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“Weird Al” Yankovic, Mandatory Fun July 24, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Media, Music, Personal, Technology, Video.
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Album cover scan

My CD copy of Mandatory Fun by “Weird Al” Yankovic arrived in the mail on Wednesday afternoon.  After ripping the tracks to my computer, I listened intently to all of them, following along with the lyrics in the liner notes.   There are 12 songs on the album: a mix of parodies, original compositions, and a medley.

I usually listen to contemporary jazz and jazz fusion, especially if there aren’t vocals.  So, you may be wondering why I would own a “Weird Al” Yankovic album.  I’ve admired “Weird Al” for years, dating back to Bad Hair Day, which my sister Lauren received back in 1996.  And since I’m not into mainstream pop and rock, Al’s parodies are as close I choose to get.

Here are my three favorite original compositions on Mandatory Fun:

  • “Mission Statement,” a Crosby, Stills and Nash pastiche a la “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” filled with corporate gobbledygook and cliches (i.e. “synergy!”)
  • “Lame Claim to Fame,” an homage to Southern Culture on the Skids, wherein a man shares his tangential connections to celebrities

I can relate to the line about having the same birthday.  I share my birthday with several public figures.  Off the top of my head, there’s Lorne Michaels, Danny DeVito, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).  There are others.  I don’t consider this my lame claim to fame.  It’s a series of prideful coincidences.  My lame claims to fame are my radio shows, photo recaps of events I attend, and occasional reviews like this.  (That was self-deprecation.)

  • “Sports Song,” a deeply honest fight song that lays out what the opponent is in for

As for the parodies, my three favorites are:

  • “Word Crimes,” a parody of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, which includes verses on the misuse of “I couldn’t care less” and “it’s”

Listen for the intentionally-placed split infinitive.  I loved the time-compressed definition of “contraction.”

  • “Handy,” which parodies “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea, a nearly three-minute handyman commercial

What can’t he do?

  • “Foil,” a parody of “Royals” by Lorde, which describes two uses for aluminum foil: to store leftover food and as a hat for conspiracy theorists to block governmental mind control

I laughed my way through the conspiracy theory part.

There are video equivalents to each of my favorites:

“Mission Statement”:

“Lame Claim to Fame”:

“Sports Song”

“Word Crimes”:

“Handy”

“Foil”:

A “Weird Al” album wouldn’t be complete without an accordion-driven polka medley.  The one on Mandatory Fun – “NOW That’s What I Call Polka!” – was superb.  These medleys are the second way I prefer to hear mainstream pop and rock.  (The third way is through covers by jazz artists.)  The segues between lyrical excerpts were seamless.  And I got a kick out of the sound effects and spoken interjections.

Facebook deserves credit for motivating me into buying Mandatory Fun.  If the first video from the album, “Tacky,” hadn’t been trending last Monday, I wouldn’t have seen that video or the seven videos that followed.  I wouldn’t have listened to excerpts on Amazon.  I wouldn’t have bought the album at all.  But I bought it, I listened to it at least once, and I’ve shared my review.

I hope I haven’t written “like a spastic,” and that you’ll forgive my Oxford commas.

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Bill Heller, “Find the Way” July 21, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal.
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Keyboardist Bill Heller makes his solo debut with Find the Way, available now at CD Baby and iTunes.

Bill’s Rippingtons and Jazzaphonic bandmates are peppered throughout the album, in addition to Carl Fischer, Luis Bonilla, and Ronnie Gutierrez.  Except where noted, Joel Rosenblatt played drums and Dave Anderson was on bass.

Tracks:
1. Guaraldi (5:19)
This is a tribute to the late jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi.  Jeff Kashiwa, Bill’s Rippingtons bandmate, plays soprano saxophone and flute.

