Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CD Pre-Release Review: "Jason Lee Bruns Jazz Collection"

Jason Lee Bruns
The Jason Lee Bruns Jazz Collection is an 8-piece group based in Los Angles, CA that was founded and led by Ohio-born Percussionist, Drummer and Composer Jason Lee Bruns. It is not often that you can find a band that has a Drummer as its leader, but that's what this CD is all about. What do Drummers think about when they provide the rhythmic foundation for the bands they support?  My guess is they think about different beats and sounds and their own unique arrangements  that they feel would do more justice to the songs they are performing. But does anyone ever stop and ask a drummer how he would approach the tempo or the arrangement of a song? Probably not;  well maybe Paul McCartney because he loves experimenting with sounds and let's not forget, Paul is a major class drummer also!

Well along comes Jason Lee Bruns, a Drummer's Drummer who gets to call his own shots and comes up with tempos, sounds and arrangements that appeal to him. But Jason Lee Bruns is not just on a musical ego trip here. For his CD he gathered 7 outstanding players to support him in this effort.  The results are spectacular, providing the listener with fresh, new sounds and rhythms that bring new life into some evergreens that might need some refreshing.  The new writing and arranging on this CD are wonderful. Jason wrote 5 arrangements for the 9 songs on the CD.  He also composed two of the songs.

This CD cooks and any Jazz buff will love every song.  My favorites included the classic Johnny Mercer tune, "Autumn Leaves" which is played seriously upbeat with a knockout arrangement produced by Jason. Kevin Bachelder does the vocals which includes great scatting that works perfectly with the backing of the group. Kevin also had a hand in my second favorite on the CD, "Send In The Clowns".  Kevin did the vocal and also the great arrangement of this Sondheim gem. Unlike Sinatra's version, that was then and this arrangement and tempo are now. This arrangement should be released as a single, it is really fabulous! K. Richmond did the arrangement for "Speak Low" which is worth listening to also.

The wonderful group of supporting musicians on this CD are listed below:

Jason Lee Bruns, Drums, Pandeiro, arrangements, producer
Mahesh Balasooriya, Piano
Edwin Livingston, Upright Bass
Angelo Metz, Guitar, Portuguese vocals, scat, cuica
Kevin Bachelder, English vocals, scat, arrangements
Kim Richmond, Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, arrangements
Jason Gamer, Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Jacquez Voyemant, Trombone

This CD was recorded live at the Catalina Jazz Club on Sunset Strip in Hollywood, CA.  The CD has a street release date of  September 24 2013.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"The On The Lam Band" Rocks in Franklin Lakes

Jim Bashian, Gary Malajian, Linda Araz Berenson, Dennis Walker, Mark Friedman, Paul Shahinian 
Jim Bashian
Paul Shahinian & Gary Malajian
Dennis Walker
Gary Malajian

Mark Friedman & Paul Shahinian

Gary Malajian & Linda Araz Berenson

On Sunday September 15, I was invited to a friend's house for a "Tailgate" party, and when I arrived I was happy to see that a band was setting up to perform.  The name of the band was "The On The Lam Band" and its made up of local musicians who live in Northern New Jersey in or near the Franklin Lakes area. The band does a terrific job playing country rock and old fashion rock'n Blues. Every player in this band loves to make music and perform and the result is that the audience is quickly captured with their sound.

Paul Shahinian plays lead Guitar and is very comfortable carrying the lead on many of the classic Blues songs the band performs.  Paul is an excellent blues Guitar player!  Jim Bashian is the backbone of the band on Keyboard, and he also has a fine Blues voice that's perfect for the songs the band played. Dennis Walker on Drums and Gary Malajian on Bass provided just the right rhythm line for the rest of the band. What really makes this band really special is its singer, Linda Berenson.  Linda has a great country rock voice that reminds me of some of the greats of country rock music. Putting all these talented musicians into the same band produces music that is just plain fun for any listener.  It's a fun band!

