes to music, Steve can do it all.  From tender ballads to straight-out Jazz, Steve makes the musical transitions effortless and is comfortable with both.  

Pat Tuzzolino has always been one of my favorite Jazz performers because he is so original in his approach to music.  Pat's approach to music has always been related to what he feels inside about a song and its lyrics.  His vocals are superb!  His phrasing and timing are a pleasure to listen to, because of his own interpretation of the composer's lyrical message.  I never miss a chance to hear him.

I have written about Jay Lewis many times in my blog and with good reason.  Jay is one of the best Drummers playing today.  He never overwhelms the members of the group, he never falters in putting down a solid Drum line and contributes wonderful Drum solos when called upon.

I have attached a "Youtube" of Steve, Pat and Jay playing the Jazz standard, "Killer Joe" and know you will enjoy it.  I also couldn't help attach a second "Youtube" of Steve playing "Europa", a song that has almost become his Musical trademark.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

CD Review: "Sarah King and The Smoke Rings"

The "Smoke Rings" are a relatively new Jazz group that revives the elegance and charm of the Swing Era.  This group features the unique singing of Sarah King and covers songs from the heart of the "Great American Songbook".  For the past several years, the group has been performing weekly in "The Boom Boom Room" on the top floor of New York's Standard Hotel to rave reviews.  This group is nothing like your standard Jazz group.  They specialize in bringing back the delicious and magical sounds of old recordings of great standards.  If you are under 50 years of age, this CD may be a new interest for you.  But for those of us who grew up listening to the great sounds and songs of the 30's and 40's, I think this CD will quickly become on of your favorites.

The members of this group, Sarah King on Vocals and Ukulele, Alex Levin on Piano, Scott Ritchie on Bass and Ben Cliness on Drums are all relatively young and they sound wonderful together, far beyond their ages.

Sarah King has a wonderful voice and she handles lyrics as perfectly as any seasoned singer with sensitivity and understanding of these great standards.  Along with her three talented sidemen, they produce a wonderful rebirth to these song gems of yesterday and makes them fresh and new again.

1. "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing:
2. "Tea For Two"
3. "Jersey Bounce"
4. "I Won't Dance"
5. "Smoke Rings"
6. "Caravan"
7. "Some Other Spring"
8. "Love Is Here To Stay"
9. "I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)"
10."Up The Lazy River"

For your listening pleasure, I have attached a "YouTube" video of Sarah King and The Smoke Rings singing "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" composed by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills.  I bet it brings a simile to your face!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Trish Hatley & Barney McClure Making Great Music on Mondays at Woody's in Palm Springs, CA

Trish Hatley and Barney McClure have been holding down the Monday spot at Woody's Beer and Berger in Palm Springs, CA for a long time.  Once you hear the musical magic they create every Monday it is easy to understand why they remain so popular.  Even in April when a lot of visitors leave the desert, there are few, if any,  open seats for their show. 

Ever since I first saw them perform at Woody's,  I have been a fan.  Seeing them again on April 4th,  I was again impressed with the way they have musically grown together.  Knowing both of these musicians might lead you to believe that they wouldn't musically fit.....not true.  

Trish Hatley has a strong, beautiful voice and an original style that allows her to present lyrics that immediately impact the listener.  She has the ability to sing beautiful ballads and, yet,  can swing with the best of singers on the scene today.  Her phrasing is always perfect,  and it is her own and that's what makes her special.  Together with being a vocal perfectionist Trish also adds some comedy into her performance.  The interaction between her and Barney is very good and very entertaining.  These two handle the back and forth like the experienced pros they are.

Barney McClure arrived on the Desert music scene several years ago and he has quickly become a favorite performer.  Barney's approach to Jazz piano is terrific but unusual.  Barney is self- taught for the most part, and, therefore, he plays with more freedom to experiment that most other Jazz pianists.  Because Trish is such a seasoned vocalist, she has the ability to blend into Barney's unpredictable directions, and this results in marvelous music.

If you have not had the pleasure of hearing Trish and Barney, I have attached two "YouTubes" so you can experience their performance.  Trish Hatley and Barney McClure will continue to appear at Woody's until the end of June.   

Friday, April 8, 2016

Tenor Sax Great, Don Menza Helps Close a Highly Successful Jazz Concert Series at Pete Carlson's Golf & Tennis Shop

Don Menza, Chris Connor & Dick Weller

Friday night, April 1, the great Tenor Sax player, Don Menza performed to the delight of a capacity crowd at Pete Carlson's Golf and Tennis store in Palm Desert, CA.  Menza's performance marked the last weekend of wonderful Jazz that was part of the Jazz Lovers Series.  Under the guidance and financial support of Pete Carlson, over 40 different Musician groups have performed live Jazz concerts in his store.

