Superb vocalist Jackie Ryan gave a splendid performance at Sunset Jazz Newport in Marriott’s Rose Gardens, Wednesday, August 9, 2017. The weather was once again perfect. Ryan and Saxophonist Rickey Woodard’s quintet performed exceedingly well with Quinn Johnson (piano), Chris Colangelo (bass) and Dean Koba (drums) rounding out the quintet.
The Rose Gardens at Marriott Hotel in Newport Beach is an outstanding place for outdoor jazz concerts during summer evenings. The audience for this concert was filled to capacity.
After introductions from Joe Rothman, Jackie Ryan came to the stage and began a great opener, “Welcome to The Club,” a superb number made famous by Nat King Cole (1959). Woodard and the trio gave her fine backing. Continuing, they performed a lovely ballad, “How Little We Know,” from an earlier time and part of the Great American Songbook, (1944), film, “To Have and Have Not.” I noticed the rhythm section was very well balanced for their musical duties. The audience was happily satisfied early on. Woodard always fits perfectly right into all the tunes. Colangelo’s bass solo was excellent. Ryan’s voice is clear, distinct and definite. She and Quinn performed a duo number by the great Michel Legrand, “Summer Me, Winter Me,” a highlight of the evening and a superb ballad.
Ryan grew up in a musical family surrounding with both parents being performers musically. There was always music in their home, giving her the interest and love of music, including jazz, a little later on growing up.
Ryan took a few moments to introduce, surprise guest vocalist, Shep Sheppard and his lovely wife Joy. Shep still performs regularly in the Orange County area and is now celebrating his 100th birthday! She and the quartet dedicated a special tune for Shep’s birthday, “Young at Heart.” The audience gave all of them a big round of applause.
They performed some more terrific numbers before the intermission: “Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” with tasty 8-bar breaks between Colangelo and Koba. Also, “Why Don’t You Do Right,” (1936 number recorded by Peggy Lee with Benny Goodman) and “Lover Come Back to Me” and “Slow Hot Wind,” and closing the first set, “To the Ends of the Earth,” another standout tune of the evening.
In set two the quartet played the fine standard, “My Shining Hour.” Woodard began wonderful choruses and the trio provided some of their best solos, including Quinn and Woodard sharing choruses and more rhythmic tradeoffs of 8-bar breaks between Colangleo and Koba. “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” written by Harry Woods (1934) and sung in the movie, Road House continued. Ryan sung this with all the fervor and passion needed for this beautiful number. Billie Holiday also recorded this one during her vibrant career. “The Gypsy in My Soul” was performed super well by all. It is a great vocalizing number. Pianist Johnson’s piano work was outstanding in this tune and other numbers, too.
Finishing this exceptional concert were “Estate,” “I Cried For You,” (Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love), “Siboney,” “You Go To My Head,” and closing with the fantastic “Caravan!” Drummer Dean Koba gave us a big show piece on his drumming solo work. During this last number (and in many others) Jackie Ryan dances to the music, adding much to her shows. As I stated in a previous review of Ryan, “she always dances to the music” and “her stage presence is excellent.”
The Sunset Newport Jazz audience happily gave a big standing ovation to Ryan, Woodard, Johnson, Colangelo and Koba for their superb performance.
There are a few more excellent concerts at Sunset Jazz Newport concluding, Wednesday, September 20, 2017.
L A Jazz: When and where were you born? Did you have musicians in your family? Did you get any musical classes or see any musical shows in your early years?
Frederick Horn: I was born in 1951 in Oakland Naval Hospital. Both parents played piano just a little but no real musicians in the family though they encouraged picking an instrument and taking lessons.
My parents in Milwaukee took me starting at age 10 to hear Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong , Stan Kenton , Woody Herman , Benny Goodman , Sonny Stitt , Dizzy with James Moody , Count Basie Buddy Rich, Jimmy Smith, Herbie Mann
L A Jazz: How old were you when you wanted to learn to play a musical instrument? Did you learn with school classes or private instruction ? Did you ever want to quit?
Horn: Started alto sax age 9 and directly across the street lived my first instructor who was a local band director who looked down on jazz musicians and said they were drug addicts who got high on the bus .
