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Instrumental Invasion, 5/31/23 June 1, 2023

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Audio, Baseball, City Pop, Comedy, Dogs, Film, Health, Horse Racing, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Religion, Sports, Thoroughbred, TV, Video, Western, World Music.
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The May 31 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was the fifth in a row with talk breaks recorded in one day, and third in a row/fourth out of five recorded in one day. That day was April 10, 19 days after last week’s show was recorded. I got a cold a few days after that recording (March 25) and used the time to work on playlists for this show and the next two. Pickups were recorded on April 13, April 16, and May 5.

The playlist was created March 19, 22, and 26, then tweaked on April 1 to add a track from Keiko Matsui‘s Euphoria album released the day before. Annotations were written from April 3 to 5, and the talk break script was drafted April 8.

I played the lead single from Keiko’s album, “Steps on the Globe,” which prompted me to play a clip from “Moosylvania Saved,” the final Rocky and Bullwinkle story arc where the punchline was “spots on the globe.” This exchange between Fearless Leader (Bill Scott) and Boris Badenov (Paul Frees) occurred in episode one of four:

“That’s what my uncle came down with: spots on the globe.”

That talk break also had references to a pair of Mel Brooks films, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. The second segment’s second talk break referred to Ghostbusters and Steve Somers. The Schmoozer homage came when I said “The Square were schmoozing S-P-O-R-T-S,” Steve’s catchphrase at the start of some shows or hours of those shows.

There were three retreads this week:

Click here to download this week’s scoped aircheck or listen below:

See you at the WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony this Saturday.


Instrumental Invasion, 5/24/23 May 25, 2023

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Astronomy, Audio, City Pop, Comedy, Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Technology, TV, Video, World Music.
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The May 24 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was the fourth show in a row with the talk breaks recorded in one day, and second in a row/third out of four to be recorded and mixed in one day. The recording/mixing date was March 22. Pickups were recorded on the night of the 22nd and mid-afternoon on the 24th.

The playlist was created March 18 with annotations on the 20th and the talk break script draft on the 21st.

The scoped aircheck before further details:

After immersing myself in Casiopea music for the first few weeks as a city pop aficionado and Japanophile (my post about the first eight days), I introduced The Square/T-Square into my musical diet. The jumping-off place was “Texas Kid” from their third album, Make Me a Star, thanks to a March 10 post in the Japanese city pop and fusion collectors Facebook group I belong to. The member commented on his post with a link to “Texas Kid” on T-Square’s YouTube topic channel:

The Make Me a Star cover model reminds me of someone I knew in high school.

I listened several times from March 10 to 17 before delving into the T-Square topic channel’s full catalog. As I type this paragraph on the morning March 23, I am up to New-S (1991). (I also have to contend with construction work and chatter in my neighbors’ backyard.) And as I type this before publication on May 25, I skipped from B.C. A.D. to FLY! FLY! FLY! and WISH.

My first impression of “Texas Kid” was that it sounded like an homage to The Crusaders. So, I made the first segment with them and The Square in mind. The song I ultimately chose, “Honky Tonk Struttin’,” tied in with the feel of “Texas Kid.” I extended the Texas theme into the second segment by including “An Evening in Dallas” by Joe McBride and “Houston” by David Benoit (told you he’d be back). All that was preceded by a nod to “The Eyes of Texas.”

“Houston” was recycled from last August 17, nine months and one week ago. It gave me an opportunity (during the talk break afterward) to work in a funny text-to-speech dub from the following Technology Connections video (at the 19:48 mark):

Here is the dub on its own:

The joke about not telling a wizard to “make me a star” lest he zap you to the Milky Way was a nod to a scene in episode 68b of Garfield and Friends:

ORSON (narrating for Booker and Sheldon): The wizard Bo ran a little restaurant at the edge of the forest where he made magic and sandwiches. Occasionally, he got his two skills confused.

(Bo, in wizard garb, stands behind the counter, wiping a glass. Roy walks in and takes a seat.)

ROY: Hiya, Bo. Make me a sandwich.

BO: Okay. You’re a sandwich, man. (Bo transforms Roy into a sandwich.) Oh, like, sorry, dude. I’ll, uh, change you back.

(Roy returns to normal, but with his face covered in mayonnaise. Wade, as The Ugly Duckling, walks in with a bag over his face.)

WADE: Wizard, you must help me. I… (He notices Roy.) Uh, why do you have mayonnaise all over you?

ROY (exasperated): Don’t ask.

U.S. Acres in “The Ugly Duckling” (originally aired October 19, 1991) – written/voice directed by Mark Evanier
Gregg Berger as Orson Pig, Thom Huge (“HUE-ghee”) as Roy Rooster, Frank Welker as Bo Sheep, Howard Morris as Wade Duck

This show also marked the first week with tracks from Les Sabler‘s Flying High CD – thank you, Dave Love (speaking of Joe McBride) – and the debut of world music duo Strunz & Farah via their Syncretic Strings album.

I went 75 seconds over, thanks to a lengthy talk break in the first segment and another 21 in the fourth segment, but with short talk breaks here and omitted tidbits there, I broke even by the last segment. (My “even” is 1:49:00.)

Recording and mixing a full show in one day is as exhausting as running a marathon. Flubs were plentiful and mouth clicks were everywhere. Adobe Audition‘s declicker only goes so far. On the plus side, I finally realized the need to orient the microphone at my second location vertically to match the sound at home.