"The On The Lam Band" plays around Northern New Jersey and in New York.  Their next gig will be at the The '76 House, 110 Main Street, Tappan, NY on October 5th.  They will also be performing at "Blue Moon" in Wyckoff, NJ on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This band has a large following, and I strongly suggest that if you want to see them, you make a reservation in advance.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The 10 Best-Selling Vinyl Albums of 2012 in America

I have written previous articles about the growing popularity of Vinyl albums.  In the September 8, Sunday issue of the "New York Times Magazine" there was a listing of "The 10 Best Selling Vinyl Albums of 2012 in America" and I thought I would share it with you.

1. Jack White "Blunderbuss"

2. The Beatles "Abbey Road"

3. Mumford & Sons "Babel"

4. The Black Keys "El Camino"

5. Mumford & Sons "Sigh No More"

6. Beach House "Bloom"

7. Bon Iver "For Emma Forever Ago"

8. Alabama Shakes "Boys and Girls"

9. Adele "21"

10. Bon Iver "Bon Iver 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: Paul Anka's Autobiography "My Way"

I grew up with Paul Anka, and he has always remained one of my favorite performers.  Paul has re-cycled himself more times than I can remember, each time emerging as a more clever and astute singer/composer and performer. I never knew much about his personal life except that he was from Canada and had four beautiful daughters. Even though he was an extremely popular singer, he always conducted himself as a gentleman, and he was able to avoid getting in the middle of any press scandals. No small accomplishment for someone who has been in the public view for over 50 years. When most of the singers who started out in the 50's and 60's became old, they stopped performing.  Paul had the smarts to recognize major music changes during his career and made the necessary changes to become new again.

This autobiography is not just the story of Paul Anka's life and career. It is a story about the music and entertainment business of 6 decades starting in the late 50's and continuing right up to present day. Certainly for anyone who was around when Paul had his first hit, "Diana" this book covers life as you lived and observed it through these years. The focus on Vegas, Sinatra, the "Rat Pack" and the changes in the music business over the last 60 years are nothing short of fascinating! We all have our memories and perceptions of what Vegas was like in the 60's and 70's but Paul gives the reader an insider-look.

I was very surprised that Paul's writing was so frank and detailed.  If you are an Anka fan, you will flip out reading this book. Paul talks about all the rock and roll singers at the time he had his first hit and for me it was like opening a college yearbook and remembering my past. He pulls no punches and what he has written in his autobiography are the facts as Paul remembers them.

I know a lot of my readers are Sinatra fans so I know you will love the following quotes from Anka.

"I finished typing my final draft of "My Way" at five A.M. in the morning. I know Frank is at Caesars, I know he's offstage, drinking at the bar and I know he's there with Don Costa and I say, "Frank I've got something very interesting, I'm gonna bring it out. I flew to Las Vegas in August 1968 and I played it for Sinatra.  I knew Frank loved the song when I originally played it for him but he always wanted to be cool, so all he said was "That's Kooky, kid. We going in." Coming from him, you have to understand that meant he was ecstatic."

"Frank went into the studio on December 30. He knew the song so well he sang it in one take.  All the musicians were there, this huge orchestra playing live. Everybody who'd worked with him through the years was there, they all stood up and gave him a standing ovation.  I got a phone call from the studio on Sunset Boulevard and Sinatra played it to me over the phone and I started crying."

Paul Anka's autobiography is just a wonderful read and a must read for anyone that lived through the same period of time Anka did!

 I have attached a "YouTube" of young Paul singing some of his early hits.

                                                                   BOOK REVIEW
                                       The Music Man Awards This Book "4 Quarter Notes"
                                                   4 Quarter Notes= Excellent, Must Read
                                                   3 Quarter Notes= Good Read
                                                   2 Quarter Notes= Somewhat Interesting
                                                   1 Quarter Note  = Save Your Time and Money

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...