I wanted to learn jazz from the start but in Milwaukee at that time jazz was not taught . Classical foundation was stressed along with the Rubank Method books. No one I knew ever mentioned transcribing a jazz solo and this was about ten years before Jamey Aebersold Play a Longs.
However I was fortunate to have from Junior High through High School band directors who lead big bands or "stage bands" as they were called at that time. And my last high school director, Cliff Gribble suggested I go to North Texas State which had 8 rehearsal big bands including the top notch One O Clock Band. I went and was blown away by the quality of bands there !
L A Jazz: Did I ever want to quit ?
Horn: At age 27 in Berkeley California I considered giving up music and trying to stop gigging and a drummer talked me out of it. And soon after that I started putting together jazz- funk recording projects which included 17 yr old keyboardist Benny Green and 18 yr old sax prodigys, Dan Wilensky and Norbert Stachel and trumpeter Jeff Beal . Also David Garibaldi on drums with Marc VW on bass and Ray Obeido on guitar.
L A Jazz: When did you feel comfortable or competent as a musician? When did you choose jazz as your main musical style?
Horn: I wanted to learn jazz from age ten . It was the style I wanted but no one I knew could show me how to improvise till college. Closest I came was to improvise on a blues scale on Louie, Louie at age 14 with another alto and we won the talent contest ! Girls who never talked to me complimented me in the hallways.
L A Jazz: When did you feel competent as a musician ?
Horn: Tough question because I am my own worst critic . I would say by age 28 when band at break for Mingus Alumni concert at UC Berkeley I played for Randy Brecker on cassette an early jazz -funk style tune of mine and he asked if I hired James Brown's rhythm section . No, it was local Bay Area guys. Also Randy asked me to contact him in New York for a possible record deal . Nothing happened. Also there Clifford Jordan was humming along to the catchy melody I wrote.
L A Jazz: Who are your favorite players ? Who inspires you ?
Horn: Sal Nistico tenor sax for Woody Herman who I saw live for my 12th birthday in 1963. Then Maceo Parker- particularly his solos in James Brown's "Lickin Stick " and "Mother Popcorn" both of which I transcribed the solos in my early twenties. Also I liked Jr Walker , King Curtis . Jon Smith- tenor with Edgar Winters and The White Trash , Lenny Pickett with Tower of Power who I had one lesson with.
More sax favorites were Jay Corre with Buddy Rich . At North Texas 19 yr old sax wonder Randy Lee . Also I still am inspired by Dave Liebman and Steve Grossman on " Elvin Jones Live At The Lighthouse" , then like just about everybody- Joe Hendersen and Brecker , Dexter , Bird , Stitt, Gene Ammons Cannonball , Trane , Rollins , I should add unsung bebop tenor man Vince Wallace who I heard many times in Berkeley Ca.
L A Jazz: What's the hardest thing about being jazz musician in LA ?
Horn: Well, in the 1990s there were more jazz clubs but the living local name jazz musicians got those gigs so I did lots of coffee houses for tips before the advent of Starbucks . I after 3 years I finally got in Jax in 1994 and performed there for 15 years.
Now there seem to be fewer places to perform. I do not see many club listings. As far back as the 1930s bandleader Eddie Condon said in his book that even then audiences generally do not like improvising and especially long solos. Most non -musicians don't have the ears for complicated music or something that strays from the melody unless its eight or sixteen bars.
L A Jazz: Anything that makes LA ideal for jazz musicians ?
Horn: Several things. The weather , the abundance of great players , the many colleges with very good jazz programs .
“A protégé of the late Ray Brown, Ms. Korb’s bass playing is the foundation of her musicianship. She is an increasingly clever lyricist in the songs she writes, arranges and sings.” Doug Ramsey, Rifftides
There are few bassists who can sing and there are even fewer who can do it well. Kristin Korb is one of those artists who make you forget that she is playing the bass when you hear her crystalline voice. Inspired by the days when music was romantic and made you want to dance, Kristin and her trio embody that spirit and carry their audiences along for the ride.
Korb is no stranger to the California coast having lived here for a number of years. She earned her masters degree in Classical Bass Performance at the University of California, San Diego and was lucky enough to have studied with the great bassist Ray Brown, with whom she made her recording debut, "Introducing Kristin Korb with the Ray Brown Trio" released in 1996. Love eventually brought the American bassist and vocalist to Denmark in 2011.
