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Brian Simpson concert recap 3 (7PM show) February 17, 2015

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

Previous Brian Simpson recaps: April 2011, September 2012

I was at Houndstooth Pub on Valentine’s Day to see keyboardist Brian Simpson perform. As with Lisa Hilton last month, this was the third time I had seen Brian live. Also like Lisa’s show, Brian debuted material from an upcoming album. Out of a Dream was released today.

There always seems to be an active weather pattern when I go to see Brian Simpson. The first time, there was a nor’easter. The second time, a severe thunderstorm threatened Manhattan, but weakened considerably by the time it crossed the Hudson River. This time, a clipper brought light snow to the area, but it was forecast to reform and intensify offshore at night, dumping heavier snow and strong gusty winds in the process.

I took this shot before I left with my girlfriend Kelly for the Wantagh LIRR station:
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I considered it a before picture, expecting to take an after picture when we got home that would show a few inches on the ground with more to come overnight. Luckily, the forecast models changed dramatically while Kelly and I were out. The worst of the snow stayed to the south. The same coating you see above awaited us when we got back to Wantagh. An additional coating fell overnight.

Unfortunately, the wind forecast didn’t change. Gusts over 50 miles per hour began after 2AM and continued for about 12 more hours. From there, gusts were as high as 45 mph and occurred less and less until they were gone altogether by Monday afternoon.

But enough about the weather.

There were two shows that night: 7:00 and 9:15. Kelly and I got tickets to the 7:00.

Brian Simpson played keyboard:
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…and keytar:
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Dave Anderson was on bass:
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Les Cleveland on drums:
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…and on seven songs in the set, Art Sherrod Jr. on saxophone:
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The engineer was Neal Newman:
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As I noted at the top, the show featured songs from Brian’s latest album, Out of a Dream. Here’s the full set list:
1.
South Beach* – keyboard/keytar
2. It Could Happen* – keytar/keyboard
3. Just One Wish^
4. When I Say Your Name*^
5. Blues in G*
6. Sky Watcher^ – keytar
7. Can’t Tell You Why
8. Let’s Get Close – keytar
9. Just What You Need – keytar
10. Juicy* – keytar/keyboard
11. Saturday Cool*
12 (Encore). It’s All Good*
* Art Sherrod Jr., sax
^ From Out of a Dream

Now, for a series of pictures of Brian on keytar. First, pictures from “Let’s Get Close”:
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One of the audience members he got close to – in the musical sense – was Kelly:
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She’s been a fan of Brian for a long time. In fact, she first learned of me through my website after I posted my Mike Chimeri Show interview with him nine years ago. (That interview and more can be found here.) It would be another four years before she finally got in touch with me on Facebook.

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For “Saturday Cool,” he went beyond the stage and into the audience, passing by Ron and Nydia along the way:
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Back on stage, here are pictures from Dave Anderson and Les Cleveland’s “Saturday Cool” solos. Dave first:
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Les Cleveland:
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Wide shots:
“Saturday Cool”:
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The encore: “It’s All Good”:
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The last note:
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Art Sherrod Jr.: “Once again, Mr. Brian Simpson, everyone”:
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Brian greeted us when we arrived beforehand and we spoke to him again afterward. Then, we posed for a pic:
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The red Sharpie in his hand isn’t what he signed my copy of Out of a Dream with. He went with a black one instead.

I’ve used this term before, but the set was wild! I can only imagine what it was like for the later crowd. Thanks to Brian, Dave, Les, and Art.

Five days of scanning January 30, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Bowling, Education, Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Technology.
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As snow fell outside Monday afternoon, I was going through a drawer in my room where I keep some personal mementos. Then, I was struck with inspiration. I had been using my Epson WF-3520 All-in-One Printer in the guest room to copy a few documents this month, via the printer’s sheet feeder. Why not use that sheet feeder to scan any personal mementos that were on letter-size paper? That’s what I did all this week.

I started with bowling scorecards between 1998 and 2006, plus a handful more between September 2007 and September 2014. Then, I moved on to my final college transcript, a paper I wrote for Introduction to Journalism, an e-mail reply from Tom Snyder, two e-mail replies from voice over talent Dan Chandler, a flyer promoting my Mike Chimeri Show interview with Colin Mochrie, and radio show and Live365 radio station playlists. I scanned anything that wasn’t letter-size on the traditional scanner platen. This included dot matrix score sheets from AMF Wantagh Lanes and two desk calendar pages that were dated September 11, 2001. Playlists that were handwritten on letter-size legal paper had to be scanned on my Canon CanoScan LiDE210 in my room. Since what I wrote on the other side could be seen, I had to scan in black and white – not grayscale – giving the scans an old photocopy or fax look.

