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SJFS 2009 recap May 22, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Travel.
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Other SJFS recaps: 2008, 2008 meet-and-greet, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Night 1, 2013 Night 2, 2014 Night 1, 2014 Night 2, 2015 Night 1, 2016 Night 1, 2016 Night 2, 2017 Night 1, 2017 Night 22018 Night 1, 2018 Night 22019 Night 1, 2019 Night 2

As I wrote in my previous post, I was in Milford and West Haven, Connecticut, last weekend for the seventh annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars concert.  The concert is hosted by Jay Rowe and benefits the Milford Public Schools Music Department.  Unlike last year’s recap, we will go far beyond what happened immediately before, during, and after the concert.  I’m also including pictures I took hours before and after.

We begin at Exit 10 of I-295 (Cross Bronx Expwy. Extension): I-695 (Throgs Neck Expwy.), which links to I-95 North.

It was here where I decided to start taking pictures of the different exits I passed on the ride to the West Haven Hampton Inn.  Some of the pictures were slanted because it was hard to take all good pictures from the back seat.  Any originally slanted pictures have been fixed for this post.  You won’t even know they were slanted.  Here we go.

Entering Westchester County:

The first exit in Connecticut:

The spelling is different, but the street name – Delavan Ave. – makes me think of “Delevans” by Jeff Lorber (1982).

WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) headquarters in Stamford:

The exit for the Hampton Inn I stayed at for the previous two Smooth Jazz for Scholars:

And this year’s exit:

Waiting outside while my dad checked in:

The view from my fourth floor room…

…which was immediately adjacent to the elevator and ice/vending room.

Inside the room:

I didn’t know this until I arrived, my dad reserved our two rooms (he and my mom stayed one room away), but there were two beds.  So, one was for my luggage and the other was for sleeping, eating candy (an off weekend for me), and watching TV.

The TV was HD, but didn’t get any HD channels.

The Hampton Inn was next door to Texas Roadhouse:

So, there was no argument where we were going for dinner.

While waiting for a table, we sat in the entrance way:

The floors throughout the restaurant were crawling with empty peanut shells:

I’m not complaining; just observing.

A final shot walking to our table:

The food was excellent.  Our waiter told us that a Texas Roadhouse is scheduled to open here on Long Island, in East Meadow, in September.  I can’t wait.

Dense fog developed as the evening progressed:

I couldn’t go back inside after dinner without taking this:

After a 45-minute break, we headed for the Joseph A. Foran High School Auditorium for Smooth Jazz for Scholars.  First we took I-95 south to Exit 41, Marsh Hill Rd.

I shot this after turning onto Marsh Hill Rd.:

Turning onto Merwin Ave. from Oxford Rd.

We drove with a navigation system.  And while we were on Edgefield Ave. waiting to turn at Foran Rd., the computer voice told us to “turn right on Foran Rd.”…just as we passed Foran Rd.  So, we made a quick U-Turn and turned onto Foran the opposite way.

Arriving at Foran High:

Walking from our parking spot to the auditorium:

Jay Rowe giving Kat Sarracco CDs to sell at the merchandise table:

After saying hello to Kat and wishing Jay good luck, I walked in to the auditorium and took my seat.  We sat on the left end, next to the aisle, three rows from the stage.

Kevin McCabe of JumpstartJazz Productions welcomed Jay and invited Dr. Harvey Polansky, the superintendent of Milford Public Schools, to the stage:

Dr. Polansky presented Jay with a proclamation from the state of Connecticut in recognition of his fundraising efforts with Smooth Jazz for Scholars:

Then, Jay welcomed the audience introduced the house band, along with Chieli Minucci and Ken Navarro, and we were underway.

The house band was comprised of Dave Livolsi on bass…

Trever Somerville on drums and percussion…

…and, of course, Jay Rowe on keyboards.

SONG #1: Bryan’s Song (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: “Red, Hot & Smooth,” 2006
Featured musicians: Ken Navarro, Chieli Minucci

Jay introducing Nelson Rangell:

SONG #2: Uptown East (Special EFX)
Originally heard on: “Slice of Life,” 1986
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci, Nelson Rangell

Nelson was on soprano saxophone for this song:

Ken Navarro returned for the next song.  Before that, he spoke to the audience:

SONG #3: Daddy-O (Ken Navarro)
Originally heard on: “The Grace of Summer Light,” 2008
Featured musician: Ken Navarro

One year after I first heard “Daddy-O” on CD from my first floor room at the Milford Hampton Inn, I got to hear it live at SJFS.