Korb now returns to California for a series of concerts to celebrate her 8th release, "Beyond the Moon". Inspired by the storytelling of one of America’s greatest lyricists, Johnny Mercer, Kristin includes several of his biggest hits and then takes a voyage of discovery into unpublished texts that Mercer never made into songs.
Andy Langham – Piano
Andy Langham studied Jazz Performance at The University of North Texas. Since relocating to Los Angeles a number of years ago, he has toured with just about everyone from Natalie Cole to Christian McBride and the New York Voices. Currently Andy is a member of Poncho Sanchez's Latin Jazz Band and can been seen touring all over the world with Poncho. When he's not on the road, Langham can be found teaching Jazz Piano at California State University, Long Beach.
Ryan Korb – Drums
Ryan is the go-to drummer in Wisconsin for all kinds of great musicians traveling through the state. After music school, the Montana native sought out some of the most influential musicians in the country to study drumming and jazz. Drum set great Jeff Hamilton and master Afro-Cuban musician Michael Spiro have been two of his greatest mentors and inspirations.
Ryan has spent extensive time studying music abroad in India and Cuba. Ryan now co- leads the Afro-Cuban drum trio, Africa->West. The trio plays original compositions based on traditional West African and Cuban music. In addition to their residency at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music in Cleveland, Ohio, the group has released 4 recordings.
As a sideman, Ryan has performed with Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Bill Mays, Russell Malone, Byron Stripling, John Fedchock, Llew Matthews, Tamir Hendelman, Valerie Naranjo (SNL orchestra), and Barry Olsen. In addition to drum set, Ryan has performed as percussionist on the touring Broadway productions of Wicked, Spamalot, and others. Ryan has played on numerous recordings and has been seen at many jazz festivals and venues internationally. He is also on faculty at Baldwin Wallace University, Lawrence University, and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Ryan also happens to be Kristin's brother. They grew up playing music together when it was more of a competitive sport than a collaborative activity. They've both grown up over the years, but one can still see the sibling banter happening on the bandstand.
California DatesSept 22 8:00 pm Piedmont Pianos, Oakland, CA
Sept 23 7:30 pm Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA
Sept 24 1:00 pm SOhO (Santa Barbara Jazz Society)
Sept 26 7:30 pm CalJAS Venue, Claremont, CA
For more information, check out http://kristinkorb.com/ Contact: email@example.com
After a hot, noisy day and a drive through heavy traffic I arrived at the oasis, Catalina’s. It felt cozy and cool as people were enjoying dinner. The staff is always so courteous and helpful, they make everyone feel comfortable. I ordered my favorite, catfish. The waiters always remind customers that “it’s spicy.” It is so delicious and spicy.
The sidemen came to the stage and got settled: Kevin Toney-piano & Musical Director, John B. Williams-bass, Greg Paul-drums and guitarist John Storie. Singer Elijah Rock was introduced and began this evening of George Gershwin gems. Rock looked very elegant in a dark suit. “S’Wonderful “ was a fine romp, with a very confident Rock. His musicians were backing him with a swinging spirit. The audience responded with hearty applause. Everyone got comfortable, this was going to be a good show.
Rock has a lot of confidence, singing “Fascinating Rhythm” and “I Can’t Get Started” with a deep, resonant voice. I was very impressed with his warm tone, excellent enunciation of the lyrics and his relaxed style. The quartet couldn’t have been better. Storie was so good as he added depth to the material. Every musician was outstanding. It was so good to hear a singer and musicians at this high level of ability and emotion. Wow! Rock took his time with each tune; a slow, measured “I Can’t Get Started” and “How Long Has This Been Going On?” Each a fine, polished gem, which can be heard on Rock’s new CD, Elijah Rock Gershwin For My Soul. Rock is a crooner of the “old school” like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Steve Lawrence, Mel Torme and others who toured, recorded and made lifelong fans along the way.
Other gems during one long show included “Long Ago and Far Away,” “Shall We Dance,” “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” and an original by Rock titled “New York City Springtime.” I( think that was the title) Rock will be traveling to promote the CD which was produced and arranged by Kevin Toney, recorded and engineered by Nolan Shaheed. I think audiences are going to be impressed by Rock’s easy, yet swinging style, his fine choice of material and his great taste in sidemen. This group is highly recommended!