The radio show playlists spanned my career to date: The Mike Chimeri Show, The Instrumental Invasion, MCJN (Live365 station), a few demos, the night I filled in for Martin Phillips on the defunct Thursday Night Jazz show, Evening Jazz, CJazzPlus (Live365 station), and all my homecoming weekend shows.

In addition to the copy of my Intro to Journalism paper, I also saved papers by two of my classmates. The paper had us write a profile of a few of our classmates, based on press conference-style interviews our professor, Bernard Bard, previously a reporter for the New York Post, had arranged one week in mid-semester. I remember little about my presser, but there was one quote each of the classmates that wrote about me used:

Broadcasting is my thing, my calling. I belong in that field.

This was in March 2001. Seven months later, I began at WCWP. While I may have had volunteer success, I’m still waiting and hoping for professional success. If “my thing, my calling” doesn’t pan out, at least I have photo and document scanning to make a career of.

Dharma All Stars recap 8 January 19, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel, Weather.
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Previous Dharma All Stars recaps: July 2008, September 2008, June 2009, July 2009, April 2010, August 2010, September 2011

For me, last week began with Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. The week ended closer to home – at Suite 1828 in Merrick – for another favorite of mine: John Favicchia‘s Dharma All Stars.

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2011 marked the first time I saw Lisa Hilton, but it was the last time until last Friday that I had seen Dharma All Stars. I first saw them live a decade ago in Rockville Centre. I interviewed guitarist Chieli Minucci for my WCWP radio show – all interviews can be found here – and after we finished recording, he invited me to Dharma’s show, which was two weeks later, where he would be on guitar. I’m so glad I did. The People I’ve Met page includes pictures from some of the Dharma gigs I attended between July 2005 and March 2007. (Yes, I was much heavier back then.)

On Friday night, Dharma All Stars was led by John Favicchia on drums:
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Steve Briody (“BRY-dee”) on guitar:
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Brad Mason on trumpet…:
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…and flugelhorn:
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Coincidentally, Brad was at the first Dharma gig I attended.

Misha Tsiganov on keyboard:
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…and Nick Lazarev on bass:
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My interviews with John and Steve can also be found at the interviews page I linked to earlier.

The set list featured all my favorites:
1. Horizons
2. Coincidence
3. Sing a Song of Song (Kenny Garrett cover)
4. Black (Cedar Walton cover)
5. April Fools
6. Kukuc

John’s “Kukuc” solo:
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When “Kukuc” ended, the crowd at the Suite stood up and cheered. Another spectacular show was in the books.

Afterward, my girlfriend Kelly took this picture of the Dharma All Stars along with Jeff Krasner and me:
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Dharma will be back at Suite 1828 on Friday, March 13.

Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall again January 13, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Football, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, Weather.
4 comments

Previous Lisa Hilton recaps: June 2011, January 2014

I was back at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on Sunday to see jazz pianist Lisa Hilton in concert. As you can tell by the previous recaps above, this was the third time I saw her live.

Four weeks ago yesterday, a postcard from Lisa arrived in the mail. Four upcoming shows were on that postcard and the Carnegie show was at the top. I immediately went to the Carnegie Hall website to purchase a ticket. I ended up buying one in front row center. As it turns out, there was only one other person in the front row at the show.

I got a ride to the Wantagh LIRR station at around noon. After getting a round trip off peak ticket to Penn Station, I waited on the platform for the 12:19 westbound train. I sat in the westernmost railcar and had a quiet ride. Once at Penn Station, I took the E train to 7th Avenue and West 53rd Street, walking to Carnegie from there.

I arrived at about 1:30.
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Last year’s show was on a Thursday at 8PM. This year’s show was at 2PM on Sunday. The trip to Penn and the show itself allowed me to sequester myself from knowing what was going on in the Packers-Cowboys NFC Divisional Playoff Game. I’m not a fan of the Cowboys and was aggravated that they came back to win their Wild Card game against the Lions. Luckily, I learned back at Penn around 4:00 that the Packers won.

Weill Recital Hall is small and intimate, so much so that a sound system wasn’t even in place. The hall’s acoustics were the sound system.

It turns out you can take pictures before a performance, so I did just that:
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I would have taken more, but my camera’s shutter was really loud in the hall.

1/17 UPDATE: Kudos to professional photographer Enid Farber on her wonderful shots during the show.

2/5 UPDATE: Enid has allowed me to post two of her pictures:
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Thank you very much.