Second location mic:

It’s unplugged because I was through recording.

Home mic with Kaotica Eyeball attached:

Back next week with more music.

SJFS 2023 Night 2 recap May 18, 2023

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Anime, City Pop, Comedy, Health, Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Continued from night 1 recap

Saturday, April 29, concluded with the second night of Jay Rowe‘s 20th anniversary edition of Smooth Jazz for Scholars, benefiting the Milford Public Schools music department. As usual, I have a long preamble listing how my day went before the show itself.

Upon waking up in my second floor Hampton Inn hotel room that faced the parking lot, I went through the rest of the photos from Friday night and removed the blurry ones. Following a workout (and shower), I headed down to the common area with my laptop for breakfast and mingling as I began editing. I didn’t edit as much as I talked with fellow jazz fans that went to the first night. They were fascinated with what I do and what my interests are, including my newfound Japanophilia and fascination with music and pop culture. (Read about my first week as a city pop fan.) In addition to meeting up with Mark and Phyllis Abrams, Estella and her friend Norma were eating breakfast at a table behind me. I always set up on the elevated center table because it has outlets for plugging in devices. Then, I met Owen Lomax who showed me his photos and videos from other shows he’s attended. After that, Mark and Phyllis’s friends Rob and Mel came down. Rob was most fascinated with me and we spoke a long time. He was even nice enough to get ice from the second floor machine so I could chill hot water. I’d poured it from a container before noticing there weren’t any hot cocoa packets to mix in. As noon approached and the common area quieted down, I decided to head back to my second floor room.

I bought three 50/50 raffle tickets for $10 on way into the Veterans Memorial Auditorium at Parsons Complex Friday night, inadvertently knocking my keys out of my coat’s right pocket when reaching for the wallet. I didn’t know what happened until Saturday afternoon before a trip to ShopRite. I thought I might have left the keys at CVS when checking out my stenographer pad and sleep mask purchase. However, when I stopped there on the way to ShopRite, an employee working Friday night said she didn’t see keys left in the checkout area. After ShopRite, my parents dropped me back at the hotel, and went to Home Depot to duplicate the house and office keys. That left the auditorium as the only place I could have lost them. I’d find out come evening.

In my room, I sat at my laptop and ate homemade trail mix that I did remember to bring (lightly salted peanuts and almonds, and raisins) as I watched the rest of an Adventures of the Gummi Bears episode on Disney+. I was halfway through an English dubbed episode of Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear on CrunchyRoll when I’d finished the trail mix. Then, back to editing while listening to Casiopea and part two of the Hollywood and Levine podcast interview with author/screenwriter Nicholas Meyer.

My editing process for Canon EOS R7 photos in Adobe Photoshop Elements (again, I also have regular Photoshop) is cropping out excess and tweaking brightness, contrast, color, and/or levels. Somewhere along the way, I apply a dust and scratches filter to tamp down the grain. If I have to sharpen a photo, I use despeckle before dust and scratches. (Read about my initial experience with the R7.)

I cut myself off from editing at 3:45, having only reached photo 120 out of 294 taken during the show.

My parents and I opted to drive up Boston Post Road (U.S. 1) for dinner at Olive Garden in Orange. It was rainy and windy most of the weekend, and that’s what we encountered Saturday afternoon and evening. I planned on wearing my LIU Post polo during SJFS night two (to complement the WCWP polo on Friday), but an accidental stain while eating meant I’d have to change into a spare long-sleeve polo I brought when I got back to the hotel.

On the way back, we stopped at Cumberland Farms so I could get a pint of ice cream (not just bars this time) and Dad could refuel the Ford Explorer. I watched more Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear and finished eating the ice cream right before my girlfriend Kelly arrived from Wallingford. Then, off to Parsons Complex. It was still raining heavily, so Kelly dropped me off by the auditorium side entrance to limit the rainfall on my gear.

Inside, I asked around about my lost keys, and was eventually referred to the light and sound engineer. He handed them to me before I finished asking! Thank goodness! At least I have spare keys now.

I set up my equipment in the same left-center portion of the orchestra pit, took $10 out of wallet, and went back to the lobby to buy another three 50/50 raffle tickets. Before and after retrieving the wallet from my right coat pocket, I made certain that the keys were still in there. Now that it’s warmer, I do that with my right pants pocket.

While I’d spoken to my photography mates Katherine Gilraine and Ron Hancox on Friday, I didn’t get to meet the fourth photographer, Andrew James, until Saturday before the show. I’ve made so many friends since my first time at Smooth Jazz for Scholars in 2007 (with my first recap in ’08), including Paul, one of the ushers. I saw Lisa Arpin again, along with fellow Jay Rowe Tito Tuesdays livestream alumni Judy Raphael and Robin Morin Stewart.

8:00 arrived, as it always does, and Kevin McCabe walked to a stage mic for his introduction.

For the first time since 2019, a night of SJFS opened with a performance by Milford Public Schools music students: the Foran High School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Jessica Turner:

Ms. Turner did not cite song titles, but the first song featured alto and tenor sax solos.

The second was led by a baritone sax solo:

I didn’t take photos during the third song, which had tenor sax and trumpet solos.

The ensemble received much applause.

