Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jerry Vivino Quartet Swings At The Shanghai Jazz Restaurant In Madison, NJ

The Shanghai Jazz Restaurant
Jerry Vivino

The Jerry Vivino Quartet

Ken Levinsky

James Wormworth

John Arbo
David Niu Proprietor of Shanghai Jazz

On Friday, November 4, I had my first opportunity to visit Shanghai Jazz Restaurant in Madison, NJ . The only thing I knew about Shanghai Jazz was that there is always a lot of great Jazz performers appearing there on a regular basis. I read that tenor sax player Jerry Vivino was performing Friday night and I had heard some good things about Jerry from other players that I respect.  When I arrived at Shanghai I was greeted and seated by one of the owners, Martha Chang and soon met her partner and husband, David Niu.  Martha and David really know what it takes to run an excellent restaurant.  Their focus along with their excellent wait staff is totally on the customer. This kind of attention to service is rarely found in many restaurants and it is even more rare in Jazz clubs. We then experienced an outstanding gourmet Asian cuisine dinner beautifully prepared. My blog is dedicated to doing music reviews and not food reviews but I have made an exception in this posting due to the excellent food.  Few restaurants can match the quality of their service or their food especially Jazz clubs that are know more for their music programs than their food.  Shanghai Jazz has live Jazz 6 nights a week, Tuesday through Sunday with no cover charge. It's absolutely worth going there not only for the Jazz but for the great food and service.

Jerry Vivino and his quartet was the group I came to see.  Jerry born in Paterson, NJ has always been interested in all types of music but Jazz has always been his sweet spot.  His favorites cover a lot of ground from Elton John, Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Jimi Hendrix and especially Stan Getz. Through tonight's performance, I heard sound influences from many of these greats. In addition to great sax sounds, the audience was also treated to some soulful singing from Jerry and also from his talented bass player,  John Arbo. Jerry's resume is very impressive including a tour with Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons back in 1979. He also has done show work with Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Keely Smith, James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Dr. John and Wynton Marsalis. More recently, Jerry played with the Max Weinberg 7 and was in the studio band for Late Night With Conan O'Brien.  Jerry has also played for many Broadway shows including Annie, A Chorus Line, Cats and Starlight Express just to name a few.

Tonight was a special experience that included a professionally-run restaurant, outstanding gourmet Asian food and great Jazz music from Jerry Vivino and his talented quartet.  I will return!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Music Man Blog Celebrates It's Second Birthday

It's hard to believe that I have been publishing the "Music Man Blog" for two years. Time has a way of traveling at the speed of light when you are doing something you really love.  My first posting was on 9/27/09 and during the first year I posted 46 articles.  During the second year, I posted 63 articles.  The number of visitors that viewed the blog in its second year has exploded from total pageviews of 1,166 in its first year to 18,143 pageviews in its second full year.  In addition, we continued to pick up visitors from many different countries.  I listed the top 10 pageviews by country below:
Pageviews By The Top 10 Countries
1. United States                                 12,802          
2. Russia                                                 534
3. Germany                                             482
4. United Kingdom                                  436
5. South Korea                                        408
6. Canada                                                249
7. China                                                   206
8. Ukraine                                                202
9. Netherlands                                         176
10. Iran                                                    164                            
Total All Time Pageviews         18,354

It was very satisfying to experience the explosive growth of viewers during my second full year of writing the Music Man Blog. While it is fun writing about music and performers that I love, it is nice to know that there are others out there that also enjoy music as much as I do.  I think 18,354 pageviews shows that there are a lot of people who love great singers, jazz and songs from the Great American Songbook.  Last year we reviewed a lot of "live" shows that helped to support some of these great performers gain some new listeners for their music. I am so happy to be able to contribute to the continued recognition and the growth of their audience. I hope to continue putting a spotlight on these wonderful performers in the next year. Last year also marked the first time that Music Man Blog was selected to do a pre-release review of a major CD, "The Three Kings" by the Outstanding Jeff Golub Band featuring Henry Butler. What a thrill that my first  pre-release review would be for a mega-star performance by Jeff Golub, his band and Henry Butler.