2. Down & Loaded (5:32)
This has a Les McCann “Compared to What” feel to it.  I first heard Bill perform this at Eric Marienthal’s Boulton Center show (and masterclass) in March 2011.  Eric, who was also with the Rippingtons, is featured on three other Find the Way tracks, but Jeff Kashiwa handled tenor sax on “Down & Loaded.”  Jeff can also be heard on tenor on “Blackbird on a Fence” and soprano on the title track.  This is one of three songs to feature Frank Bellucci on drums and Jim Cammack on bass, Bill’s Jazzaphonic bandmates.

3. Bill’s Bop (4:34)
This is the second song with Bellucci and Cammack, but the only one of the three where Jim plays electric bass.  Eric Marienthal plays lead alto sax along with backing saxes and flutes.  This bop made me swing from side to side in my chair as I listened to it.

4. Blackbird on a Fence (4:22)

5. Find the Way (5:06)

6. Hanna (4:51)
Eric Marienthal returns on soprano sax and flute in this song that takes me back to when I regularly saw Bill perform with drummer John Favicchia‘s Dharma All Stars.

7. Alone (5:28)

8. Latinesque (5:53)
This wild Latin tune features Carl Fischer on trumpet, Luis Bonilla on trombone, and percussion from Ronnie Gutierrez.  It’s the first of three tracks with Dave Karasony on drums and Rico Belled on bass.  This also reminds me of the Dharma All Stars.

9. 5 for 1 (5:34)
This is the last song to feature Eric Marienthal, who plays alto sax here, as well as for Frank Bellucci and Jim Cammack.

10. Afrikaan (4:40)
This South African homage is the second to feature Dave Karasony and Rico Belled.

11. My Thing (4:56)
Karasony and Belled’s last track.  Each part of the song is played in a different keyboard setting.

12. Trottoir du Musette (1:05)
Bill shows off his accordion on the final track.  The translated title is “Sidewalk Musette,” and it makes you feel like you’re walking the streets of Paris, albeit with drum programming.

In the two weeks since Find the Way arrived, I’ve listened to it at least five times.  “Down & Loaded” is my favorite, with “Bill’s Bop” and “5 for 1″ close behind.  I love Find the Way, and I hope you do, too.  Pick up a copy today at CD Baby or iTunes.

Planting Fields Arboretum pictures July 3, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
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I didn’t say anything about it here, but last August, a few days before the Spyro Gyra Smooth Cruise, my girlfriend Kelly and I went up to Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay.  It was the first time either of us had been to the park in over a decade, years before we met.  We only went there for concerts, not touring the sights.  This time, we went solely to look around.

Here are select pictures from our sightseeing:
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I hope this has inspired you to visit Planting Fields Arboretum.  As long as the weather is dry when you go, you won’t be disappointed.

The Jeff Lorber Fusion at Blue Note June 14, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, Weather.
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Monday evening marked my first trip to the famous Blue Note Jazz Club in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan.

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Blue Note is not far from Zinc Bar, which I was at in June 2011 for Lisa Hilton.

The band I saw at Blue Note on Monday was the Jeff Lorber Fusion, who were originally scheduled to appear on April 7.  It’s a good thing the show was moved because I would have had to deal with moderate to heavy rain on the original night.  The sky was equally overcast on this rescheduled night, but it didn’t rain, at least not while I was outside.

My girlfriend Kelly and I arrived nearly two hours before showtime, 15 minutes after doors opened.  Our early arrival paid off as we were seated at a table right next to center stage!  It was great.

The Jeff Lorber Fusion was made up of Jeff on keyboard:
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…and piano (seen here playing both):
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Eric Marienthal on soprano sax:
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…and alto sax:
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Jimmy Haslip on bass:
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…and Lionel Cordew on drums:
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There were two shows that night: 8PM and 10:30 PM.  Kelly and I chose the early show.  The set list was as follows:

8PM SET LIST
1. Chinese Medicinal Herbs
Originally heard on: “The Jeff Lorber Fusion,” 1977; “Now is the Time,” 2010