P.S. This was one long set, because there was no intermission. The group was excellent throughout the show. Not a glitch anywhere, anytime. Elijah Rock will be appearing at The E Spot soon and Elijah will be Headling Vitello's Supper Club in Studio City on September 7th at 8pm. . Call for reservations early.Myrna Daniels
Kicking off the 8th Annual Sunset Jazz at Newport Series, Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 was the Ken Peplowski Quartet with special guest vocalist, Sue Raney. Peplowski plays his tenor sax and also clarinet just about an equal amount of time on many of his gigs. He has been a regular at Newport Jazz Jazz Party Concerts for a number of years and always brings an exciting show for all the patrons. This particular day Peplowski had an exceptional quartet: Tom Ranier – piano, Mike Gurrola – bass, Kevin Kanner – drums and, of course, Peplowski on tenor sax and clarinet.
They began with a 1939 tune by Duke Ellington, “The Flaming Sword,” done in two beat (or cut 4/4 time) throughout the tune with Peplowski on clarinet, Gurrola taking a good solo in a nice suave sounding number. “An Affair to Remember” is usually done as a slower ballad, but tonight was played differently as an up tempo piece. Kanner played some smaller drum breaks for this one. Peplowski was on tenor sax. They continued with a sweet ballad by Noel Coward, “I’ll Follow My Secret Heart” with Peplowski on clarinet. Another cool and impressive tune from Richard Rogers, “Blue Room” followed. Peplowski’s playing is suave and definite on all his performing whether on tenor sax or clarinet.
The audience of jazz patrons tonight was filled to the max as it usually always is for Sunset Jazz events at Newport. Peplowski introduced vocalist and star of the evening, Sue Raney. Raney began singing at age four in her home state of Kansas. Her parents were very supportive of seeing their daughter’s capability of singing early and before she was a teenager she was working professionally. At age fourteen she was on Jack Carson’s Radio show and later the main vocalist on Ray Anthony’s television show. She was signed with Capitol Records at age 17 producing a debut album with Nelson Riddle, When Your Lover Has Gone, (released 1958). She was also featured with Stan Kenton in 1962. Her list of recording endeavors is a large one over her long illustrious career.
Peplowski talked about Raney’s Japan tour in recent time and then the trio backed her opening song, “That Face.” Her voice is smooth and distinctive. All her enunciations are perfect. She continued with this stellar trio singing one line of “Come Fly with Me,” then segued into “I Love Being Here with You.” The audience showed a lot of interest and applause throughout this entire concert. Raney gave a little history of some meaningful parts of her career. She celebrated being at this concert to perform for her many fans. They continued with Gordon Jenkins, “This Is All I Ask,” (Sue Raney and Peplowski on tenor sax), “The Song is Ended (But the Melody Lingers On),” (Raney and Peplowski on clarinet). Closing the first set, “Tenor Madness” with Ken Peplowski (tenor sax), was a moving number for the quartet. Fantastic playing of this great jazz standard, including solos from all the quartet. (Info from Mike Gurrola: This was the only known recording featuring both Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane performing together).
Set Two had some exceptional music and also some comedy from Ken Peplowski. He has been friends with Joe Rothman and John Mc Clure for a long time. His comedy jabs fun at both of them. The audience had several good laughs now and earlier in the first set.
“Recado Bossa Nova” composed by Djalma Ferreira began the second segment of this concert. This tune was originally recorded by Zoot Sims. Peplowski played clarinet with the trio. Continuing, they played the beautiful tune, “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” (Peplowski, tenor sax and trio) and “The Tender Trap,” Peplowski, (clarinet).
Sue Raney back, complete with costume dress change backed by the illustrious trio and singing, “It Could Happen to You,” “Aren’t You Glad You’re You.” Joining Raney, Peplowski played clarinet, on “Why Did I Choose You,” (from the Broadway musical “The Yearling) and the closing tune, “I’ll Be Seeing You.” The entire show receiving a well-earned standing ovation!
See websites: www.kenpeplowski.com
(Some very funny humor inside),
Be sure to check Sunset Jazz Newport’s website. Some outstanding concerts are coming!