Jay Rowe came out afterward to compliment the ensemble and their director, Ms. Turner:

Then, they left the stage…

…and the house band made their way out. Kevin returned to introduce them and Jay Rowe welcomed the audience:

It was Jay leading the way on keyboards…

…with Andy Abel on guitar:

Dave Anderson on bass:

Trever Somerville on drums:

…and the great Steve Scales with percussion:

Headlining on Saturday night were the lively JJ Sansaverino:

The energetic Paul Taylor:

The sweet and saxy Kim Waters:

…and saxophonista Jessy J:

Lots of Js on the stage this night.

Coincidentally, Friday night, I heard a song by similarly-spelled pop singer Jessie J while shopping in Cumberland Farms.

(Updated with videos on 5/31)

1. East Coast West Coast (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Red, Hot & Smooth (2006)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Andy Abel (guitar)

2. Midnight Dance (Jay Rowe) (yes, both nights)
Featured musician: Jay Rowe (keyboards)

3. Ride With Me (JJ Sansaverino)
Originally heard on: Soul Energy (2022)
Featured musician: JJ Sansaverino (guitar)

4. Set It Off (JJ Sansaverino)
Originally heard on: Cocktails & Jazz (2021)
Featured musician: JJ Sansaverino (guitar)

5. And Now This (Paul Taylor)
Originally heard on: And Now This (2021)
Featured musician: Paul Taylor (alto sax)

6. Pleasure Seeker (Paul Taylor)
Originally heard on: Pleasure Seeker (1997)
Featured musicians: Paul Taylor (soprano sax)

7. In the House (Kim Waters)
Originally heard on: From the Heart (2001)
Featured musician: Kim Waters (alto sax)

8. Love Don’t Live Here Anymore (Kim Waters; Rose Royce cover)
Originally heard on: Love Stories (2010)
Featured musician: Kim Waters (alto sax)

9. Tequila Moon (Jessy J)
Originally heard on: Tequila Moon (2008)
Featured musicians: Jessy J (tenor sax), Jay Rowe (keyboards)

10. Tropical Rain/Hot Sauce (Jessy J)
Originally heard on: True Love (2009)/Hot Sauce (2011)
Featured musicians: Jessy J (tenor sax), Andy Abel (guitar)

11. Waterfall (Kim Waters)
Originally heard on: Someone to Love You (2002)
Featured musicians: Kim Waters (alto sax), Jay Rowe (keyboards)

12. Europa (JJ Sansaverino; Santana cover)
Featured musician: JJ Sansaverino (guitar)

13. Blue (Jessy J)
Originally heard on: Blue (2022)
Featured musicians: Jessy J (tenor sax), Andy Abel (guitar)

14. Exotica
Originally heard on: On the Horn (1995)
Featured musician: Paul Taylor (soprano sax)

15 (Finale). Ladies’ Choice (Paul Taylor)
Originally heard on: Ladies’ Choice (2007)
Featured musicians: Everyone, plus women from the audience!

JJ Sansaverino leads off the headliner photo galleries:

Next, Paul Taylor on alto sax:

Paul on soprano sax:

Kim Waters was solely on alto sax:

…and Jessy J played tenor sax:

Photo galleries of the house band start with Jay Rowe during his intense “Waterfall” solo:

Andy Abel’s “East Coast West Coast” solo:

Regrettably, I only took two more photos of Dave Anderson:

Here are nine of Trever Somerville:

…and the 11 best of Steve Scales:

Medium shots, starting with Kim, Dave and Jay:

JJ and Jay:

Jessy J and Jay:

Jessy and Andy during his “Blue” solo:

Wide shots:

Between “Europa” and “Blue,” the raffle winners were announced from a bag held by Kevin McCabe. Jessy gave Jay the winning 50/50 raffle ticket (I lost again):

That brings us to the finale: “Ladies’ Choice.” Paul Taylor’s custom for live performances of this song is to invite ten ladies to dance on stage. As you’ll see, Kelly was one of the ten! Feeling ambitious, I started walking to the stage, but turned back before reaching the rope on the left end of the orchestra pit. Now, the photos:

I packed my equipment and headed for the lobby, putting it all on a table in the corner. Then, I began meeting and greeting, catching up with Kim Waters first:

If I knew he was pointing at me, I’d have pointed back, like I’ve done in other photos.

Kim paid tribute to Chuck Loeb after playing “In the House,” a song they wrote and played on. They produced and recorded many albums together in the 1990s and 2000s. I told Kim I hadn’t seen him play live since he and Chuck did the first night of SJFS in 2014.

Me and Chuck Loeb (1955-2017) after the first night of the 2014 Smooth Jazz for Scholars

I said I still have the business card Chuck gave me for his online guitar school, which I scanned for posterity at home Sunday evening:

To Kim’s right at the meet-and-greet table was Paul Taylor:

Then, Jessy J:

Jessy thanked me for my positive review of Blue when it was released last April, and we also reflected on the loss of Dancing with the Stars judge Len Goodman the week before. Jessy is in Ray Chew Live, the DWTS house band, and she was highly complimentary of Len. I had thought he retired as judge because of his cancer diagnosis, but Jessy said that came after. Len and his tens will live on in our hearts.

Coincidentally, the shirt I wore instead of the LIU Post polo is the same one I wore the first time I saw Jessy live at The Iridium in Feburary 2012:

Me and Jessy J after her set at The Iridium (2/9/12); Jay Rowe played keyboards that night

Last but not least, JJ Sansaverino:

JJ was very happy to see me, admitting he’s enjoyed my Facebook posts and was grateful that I’ve played his music on Instrumental Invasion. I hadn’t seen JJ since he played guitar at saxophonist Steve Cole‘s Houndstooth Pub show in November 2011.