After lighting problems were worked out, we moved on to…

SONG #4: America (Nelson Rangell; written by Leonard Bernstein for West Side Story)
Originally heard on: “My American Songbook, Vol. 1,” 2005
Featured musician: Nelson Rangell

As you can see, Nelson was on flute for this.

SONG #5: Street Life (The Crusaders cover)
Featured musicians: Lamone Andrews, Rohn Lawrence

Jay introducing Marion Meadows:

SONG #6: Treasures (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: “In Deep,” 2002
Featured musicians: Marion Meadows, Rohn Lawrence

Rohn had a wild guitar solo during “Treasures.”

Following the solo, Marion said hello to the audience, announced that a song later in the set would be dedicated to bass player and NCAA Men’s Basketball and NBA legend Wayman Tisdale.  Then, he equaled Rohn’s solo with an enjoyable solo of his own.

SONG #7: Ascension (Chieli Minucci & Special EFX)
Originally heard on: “Sweet Surrender,” 2007
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci, Nelson Rangell

Nelson returned to soprano sax for this song.

Jay introducing the Foran High School Select Ensemble Chorus…

…under the direction of Ms. Theresa Voss.

SONG #8: The Warmth of the Sun (Jay Rowe; Beach Boys cover)
Originally heard on: “Jay Walking,” 1997
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell, Rohn Lawrence, the aforementioned chorus

Nelson switched to alto sax for this one.

Afterward, the chorus got a standing ovation from the audience:

Ms. Voss helped working the concession table.  As I bought a bottle of water following the concert, I complimented her on the chorus.  She was appreciative.

SONG #9: Can’t Hide Love (Earth, Wind & Fire cover)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell, Rohn Lawrence, Chieli Minucci

Nelson and Chieli had thrilling solos on this one.
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Next, “the whistling song,” otherwise known as…

SONG #10: Sonora (Nelson Rangell; Hampton Hawes cover)
Originally heard on: “Destiny,” 1995 (alto sax); “My American Songbook, Vol. 1,” 2005 (whistling and piccolo)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell, Ken Navarro

It’s always a treat to hear Nelson whistle.  I’ve been fortune enough to hear him whistle live four times: July 2003 opening for David Benoit at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, October 2006 at IMAC (Inter-Media Art Center) in Huntington, the 2007 Smooth Jazz for Scholars, and this performance.  The first, second, and fourth times were all “Sonora.”  The third was “Always and Forever,” a cover from Pat Metheny’s “Secret Story” solo album in 1992 (no relation to the R&B hit).

Ken wrote a great guitar solo for the SJFS performance:
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During Ken’s solo, Nelson went off stage to get his piccolo for a solo of his own…
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…before whistling once more:
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As the song wound down, the audience was so captivated, they were silent.  You could hear a pin drop as Nelson whistled without accompaniment before the band kicked back in for the final measures.

He got a standing ovation.  After acknowledging Ken Navarro, he modestly said “anyone can whistle.”  That may be true, but nobody whistles like Nelson Rangell.  He then gave up thumbs up (seen below) and thanked the audience.
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SONG #11: Some Other Time (written by Leonard Bernstein)
Musicians: Ken Navarro and Jay Rowe only

Ahead of SJFS, Ken announced on his blog that he would be playing this song.  In the May 9 entry, a general promotion of his SJFS appearance and two other concerts, he wrote:

I’m looking forward to my upcoming shows in CT, Canada and FL in the next few weeks.  Jay Rowe’s annual Smooth Jazz For Scholars show is up next on May 16.  If you are anywhere near Milford, CT you gotta check out me with Chieli Minucci, Nelson Rangell and Marion Meadows and of course the man himself, Jay Rowe.  The rhythm section ain’t nothing to sneeze at either – the amazing Dave Livolsi on bass and the fantastic Trever Somerville on drums.  Gonna be another great one.  I am going to play “Daddy-O” and “Try Again” with the band and Jay and I are going to do an acoustic duo version of “Some Other Time”.  Hope to see you there supporting this great cause for the public school music departments of Milford, CT.

And a great one it was.