A lot of family, friends and fans showed up at the Musicians Union in Hollywood on Saturday, June 25th to bid goodbye to Dave Pell, who passed away on May 7, 2017.
The Union was filling with his family, friends and fellow musicians who came to remember his life as a popular jazz musician. Those who formed a first-class band included: Carl Saunders-trumpet, Cip Cipriano-baritone sax, Scott Whitfield-trombone, Dick Weller-drums, Kenny Wild and Adrian Rosen, Charlie Ferguson-piano Barry Zweig guitar. Guest tenor saxes included Chuck Manning, Bob Efford, Kirstin and Tom Peterson. They performed songs that were Dave’s favorites. They sounded great! Despite the heat the musicians kept going all afternoon. Jack Sheldon was there for a short timeand played two tunes on his trumpet.
Some people spoke about Dave’s remarkable life and how he was always helping other musicians. He started as a young man and worked with some of the greats in the business. Everyone had only good things to say about Dave. I didn’t know him personally but when I was a teenager I heard one of his records and liked it a lot. What was this music? Why have I never heard it before? I liked the spirit, the smoothness of Dave Pell’s group and never forgot it. After hearing George Shearing on the radio one time I also liked that a lot. So that’s how I became a fan, with Shearing and Pell, and many more talented musicians I was going to hear in the future. I think that anyone who heard Dave’s style would say, “I like that!”
Some people donated big sheet cakes, cookies sandwiches and beverages. Some donated money. It was a very hot day but a lot of fans came by and stayed for the music and the stories about Dave. It was a very heart-felt afternoon.Myrna Daniels
Glenn Cashman is a prominent tenor and alto saxophonist, composer, arranger, organist and educator as well. He is a bi-coastal musician and educator and has been teaching at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York for many years and performing in both New York and Los Angeles as well.
Producer, Eric Futterer, made several announcements to do with Muckenthaler’s 12th Annual Jazz Series. He and Cashman have worked together closely for many recent years. Cashman is artistic director of the series. He began the evening announcing a special arrangement of the great jazz classic by Dizzy Gillespie, “A Night in Tunisia.” Pianist Ed Czach played gorgeously through early choruses. Trumpeter, Ron Stout delivered superb soloing. This band (of nine) easily sounds like a big band. Cashman announced and introduced his Southland Nonet musicians: Trumpet/Flugel Horn, Carl Saunders, Ron Stout; Saxes, Bruce Babad, (alto), Glenn Cashman, (tenor), Bob Efford, (bari); Trombone, Scott Whitfield; Piano, Ed Czach; Bass, Luther Hughes; Drums, Paul Kreibich. The audience attending, this last (of six) concerts, was completely packed.
One of Glenn Cashman’s composition pieces and a groovy one is titled “I’ve Got Your Rhythm.” Cashman gave a beautiful tenor solo. Kreibich made brilliant and impressive drum fills. The band made this one shine superbly. Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage,” arranged by Cashman began in Latinized form and branched off into several dynamic solos throughout the tune. A number of pieces performed in this concert were from Cashman’s 2012 CD Music Without Borders, with almost entirely the same personnel with many excellent numbers and also is exceptional listening as well.
Eric Futterer is also a composer. He had two likable gems, “I Will Always Wait for You,” (arranged by Cashman), which featured Stout’s smooth flavored trumpet work once again and “Carnival,” a rousing number starting in Samba form. The solos given in “Carnival” were impressive, ideally by Saunders, Efford and Kreibich, all receiving much applause each. Continuing in the second set, Cashman had two originals: “Prairie,” a tune he said was similar to the movie, Blazing Saddles, reminding us of Count Basie’s Big Band in the desert in this feisty movie. Cashman made several rhythmic changes woven into the chordal melodic changes of this pretty number. His “Fall Color” composition, once again, had written melody over rhythmic changes and was nice and very serene. Solos given were again excellent by Whitfield, Saunders, Efford and Czach. Other numbers played were: “Who Can I Turn To,” “Cadenzas for Cadenas” (Cashman), “What Dolphins Say” (Cashman), “Artscape,” and “Sumo,” (Cashman).