Turning the tables, Jessy took a photo of me and my good friend Steve Lewis, another yearly SJFS volunteer:

Steve was in the background of that 2014 photo with Chuck Loeb.

I took a photo of Kim with Jay Rowe’s mother, Mia DiStasi:

…and a selfie with Mia:

The camera only focused on her, but that’s okay.

Kelly and I gathered my equipment and we said goodbye to our friends in the lobby. A lighter rain awaited us outside Parsons on our walk to the parking lot. When we got back to the hotel, I gave Kelly a good night kiss and took the elevator back to my room, bantering with the desk clerk until the doors opened.

In my room, like the night before, I moved photos and videos to my laptop (while watching a Twitch stream), imported the RAW photos into Lightroom, exported them as JPGs, deleted the RAWs, edited the meet-and-greet shots for posting to Facebook, and edited another 15 from Friday’s set. Then, sleep…for another few hours. Back to the laptop to curate my roll. I was left with 70 more photos than Friday. I edited a little, then met Diane and Richard in the common area. They, too, were at both nights of Smooth Jazz for Scholars and we agreed to meet for breakfast Sunday morning. I had my laptop with me, but never opened it. I just talked to them, and Paul Taylor (it was his birthday!) once he came down for breakfast. After a little more editing in my room, I packed up and checked out with my parents.

The ride home took two hours. It was an average time, though longer than I’m used to on Sundays. I spent the entire ride watching YouTube videos, including an episode of the Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour in which a four-day champion won $30,000 in one day!

I put off further editing until Monday (May 1). The rest of Sunday (April 30) was for unwinding after a long weekend. I vowed to take my time editing the photos and working on this recap.

Editing was completed May 7, immediately followed by watermarking all photos. On May 9 and 10, I picked the best of the best from each night, which was still a lot, then saved lower resolution versions in Photoshop Elements. May 10 is also when I started drafting the written portions of these blog posts, which I incorporated into posts on the 12th and 13th, and fleshed out on the 15th and 16th.

Thank you for reading one or both of my 20th anniversary Smooth Jazz for Scholars blog posts. I will be back next year! See you around.

SJFS 2023 Night 1 recap May 18, 2023

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audio, Comedy, Health, Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Technology, Travel, TV, Video.
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Friday, April 28, was the first of two nights for the 20th anniversary edition of Smooth Jazz for Scholars, hosted by keyboardist Jay Rowe in his hometown of Milford, Connecticut. The event, held on two nights since 2013, benefits the Milford Public Schools music department. It was the 19th SJFS overall (canceled by COVID in 2020 and ’21), my 15th overall, and 14th that I’ve seen it its entirety. (I only saw the first night in 2015 with that year’s WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony held the following afternoon back on Long Island.)

In the days and hours leading up to the Milford trip, I grew overwhelmed by the impending workload (photos and videos). I struggled to pack everything the afternoon of the 28th, having spent two hours editing most photos from the WCWP station dinner (for student and alumni staff) on the 26th. I didn’t want to go, but felt obligated to go because I didn’t want to back out of the commitment I’d made to Jay. I convinced myself this would be the last year. (SPOILER: It won’t be.)

I finally left house with my parents just before 2:00. We encountered traffic delays on I-95 in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Waze directed us through winding side streets in Westport. We were eventually directed back to I-95 in Bridgeport with little volume the rest of the way to Exit 36 in Milford (in New Haven County, if you’re wondering). Not knowing which would be the official hotel, we booked rooms at Hampton Inn a month or two earlier. Our rooms were on the second floor, facing opposite ends of the building. I chose the room facing the parking lot so I-95 traffic wouldn’t keep me awake.

After settling into our rooms, we went for dinner at Pasquale Pizza a short drive from the hotel. Since we were close to the hotel, I walked back after finishing my pasta. On the way, I passed a Gas & Go station:

That made me think of the Gasigo sequence in the “Heroboy” episode of Freakazoid! In the sequence, singing attendants delayed Freakazoid’s (Paul Rugg) attempt to reach the villain Gutierrez (Ricardo Montalban). They had to finish the jingle in Freak’s car. Watch:

The episode ended with the Gasigo attendants driving Gutierrez mad as they reprised their jingle:

Ed Asner was the voice of Sergeant Mike Cosgrove.

South of Gas & Go was another gas station/convenience store: Cumberland Farms. I stopped in there to buy ice cream bars for dessert back in my room.

My girlfriend Kelly drove down from Wallingford for the show and met me at my room door around 6:30. We hung out for a little while, then drove to the Parsons Complex. I had her stop at CVS on the way so I could buy a small notebook or pad for writing out the set list and side notes. I forgot to pack a notebook and my sleep mask. I got a cheap gray mask and stenographer pad (close enough), then went on to Parsons. We arrived close to 7:30, after the soundcheck, so the doors were open.

Before entering the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, I decided to take a chance on the 50/50 raffle. I took out my wallet from my coat’s right pocket and bought three tickets for $10. Little did I know I inadvertently knocked out my keys, and wouldn’t realize what happened until the next day. More on that in the Saturday post.