Highest Month For Pageviews

Last year the highest month for pageviews was September 2010 with 575 pageviews.  This past year, I am delighted to announce that our highest month was May 2011 with 2,172 pageviews.

National Ranking From Technorati

Technorati is the leading organization that tracks the level of activity for Blogs across the world.  Music Man Blog is now ranked number 99,062 out of 1,280,597 blogs that they track.  This puts Music Man Blog in the top 8% of all active blogs after two years of publishing.

Many thanks to all viewers of the Music Man Blog and also to all those readers who have shared their comments with me over the past year. I had the opportunity to hear and get to know some outstanding performers last year and hope to meet many more this year.  My blog is dedicated to supporting musicians and live-music performances. I am looking forward to starting my third year of publishing and will be trying to make the blog even more interesting for music lovers all over the world.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hail, Hail Rock & Roll From The Max Weinberg 7+

Max Weinberg

Joe Delia and The Thieves

Joe Delia

Bill Champlin

Mindi Abair

Steve Madaio

Mindi Abair and Tom Saviano

Carmen Grillo

Bill Champlin, Mindi Abair, Tom Saviano & Steve Madaio
The Max Weinberg 7+

The Max Weinberg 7+ Rock & Roll Band rolled into the birth place of Count Basie, Red Bank, NJ on Thursday night October 28, 2011.  The concert started with a performance by Joe Delia and the Thieves, a rock and roll band out of the 60's and 70's that would make any "Stones" fan happy. The band played some familiar rock and roll songs and also a few songs they had written.  On a cold and rainy night, they were just what was needed to warm up the audience for the main event, The Max Weinberg 7+.
Max Weinberg has a long and impressive resume' and a love for all kinds of music even though his main credits come from being the drummer for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for over 25 years. Max also received rave reviews for musical direction for Conan O'Brien on "The Tonight Show".  Max stills joins Springsteen for special gigs and was featured in the 2009 Super Bowl XLIII from Tampa, Florida which happened to be the largest TV audience in Super Bowl history (Over 105,000,000). He also played with Bruce for the 25th Anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that was an HBO special.
Max started this tour back in the summer on the West Coast, He put together some of the best musicians in the country that produced outstanding musical results. Max teamed with  singer and keyboard artist Bill Champlin. You will probably recognize Bill from his picture above because of his 28 years of work as the keyboardist/vocalist/songwriting contributions for the world renowned rock group "Chicago". Personally, I thought his vocal and musical performance this night were superb especially his singing on his jazzy arangement of "Turn Your Love Around", a hit song Bill wrote for George Benson.  He also ended the show playing acoustic guitar in an emotional and soft version of the "Chicago" hit "Look Away" which he sang originally.

Mindy Abair was as exciting as always. As one of the greatest jazz sax players in American, she still is always fresh and creative and alive!  Every time I see her perform she gives the impression that she is really having fun and loves to interact with the other musicians on the stage. Tonight, she traded several riffs with Tom Saviano that were simply wonderful!

Steve Madaio, the great Trumpet player from Palm Springs provided some absolutely great work for the band on many up-tempo rock and roll songs, He also performed a crowd pleasing soft & emotional solo introduction to a lessor known Springsteen tune, "The Fever". Steve never fails to impress. His resume' is unbelievable including making over 100 million selling CD's, touring with the Rolling Stones in Europe and recording and arranging with Stevie Wonder on many of Stevie's best selling CD's. It's no wonder that he is the "Trumpet" of choice for the greats of the music world.

Other highlights of the show included some wonderful guitar work from Carmen Grillo and his playing and vocals on the Wilson Pickett song "634-5789".  Bill Champlin's son Will was impressive playing the keyboard and with his vocal "Deep In The Heart of Texas". Seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

All and all, a great night of Rock & Roll music.

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