At 2:00 on the dot, the show began. Lisa Hilton played piano, Ben Street was on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums. They were joined two songs in by J.D. Allen on tenor saxophone and Ingrid Jensen on trumpet. I had seen Lisa, Ben, and J.D. before, but not Rudy and Ingrid. They were a superb quintet.

Lisa has a new album coming out on March 7 called Horizons. This was the first time tunes from the album were played live. Here’s what the set looked like (quintet except where noted):
1. Vapors and Shadows (Lisa, Ben, Rudy)
2. Sunset and the Mocking Bird (Lisa, Ben, Rudy)
3. Nocturnal
4. The Sky and the Ocean
5. Lazy Moon
6. Moon River
7. When It Rains (Lisa, Ben, Rudy)
8. Currents (Lisa, Ben, Rudy)
9. Seduction^ (Lisa only)
10. Dolphins
11. Surfer Blues
12. So This is Love^
13. Slow Down^
14. Waterfall^ (encore) (Lisa only)

^”Seduction” is originally from Seduction (1997), and redone on Cocktails at Eight (2000), My Favorite Things (2005) and The New York Sessions (2007). “So This is Love” is originally from My Favorite Things and played again on Sunny Day Theory (2008) and Nuance (2010). “When It Rains” originated on American Impressions (2012). “Slow Down” is from Getaway (2013). “Waterfall” is also from Seduction and Cocktails at Eight.

Lisa previously covered “Moon River” on Cocktails at Eight, Midnight in Manhattan (2006), and Twilight & Blues (2009).

The set lasted about an hour and a half. Each song was an instrumental landscape and each musician had a brush. Of the material from Horizons, my favorites were:
“Vapors and Shadows” – I was enamored by the fast tempo and staccato notes. They were like Morse code.
“Nocturnal” – This had a danceable melody and rhythm.
“Dolphins” – This was a relaxing composition, evoking images of dolphins frolicking offshore.
Of the material not on the album, I’ve always liked “Seduction” and “So This is Love,” so it was great to hear them. I had a “so, this is love” epiphany myself a few years ago.

I caught up with Lisa afterward in the lobby and she insisted we take a picture. I was more than happy to oblige:
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I also bought a CD copy of Horizons in the lobby. I told Lisa I was hoping to hear her cover of “Gold on the Ceiling” during the show. Of course, I didn’t know it was a cover because I know very little about modern pop music. When I heard the 30-second preview of the song on Amazon prior to Sunday, I liked its energy, as I did with “Vapors and Shadows.” It reminded me of Horace Silver. And the title had me thinking of old prospectors chopping gold off a ceiling with their pickaxes. While sharing that visualization with Lisa, she told me the song was originally by the Black Keys. A check of the liner notes when I got home later confirmed that. So, this goes on record as another instrumental cover of a pop song that I prefer over the original. In this case, I don’t plan on listening to the original “Gold on the Ceiling” anytime soon. As for my visualization, Lisa interpreted the song title as gold representing a sunset and the ceiling representing the sky. I told her I liked that – a sunset in the sky.

Going back to Penn Station, I had planned on taking the Q train back to Herald Square and walking to Penn from there. Instead, I walked down 7th Avenue, through Times Square, and took the 1 train from 42nd Street Station to Penn. While in Times Square, I took this picture:
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Like last year, the ball is frozen in time after dropping on New Year’s Eve.

Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall is becoming an annual tradition for me. I’m already looking forward to next time. Thank you, Lisa, Ben, Rudy, J.D., and Ingrid.

2014 in review December 31, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audio, Commentary, Film, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio.
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The following is an excerpt of an end-of-year post WordPress created for MikeChimeri.com. Scroll down for my editorial.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,500 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Despite seven more posts than last year, 2014 was more for reflecting than recapping. Only six posts recapped jazz concerts, two recapped WCWP events, and one was a recap of my day at New York Comic Con. A lot of work went into those posts, however. You can find them in the archives (screen left) for January, February, April, June, and October.

As for reflection, I reflected one year with an iPhone, one year of running with the help of the Nike Running app, ten years since my college commencement, and twenty since the infamous O.J. Simpson car chase. You can find those posts in the archives for May and June.

I always hope the best when a new year approaches and this time is no different. I hope you, the reader, I, the writer, and everyone we know have a happy, healthy, and gainful 2015.

Smooth Jazz for Scholars 2015 dates/lineup December 10, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal.
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Keyboardist Jay Rowe’s 13th Smooth Jazz for Scholars is four months away. It’s the third year as a two-night event, but the first year where I can only go to one night. More on that later.