I got plenty of reassurance from Katherine Gilraine and Ron Hancox, my fellow photographers in the orchestra pit, along with friends like Jay Dobbins, Phyllis Abrams, and Robin Morin Stewart. I love what I do and I love the music. I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself. I need to be present, enjoy myself, trust the process, and take my time. I don’t work for a media outlet. There is no deadline.

With newfound confidence, I set up my equipment on the center-left portion of the orchestra pit below the stage. Production manager Kevin McCabe came on stage around 8:10 to welcome the audience and thank the sponsors:

Then, he introduced Jay Rowe, who read his statement in the program that marked Smooth Jazz for Scholars’ 20th anniversary:

Here is that message:

20 years of Smooth Jazz for Scholars!! I certainly did not think I would reach this milestone when I had the idea to start this event 20 years ago. Doing these shows helped me to become a better musician and play with some of my favorite musicians and people!! In some cases, I was playing alongside my musical heroes like Jeff Lorber, Alex Bugnon, David Benoit, Marc Antoine and Peter White, while watching newer artists like Vincent Ingala and Eric Darius become superstars and amazing entertainers. There have been losses along the way such as the passing of Jeff Golub, Chuck Loeb, Nick Colionne [fan page] and Rohn [“Ron”] Lawrence. These guys are missed terribly in our musical community and will never be forgotten. I have learned much about how important music is in people’s lives and have examined my own relationship with music. I still love playing and I am grateful that musical dreams can still come true in advancing middle age!! I truly hope that the youth of Milford, Connecticut – the town I grew up in and still love to live in – can experience the joy I have when playing music in whatever they pursue when they grow up. I also hope they can have the wonderful friendships that I have had through playing music. Thanks so much to Ken Navarro, Marion Meadows, Chieli Minucci [“key-ellie min-oo-chee”] and Nelson Rangell for being there for me at the very first Smooth Jazz for Scholars show that we played back in 2003 at Foran High School. It is very fitting to me that these artists perform for the first night of our 20th anniversary weekend. It has been a pleasure working with all of the artists who have played at Smooth Jazz for Scholars over the years at various festivals, clubs and events all over the world. Thanks to all of the fans of smooth jazz who have supported this show for all these years. You have been the reason to keep this going to support music education in our public schools inspiring the next generation of artists and music teachers!! Thanks to our sponsors: Barrett Outdoor Communications; Milford Bank; Dr. Anna Cutaia, Superintendent for Milford Public Schools; Amy Perras, Instructional Supervisor for Music, Art and Library Media; Kathy Bonetti, Communications Coordinator for Milford Public Schools; my mom Mia DiStasi; my wife Deborah Rowe; Kevin McCabe; WRTC; Mike Stacy at WRCH; Gregg Roche, former host of The Sunday Smooth Jazz Brunch on WRCH; Steve Butler, my favorite booking agent; everyone in this ad book (program), all of the wonderful fans of smooth jazz and the great artists performing at this year’s shows. Enjoy this year’s shows and stay tuned for next year when Smooth Jazz for Scholars becomes an adult at 21!!

Jay Rowe, 2023 Smooth Jazz for Scholars program

As Jay said, all four headliners from the first show in 2003 were present on the first night 20 years later!

Chieli Minucci:

Ken Navarro:

Marion Meadows:

…and Nelson Rangell:

Jay’s house band had percussion by Steve Scales:

Trever Somerville on drums:

Dave Anderson on bass:

Andy Abel on guitar:

And directing it all, Jay Rowe on keyboards:

(Updated with videos on 5/31. The soundcheck was part of the original post.)

1. Every Woman Every Man (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Smooth Ride (2016) (earlier version of this post incorrectly credited song to Groove Reflections)
Featured musician: Jay Rowe (keyboards)

2. Midnight Dance (Jay Rowe)
Featured musician: Jay Rowe (keyboards)

3. Ballerina (Special EFX)
Originally heard on: Just Like Magic (1990)
Featured musician: Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

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

5. Gratitude (Nelson Rangell)
New and unrecorded
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (alto sax), Chieli Minucci (acoustic guitar)

6. Smokin’ Joe (Nelson Rangell)
New and unrecorded; tribute to Joe Sample
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (alto sax), Jay Rowe (keyboards)

7. Smooth Sensation (Ken Navarro)
Originally heard on: Smooth Sensation (1997)
Featured musician: Ken Navarro (acoustic guitar)

8. When We Dance (Ken Navarro)
Originally heard on: Into the Light (2020)
Featured musician: Ken Navarro (acoustic guitar)

9. The Lift (Marion Meadows) (started in audience)
Originally heard on: Body Rhythm (1995)
Featured musician: Marion Meadows (soprano sax)

10. My Cherie Amour (Marion Meadows; Stevie Wonder cover)
Originally heard on: Body Rhythm (1995)
Featured musicians: Marion Meadows (soprano sax), Jay Rowe (keyboards)

11. Daybreak (Special EFX)
Originally heard on: Global Village (1992)
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci (acoustic/electric guitars), Jay Rowe (keyboards), Dave Anderson (bass)

12. Sonora (Nelson Rangell; Hampton Hawes cover)
Originally heard on: Destiny (1995); My American Songbook, Vol. 1 (2005)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (whistling/piccolo), Ken Navarro (acoustic guitar)

13. In the Sky Today (Ken Navarro)
Originally heard on: All the Way (2003)
Featured musicians: Ken Navarro (acoustic guitar), Nelson Rangell (alto sax), Steve Scales (percussion), Trever Somerville (drums)

14. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (Special EFX; The Allman Brothers Band cover)
Originally heard on: Twenty Twenty 2 (2022)
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci (electric guitar), Ken Navarro (electric guitar), Jay Rowe (keyboards)

Ken posted video of the soundcheck:

15. Marcosinho (Marion Meadows; Dave Valentin cover)
Originally heard on: Whisper (2013)
Featured musician: Marion Meadows (soprano sax)

16. Romantica (Marion Meadows) (ended in audience)
Originally heard on: Player’s Club (2004)
Featured musician: Marion Meadows (soprano sax)

17 (Finale). What You Won’t Do for Love (Bobby Caldwell cover, tribute to the recently departed singer)
Featured musicians: Everyone, Carla Z (vocals)
Marion was part of Bobby’s live band.

This part of the post is dedicated to photo galleries of the headliners. We start with Chieli Minucci on electric guitar:

Chieli on acoustic guitar:

Ken Navarro on acoustic guitar:

Ken on electric guitar for “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”:

Ken interacting with the band on “In the Sky Today”:

Marion Meadows starting in the audience for “The Lift”:

On stage:

Ending “Romantica” in the audience:

Nelson Rangell on alto sax:

Whistling on “Sonora”:

Whistling gave way to piccolo…

…and whistling while holding the piccolo:

Now, the house band, beginning with percussionist Steve Scales:

Drummer Trever Somerville:

Bassist Dave Anderson:

Andy Abel on acoustic guitar:

…and otherwise on electric:

Finally, Jay Rowe on keyboards (all but the first are from his “My Cherie Amour”):

On to medium and wide shots, beginning with Chieli and Nelson:

Chieli and Ken on “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”:

Ken and Nelson:

Nelson and Jay:

Marion and Jay:

Last in this section, Steve and Trever:

Why not give audience and photographer shots their own section?

When it came time for the raffles (between “…Elizabeth Reed” and “Marcosinho”), I forgot to only check my tickets for the 50/50 portion. I was needlessly exasperated when my numbers didn’t match what Jay Rowe called.

I was rightfully dismayed when I actually lost the 50/50, but at least my $10 went to a great cause. The winner was Steve, who graciously donated back $200 of his winnings.

The finale, “What You Won’t Do for Love,” featured vocals by Carla Z:

As I was packing up my camcorder – Panasonic HC-X1500 with VW-HU1 and Rode VideoMic GO II – and tripod – Magnus VT-300, Lisa Arpin approached me to say hello. We had met during Jay Rowe’s Tito Tuesdays livestreams on Facebook during the early months of COVID. Afterward, I put the speedlight on my camera – a Canon EOS R7 – for flash meet-and-greet photos. (I was close enough to the stage that the RF-S 18-150mm lens was all I needed.) Unfortunately, the flash and low ISO (100) darkened the background and washed out the foreground. So, I turned off the speedlight and had photos taken at the settings I used during the show: 1/100 second shutter speed and ISO 2500. Later in Adobe Photoshop Elements, I’d bump up the brightness and contrast. (I have regular Photoshop, but mostly use it for upscaling, PDF automation, and graphic design.)

The first photo is of Jay Dobbins and Andy Abel:

Andy and “Jay Squared” (Dobbins came up with that):

I wanted to get in one photo, which Andy’s sister Janet gladly took (the next day was her birthday):

Once more from the auditorium, me with Jay Dobbins and Steve Scales:

Out in the lobby, I missed a chance to catch up with Chieli Minucci, but was part of a conversation with Marion Meadows and Katherine Gilraine about a documentary he was working on.

It took three attempts to get a photo with Jay Rowe, his wife Deborah, and Nelson Rangell (sorry to all three of you):

The last photo of the night, taken by Kelly, was me with Kristin and Ken Navarro:

Ken acknowledged Kristin during the show before “When We Dance.” It was very nice to catch up with them. Ken spotted me in the orchestra pit while playing “Smooth Sensation,” saying hi to me during a rest. After the show, he climbed off stage to chat with me. I talked about how I’d be debuting tracks from Love is Everywhere on May 17 (last night) at the end of the second Three-of-a-Kind Showcase edition of Instrumental Invasion. Ken liked the concept.

Kelly dropped me off at Hampton Inn around midnight. I wrote the following back in my room (in the vein of what I wrote earlier in this recap):

I had a lot of apprehension and performance anxiety ahead of tonight, the first night of the 20th anniversary Smooth Jazz of Scholars. The thought of taking hundreds of photos and having to edit them all scared me. And yet, I was at the Parsons Complex in Milford and had a great time. No way will I give up what I do. It’s too much fun in the moment. That’s what should matter. I have to remind myself to be present. I can’t look ahead in fear. I have to enjoy myself and snap away. I’m beloved by all that know me, and that was true tonight.

Mike Chimeri, Facebook post, 4/29/23, 1:22 AM

Watching part of a Twitch livestream got me through the late night/early morning hours as I transferred photos and videos from their SD cards. Then, since I shoot RAW now, I imported all the photos into Adobe Lightroom, then exported them as JPGs and deleted the RAW files.

Before retiring for the night/morning, I edited the meet-and-greet photos to include in my all-is-well Facebook post. I was able to get a few hours of sleep before my body decided I’d had enough.

Click here to read about Saturday morning and beyond.