Don Menza is a living Tenor legend having played with many of the great Jazz stars over the past 40 years including many years with the Buddy Rich Band.  His reputation brought out many of the current top performing musicians to Pete Carlson's tonight to hear him. I wish some of the younger Tenor Jazz players could have been here tonight to hear how a great Jazz Tenor plays and sounds.  It turns out that Don's favorite Tenor player growing up was the great Stan Getz and tonight's program consisted of a tribute to the music of Stan Getz.  In addition to some outstanding playing, Don entertained the audience with many personal stories about Getz.  Many in the audience knew Don and their response to his solos proved that he is still very much loved by his fans.

Don brought together some talented musicians tonight including his long-time trumpter and playing partner, Don Rader.  Crowd favorite, Chris Conner was on Bass, Dick Weller on Drums, and an outstanding piano player named Theo Saunders.  Together, this group created magic tonight!

I was able to take a video of one of the band's numbers that I think you will enjoy!  If you didn't catch any of the Jazz at Pete Carlson, you missed a lot of close-up great music, all at a minimal cost.  I will try to notify everyone as soon as I get a copy of next season's Jazz performances. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Yve Evans Makes a Spectacular Return to Backstreet Bistro

Yve Evans gave her first Backstreet Bistro performance of the winter season to the delight of her fans and friends who packed into Backstreet's outside patio Tuesday night.  Yve recently had a medical procedure that delayed her performance schedule but you would never know it when you listened to her play and sing.  I have written about Yve many times on this blog and honestly it's difficult to come up with words that describe what a brilliant, talented and unique musician she is.  I will just say that Yve is special, very special.

Yve has a  pure, strong voice that can be as sweet as silky honey,  and, yet, she can sing the Blues as good as anyone.  Her phrasing is dead-on perfect, absolutely as good as Sinatra, Ella and Sarah but she copies no one.  Yve has a beautiful, unique singing style that is all her own and that's what makes Yve so loved by her legions of fans.

As much as I enjoy Yve's singing, I also believe that she is one of the best keyboard players today, playing great standards and Blues from the "Great American Songbook".  And if singing and playing brilliantly is not enough to convince you of her world-class musical talents, Yve also sprinkles some of the funniest comedy around her lyrics and music!

Yve has been performing in the Desert for over 20 years, and she truly is a musical gift to any music lover.  It's so great to have Yve back performing again, and we all wish her a lifetime of good health.

I am very excited to attach two "YouTube" videos I was able to capture at Tuesday night's performance for you to hear and see Yve's wonderful singing and playing at a live performance.  The first one is a remarkable performance of "With These Hands" that I think is stunningly good.  The second is a performance of the Blues evergreen "Stormy Monday" that Yve captures and makes it her own.

Tonight Yve was supported beautifully by two of the best and most popular musicians in the Southern California area;  Bill Saitta on Bass and Jay Lewis on Drums.


Friday, April 1, 2016

CD Review: Hillary Kole, "The Judy Garland Project"

Hillary Kole had an interruption of her recording career for a few years but is now recording and  singing better than ever.  As a vocalist,  she has a strong, clear sensitive voice and when combined with her astute understanding of lyrics puts her in the top class of female vocalists performing today.  The songs Hillary recorded in this new CD are classic Judy Garland signature songs that we all will remember.  However, as is true for most of the treasured songs out of the "Great American Songs Book",  Hillary has managed to breath new life into each of the 15 tracks on this CD, and has made these songs new again.

This CD was produced by Richard Barone, engineered by Lou Holtzman and Mastered by Roger Lian Mastering.  I am mentioning this group along with Hillary Kole because together they did a perfectly magnificent job producing this CD.  These guys are good!

The supporting cast of musicians on this CD are also as good as it gets!  Pianist John Martino, Bassist Paul Gill, and Drummer Aaron Kimmel, Sax Joel Frahm.  The Strings are beautiful and if Sinatra was still around, he would be chasing them to record with him.  Violinists, Christiana Liberis and Juliette Jones; Viola, Stephanie Matthews and Cello, Reenat Pinchas.

The music world is now a better place with Hillary Kole recording again!  Take a look at these wonderful songs she has recorded!

Hillary headlines at the Iridium Club in NYC on April 26 which would be a great show to attend if you are in the area.

1. "Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart"
2. "The Boy Next Door"
3. "Just In Time"
4. "You Made Me Love You"
5. "Stomping' at the Savoy"
6. "The Man That Got Away"
7. "A Cottage For Sale"
8. "I Wish I Were In Love Again"
9. "Look For The Silver Lining"
10. "The Trolley Song"
11. "Get Happy"
12. "Embraceable You"
13. "As Long As He Needs Me"
14. "It Never Was You"
15. "Over The Rainbow"     

I have attached two "YouTube" videos for you to watch, and I know you will be blown away by both.  The first one is Hillary Kole singing "The Trolley Song" and the second one is the Arlen and Harburg gem "Over the Rainbow" written for the film "The Wizard of Oz".  I know we have all heard vocalists singing "Over The Rainbow" but for me, Hillary's performance of this song is so outstanding that I just had to share it with you.

CD Review: John Vanore, "Primary Colors"

Trumpeter, Composer, Producer, Educator and Bandleader John Vanore has just released a long-forgotten studio recording of a duet he reco...