2. Hacienda
Originally heard on: “Hacienda,” 2013

3. He Had a Hat
Originally heard on: “He Had a Hat,” 2007

4. Singaraja
Originally heard on: “Galaxy,” 2012

5. Montserrat
Originally heard on: “Galaxy,” 2012

6. Horace
Originally heard on: “Galaxy,” 2012

7. Rain Dance
Originally heard on: “Water Sign,” 1979; “Now is the Time,” 2010

8. King Kong (Frank Zappa cover)
Originally heard on: “Hacienda,” 2013

9. Surreptitious
Originally heard on: “He Had a Hat,” 2007

NOTE: Eric Marienthal played soprano sax on #1, 4, and 7, but alto otherwise.

With flash photography disallowed, and fearing that my camera’s AF-Assist light would be mistaken for a flash, I didn’t take that many pictures.  But it was an exhilarating show with wild solos by each member of the band.  This was my first Jeff Lorber concert, and I doubt it will be my last.  Thank you to Jeff, Eric, Jimmy, and Lionel.

I’ll leave you with pictures from two solos.

First, Lionel Cordew’s “Chinese Medicinal Herbs” solo:
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And Jimmy Haslip’s “Hacienda” solo:
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I suggest a Triple Crown retool June 8, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Horse Racing, Media, Music, Personal, Sports, Thoroughbred, TV.
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After what transpired at yesterday’s Belmont Stakes, next year will mark 37 years since the last Triple Crown winner – Affirmed.  Since then, thoroughbred racing has had close call after close call after close call, as three-year-old horses will win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but fall short at Belmont.  It doesn’t happen every year, but it’s still heartbreaking and frustrating.  I suggest the Triple Crown format be retooled.  Before I explain how, there is a backstory.

I first became aware of the Triple Crown races in 1997.  That year, Silver Charm was the unlucky horse to lose at Belmont Park in Elmont.  Then there was Real Quiet a year later.  He barely lost to Victory Gallop.  The year after that, Charismatic fell short.  Three years later, there was another three-year stretch of horses to win the first two legs and fall short: War Emblem, Funny Cide, and Smarty Jones.  In 2008, there was Big Brown.  He came up far short at Belmont.  In 2012, I’ll Have Another was scratched the day before the race!

That brings us to this year and California Chrome.  I was at a second birthday party and watched the Kentucky Derby on TV, like I always do.  His win gave me an opportunity to allude to the Mamas and the Papas hit, “California Dreamin’.”  The announcers on TV did the same.  Two weeks later, I was in an Italian restaurant as the Preakness Stakes was run.  The sound was off on the TV ahead of my booth, but the closed-captioning was on.  When California Chrome won that, I knew we were in for another three weeks of hype that would only be followed by heartbreak.  When you see the same thing play out over many years, you know what to expect.

On Facebook, I floated a ridiculous idea:

If California Chrome wins the Belmont Stakes, thereby winning the Triple Crown, NBC should send a check for $36 to each Nielsen household tuned to them during the race. That would be one dollar for each year since the last Triple Crown winner: Affirmed in 1978.

In the comment thread, I amended that to $3.60, but perhaps 36 cents would have made even more sense.

I floated that idea because I knew California Chrome would lose.  I would have loved for him to win, which turned into thinking he actually would win.  So, as I watched the Belmont Stakes on my iPhone yesterday at another restaurant, I closed the NBC Sports Live Extra app in frustration after Larry Collmus said in the home stretch that there wouldn’t be a Triple Crown winner this year.  I don’t even know who won and don’t care.

Now for my suggestion: Horses that win the Kentucky Derby should not be allowed to run the Preakness Stakes.  That will avoid future heartbreaking Belmont Stakes.  If they can’t run in the Preakness, they can’t possibly win it to set up Triple Crown talk.

It’s another ridiculous suggestion, I’m sure, and one that is born out of sour grapes, but I would love to see it happen.  The days of Triple Crown winners ended in 1978.  I don’t see it ever happening again.

