Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CD Review: "From The Heart" by Anya Malkiel

Anya Malkiel released her debut album, "From The Heart" in late August of 2013. Anya has an interesting story to tell that proves that the allure of Jazz music can capture the hearts of individuals no matter how controlled the musical environment. Now living in California, Anya grew up in Russia where at the time, Jazz was considered taboo.  The music that she heard in her house was classical, and she was given lessons in violin and piano. But her fascination was always on singing. Anya was first introduced to Jazz in St. Petersburg's only Jazz club. Once hearing the freedom that it allowed performers, Anya was hooked. From here, Anya got her hands on a bootlegged Ella Fitzgerald album and listened to it until she could visualize every vocal move Ella made. Anya went on to collect other albums of artists that she just fell in love with like Billie Holiday, Louie Armstrong and Carmen McRae and other American Jazz greats.

When Anya was able to move to the United States, the Jazz music opened up to her and she embraced it with body and soul.

On her new CD, "From The Heart", Anya has selected 10 rather diverse songs that all have a couple of things in common.  First, they are all American Jazz classics and second, Anya had a deep love for all of these great songs. So "From The Heart" contains songs that truly are part of Anya's heart. The Album starts with the classic Billie Holiday tune "Fine and Mellow" and immediately the listener can feel the emotional lesson of the lyric. It's one of the best cuts on the album. Anya brings this same emotional interpretation to the other 9 songs on this album. My favorites was: cut 4, "Lullaby of The Leaves" first sung by Ella Fitzgerald. It's always dangerous for a singer to cover a song made famous by one of the greats, but Anya handles the task by presenting her own unique interpretation to this great song. I loved the arrangement that Anya wrote for the classic "I Thought About You". Two other cuts that I thought were outstanding were "There'll Will Never Be Another You" and a great ballad, "Beautiful Love" that had a terrific arrangement by Christian Tamburr.

The supporting group of musicians Anya collected for this album fit her singing style perfectly. Randy Porter, Piano, John Whtala, Acoustic Bass, Jason Lewis, Drums, Jim Schneider, Tenor Sax & Flute, Christian Tamburr, Vibraphone. 

Congratulations to Anya for producing a great first album with her true and unique approach to the music that fills her heart.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

CD Review: "Remembering Blakey, A Tribute to Art Blakey" The Ron Aprea Sextet

My good friend and Trumpeter extraordinaire, Steve Madaio recently called me to turn me on to a new CD he had just listened to that he thought I had to hear.  The CD was "Remembering Blakey, A Tribute to Art Blakey" by The Ron Aprea Sextet. This was all I needed to peak my interest.  First, if Steve is impressed by another Jazz musician, I have to hear the player myself.  Second, when I was 16 years old and just getting into the Jazz scene, I still remember traveling from Northern NJ to New York City almost every weekend to hear Jazz at Birdland. I remember the great sounds that I heard there from Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers. Blakey was in the center of the growing musical world of "Bebop" music.  He played with many young musicians in his group over the years with an unbelievable number of these musicians became Jazz Giants. His list of alumni included the giants of Jazz: Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson, Wayne Shorter and Cannonball Adderley just to name a few. This was the music that I loved as a young teenager, and I have never lost this love.

As soon as I put the first cut on, "Flown the Coop" it was like coming home for me. Ron Aprea who grew up in the NY/NJ area has put together all the arrangements on this wonderful CD that would surely have put a smile on Art Blakey's face. Ron Aprea plays alto sax with supreme emotion and fabulous dexterity on his creative improvisations that even someone who had no knowledge of "Bebop" would admire. The tone Ron creates with his alto reminds me of the sounds from Cannonball Adderley's "The Lush Sounds of Cannonball Adderley with Strings Album". Listening to his first two cuts on this CD, I closed my eyes and was transported back to listening again to Art Blakey and some of the best "Bebop" Jazz the world has ever known. But Ron Aprea is not just about "Bebop". Ron can make his alto cry when playing slow classic ballads like "My Foolish Heart", "Lover Man" and a beautiful tune he wrote called "Sophia".  These three tunes will haunt you for days after you listen to them even one time. There is also a standard written by Gordon Jenkins that Ron just kills with an improvised solo that you will seldom hear even from the best of alto sax players.  This is not just my opinion. I have learned that Ron Aprea's "Goodbye" is being considered for a Grammy for "Best Improvised Solo" in a Jazz category. In my opinion the winner is: "Ron Aprea" by a mile. It is with great pleasure that I am attaching a YouTube of Ron playing this great cut from his CD. I hope you all feel the same after hearing this cut.