Closing the concert, Glenn Cashman proposed a tune to do differently. The tune: “Magoo’s Blues” by a Paul McKee. One part of the nonet played the first part of this blues and immediately following the second side of the nonet performed as an opponent, playing against the first half of the nonet. Results were exceptional. Impressive solos were made from Whitfield, Hughes, Cashman and Kreibich. Many rounds of applause were given and an appreciative standing ovation. See websites: www.glenncashman.com and www.themuck.orgGlenn A.Mitchell
One of the greater assemblages of jazz musicians was brought to Muckenthaler’s 12th Annual Jazz Festival Thursday, June 1, 2017. There was no doubt these super musicians would fit in stellar order and give this well-attended audience a rare and exceptional concert.
In starting the show the four artists came out individually, Clayton first and began with fine walking bass lines. Hamilton next joined him continuing some fascinating rhythm. Next, Wofford came out and began playing a beautiful piano for some pleasant sounding blues. Finally, star player Hofmann and her gorgeous flute work making this an excellent quartet. They sounded good as ever and turned this medium paced blues into the well-known gem, “I’m Walkin’.”
Hofmann talked a little bit about being at Muckenthaler, thanked the audience for coming and announced the wonderful standard “You, The Night and The Music.” It began with a fast start. Mike Wofford took some fine choruses with the trio. Solos came from both Clayton and Hamilton. Clayton played some intricate maneuvers in his walking bass; Hamilton nice breaks in the choruses. Although Hofmann uses two flutes, she used her standard a C flute with terrific choruses as well.
She introduced her alto flute next, a G flute and announced a beautiful number, “Making Rainbows” by the great John Williams. Wofford never stops producing super great chords and melodic runs with both hands throughout all the many tunes he performs. Clayton gave another terrific and meaningful bass solo. The audience gave very appreciative applause.
Something different followed: a solo creation duo with Clayton and Hamilton only, beginning with “What Is This Thing Called Love.” Clayton showed his lovely bowing work (arco) on his bass and Hamilton with many drum breaks in this gem. In Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “How Insensitive,” Hamilton displayed his super versatility playing hand drums while Clayton brought pizzicato back with his bass work in finishing this gorgeous number.
Hofmann announced Clayton’s talented writing, arranging and band leading, mentioning the next tune he wrote for his friend Cedar Walton, titled “Cedar Would.” Hofmann used her alto G flute in this sensational tune. Wofford gave fantastic playing in all parts of the number. Clayton, once again, played a phenomenal solo. Hamilton, great 4-bar breaks with a superb ending to this number. The audience gave rounds of applause at the intermission. Set two was a shorter but musically dynamic. They opened with a good quartet number, “Soul Leo,” by late /great Mulgrew Miller, a tune everyone enjoyed.
Hofmann and the trio played two well-known numbers from her earlier CD Minor Miracle, Cole Porter’s “Everything I Love” and the moving “CRS – Craft” an exceptional blues and the quartet added guest artist, Glenn Cashman on tenor saxophone making a vibrant cooking jazzy affair.
One more Clayton creation, “Touch the Fog” was enjoyed and well received. Ending the concert was a neat number “Truer Blues,” receiving a big standing ovation for these fantastic musicians.
This was one of six concerts presented at Muckenthaler by Producer, Eric Futterer and Artistic Director, Glenn Cashman.See websites: www.themuck.org and www.hollyhofmann.com
Glenn A. Mitchell
By Andrew Abaria
Mark Winkler has been part of the LA Jazz scene for a long time now and just never seems to run out of new ideas and songs. His 15thCD seems especially tasty with an all- star cast of the best musicians the West Coast has to offer. I sat down with him at his home in the Hollywood Hills to talk about the new CD, while his little white dog Stella alternated barking at the gardener working in his yard and turning over on her back for some attention.
Andrew Abaria How did The Company I Keep get made?
Winkler: Well, 2016 was a tough year for me. I lost my husband, partner, lover, supporter and friend Richard Del Belso to cancer- we’d been together for 35 wonderful years and had recently gotten married. I realized in the months following his death the things that were getting me through were my friends and the music. So that was the genesis for the CD.
L.A. Jazz:Are those people on the CD cover your friends?
Winkler: Yes, they are. We shot it with a wonderful photographer Mikel Healey on December 30th of 2016. These literally are some of the people who got me through the grief of the last year. Barbara Brighton, my wonderful record producer and friend, my student Andrew Abaria, my best male friend in LA, Jeffrey Gimble, my brother Richard Winkler, my two close friends, who check up on me every day practically, Dolores Scozzesi and Lauren White and my buddy Judy Wexler. I’m blessed to have them.
L.A. Jazz:What a fun concept
Winkler: They literally are the company I keep. That session turned into a party, lots of food and more than a fair share of wine was consumed during the making of that photo.
L.A. Jazz:How did the music tie in?
Winkler: Well, the other part of the last year was how healing and emotional music was for me. So I picked songs that had a meaning for me at this time. In no way, is the CD sad because sad was just one of the many emotions I was going through. Then there was also happy, grateful, optimistic, feisty
L.A. Jazz:How many of the songs on the CD are Winkler originals?
Winkler: Well, I’ve been a lyricist for almost 40 years now, but on the last few CDs I’ve been splitting it up. Sort of 50% my material, and then 50% outside material. I think I covered some really great stuff this time. I’d always loved the Donald Fagen song “Walk Between the Raindrops” since I heard it on his Night Fly CD and Jamieson Trotter did a kick ass arrangement. l loved singing it with Jackie Ryan who’s just a fantastic singer.
L.A. Jazz:How did the Prince song get into the mix?
Winkler:l I have every Prince CD he ever put out minus an Appollonia C D or two. When he died tragically last year, I wanted to honor him with one of his songs. I’ve loved Strollin’ since it came out on Diamonds and Pearls. It’s a deep album cut and very jazzy so it was a blast recording it with my pal Cheryl Bentyne. I love the Larry Koonse guitar solo on this one.
L.A. Jazz:You recorded Oliver Nelson’s classic “Stolen Moments.”
Winkler: Mark Murphy is my favorite singer. And this to me is one of his great songs. I’ve listened to him sing this a million times and I love his lyrics, so I got my buddy Claire Martin, who was actually a friend of Mark Murphy’s, to sing it with me. We skyped it; she was in England, I was in the US but Claire has long been a close friend of mine and it worked great. I also wrote a little vocalese based on my memories of Mark, which I think is fun He was quite a character, but when he sang, he sang with no net!
L.A. Jazz:You’ve got an amazing array of musicians on this CD.
Winkler: 22—I’ve never had that many before on any CD. I must say being in the studio on tracking days was like being in Grand Central Station. But amazingly, it all worked and everyone was so nice. Once again, these musicians were friends, people I had some sort of relationship with through the years. David Benoit (who I’ve known forever and who is a great friend of mine) and Sara Gazarek to John Beasley, who I just think is fantastic. The two of us sort of started in the business at the same time and early on we had a disastrous club date in Hollywood. I was a little too inexperienced, he was a little too brash and the club was hosting a loud rock band in the same building so nobody heard us anyway.
L.A. Jazz:John Beasley plays so beautifully on “The Sum.”
Winkler: Doesn’t he? “The Sum” actually was started before Richard died and then after his death I came up with the last verse, which sort of put the message of the song in perspective. It turns out the song was all about him and seeing death or love or failure as just one part of the overall fabric of life. Very emotional.
L.A. Jazz:Steve Tyrell really sells his duet with you.
Winkler: He sure does. He wins the Hardest Working Award. He wouldn’t leave the studio until everything about both our vocals was perfect. I think we were eating and laughing and singing for about 4 hours- It was a gas! He’s produced many hit albums and really is very aware of what it takes to make a song work. Plus, his pitch and time are right on.
L.A. Jazz:You did a song Tony Bennett did with Bill Evans “Lucky to Be Me” - Why?
Winkler: It was Richard, my late husband’s favorite song. He told me this during the last week of his life. Plus, I love Leonard Bernstein and I had never done one of his songs before. David Benoit was a friend of Leonard Bernstein back in the early 90s, so it all came together nicely.
L.A. Jazz: I think “Midnight in Paris” is my favorite track on the CD.
Winkler: Oh thank you! I love it, because it’s like listening to a little movie, the clarinet and the violin, the Django Reinhardt guitar and show bizzy drumming—It’s a lot of fun and romantic.