Jay has full details at his website:

The upcoming Smooth Jazz For Scholars concerts will be held on 4/24/15 and 4/25/15. The line-up on 4/24 is Peter WhiteMarion Meadows and Vincent Ingala. The line-up on 4/25 is Marc Antoine, Chieli Minucci, Nelson Rangell and Jackiem Joyner. Reserved seating is available and tickets can be purchased by sending a check or money order payable to Smooth Jazz For Scholars Inc. at P.O. Box 3723 Milford, CT. 06460. Tickets are $40 each for 1 night and $70 for both nights. Call at (203) 415-8878 for additional info and assistance if needed.

For years, I had dreamed of Peter White playing at Smooth Jazz for Scholars. The dream comes true on April 24. As for April 25, I can’t make that one. The 2015 WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony is that afternoon at LIU Post. I had feared a personal scheduling conflict would arise one year. This is the year. To those that are going that night, you’re in for a great show. Let me know what Nelson’s whistle song was this time. I always love them.

Friday, April 24
Peter White
Marion Meadows
Vincent Ingala

Saturday, April 25
Marc Antoine
Chieli Minucci
Nelson Rangell
Jackiem Joyner

Tickets: $40 for one night, $70 for two nights

Tickets can be purchased by check or money order payable to:
Smooth Jazz for Scholars
P.O. Box 3723
Milford, CT 06460

For more information, call: (203) 415-8878

Here are recaps of the 12th annual SJFS first night and second night.

2014 LIU Post & WCWP Homecoming, 2015 Hall of Fame Announcement October 21, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Technology, Video, Weather.
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Earlier recaps: 2008, 2009, WCWP 50th Anniversary (2011), 2012, 2013

Later in this recap, I share airchecks from my Homecoming Weekend show and behind-the-scenes pictures from the prerecord.

I was at LIU Post on Saturday for their annual Homecoming Day. Most of my time was spent at WCWP’s barbecue and the announcement of 2015 inductees to their Hall of Fame.

I arrived at WCWP at about 2:30 PM. After setting my equipment down in Studio 3, I walked to Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium to watch part of the 3rd quarter of the LIU Post Pioneers’ Homecoming game against the Saint Anselm Hawks.

Before taking pics by Bronko Pearsall Field, I grabbed a few shots of the carnival:
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The press box:
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WCWP alumni Jeff Kroll and Neil Marks called the game from the lower booth. Included to their right (screen left) were, from left to right, Joel Feltman, Zach Parker (facing away), and Phil Lebowitz.

Last year was going to be the press box’s last year, but it turned out not to be.

Unlike last year, I didn’t capture a Pioneers touchdown, but I did capture a kickoff return for Saint Anselm
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…and a run by Pioneers quarterback Steven Laurino:
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The Pioneers went on to beat the Hawks by the score of 49-21.

I took the scenic route back to WCWP, which began at Post Hall:
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It is home to ARP, or the Academic Resource Program, located on the lower level. It was the Academic Resource Center (ARC) while I was a student, from Fall 1999 to Fall 2003, and was one level higher.

My 35mm photo rescanning project recently included pictures from ARC events. And as I work my way through pics between the rest of 2000 and 2003, there will be many more. Without ARC/ARP, I would have had a tougher road to graduation.

The opposite side of Post Hall:
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Riggs Hall:
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Humanities Hall:
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Humanities was home to many of my Media Arts classes. I also took English Composition, Philosophy, Political Science, Spanish, and Math for Elementary Education there.

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The Winnick House:
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The combined building of Life Science and Pell Hall:
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I took Study Strategies on the Life Science side, and Human Geography and Earth Science on the Pell side.

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Eventually, I made my way back to WCWP.

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With the Homecoming game ending early, Maura “Bernie” Bernard had to start her show a half hour earlier than expected:
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The same thing happened to me in 2008.

Let the show begin:
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Steven Acevedo was one of many guests to drop in on Bernie’s show:
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David Kaplan was another:
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Moments before the 2015 WCWP Hall of Fame announcement, I video recorded the following aircheck from Bernie’s show, synced to my recording of the Internet stream:

As Ted David noted above, at 5PM, he announced the 2015 inductees to the WCWP Hall of Fame. Ted is himself an inductee, part of the 2014 HOF class.

The 2015 inductees are Jeff Kroll, Bruce Leonard, Bobby Guthenberg, and Mike Riccio. Yesterday was not only the 53rd anniversary of WCWP, but Bobby’s “53rd” birthday, as well. What better birthday present than induction into the WCWP Hall of Fame?

Here is the announcement:

After that, it was time to pose for pictures.