I would love to get some feedback from my readers. Ron Aprea currently lives in New York. This is a Jazz CD you need to get for your collection!

                                                          Ron Aprea Plays "Goodbye"

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Live Jazz and Great Italian Food at IL Capriccio In Whippany, NJ

Giampolo Biagi, Drums, Dean Tonanelli Piano, Karl Kaminski, Bass, and Bill Robinson, Vocals
Tony Grande, Proprietor
Salvatore Le Rose, Director of Dining Operations
Natale Grande, Head Chief
Some Happy Customers Enjoying the Food and Jazz

Last Friday, October 11, IL Capriccio Restaurant in Whippany, NJ had another Jazz night at this marvelous restaurant. IL Capriccio has Friday Jazz nights a couple of times each month, and this event is now attracting overflow crowds. In addition to IL Capriccio serving some of the best Northern Italian food you can find in New Jersey, adding live Jazz makes anyone's dining experience that much greater.  Tonight we were entertained by the Dean Tomanelli Trio along with vocalist Bill Robinson. This Trio previously performed at IL Capriccio  but  adding the great singing voice of Bill Robinson makes the music perfect. The Trio plays everyone's favorite songs from the "Great American Songbook". The group includes Giampolo Biagi on Durms, Dean Tomanelli on Piano and Karl Kaminski on Bass. Hearing live music playing great standards during dinner adds something special to your dining experience that you just can not get with pre-recorded music.

IL Capriccio has Friday night Jazz events usually twice per month.  You can get information about future events on its web site. By the way, no music charge or cover for these events, just great food and music. I highly recommend you try to attend a Jazz night at IL Capriccio at your first opportunity.

The Dean Tomanelli Trio's next gig will be at Rod's Restaurant in Convent Station on Friday October 19th.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CD Review: "Compared To What" The Redmond, Langosch and Cooley Trio

Jay Cooley, Mary Ann Redmond and Paul Langosch
Mary Ann Redmond is a highly respected singer in the Washington, DC area who has won 22 Washington-area music awards, called "Wammies". Redmond has spent most of her professional life singing Pop and R & B tunes.  While performing at one of her gigs, it turns out that Paul Langosch and Jay Cooley were in the audience and after hearing Redmond's voice, timing and phasing approached her about joining them to jam a little. This first session together and the ones that followed produced the absolutely fabulous Jazz Blues Album named after the famous Les McCann and Eddie Harris recording of the Gene McDaniels' classic song "Compared To What".

Combining Redmond's glorious voice with the deep experience of Langosch and Cooley in dealing with songs from the "Great American Songbook" resulted in one of the best new CDs of 2012. Paul Langosh has worked with many of the giants of the Jazz world including: Phil Woods, Tal Farlow, Al Cohn, Mose Allison, Johnny Hartman, Bud Shank, Zoot Sims, Karney Kessel and Herb Ellis. In addition, he was a permanent member of Tony Bennett's Trio for 20 years. You can't play bass for Tony Bennett for 20 years without being a master of songs out of the "Great American Songbook"! Jay Cooley's career has included appearances with Charlie Byrd, Phil Woods, Keter Betts, Chuck Redd, Ethel Ennis, Ernestine Anderson and Lennie Cuje. He has performed at the Kennedy Center, Blues Alley, Strathmore Hall, The National Gallery of Arts and countless Jazz festivals.

