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Spyro Gyra Smooth Cruise recap July 31, 2008

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Personal.
7 comments

Spirit Cruises sign

Last night, I was aboard the Spirit of New York‘s sunset cruise (6:30 PM) out of Chelsea Piers (Pier 61) in New York, New York, which featured the weekly Smooth Cruise.

Spirit of New York

The cruise route took us down the Hudson River, through New York Harbor, up the East River, and back.

This week, the performers were Spyro Gyra.
Spyro Gyra

The set list was as follows:
1. Jam Up
2. Simple Pleasures
3. Get Busy
4. Early song medley I: Shaker Song
5. Early song medley II: Catching The Sun
6. Early song medley III: Morning Dance
7. Scott Ambush bass solo/Island Time
8. Bonny B. drum solo/Funkyard Dog

Outside of Dharma All Stars and Natural Selection (saxophonist Mario Cruz’s band) gigs, I have never been as close to the band while they’re playing as I was last night.  Before I took pictures of them, I went out to the bow of the ship.  These are the pictures that stood out:

Ellis Island:
Ellis Island

Lower Manhattan skyline:
Lower Manhattan skyline

Bow flag

The Statue of Liberty:
Statue of Liberty

Now, to the band.

On the alto and soprano saxophones, Jay Beckenstein:
Jay Beckenstein, alto sax

I was eating my buffet dinner, and then out on the bow, when Jay was on soprano sax on “Simple Pleasures” and “Get Busy,” but here he is on both alto and soprano on “Funkyard Dog”:
Jay Beckenstein, alto and soprano sax

On keyboards, Tom Schuman:
Tom Schuman, keyboard

Tom Schuman, keyboards

Scott Ambush on bass:
Scott Ambush, bass

Scott Ambush, bass

Julio Fernandez on guitar and vocals:
Julio Fernandez, guitar

Julio Fernandez, guitar

And on drums and vocals, Bonny B.!
Bonny B, drums

Letting out a laugh:
Bonny B laughs

Asking the passengers a question in slow motion (on the third attempt):
Bonny B slow-mo
The answer was a loud “Yeah!!!”

In the span of a week, I got to see two phenomenal drummers (John Favicchia last Thursday).

The band stands together and waves at the end:
Spyro Gyra standing, waving

My apologies to Tom for only having a shot where he blinked.  The following picture taken afterward with me makes up for it:
Mike Chimeri, Tom Schuman

Despite some personal moments early on where I felt overwhelmed (oh, that Asperger Syndrome)–such as indecision on whether to sit in one of the rows of chairs or at a table (settled on a table), not realizing the ticket to the buffet was only good one time (that worked out in the end, too)–I had a great time.  And Spyro Gyra always makes for a great time.

8/1 UPDATE: Here are some additional pictures from the cruise.  The first two were taken while waiting to board.

The early evening sun behind the clouds:
The early evening sun behind clouds

A wider sky shot:
A wider sky shot

And on the way back, the Empire State Building:
Empire State Building

8/9 UPDATE: Kat Sarracco was aboard the 9:30 cruise.  She also took pictures.  For those of you on MySpace (account required), here are additional pictures.

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Cablevision adds new HD channels today! July 28, 2008

Posted by Mike C. in Media, Personal, TV.
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Well, today’s the day.  Cablevision has added the 15 HD channels that I posted about earlier this month.  Only 10 of the 15 were announced at that time.  The bad news is Fox Business Network and ESPNEWS HD are not among the other five channels being added today.  (Will they ever be added?)  The good news is these are the channels being added:

  • AMC HD
  • Animal Planet HD
  • Discovery Channel HD
  • Fox News HD
  • FX HD
  • Hallmark Movie Channel HD
  • IFC HD
  • Nickelodeon HD
  • Science Channel HD
  • Speed Channel HD
  • Spike HD
  • The Weather Channel HD
  • TLC HD
  • Travel Channel HD
  • WE HD
  • So far, I’ve taken a look at the Science Channel, The Weather Channel, and Fox News Channel.  It was quite a difference in picture.

    7/30 UPDATE: Originally, I had a different link because the Cablevision press release was not yet available on their website.  Now, they do and the link has been changed.

    Dharma All Stars gig recap July 27, 2008

    Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Personal.
    3 comments

    Thursday night, for the first time in 15 months, I went to see John Favicchia’s Dharma All Stars perform.  The venue was Mirelle’s Restaurant in Westbury, New York.
    Dharma All Stars

    On this night, the band consisted of:

    John Favicchia, of course, on drums…
    John Favicchia

    Chieli Minucci on guitar…
    Chieli Minucci

    Mike Nunno (“NU-no”) on bass…
    Mike Nunno
    I lowered the brightness on Mike’s sheet music cover.