Instrumental Invasion, 5/10/23: Songs Recorded Live May 11, 2023

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, City Pop, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio.
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The May 10 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was a two-day production. Talk breaks were recorded on March 13 with show mixing and a pickup on the 14th.

The playlist was created on March 7 and annotated on the 10th before going out to dinner for my mom’s birthday. The talk break script was drafted on the 11th and 12th.

This week and next week’s shows were conceived to make up for a lack of newly released music to play, but they were also fun to work on. This week, I expanded on the “almost live” theme from last May 25. There, only five songs were live recordings. Here, every song was a live recording, including Glenn Miller and the Army Air Force Band all the way back in 1943!

Get Up!” by the Bob Mintzer Big Band was first played back on April 15, 2020, another theme show (music from 1985 and 2015).

This was the sixth show without a David Benoit song, but he did appear in “Weekend in Monaco” by The Rippingtons.

Click here to download this week’s aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Next week, six more Three-of-a-Kind Showcases!

Instrumental Invasion, 5/3/23 May 4, 2023

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Film, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, New Age, News, Personal, Radio, Travel.
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The May 3 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded entirely on March 8, the first one-day recording since February 1 for the third anniversary show (airing March 29). Pickups were recorded on the 8th (after principal recording) and 9th, with an additional pickup on April 17 after learning Ahmad Jamal had died.

The playlist was created on March 1, except for the last segment on the 4th. Annotations followed on the 6th and the talk break script was drafted on the 7th.

My “May the Third be with you” at the top of the show was a nod to Star Wars Day the next day (today). Playing off the franchise catchphrase “may the force be with you,” the greeting on May 4 is “May the Fourth be with you.” One May 5, I joked “Cinco de Mayo be with you” on social media.

I played two Casiopea songs, one from their second album and one from their latest. To that end, language and travel came up a lot.

The language part allowed me to recite words and names in their native dialect. Whole sentences were another matter, which is why I leaned on Google Translate for my Spanish description of “Del Corazón.” (I wrote this paragraph on March 9, a month before I started learning Japanese, as noted in last week’s post.)

The travel part was highlighted by “I Love New York” (from Casiopea’s Super Flight [transliterated Sūpāfuraito, per my talk break]), “Tappan Zee” (from Bob James‘s BJ4), and “Chattahoochee Field Day” (from Patrick O’Hearn‘s Eldorado).

Speaking of John Patitucci and his Brooklyn project evoked memories of visiting my great-grandparents in Midwood. Here is a photo from one such trip:

I forget if the allowance I’m proudly holding was from Grandma BeBe or Aunt Tessy.

Click here to download this week’s scoped aircheck or listen below:

8:35 AM UPDATE: Oh, I forgot I made a Don Sebesky reference. He died on Saturday.

Instrumental Invasion, 4/26/23 April 27, 2023

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Anime, Audio, City Pop, Education, History, Idol, Internet, Japanese, Jazz, Language, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, VTuber.
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The April 26 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP went on the air at the end of the station dinner for students and alumni. The dinner was held at The View Grill, located off Long Island Sound in Glen Cove. I listened to much of the first hour during a ride home from my parents. Mom took a photo of Dad’s infotainment system while tuned to 88.1 FM:

3:47 PM UPDATE: Here’s a photo I took with my camera:

I caught the rest at home.

I have a lot to say, so I’ll get the scoped aircheck out of the way here:

The show’s playlist was created on February 24, annotated on the 27th and 28th, scripted on the 28th and March 1.

For the first time since December 7, I recorded out of sequence. Segments 6, 1, and 3 were recorded on March 2, followed by segments 2, 4, and 5 on March 3. I wanted to get the last segment out of the way because of the mammoth talk break that expounded on my city pop discovery, including excerpts of “4:00 A.M.” by Taeko Onuki and of the Caitlin Myers English version. My hunch was right, but I only managed to go 69 seconds over, plus another three seconds in the first segment where I first discussed city pop vis-à-vis Casiopea. I had little trouble compensating, completely making up for the overage over the last four segments without remixing.

After recording a quick pickup for the second segment on March 4, I redid the entire last talk break on the 5th. Taeko noted in a 2017 interview that Stuff drummer Chris Parker played on Sunshower, her precursor to Mignonne. Eric Gale was in Stuff. Maybe it was him. I bought a 2008 CD reissue of Mignonne on Amazon, planning on scanning the presumably Japanese liner notes once it arrived on March 6 and translating the text in the scan. Hedging my bets, the full talk break record said the soloist was Eric. Then, I did an alternate tack-on where I said it wasn’t. I played part of the solo in each.

Served me right for not noticing Discogs’ entry for Mignonne‘s 1989 CD reissue with its English credits. Nope, not Eric. It was Tsunehide Matsuki. I canceled the Amazon CD order, cited the Discogs ’89 CD credit, tacked that onto the earlier redos, and called it a night. I did one more pickup for this redo on March 7 because I was unsure of whether or not Caitlin Myers had more city pop adaptations in the pipeline. I did a separate pickup for the first segment on the 7th, with the precise Japanese transliteration of Casiopea, and a pickup for the top of hour 2.

For posterity, here was the original last talk break with all my nervous energy:

The redo where it was Eric Gale (and the Caitlin YouTube channel plug):

Not routinely, Mike.

The redo tack-on where it wasn’t Eric:

Read about my early city pop journey in this blog post.