L.A. Jazz:You also covered a song that’s very identified with Shirley Horn “Here’s to Life.” What made you do it?
Winkler: First of all, the lyric to this song is just perfect and at this stage in my life means the world to me. Furthermore, I was good friends with Phyliss Molinary, the lyricist of the tune. We both were in a songwriting group in the 70’s. At that point in time, she’d had quite a bit of success and was the big cheese in the group. She let me know she thought I was a wonderful writer. For a 24-year old guy just starting out in the biz that meant a lot. I actually was there at the birth of the song. It was originally written for George Burns, if you can believe that. The cherry on top was my Aunt Shirley loved the song and on the day she died asked me to bring her CD player up to her bedroom and play it for her. So many connections! I’m also am friends with Artie Butler who wrote the lovely melody. I hope I did Phyllis proud.
L.A. Jazz:This is your fifth CD with Barbara Brighton
Winkler: I thought it was the 50th! What can I say, great instincts, musicality and at this point in time I know if she says something, she’s right. I really trust her getting me to sing my best in the studio. The other part of the team is Talley Sherwood, the engineer and owner of Tritone Studios where we recorded. The three of us work together like a well- oiled machine When did you record the CD? Oh, that was interesting. We started the CD the day before the Presidential elections of last year, and we continued the tracking two days after the elections. Getting through those first couple of days after Hillary lost was tough on a lot of us. But every musician who worked on the CD said they were glad they were in the studio and not home ruminating about Donald Trump.
L.A. Jazz:So, what’s next on the agenda?
Winkler: I’m doing an Epic CD Release party at Catalina’s on Wednesday May 31st. I say Epic because I’m going to have lots of special guest stars that night. David Benoit, Mon David, Bob Sheppard and Bob McChesney, Sara Gazarek and another male vocalist who I have been sworn to secrecy about. I’ll be backed by Jamieson Trotter, Lyman Medeiros and Mike Shapiro from the CD and I promise you it will be swinging!
Five-time Grammy-nominated vocalist, composer and pianist Karrin Allyson brought her quartet group to Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles for a three-day engagement Friday March 24th thru Sunday, March 26th, 2017. We attended Saturday, March 25th. When you see an excited audience before any show, you know it will be the best.
Allyson was born in Great Bend, Kansas and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska in her earlier years spending her last year of high school in San Francisco before returning to Omaha and earning a degree in classical piano at University of Nebraska. She had some key stints in Minneapolis and Kansas City before relocating to New York. She began recording on the Concord Jazz label in the early 90s, expanding her musical aspirations into scat and vocalese that has continued throughout her career.
Her group had amazing performers: an excellent young Miro Sprague on piano (and keyboards), Larry Koonse on guitar and Jeff Johnson on a slimmed down acoustic bass. They began the evening with “A Felicidade” one of Jobim’s marvelous sambas. Allyson sang it in Portuguese – a very stirring rendition. While the trio performs choruses Allyson dances vivaciously to many songs they play.
Allyson has her own voice and it is very identifiable when listening to any songs she sings. One number that stood out for me was “Happy Talk” (from South Pacific). The lyrics are so positive and genuine which made it a standout tune of the evening. The band’s performance of the wonderful jazz standard “Equinox” by John Coltrane made an excellent impression. Not only was the band exceptional, but the lyrics written by Chris Caswell made this a highlight item of this show, along with terrific choruses by Koonse, strong piano fills by Sprague, nice bass solo from Johnson. For a number of years Allyson and Caswell have been friends and collaborators on successful lyrics for several songs she performs.
Other songs and numbers they performed in this one-set show were: “Never Say Never,” by Nat Adderly, “Footprints,” (Miles Davis), with lyrics by Caswell and Allyson. “Footprints” had some great piano lines and choruses from Sprague’s fine piano work. “Are You Happy Now?” (by Allyson) has her playing piano and singing this number. An excellent tune that shined well was “O’Pato,” (by Jayme Silva and Neuza Teixeria). Again, Allyson sang this in Portuguese.
During the entire show she and her exceptional trio were given many rounds of applause and a standing ovation at the show’s conclusion! Allyson continues to tour both nationally and internationally. See her splendid website: http://www.karrin.com.Glenn A. Mitchell