SONG #12: Nature Boy (Special EFX)
Originally heard on: “Confidential,” 1989
Musician: Chieli Minucci only

The infamous Dancing Eric, with glow sticks:

SONG #13: I Want You Back (The Jackson 5 cover)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell, Rohn Lawrence

SONG #14: Try Again (Ken Navarro)
Originally heard on: “The River Flows,” 1990; “Island Life,” 2000
Featured musician: Ken Navarro

Like last year, Ken walked through the audience for the first few minutes…

Before returning to the stage:

Dave Livolsi had an extended bass solo:
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Another standing ovation:

SONG #15: No Rhyme No Reason (Marion Meadows; George Duke cover; dedicated to Wayman Tisdale earlier in the show)
Originally heard on: “Next To You,” 2000
Featured musicians: Marion Meadows, Rohn Lawrence

It was Marion’s turn to go into the audience.


He got a standing ovation, too.

For the finale, Jay invited all the musicians back to the stage:

SONG #16, Finale: Fantasy (Earth, Wind & Fire cover)
Featured musicians: Lamone Andrews, Chieli Minucci, Rohn Lawrence, Nelson Rangell, Marion Meadows, Ken Navarro

The audience remained on their feet:

Then, a final bow:

Next, the meet-and-greet in the hallway.  First, Chieli Minucci:

Ken Navarro:

And Nelson Rangell:

The last time I saw Nelson, two years ago, I was only three months into my weight loss.  According to my second weight loss journal, which I just took out, I weighed 177.6.  I had lost 55.8 pounds since January 2, 2007, when I weighed 233.4.  On this day, I weighed 137.  Nelson admitted he didn’t recognize me at first, then he complimented me on my additional loss.  I’ve been in maintenance since September 2007.

After Nelson met my parents, they and I drove back to the West Haven Hampton Inn.  This was close to midnight.  I was asleep within an hour and a half.

I got up Sunday at 6AM when I couldn’t fall back asleep.  I took the opportunity to write the first draft of this recap:

The view from my window as the sky began to clear following overnight rain (and a brief thunderstorm):

After an 11:30 breakfast at Denny’s, we headed for home.

I-95 south through Bridgeport after crossing the Pequonnock River:

Exit 15 in Norwalk:

Exit 7 in Stamford:

Last exit before New York:

Almost back in New York:

A few exits into New York:

The first exit in the Bronx:

The Throgs Neck Expwy. to the Cross Bronx Expwy. Ext.:

The last exit before the Throgs Neck Bridge:

Entering Queens and staying on I-295, Clearview Expwy.:

Getting onto the Grand Central Pkwy.:

The first exit in Nassau County, on the Northern State Pkwy.:

Exit 33, Wantagh Pkwy. south:

Exit W4E, Southern State Pkwy. east:

Our last exit:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this extensive 24-hour journey to and from Southwestern Connecticut, including a recap of this year’s Smooth Jazz for Scholars.  I had another great time.  And like last year, writing this recap was a labor of love.  Thanks for reading.

SJFS 2009 tonight! May 16, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal.
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I’m writing this post on my laptop from the desk in my fourth floor hotel room at the West Haven (Connecticut) Hampton Inn.

In a few hours, I’ll be at the Foran High School auditorium in Milford for this year’s Smooth Jazz for Scholars concert.  Maybe I can start crafting my recap post from my hotel room.  Either way, the full recap will be posted by Wednesday.

5/17, 1:56 PM ET UPDATE: After getting about 4 1/2 hours of sleep, I started crafting, as it were, putting in the set list and personnel.  Now, the photo editing begins.  And I took a lot of pictures, from I-695/I-95 in the Bronx yesterday to Exit 28S on the Southern State Parkway today.  SJFS was somewhere in between.

5/18 UPDATE: The editing was completed by last night.  Separately, I may not have a recap up until Friday.  Please be patient.

Spring 2009 pre-order update #2 May 6, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Jazz, Media, Personal.
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In recent weeks, I’ve had so many things to listen to, watch, and read, I feel pressured to review all of them.  On top of that, I haven’t posted anything in two weeks.  So, here is what I’ve been listening to, watching, and reading between April 23 and today:

  • Joyce Cooling, “Global Cooling” (CD)
  • Bernie Williams, “Moving Forward” (CD)
  • Dennis Miller: The HBO Comedy Specials (DVD)
  • Down to the Bone, “Future Boogie” (CD)
  • Spyro Gyra, “Down The Wire” (CD)
  • Suzy Welch, 10-10-10: 10 Minutes, 10 Months, 10 Years; A Life-Transforming Idea (hardcover book, CD)

I enjoyed all of the above and learned a few things in the process.  What more could you ask for?