    Carl Fischer on trumpet…
    Carl Fischer on trumpet

    …and flugelhorn…
    Carl Fischer on flugelhorn

    Bill Harris on tenor saxophone…
    Bill Harris

    …and Bill Heller on keyboard.
    Bill Heller

    The set list for the night was:
    1. Horizons
    2. Te estremeces
    3. Coincidence
    4. Sing A Song Of Songs (Kenny Garrett cover)
    5. Kukuc (“KOO-kooch”)
    BREAK
    6. Black (Cedar Walton cover)
    7. Snakes (David Sanborn cover)

    It was a great night of music and great to see the band perform again.

    New old laptop back! July 26, 2008

    Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Technology.
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    My Dad brought my laptop home last night and I used it this afternoon.  Everything is finally back to normal on that front.

    New old laptop to be fixed! July 23, 2008

    Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Technology.
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    My dad told me yesterday (Tuesday) that my Panasonic Toughbook CF-29 laptop will be fixed by a friend of his.  In fact, the friend already fixed it by putting the old memory DIMM in.  When he did that, the laptop worked fine.  The next step is for him to make sure what DIMM will fit in the extra memory slot.  Then, my dad will order that DIMM, the friend will put it in, and I’ll have my “new old” laptop again without needing to buy a new one.

    This is a very positive development.

    Jackie Mason’s last show ever! July 18, 2008

    Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Theatre.
    1 comment so far


    Courtesy JackieMason.com

    Sunday afternoon, I will be attending the very last show for “Jackie Mason: The Ultimate Jew” at New World Stages’ Stage 1 in New York City (Manhattan, anyway), a short train ride from Wantagh.

    This is Jackie’s final one-man comedy show of his illustrious multi-decade career.  I feel honored to be a part of history and I’m looking forward to going.  I think I’ll only be a few rows from the stage.

    7/21 UPDATE: The show was excellent, hilarious!

    7/28 UPDATE: CDs or DVDs of that last show can be purchased here.

    11/9/09 UPDATE: This turned out not to be his last show ever.  Last night, I went to see Jackie Mason: No Holds Barred at the Tilles Center.

    Quite a compliment July 14, 2008

    Posted by Mike C. in Media, Personal, Sports, TV.
    2 comments

    Today, I left a few comments to a blog post on Alisyn Camerota’s (“Fox and Friends,” Fox News Channel) Greenroom blog.  Audra Floyd, Alisyn’s summer intern, posted while Alisyn is on vacation.  In one comment, I referred to my Saturday post on the passing of Tony Snow and Bobby Murcer:

    [R]egarding Tony Snow, I was saddened when I heard he had passed away on Saturday.  I posted about him – as well as Bobby Murcer, who died of brain cancer on the same day – on my blog.  Click on my name to go there or click on the link below to see my post:

    One of the regular commenters at the Greenroom blog was a man named Brad.  He left quite a compliment for me:

    Mike C-
    Awesome blog, it should be nominated for a Webby Award, just like this one )
    I heard about Bobby M[u]rcer from a sports channel I was watching the other day. He was a legend in the NY Yankee organization. It’s really sad and tragic. God bless him and his family.

    In the three months that this blog has existed (three months ago tomorrow), I never thought I would even be considered for a Webby Award.  I’m just a humble blogger.  It’s an honor just to be told The Mike Chimeri Blog should be nominated.  I thanked Brad in the comments to Audra’s post, but I’ll repeat the thanks here.  Thank you very much, Brad.

    7/15, 2:30 PM UPDATE: I originally had video of two commercials Audra appeared in for motorcycle dealerships in Arkansas and Oklahoma.  But after a comment in today’s Greenroom blog post where I linked to this post was removed, I feel that, as I had feared last night, I overstepped my bounds.  So, I have removed the videos.  I am very sorry I gave Audra too much exposure.  I wish her the best in her future endeavors and wish Alisyn the best as she returns to “Fox and Friends Weekend.”

    7/15, 4:40 PM UPDATE: I have decided to give up commenting at any Fox News blog.  I’m better off focusing my energy on other things.  I’m repeating myself, but I am very sorry for being a bother in any of the comment threads I’ve been a bother in.
    Now, let’s get back to talking about jazz or any venues I’m going to.

    7/18, 10:50 AM UPDATE: Today was Audra’s last day as an intern.  Again, best of luck to her.

    7/18, 3:40 PM UPDATE: Oh, what the heck?  I’ll put them back.  If I get any complaints, I’ll take them down again.  Here’s the ad for Sunrise Honda in Searcy, Arkansas:

    And the ad for Shawnee Honda in Shawnee, Oklahoma:

    Let me know what you think.

    7/25 UPDATE: On Tuesday, I had added video of Audra last Friday morning as she helped Steve Doocy with the weather, or the Foxcast.  I made the clip in RedLasso, which I had just joined the day before.  Unfortunately, access to the site has been suspended, likely forever as I don’t see that company ever reaching agreements with networks.  So, I have removed my clip.

    7/26 UPDATE: I published my recording of the above to YouTube.  This is the first video I’ve ever uploaded there.

    3/10/10 UPDATE: I’ve deleted the video from my YouTube account.  Sorry.

    Ken Navarro, “The Grace of Summer Light” July 13, 2008

    Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Personal.
    2 comments

    The Grace of Summer Light

    Almost four weeks ago, Ken Navarro’s 18th album, “The Grace of Summer Light” was officially released.  It has been available since May 1 on his website.  I pre-ordered the album back in February and was fortunate enough to hear the demo version of the title track back in late December.

    As I documented back in April, Ken gave me my pre-ordered copy of “Grace” in the lobby of the Hampton Inn Milford [Connecticut] a few hours before this year’s Smooth Jazz for Scholars concert.  And as I further documented, I listened to the first six tracks while waiting for my dinner to be delivered from a nearby restaurant.  I listened to the remaining four tracks the following day (April 27) once I had returned home.  In a thread on The Magic Island BBS the day after that (April 28), I complimented Ken on the album:

    … I can’t get enough of [the album].  You’ve created a masterpiece, Ken.  Thank you very much.

    2 1/2 months later, I stand by that evaluation.  “The Grace of Summer Light” just gets better and better every time I listen to it.  Here are the tracks on the album:

    1. Just Before The Dawn (prelude) (:28 )
    2. Blue Skies, Bright Dreams (6:08 )
    I mixed tracks 1 and 2 together in Adobe Audition 3.  They’re heard best together rather than separate.
    3. The Grace of Summer Light (7:51)
    4. On My Way To Somewhere (9:16)
    5. Perfect Circle Sun (4:10 )
    6. Daddy-O (6:50 )
    7. Nomad (8:05)
    8. Looking Everywhere For You (5:48 )
    9. We Might As Well Dance (6:11)
    10. Just Before The Dawn (2:18 )

    A few days before “The Grace of Summer Light” was released officially, Ken recorded a podcast chronicling how the album was made and what inspired each track.  It is available here and on iTunes.  Also, Shannon West reviewed the album for SmoothViews in last month’s edition.

    Thank you again, Ken on all your guitars and the additional keyboards and percussion; and thank you to Jay Rowe on the main keyboards; Tom Kennedy (no relation to the game show host and brother of Jack Narz) on acoustic, electric, and fretless bass; Joel Rosenblatt on drums; and Kevin Prince on percussion.  “The Grace of Summer Light” really is a masterpiece and to those that haven’t heard it yet, it’s a musical journey worth taking.

    Tony Snow: 1955-2008; Bobby Murcer: 1946-2008 July 12, 2008

    Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Media, Personal, Sports, TV.
    5 comments


    Tony Snow in 1996; Courtesy FOXNews.com/AP

    I didn’t wake up for the day until 1:30 this afternoon and didn’t have internet for a few hours because of a branch in the way of the cable wire to the house.  The problem wasn’t fixed about a half hour ago (it’s 4:48 as I post this).  Then, I checked my e-mail and was told by a friend on my private Topica discussion list that Tony Snow had died of colon cancer at the age of 53.  I immediately put on Fox News Channel to watch their coverage of his passing.

    This is very sad news, but I could sense it was coming.  Among the many things I liked about Snow was he remained highly positive and upbeat to his final moments.  May God rest Tony Snow.

    Mark Koldys, of the cable news discussion site Johnny Dollar’s Place, has posted several links to coverage of Snow’s passing here.

    11:15 UPDATE (Picture and links updated on 7/14):

    Bobby Murcer; Courtesy AP

    Another great in his field lost his battle with cancer today: former Yankees player and play-by-play announcer Bobby Murcer died of brain cancer at the age of 62.  He, too, will be missed.

    Pre-order update #5 July 10, 2008

    Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Personal.
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    The last of the CDs I pre-ordered in May arrived today:
    Nick Colionne, “No Limits” (Koch)

    I’ve only listened to the first track, the title track, so far.  If it’s any indication, this is going to be a great album.  I’ll try to have a review once I’ve finished listening.  I also need to post a review of Ken Navarro’s “The Grace of Summer Light.”  In the meantime, I now have all the CDs I pre-ordered on May 10, two months to the date (July 10) later.

    7/11 UPDATE: The instrumental tracks are great.  I cannot post a full review because I haven’t listened to the vocal tracks (outside of “Melting Into You”), which I generally don’t prefer listening to.  Therefore, it would be unfair to review only 10 tracks out of 13.  But I do like “No Limits” and do recommend it.

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