I’ll still include the relevant city pop videos, starting with the original “4:00 A.M.” by Taeko Onuki (or Ohnuki):

Referred by this video

As Lou Monte would say (in “Lazy Mary”), the “British” version by Caitlin Myers (from the U.S.):

And T2norway‘s video about Casiopea:

Again, I’ll excuse the mispronunciations of Harvey Mason and Lee Ritenour.

[Removed on 5/3]

April 15 portion joined in progress:
Caitlin’s anime dubbing background inspired me to sign up with CrunchyRoll and watch select anime series. I started with the second season of Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club, featuring Caitlin as the introverted Shioriko Mifune, who slowly comes out of her shell as the season progresses. At first, I wondered “why the hell am I watching this?,” but by the third episode, I was hooked. So, now I can add idol/virtual idol to my diverse musical interests. (What I play on Instrumental Invasion remains my primary interest.) Incidentally, the English dub does not account for songs, meaning episodic numbers and the opening and closing themes are sung by the original seiyuu (Japanese voice actors).

On March 28, YouTube recommended a Ruri Ohama video, which led to a recommendation of a compilation video by JapanesePod101.com. After watching several of those compilations, I took the plunge by subscribing to the site itself and taking various courses. JapanesePod101.com is a division of the Franklin Square-based Innovative Language Learning. I always feel a sense of pride when I come across a Long Island-based company, past or present. Concurrently, I subscribed to Mochi real Japanese (Mochi Sensei) to learn Japanese from her videos. The teaching styles differ, but that’s okay.

[Removed on 5/3]

Back to what I wrote on March 3:

Ever since I watched Cronkite Remembers on DVD in the 2000s, I’ve had the introductory narration to Walter Cronkite‘s You Are There in my head. “We Were There” by Jazz Funk Soul always jogs my memory, but I never thought to play it on Instrumental Invasion until this show. The way I did the talk-up is how I’ve said the title to myself.

Knee Deep in Rio” by Maynard Ferguson and Big Bop Nouveau was the song I moved from last week after realizing I wrongly placed it in the 1985-97 segment.

Robben Ford‘s “Magic Sam” was originally played on October 19 before I knew of the eponymous blues musician. Back then, I assumed it was about a magician, and I said that he “disappeared” as Jay Mirabile’s liner played on the fade out.

Tomorrow, I travel to Milford, Connecticut, to attend and photograph Smooth Jazz for Scholars. Wish me luck.

6:11 PM UPDATE: [Removed on 5/3]

Instrumental Invasion, 4/19/23 April 20, 2023

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Sports.
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The April 19 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was another 4-2 recording with four segments recorded on February 25 and two (plus pickups) the next day, on the 26th.

The playlist was created on February 11, but tweaked on the 13th when I inadvertently put a 1998 song in the first 1985-97 segment. That song will be part of next week’s show. Annotations started on February 14, but weren’t completed until the 22nd. The talk break script was drafted on the 21st and 24th.

There were three retreads, all from 2020:

Click here to download this week’s scoped aircheck or listen below:

And why not post the Unified jingle?

Instrumental Invasion, 4/12/23 April 13, 2023

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Astronomy, Audio, City Pop, Computer, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Sci-Fi, Technology, Video, Video Games.
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The April 12 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded entirely on February 22, the day after my city pop journey began.

The playlist was created February 8, except for the last segment on the 10th. Annotations started on February 14 and finished on the 15th. The talk break script was drafted on the 21st.

This is the third week in a row with two Chick Corea songs, and second where the first song was followed by an Earl Klugh song.

I expanded my Maynard Ferguson collection with three of his latest albums, debuting this week. Maynard and Will Donato covered different songs with the same title: “I’ll Be Around.” One was the Alec Wilder standard, the other by The Spinners. Of course, last week, I played two versions of the same song: “Sunrise” by Chet Atkins.

Fourplay‘s “Aniversario” was originally played on December 30, 2020, and Najee‘s “Bounce” was first heard on August 10, 2022.

I had the opposite problem of last week, ending up two minutes and 30 seconds under after five segments! Thus, I filled the void with an extra song and reworked the final talk break. That song was David Murray’s 8-Bit Keys arrangement of “The Unknown Planet” by John Keating (or Johnny Keating), as adapted by Rob Hubbard for the video game Warhawk. In my haste, I forgot I played a Cedar Walton song (“The Early Generation”) in the first segment that featured Freddie Hubbard, so I didn’t emphasize Rob’s first name. Here is the accompanying 8-Bit Keys video:

The plan worked too well and I had to give back five seconds in the fourth segment. Either way, the last segment was the longest I’ve ever produced: 20 minutes and 45 seconds, breaking the old record set on January 4.

Click here to download this week’s scoped aircheck or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 4/5/23 April 6, 2023

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio.
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The April 5 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded on February 19 (four segments) and 20 (two segments). Pickups were recorded on the 20th and 22nd.

The playlist was created hour by hour on February 3 and 4. Annotations didn’t come until February 14 and the talk break script was drafted on the 18th. I made two one-minute timing errors that escaped my eye until recording, a combined two minutes over. As the playlist PDF shows, I was able to break even after much maneuvering.

Sign of the Times” by Bob James was first played on June 2, 2021, and “Drive Time” by David Benoit was recycled from the second Wednesday night show – April 8, 2020, 156 weeks ago.

Click here to download this week’s scoped aircheck or listen below: