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My experience at Day 1 of 2014 New York Comic Con October 10, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Books, Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Media, Personal, Photography, Radio, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous New York Comic Con recap: 2012 Day 2

Yesterday marked my second trip to New York Comic Con, held annually at the Javits Center in the Midtown West portion of Manhattan. This time, I went with my girlfriend Kelly. We met each other at Penn Station, going our own ways to get there. I came from Wantagh, she came from Wallingford, Connecticut.

My way to her began at around 12:15 when I walked two blocks to a bus stop for the southbound NICE (Nassau Inter-County Express) n73. The bus arrived at 12:28, two minutes ahead of schedule. That ensured I would arrive at the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station in time to board a 12:32 train, an earlier train than I had planned for. If I hadn’t bought my round trip ticket the day before, I’d have to wait for the 12:57. 50 minutes later, I was at Penn Station. I met up with Kelly and we began the half-hour walk to the Javits Center.

We entered at West 38th Street, tapping our badges before going inside. Conventioneers were greeted by giant inflated Teen Titans – and, by extension, Teen Titans Go! – characters.

Beast Boy and Starfire:
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Cyborg and Robin:
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And, of course, Raven:
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Time to head inside…

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My first plan was to meet voice actor Billy West, whom I interviewed back in 2005 at WCWP. Since autographing was involved, and not knowing offhand where Booth 1280 was, despite going to NYCC two years ago, I headed downstairs.

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A fellow conventioneer informed me that Booth 1280 was on the show floor. So, Kelly and I headed there.

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On the floor…
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We searched the aisle numbers and headed for the 1200s. It was there that we found Billy West.

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Billy and I had a brief conversation, he signed my copy of Futurama, Volume 7 – which has Zoidberg on the cover – and Kelly took our picture:
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He signed the cover this way:

To Mike!

…Zoidberg could eat…

Billy West

It was the highlight of my afternoon. But there was more to do. Kelly and I walked the floor back to a downward escalator.

Along the way, this is what we saw:
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We finally reached a downward escalator:
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There were a few panels I was interested in attending, but the one we settled on was here in Room 1A21:
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It was for the latest (and upcoming) Transformers TV series, Transformers: Robots in Disguise. The panel began at 4:00, but we got in line at 3:00.

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The line was small when we arrived and we ended up near the front. It pays to show up early. After 50 minutes in line, the door was opened. We ended up sitting front row center. It was fantastic.

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The panel was moderated by Mike Vogel, the Vice President of Development for Hasbro Studios:
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From right to left on the dais, there was Jeff Kline, executive producer:
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Jose Lopez, director:
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Adam Beecher, producer and writer:
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And the voice talent:
Will Friedle (Bumblebee):
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Khary Payton (Grimlock):
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Constance Zimmer (Strongarm):
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…and Mitchell Whitfield (Fixit):
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Now that you know the stars, here are random panel wide shots:
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Khary set up the clip about to be shown:
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Q&A:
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After 45 minutes, the panel came to an end:
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Constance and Khary stuck around to sign autographs:
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Transformers: Robots in Disguise premieres in early 2015 on Cartoon Network. I can’t wait. I’m so glad I chose this panel.

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After a few fun hours at New York Comic Con, Kelly and I called it a day:
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We didn’t go right home, though. We walked down 11th Avenue to West 35th Street, taking that to 8th. We stopped in Trattoria Bianca for an early dinner. An hour later, we boarded an express LIRR train back to Wantagh, which also took an hour.

As I did for my 2012 Day 2 recap, I’ll leave you with a picture of the lanyard I wore and the badge it carried:
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10/11 UPDATE: There is an in-depth recap of the Transformers: Robots in Disguise panel at Newsarama.

And unbeknownst to me, because I didn’t look at the NYCC schedule beyond Thursday, there was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel yesterday. Bam! Smack! Pow! has a recap of that, while IGN’s Scott Collura interviewed Rob Paulsen (Donatello), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), and executive producers Ciro Nieli and Brandon Auman.

If tickets for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday hadn’t sold out so fast, I would have gone either of those days. But I’m glad I went when I did. As I noted in the original recap, I got to meet Billy West in person and to whet my appetite for Transformers: Robots in Disguise, sitting front row center for their panel in the process.

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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.

Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk September 29, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Fire, Health, Internet, Military, News, Personal, Phone, Photography, Police, Travel, TV.
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I was in New York City yesterday for the annual Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk. I signed up back in May after my dad recommended it to me. He was impressed by all the running I had done, and at such a fast pace. The fast pace back then occurred on the treadmill, but that has extended to the outdoors since I signed up. September alone was a landmark month for me, as I routinely ran 3.6 miles in about 38 minutes. Conditioning like that prepared me for yesterday.

The day began dark and early at 4:30 AM when my alarm clock woke me up. I tried to go to sleep early and get a decent amount of hours in, but I was only able to get about three hours of sleep. I spent about an hour getting ready and was out the door with my dad at 5:30.

We traveled to Point Lookout with eleven others from Dad’s firehouse, Freeport Excelsior Hook and Ladder Co. 1. There, we joined a bigger team from Point Lookout Lido Fire Department’s 2nd Battalion.

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I didn’t bring my Nikon D5100, settling on my iPhone 5 for all pictures seen in this recap.

Three buses took us to Red Hook, Brooklyn. Our Freeport team boarded first of those three.

We arrived in Red Hook shortly before 9:00.

20 minutes later, we began the long stop-and-go walk to the starting line.

Along the way, we passed Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church:
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Their bell rang as we passed by.

Almost at the starting line:
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And away we went!

I didn’t think I’d be able to run because of the amount of people participating. But once we crossed the starting line, I did run, though not for the entire 5K.

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The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel (aka Hugh L. Carey Tunnel):
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As I ran and walked through the tunnel, music was pumped in through speakers and various runners yelled patriotic chants. It was surreal, but I enjoyed it.

The tunnel seemed to go on forever. While 1.73 miles is a mere two minutes by car, in light traffic, I was in there for 25 minutes on foot.

The light at the end of the tunnel:
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When I was out, I was greeted by the sight of One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan:
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Freeport native Richie Muldowney was one of the 343 FDNY firefighters lost on 9/11:
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A view of Jersey City across the Hudson River:
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50 minutes after I started…
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…I crossed the finish line:
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My official time, listed here (search chimeri), was 0:50:36.

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On my way back, there were two early buses and one late bus. The early buses were full, so I and most of the Freeport team had to wait for the late bus. While we waited, we had lunch at Greenwich Street Tavern in TriBeCa.
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We were finished eating just in time to board the late bus back. It took nearly two hours to return to Point Lookout due to heavy traffic, and a half hour to return home to Wantagh.

The Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk was an amazing and awesome (in the literal sense) experience. If you haven’t signed up for it before, I recommend you try it at least once.

9/30 UPDATE: The full text results can be seen here.

Scanning all over again September 20, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Photography.
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You may remember that I scanned pictures from multiple photo albums in December 2008 and January 2009. You may also remember that I filled the gaps last summer when I scanned albums I hadn’t scanned originally, in addition to pictures in a bin. I scanned with a higher quality scanner at a higher DPI (dots per inch) setting than the original scans. And last month, I completed the gap-filling when I scanned pictures that were in a drawer in the guest room.

Filling those gaps made me dissatisfied with the quality of those original scans –  the result of selecting “auto contrast,” “auto levels,” and “auto color” in Photoshop for most of them. So, I’ve begun the long, arduous process of rescanning many of those pictures.

This could take a few months, but I feel it has to be done. So far, I’ve scanned 250 pictures over two days. I have about 2,900 left. I’m going to take it slow, only scanning 100 pictures max per day for a few days a week. Wish me luck.

One space, not two September 20, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Education, Personal.
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For about a month, I’ve been trying something I haven’t done since before I learned keyboarding on a typewriter in 9th grade. I’m only using one space after a period, not two. It’s what all the style manuals have been requiring for a decade and I was unaware until last month.

The transition hasn’t been easy, but habits are hard to break. I assure you this is how I will space my sentences from now on.

My 2014 NFL Predictions September 4, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Football, Personal, Sports.
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For many years, right before the start of the NFL or MLB seasons, I have predicted seasonal results.  It started out as a personal hobby in 2006, then grew to Facebook in 2012.  This year, I’m going public and posting my predictions at MikeChimeri.com.

Before we start, you should know that pessimism plays a role in my predictions, meaning I expect the Patriots to win Super Bowl XLIX.  With that in mind…

Here are my predictions for the 2014 NFL season that starts tonight (playoff seeding in parentheses):

In the NFC: The Seahawks win the West (1), Eagles win the East (2), Packers win the North (3), and Saints win the South (4).  The 49ers (5) and Bears (6) will be the wild cards.

In the AFC: The Patriots win the East (1), Ravens win the North (2), Colts win the South (3), and Broncos win the West (4).  The Bengals (5) and Chargers (6) will be the wild cards.  The Chiefs will finish last in the West, making their 9-0 start last season a distant memory.

In the postseason:
Wild Card: Packers, Broncos, 49ers, and Chargers win
Divisional: 49ers, Broncos, Packers, and Patriots win
Conference Champions: Packers (NFC) and Patriots (AFC), setting up a Super Bowl XXXI rematch.  Only this time…
Super Bowl XLIX Champions: Patriots

Each year I predict the Patriots to win it all, I am relieved to be wrong.  Will that happen again this year?

Locally, I expect the Giants to finish last in the NFC East and the Jets to finish third in the AFC East.  Due to the Jets’ underwhelming season, Rex Ryan will be fired as head coach.

Slow summer for web posts August 11, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Photography.
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Most of my posts this summer involve looking back at the past, whether ten or twenty years ago.  There isn’t anything new to write about.  Even scanning 35mm pictures is a look back.  I did that last Thursday and Friday.

I promise there will be more to write about in the months ahead.  In the meantime, thank you for your patience.

20 years since my first home video recording July 25, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Media, Personal, TV, Video, Weather, Wrestling.
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On July 25, 1994, my father came home with a brand new JVC VHS-C camcorder; or “Palmcorder.”  It was intended for him, but I ended up using it more often.  After nine years of appearing in front of Dad’s previous camcorder – a VHS one – as an awkward child with a still-unnamed disorder – Asperger syndrome – I finally had control behind the camera.  Most early video was regimented and experimental, recording the same areas and rapidly zooming in and out constantly.

Here are the first 48 seconds I recorded 20 years ago today at twilight, shortly after a thunderstorm came through Wantagh:

This was followed by close-ups of license plates on my mom’s, dad’s, and aunt’s cars.  Then, my sister Lauren had her turn with the Palmcorder, recording our cousin Rebecca watching WWF (as it was known back then) Monday Night Raw on TV with her in her bedroom.  But she didn’t stop there, heading to the den during a commercial break to record our parents and great-grandparents, with a rerun of Murphy Brown blasting on the TV.  Becca was also in the den, making a funny expression with her hands on her hips.

A side note: Thanks to a shot of the TV included in Lauren’s recording, I noticed Tom Poston was in the Murphy Brown episode.  A trip to IMDB confirmed that the rerun episode was “Crime Story,” which originally aired five months earlier.

On the two humid mornings that followed, until the 31-minute VHS-C cassette reached its end, I walked around the house, panning around nearly every room and every corner of the front yard, back yard, and driveway.  I even experimented with flipping the Palmcorder upside down and flipping it back to the correct way.  I did that a few more times between then and September.

In the years that followed, my video recording skills gradually improved.  Including the first camcorder, I went through three different JVC VHS-C camcorders, each one more technologically advanced than their predecessor.  I captured over 70 hours of material and dubbed them onto a combined 30 VHS tapes.  I still have some of the master VHS-Cs.  I converted the videos to AVI computer files back in 2010.

In October 2000, I went digital with a JVC MiniDV camcorder.  And in June 2003, I was given a Canon GL2 MiniDV camcorder to use for my college senior project.  I recorded here and there with the two camcorders, logging another 13 hours of video – not counting the senior project – until my last recording on July 25, 2007.  Since then, I’ve only recorded special events.  I converted the MiniDV tapes to the computer, as well.

When the GL2 broke down in 2011, I switched to a JVC Everio AVCHD camcorder with internal memory and an SD memory card.  And that brings us to the present.

I hope someday soon to get a professional HD camcorder with an internal hard drive.  Until then, I’ll stick with the Everio.

4:35 PM UPDATE: Five hours ahead of the time I recorded 20 years ago, I went outside with the Everio and retraced some of my steps from the original recording.

Unfortunately, the skies were devoid of airplanes, which meant I couldn’t retrace that step.  Meanwhile, there’s a plane flying overhead as I type this last sentence.

“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.

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.

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