Here are Pete Bellotti, Dan Cox, Jeff Kroll, Bruce Leonard, Bobby Guthenberg, Mike Riccio, and Ted David:
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Next is all the Hall of Famers that were present at Homecoming:
Frank D’Elia (2014), Ted (2014), Bobby G. (2015), Mike (2015), Bernie Bernard (2013), Jeff (2015), Bruce (2015):
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One of two pictures of Ted and me:
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Joel Feltman and Ted David:
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The barbecue outside WCWP wouldn’t have been possible without Ryan Attard, Director of Alumni Relations and the LIU Post Alumni Association. After the HOF announcement, Ryan spoke with Bernie:
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Here is how that looked and sounded:

Phil Lebowitz (center) with two current students: Deandre Wilson and Mike Nicosia:
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After the above picture, I was Bernie’s next guest:

Two comments:
1) I probably shouldn’t have bitten the smooth jazz hand that could potentially feed me in the future.
2) I was nervously playing with one of the WCWP bracelets that Bernie’s sister Melissa made.

Steven Acevedo and Jett Lightning took turns reading the WCWP Rock Show concert calendar:
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Here’s how that sounded:

Hearing Bernie play “Fire” by Arthur Brown in previous years made that song one of my favorites. When she played it this year, as heard above, after “I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you…!,” I jumped up and down excitedly for the first few bars before composing myself.

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6PM marked the middle of WCWP’s Homecoming Weekend:
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It began Friday at noon and ended Sunday night (yesterday morning) at midnight.

Thanks to Pat Kroll for bringing over this personalized Waldbaum’s sheet cake:
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Pat cut the first slice:
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The WCWP 53rd anniversary/birthday cake was acknowledged on the air:

John Zoni, Pat Kroll, Jeff Kroll, Zach Parker:
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Bernie’s last aircheck of the night:
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…looked and sounded like this:

Next up was Rev. John Commins:
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It was his first Homecoming show in a decade.

Bruce and Jeff ran the board:
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Steven Acevedo stuck around for John’s show:
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Here are select airchecks from John’s show:

Mike Phillips, Frank D’Elia, and Phil Lebowitz:
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After becoming friends with Joe Honerkamp on Facebook, we finally met in person Saturday night:
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Ted David took this picture of me:
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Then, we posed for our second pic of the day:
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I took one last shot before I left:
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I had to take it from Studio 2 because it was too crowded in Studio 1 and at the door to Studio 1.

I had such a blast at Homecoming. It was great to catch up with alumni I’ve met before and with those I met in person for the first time.

Hours later, at 2AM, it was time for my Homecoming show, CJazzPlus with Mike Chimeri. As I noted two weeks ago, I prerecorded the show. Here are pictures from that session in Studio 2:
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Direct from the Studio 2 console are my airchecks from that show:

And here is the playlist with a retroactive correction I added in Photoshop on Sunday night:
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Some of the notes I wrote on the playlist didn’t make it to the final cut.

I loved Ted David’s liners so much that I made a compilation of how those liners sounded between songs:

The first transition was from the console while the rest were from the Internet stream.

WCWP Homecoming Weekend show to air October 19 October 6, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Phone, Radio.
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I was on the campus of LIU Post on Friday to record my annual Homecoming Weekend radio show for WCWP, the campus radio station which I was originally part of from October 2001 to May 2004. CJazzPlus with Mike Chimeri will air very early on Sunday, October 19, at 2AM Eastern (Saturday, October 18, at 11PM Pacific) on 88.1 FM and WCWP.org. If you are outside of the signal range, choose the latter (WCWP.org) or browse for WCWP on the TuneIn mobile app.

In the two hours of CJazzPlus, I’ll be playing The Jeff Lorber Fusion, Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright, Brian Culbertson, and many more, including one of my favorites by the recently departed Joe Sample. The show took just over two hours to record and an extra hour to edit, plus additional time editing at home on Saturday.

The name CJazzPlus comes from a short-lived Live365 station of mine from late 2010. It’s short for “contemporary jazz plus.” The “plus” refers to various sub-genres of jazz and instrumentals from other genres. I try to go beyond what you’d hear on a typical smooth jazz station, such as SiriusXM’s Watercolors.

Hours before the show airs, on Saturday, October 18, I’ll be at for Post for their Homecoming festivities, as well as for WCWP’s. The latter of those includes the announcement of 2015 inductees to the WCWP Hall of Fame. I look forward to that announcement as much as I look forward to the annual announcements of National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees and Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees. My guess is as good as yours. You’ll have to listen that afternoon to find out who got in this time.

“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” and “Carry On,” 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.

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

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal.
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BillHeller_FindTheWay

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.

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