This Album is about bringing the natural brilliance of Redmond's voice and the experience of Langosch and Cooley to new and old standards from the "Great American Songbook".  The selection of songs for this Album is nothing short of outstanding.  Even though the songs cover more than a 60 year span of music, every song on this Album fits Redmond's voice and style perfectly. I assume that Langosh and Cooley helped Redmond with the selections, but I give Redmond tons of credit for taking her Blues and R & B style and transforming her sound into Jazz standards.

I can't say enough about Mary Ann Redmond's voice and style. She has brought new life into the standards she chose for this album with impeccable timing and phrasing. Just one example is her performance of the Leonard Cohen song "Dance Me To The End of Love". Prior to this Album I had only heard this song sung by its composer Leonard Cohen and thought, why do so many people go crazy about Leonard Cohen? After hearing Redmond bring life to the lyrics of this song, I no longer ask that question. It's a good lesson for song writers to consider getting great singers like Redmond to record their songs instead of self-recording.  Most times this brings out the best of the melody and the lyrics for the listener.

Take a look at the creative list of songs and composers included on this Album. Two of the songs were composed by Redmond, "Love Me Anyway" and "Storm is Coming".

1. "Come Rain or Come Shine", Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer
2. "Dance Me To The End Of Love", Leonard Cohen
3. "Compared To What", Gene McDaniels
4. "Storm Is Coming", Mary Ann Redmond
5. "Never Make Your Move Too Soon", Nesbert "stix" Hooper and Will Jennings
6. "Creepin", Stevie Wonder
7. "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good", Duke Ellington & Paul Francis Webster
8. "Coyote", Joni Mitchell
9. "Ain't That Peculiar", Smokey Robinson, Ronald White, Pete Moore & Mary Tarplin
10. "What'll I Do", Irving Berlin
11. "Fool on the Hill", Lennon & McCartney
12. "Love Me Anyway", Mary Ann Redmond & Todd Wright

Mary Ann Redmond: Voice/Guitar
Paul Langosch: Bass
Jay Cooley: Keys

Special Guests: Dave Mattacks, Drums, Dan Hovey, Guitar, and Bruce Swaim, Tenor Sax  

Friday, October 4, 2013

CD Review: "Duke at the Roadhouse Live in Santa Fe" with Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway

Roger Kellaway

Eddie Daniels

Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway are each true major league Jazz masters in their own right, but when you record the two together, it produces musical magic!  "Duke at the Roadhouse Live in Santa Fe" is their third CD duet and it's as good as Jazz can get. These two brilliant musicians have selected five of Ellington's most recognized compositions and two more that are closely associated with the "Duke".  Daniels and Kellaway each contributed one original song for this CD that were dedicated to Duke.  Trying to reduce orchestral works into a duo format is most difficult in itself but then Daniels and Kellaway added a third voice into the mix on four pieces, Cellist James Holland.

This album was recorded live at the benefit concert in New Mexico for a group called "Santa Fe Center for Therapeutic Riding" which utilizes horses to help young people with disabilities. Daniels focuses primarily on the clarinet but also utilizes the sweet sounds of his Tenor perfectly. Roger Kellaway's piano work on this CD is simply brilliant! The virtuosity of both Daniels and Kellaway is simply astonishing and the listener can sense that the members of the audience lucky enough to attend this concert were held captive by the music of Ellington as performed by these two Jazz giants.

This CD was released a few months ago in June of 2013, and I never got a chance to do a review but this CD has kept calling me and I needed to share it with my readers. This CD presents a marvelous Jazz interpretation of the genius of the writing of Duke Ellington that offers the listener a new understanding of the brilliance of his composing.

Roger Kellaway- Piano

Eddie Daniels- Clarinet and Tenor Saxophone

James Holland- Cello

                                  Musical Program

I'm Beginning To See The Light

Creole Love Cal


Duke At The Roadhouse

In A Mellow Tone

In A Sentimental Mood

Sophisticated Lady

Duke in Ojai

Mood Indigo

It Don't Mean A Thing


CD Review: Jenny Davis, "Rearranged"

Composer, Arranger, Bandleader and Jazz Vocalist, Jenny Davis has just released her 4th album as a leader.  This CD spotlights Jenn...