6/9 UPDATE: A rebuttal by Jeff Kroll:

These ideas for change are generally coming from the generation that has not seen a “Triple Crown” win.  Those of us who were around in the ’70s and saw 3 of them know it’s special, and that it can happen.  It will take a very special horse and a lot of luck.  The winning time yesterday on a fast track was still 4 1/2 seconds slower than Secratariat’s world-record 2.24 Flat in 1973.  This group of horses is just not that “special.”

They’re certainly special enough to win two legs, but unfortunately not all three.  I wish I was alive to see Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed win.  Archived video is all I’ve had to go on, particularly of Secretariat’s dominant Belmont win that Jeff mentioned.

SJFS 2014 Night 2 recap April 24, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
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Other SJFS recaps: 2008, 2008 meet-and-greet, 2009, 2010, 2011, 20122013 Night 1, 2013 Night 2, 2014 Night 1

Jay Rowe‘s twelfth annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars benefit concert resumed on Saturday night with a packed house.  They were in for a wild night.

Kevin McCabe welcomed the house, or audience, at approximately 8PM:
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The first song of the night was by select members of the West Shore Middle School Band.  Twelve hours earlier on Facebook, the band’s teacher, Bob Nunno, let me know that some of his students would be opening the show.  I told him that was great and I looked forward to seeing them.  Pictures from their song can be found in the set list below.

The band for the rest of the night consisted of Jay Rowe on keyboards:
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Dave Anderson on bass:
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Trever Somerville on drums:
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…and Steve Scales on percussion:
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SET LIST
1.
Clocks (Coldplay cover)
Musicians: Select members of the West Shore Middle School Band, under the direction of Mr. Bob Nunno (who also played keyboard)

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Applause:
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Like the previous night, Kevin returned to the stage to introduce Jay and his band.  Jay welcomed the audience…:
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…then played the first song of the main show, the second song overall:

2. Pleasure Island (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: “Laugh Out Loud,” 2001
Featured musician: Jay Rowe (keyboards)

3. George Can’t Dance (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: “Catwalk,” 1994 (Special EFX album)
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci (electric guitar), Nelson Rangell (alto sax)

4. Till the End of Time (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: “Genesis,” 2013 (Chieli Minucci & Special EFX album)
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci (electric guitar), Nelson Rangell (alto sax)

5. Point of Departure (Nelson Rangell)
Originally heard on: “Red and Blue” (upcoming album)
Featured musician: Nelson Rangell (alto sax)

6. Speak Softly Love (Love Theme from The Godfather)*/Slammin’ (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: “Influences,” 2014
Featured musician: Nick Colionne (electric guitar)
*-Jay’s intro tune for Nick

7. Melting Into You (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: “No Limits,” 2008
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (vocals/electric guitar), Marion Meadows (soprano sax) (walked on mid-song)

8. The Lift (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: “Body Rhythm,” 1995
Featured musician: Marion Meadows (soprano sax)
Marion and Jay co-wrote this song, the last track on “Body Rhythm,” which featured both them and Dave Anderson.

9. My Cherie Amour (Marion Meadows; Stevie Wonder cover)
Originally heard on: “Body Rhythm,” 1995
Featured musicians: Timmy Maia (vocals), Marion Meadows (soprano sax), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

10. Blue Lagoon (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: “Genesis,” 2013 (Chieli Minucci & Special EFX album)
Featured musician: Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

11. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (The Allman Brothers Band cover)
Featured musicians: Caitlin Kalafus (drums), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

12. Children’s Games (Nelson Rangell; Antonio Carlos Jobim cover)
Originally heard on: “Red and Blue” (upcoming album)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (whistling/piccolo/vocals/claps), Musician (acoustic guitar)
When I spoke to Jay in February, I wondered what Nelson’s whistle song would be this year.  This was a pleasant surprise, and the second year in a row where Nelson covered a Jobim tune.

13. Rainbow Seeker (Nelson Rangell; Joe Sample cover)
Originally heard on: “Far Away Day,” 2000
Featured musician: Nelson Rangell (flute)

14 (Finale). James Brown Tribute
Featured musicians: Everyone, led by Nick Colionne (vocals)

Now for various pictures of each musician, beginning with Jay Rowe:
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Dave Anderson:
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Trever Somerville:
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Steve Scales:
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Chieli Minucci:
Electric guitar:
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Acoustic guitar on “Children’s Games”:
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Nelson Rangell:
Alto sax:
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Flute:
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Piccolo:
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Percussion via Steve’s chimes:
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Vocals and claps:
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Whistling:
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“Nelson Rangell, ladies and gentlemen!”:
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Nick Colionne:
Guitar:
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Vocals:
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Marion Meadows:
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Timmy Maia:
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Caitlin Kalafus:
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This was Caitlin’s first appearance at SJFS in six years.

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To be blunt, she rocked!

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The audience agreed.

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On to wide shots.  First up, “George Can’t Dance”:
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“Till the End of Time”:
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During “Melting Into You”…:
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…and after:
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“The Lift”:
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During “My Cherie Amour”…:
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…and after:
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“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”:
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“Children’s Games”:
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Steve and Trever’s “Rainbow Seeker” duet:
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The wild finale (isn’t it always?): Nick’s tribute to James Brown:
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“Yeah!”:
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“Ha-haaaa!”:
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Nick: “Here we go!  Can I count it off?!”  Nelson: “Count it off!”
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“1, 2, 3, ‘ey!”

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Time to go into the audience:
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(singing): “What about you?!”: (4/27 UPDATE: Or as it’s spelled on “Influences,” “Whatta ‘Bout You?”)
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What about Jay’s mother-in-law?:
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Meanwhile, back on stage:
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Caitlin briefly returned to drums…:
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…and Timmy took over percussion:
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No tribute to James Brown would be complete without the cape routine:
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Jay wrapped it up:
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“See you all next year!”

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Bob Nunno was sitting near where I set up.  So, we spoke for a few minutes after the show.  Then, I had my girlfriend Kelly take our picture:
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Putting together these recaps is a labor of love.  From capturing to editing to uploading to writing, it’s a long and trying process.  When I left the Parsons Complex on Saturday night, I contemplated not going again.  But that would be crazy.  I love Smooth Jazz for Scholars.  For two days out of the year, Milford is my home.  I am grateful to Jay and everyone involved each year for putting on what I consider the Super Bowl of contemporary jazz.

I’ll be back, and I hope you, the reader (if you’re into this genre), make plans to come, too.  Thank you for reading, and to quote Jay, see you all next year!

SJFS 2014 Night 1 recap April 23, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
2 comments

Other SJFS recaps: 2008, 2008 meet-and-greet, 2009, 2010, 2011, 20122013 Night 1, 2013 Night 2, 2014 Night 2 (link coming soon)

For eight years, I’ve traveled to Milford, Connecticut, for Jay Rowe‘s Smooth Jazz for Scholars benefit concert.  This is the first year that has taken place on Easter weekend.  My original plan was to only come to this first night – Friday, April 18.  But when I spoke to Jay between sets at Jeff Kashiwa’s Houndstooth Pub show in February, he convinced me to come to both nights.  I’m glad I did.  I’ll recap the second night in a separate post, but let’s focus on the first night.

The night began just after 8PM with an introduction from Kevin McCabe:
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The first song of the night was by select members of the Foran High School Jazz Ensemble.  Pictures from that song can be found in the set list below.

As for the main band, you had SJFS founder Jay Rowe on keyboards:
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Dave Anderson on bass:
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Trever Somerville on drums:
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Steve Scales on percussion:
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…and for nine songs, Rohn Lawrence on guitar:
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SET LIST
1.
Pick Up the Pieces (Average White Band cover)
Featured musicians: Foran “Average High School Ensemble,” as they called themselves
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Applause:
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After the ensemble performed, Kevin McCabe returned to the stage to resume his introduction, then he tossed to Jay Rowe:
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2. Rosemary’s Tune (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: “Live at Daniel Street,” 2011
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

3. Just a Natural Thang (Steve Cole)
Originally heard on: “True,” 2006
Featured musicians: Steve Cole (tenor sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

4. Going in Circles (Steve Cole; The Friends of Distinction cover)
Originally heard on: “Pulse,” 2013
Featured musicians: Steve Cole (tenor sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

5. The Music Inside (Chuck Loeb)
Originally heard on: “The Music Inside,” 1996
Featured musicians: Chuck Loeb (guitar)

6. Hacienda (Jeff Lorber)
Originally heard on: “Hacienda,” 2013 (Jeff Lorber Fusion album)
Featured musicians: Jeff Lorber (keyboard), Steve Cole (tenor sax), Chuck Loeb (guitar)

7. Tune 88 (Jeff Lorber)
Originally heard on: “Water Sign,” 1979 (Jeff Lorber Fusion album)
Featured musicians: Jeff Lorber (keyboard), Chuck Loeb (guitar), Rohn Lawrence (guitar), Kim Waters (alto sax)

8. Waterfall (Kim Waters)
Originally heard on: “Someone to Love You,” 2002
Featured musicians: Kim Waters (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

9. In the House (Kim Waters)
Originally heard on: “From the Heart,” 2001
Featured musicians: Kim Waters (alto sax), Chuck Loeb (guitar), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

10. With You All the Way/All ‘n All (Steve Cole)
Originally heard on: “Pulse,” 2013
Featured musicians: Steve Cole (tenor sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

11. Silver Lining (Chuck Loeb)
Originally heard on: “Silhouette,” 2013
Featured musicians: Chuck Loeb (guitar), Jeff Lorber (keyboard)

12. Silhouette (Chuck Loeb)
Originally heard on: “Silhouette,” 2013
Featured musicians: Chuck Loeb (guitar), Jeff Lorber (keyboard)

13. Red Wine and You (Kim Waters)
Originally heard on: “My Loves,” 2013
Featured musicians: Kim Waters (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

14. Confirmation (Charlie Parker cover)
Keyboard duet: Jay Rowe, Jeff Lorber

15 (Finale). Toad’s Place (Jeff Lorber)
Originally heard on: “Water Sign,” 1979 (Jeff Lorber Fusion album)
Featured musicians: Everyone

Let’s move on to various pictures of each musician.

We start with Jay Rowe:
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A call and response with Chuck Loeb on “The Music Inside”:
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Dave Anderson:
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Trever Somerville:
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Steve Scales:
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Prompting the audience to clap during “Waterfall”:
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Rohn Lawrence:
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I love when he creeps up the fingerboard.

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I love this, too:
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Steve Cole:
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Chuck Loeb:
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Chuck worked scat into his “In the House” solo:
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Kim Waters:
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Kim briefly switched to keyboard – Jeff Lorber’s keyboard – during his “In the House” solo:
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Jeff Lorber:
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On to wide shots, beginning with “Rosemary’s Tune”:
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“Going in Circles”:
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“Hacienda”:
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“Tune 88″:
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“In the House”:
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“Confirmation,” a duet by Jay and Jeff:
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The finale – “Toad’s Place”:
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The first night of Smooth Jazz for Scholars was in the books.  Jay gave it up one more time for all performers.

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Afterward, I had brief conversations with Steve Cole, Chuck Loeb, Kim Waters, and Jeff Lorber.  I also got pictures with three of them, starting with Jeff:
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Then Kim:
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And Chuck:
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There were more musical thrills on the second night.  Click here to see.

2014 WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony April 12, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in DVD, Interviews, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Technology, TV, Video.
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Previous Hall of Fame ceremonies: 2012, 2013

Last Saturday, the WCWP Hall of Fame welcomed four new inductees in a ceremony in the Goldsmith Atrium at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.  This year’s inductees were Rita Sands, Frank D’Elia, Ted David, and the late Bill Epperhart.

You can see videos of the ceremony at the end, but first, the pictures:

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Pete Bellotti welcomed the audience shortly after 1PM:
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Images from the intro video, voiced by Jim Cutler:
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The ceremony was hosted by Jeff Kroll:
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Bill Mozer assumed the co-host position:
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Rita Sands could not make it to the ceremony, and instead pre-recorded an interview with Bernie Bernard:
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Bernie:
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Bernie and Jeff posed with Rita’s plaque:
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The second inductee of the day was Frank D’Elia:
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The view from my camcorder:
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Frank receives his plaque:
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Like Rita, Ted David was unable to attend the ceremony.  But he did record an acceptance speech:
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Dan Cox, WCWP station manager, spoke next:
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Dan brought up ceremony audio engineer Zach Parker to share the news of a generous donation to WCWP by Zach’s father:
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Then, reflections of Bill Epperhart began.  Dan shared his memories first, then Frank, Bill Mozer, and Jeff joined in.

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Dan Epperhart, Bill’s son, accepted his father’s plaque:
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And gave an eloquent, emotional speech:
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Then, Jeff Kroll and Bill Mozer tossed to other alumni in the audience to share their memories:
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Phil Lebowitz was first:
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Then, Mike Phillips:
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Neil Marks:
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Bruce Leonard:
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Roberta Epperhart O’Neil, widow of Bill’s brother Mike:
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Pete Vogel, Bill’s cousin:
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The last stroll down memory was provided by Jay Elzweig:
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Jeff wrapped it up:
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The only thing left to do was pose for pictures:
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Ceremony Part 1:

Ceremony Part 2:

As you can see, this year’s WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony ended up running for a little over two hours.  Memories were shared and praise was heaped.  It was a day I won’t soon forget.  Congratulations to Rita Sands, Frank D’Elia, Ted David, and Bill Epperhart.

Winter 2013-2014 recap March 28, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Technology, Weather.
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3/31 UPDATE: Pictures of this morning’s wet snow added at the end of this post.

4/16 UPDATE: Post revised to reflect earlier snow than I previously remembered and a coating early this morning.

The winter of 2013-14 didn’t begin and end at the official times.  Winter weather bled into mid-fall and early spring.  The first snow came over a month before winter and the last came a month after winter.  The first storm to produce an inch or more of snow came two weeks before winter and the last storm to do that came a week and a half after winter.

This post serves as a photo recap of most of the snow to affect my neck of the woods – Western Long Island.

Unlike the previous two winters, there were a handful of storms that left six or more inches of snow.  Luckily, February 13 was the last storm of that kind.  The rest of the season featured minor storms with little to no accumulation.

November 12:
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December 8:
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December 10:
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December 14:
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As I went outside to shovel, the snow switched to rain and the air temperature approached 50 degrees, about 25 degrees warmer than when snow began.

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January 2-3: See separate post

January 21-22: See separate post

January’s snow was powdery and lightweight because temperatures were well below freezing.  As you’ll see below, most of February’s snow was wet and heavyweight as temperatures were near or above freezing when it fell.

February 3:
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February 5:
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A couple of inches fell on February 9, but were powdery and light.  It was nonetheless hard to shovel because of the frozen slush in the driveway from the previous two storms.

February 13:
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February 14:
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As I noted at the top, this was the last big snowstorm of the season.  A smaller storm dropped a couple of inches on February 15, which didn’t stop me from going to Manhattan to see saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa perform.

February 18:
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After this quick coating of snow, we were treated to six days of above normal temperatures; perfect melting weather.

Snow showers came through on the afternoon of February 26, also leaving a coating, which quickly melted in the sun, despite temperatures in the 20s.

March 3:
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March was a month of near misses and close calls.  It began with this storm.  Nearly a foot of snow was initially forecast, but in the 48 hours leading up to the storm, computer models kept suppressing it further and further south.  Thus, the snowfall forecast dropped all the way down to an inch at most.  We ended up with less than that, but I still shoveled it.

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The next near miss came on March 17.  Once again, a lot of snow was expected initially, but that threat went away quicker.  Again, up to an inch was the final forecast and we didn’t get a thing.  I woke up on St. Patrick’s Day to a dry driveway.

The ultimate near miss came on March 26, a week into spring.  This would be a blizzard, like the one on January 2, but with wet snow, like the three storms in February.  Up to nine inches was expected for a while, but the storm was suppressed to the south and east, making it a bigger threat for eastern New England and Atlantic Canada.  For them, it was a monster with tropical storm-force gusts on land and hurricane-force gusts at sea.  For us, only a coating fell, which quickly melted.  And wind gusts behind the storm were no higher than 50 miles per hour.

As pretty as snow is when it falls, it is a pain to shovel.  So, as of now, I won’t miss winter completely.  Luckily, as we move deeper into spring, milder temperatures are ahead.

Before long, the three Hs – hazy, hot, and humid – will return, and the pesky Bermuda High will keep humidity-breaking cold fronts from coming through.  By then, cold air and snow will be a refreshing thought.

3/31 UPDATE: Earlier this morning, around sunrise, rain began to mix with sleet and wet snow, and then it changed to all wet snow.  About an inch fell over two hours and is already melting, as of 11AM.  Here is how it looked:
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This should be the last snow of the season.  If I don’t post anymore updates, you’ll know it was.

4/16 UPDATE: It wasn’t.  A shot of unseasonably cold air behind a cold front turned any precipitation to sleet or wet snow overnight.  Temperatures were near freezing at the time.  It dropped a quick coating, which I found on my sister’s car and the backyard deck when I woke up after sunrise:
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The coating will melt fast in the warm April sun, even though it’s only 35 degrees as I type at 9:30 AM.  Since it’s spring, a freeze warning was issued for this morning.  Temperatures will return to normal by the weekend.

Ken Navarro, “Ruby Lane” March 10, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, News, Personal.
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The third week of February marked the arrival of Ken Navarro‘s latest album, Ruby Lane.  It’s available on his website now, but it otherwise comes out on April 15.

Reminiscent of his debut album, The River Flows, Ken wears many instrumental hats on Ruby Lane, playing acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, and keyboards.  And if my instinct is correct, he also handled bass, drums, and percussion under the anagrammed pseudonyms Evan Rorkan and Karen Voran.

Tracks:
1. Can I Make It Last (Or Will It Just Be Over) (5:10) – This is a Boz Scaggs cover.  Ken’s piano solo was inspired the late Joachim Young, who played piano on Boz’s original version.
2. Running Toward the Sun (4:54)
3. Kings and Queens (7:08) – Ken dedicated this to Coretta Scott King and Ethel Kennedy, who were left to raise their children on their own.  Tragically, their husbands – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy – were assassinated in 1968.
4. Westbound and Rolling (5:31) – This is a guitar extravaganza as Ken played 11 guitar parts all layered together.  It brought to mind riding the LIRR westbound to Penn Station.
5. When the Spirit Speaks (6:41) – Features The Scheinbar String Quartet
6. A Gentle Man (5:14)
7. Higher Ground (6:56) – This is the best cover of Stevie Wonder’s song I’ve heard yet.
8. Ruby Lane (5:09) – Ken’s 40th anniversary gift to his wife Kristin
9. Fortunate Son (4:45) – A new take on a song originally recorded for The Labor of Love (1992); it’s Ken’s thank you to his parents

Ruby Lane is another Ken Navarro masterpiece.  I like it so much that I’ve heard all tracks at least five times so far; I stopped counting after a while.

I’ll leave you with the Ruby Lane preview video, which contains track excerpts:

The track order differs from the order on the CD I bought.

4/30 UPDATE: Ken previewed Ruby Lane in this podcast.

6/12 UPDATE: Ken demonstrates how “Running Toward the Sun” was mixed:

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