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Kerry Kearney Band, Special EFX at Long Beach Jazz Festival 2016 September 19, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
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On Friday, for the first time in four years, I came to the second day of the four-day Long Beach (NY) Jazz Festival. This was the festival’s 14th year and the sixth year I’ve attended.

I was there to see Chieli Minucci and Special EFX, but was treated to blues by the Kerry Kearney Band beforehand.

Despite running 7.6 miles earlier in the afternoon, I walked a mile and a half to the Wantagh LIRR station just before 4:00. I waited for the 4:27 westbound train, which I took to Lynbrook. Then, I switched platforms to board the Long Beach train. I took the same two trains four years ago.

After I arrived in Long Beach, I walked to Brixx & Barley for a pasta dinner. I had eaten there with my parents and sister on Mother’s Day after we walked the Long Beach Boardwalk.

Unfortunately, there was still a lot of time before the Long Beach Public Library was opened to patrons. So, I walked to the nearby Starbucks and treated myself to dessert. There were only a few people outside the library when I left, but a crowd had gathered when I returned. I was still able to get a front row seat when the doors opened at 6:45.

The Kerry Kearney Band went on just after 7:00.

Here’s Kerry in action:
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The rest of Kerry’s band was David Cohen on piano:
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Gerry Sorrento on bass:
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Mario Stiano on drums:
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…and Nydia “Liberty” Mata on percussion:
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I saw Nydia perform with Alan Bates at the 2008 festival, and she played the steel drums during cocktail hour at my friends Jenni and Clemente’s wedding reception a few weeks after the 2011 festival.

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The band was also joined by Victor Poretz on harmonica:
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…and Charlie on trombone:
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A few wide shots:
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The last note:
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The set lasted about an hour. A half hour later, it was time for Chieli Minucci and Special EFX.

As with the Kerry Kearney Band, Special EFX was introduced by Steve Adelson, Long Beach Jazz Festival founder and Chapman Stick player:
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Chieli played electric guitar:
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…and acoustic guitar:
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Jay Rowe was on keyboards:
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Jerry Brooks on bass:
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Joel Rosenblatt on drums:
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…and Antoine Silverman on violin:
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As always the set list was a mix of Special EFX tunes and Chieli’s solo work. Here’s the list:
1. Courageous Cats
Originally heard on: Jewels (Chieli), 1995

2. Dance on the Delta
Originally heard on: Yet to be released album

3. Crazy Eights
Originally heard on: Genesis, 2013

4. Daybreak
Originally heard on: Global Village, 1992

5. Speak to Me
Originally heard on: Masterpiece, 1999

6. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (Allman Brothers Band cover)

7. Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers (Stevie Wonder cover; based on Jeff Beck version)
Originally heard on: Renaissance (Chieli), 1996

8. Kickin’ It Hard
Originally heard on: Night Grooves (Chieli), 2003

Antoine Silverman did not perform on #1 and #7.

Various shots of Chieli Minucci:
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Jay Rowe:
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Jerry Brooks:
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Joel Rosenblatt:
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Antoine Silverman:
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Wide shots:
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After the last note:
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The bow:
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With that, my night was complete. It was great to be back at the Long Beach Jazz Festival. I hope to be there again next year.

Lee Ritenour at the Blue Note August 20, 2016

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

Another month, another concert at the Blue Note in Greenwich Village. Friday night, I saw guitarist Lee Ritenour with special guest Dave Grusin.

My recap of the Spyro Gyra show I saw at Blue Note in May caught the attention of Art Jackson of Smooth Jazz Magazine. Art asked to put most of it in the July/August issue and I eagerly agreed. He also asked if there were any shows I’d like to attend as a photographer on behalf of the magazine. I told him I was interested in seeing Lee Ritenour the week he was at Blue Note. Like Earl Klugh last month, I had never seen him – or Dave Grusin, for that matter – live. However, I interviewed him twice for The Mike Chimeri Show on Webradio WCWP (now MyWCWP) a decade ago.

I had in mind Friday night at 8:00. Art came through.

I arrived outside at 5:00. I was second in line this time, behind a jazz concert regular named Celeste. We had a great conversation and time flew by. Before we knew it, it was 6:00 and we went in.

I sat in my usual spot right by the stage, but I wasn’t there for long. I felt cramped and closed in. So, I asked for a different table and the staff was very accommodating. Not many shots below were taken at the table. I mostly walked adjacent to the stage in brief spurts to avoid getting in the audience’s way.

Lee Ritenour was on guitar:
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Dave Grusin was on piano, except on the first song:
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…and briefly on keyboard:
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Otherwise, Giorgi Mikadze played the keyboards:
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Giorgi was a 2014 grand prize winner of Lee’s annual Six String Theory competition.

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Tom Kennedy on acoustic and electric bass:
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…and Lee’s son Wes – named after the late guitarist Wes Montgomery – on drums:
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Wes is two weeks older than my cousin Steve.

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Here was the 8:00 set on Friday night:
1. The Village
Originally heard on: Rhythm Sessions, 2012

2. Waltz for Carmen
Originally heard on: Stolen Moments, 1990; A Twist of Rit, 2015

3. Punta del Soul
Originally heard on: Migration (Dave Grusin), 1989; Rhythm Sessions, 2012

4. Stone Flower (Antonio Carlos Jobim cover)
Originally heard on: A Twist of Jobim, 1997

5. Wes Bound
Originally heard on: Wes Bound, 1993; Alive in L.A., 1997

6. Pearl
Originally heard on: A Twist of Rit, 2015

7. (Dave Grusin song I didn’t recognize; unidentified by Lee)

8. A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That
Originally heard on: First Course, 1976; Rio, 1979; A Twist of Rit, 2015

9 (Finale). Wild Rice
Originally heard on: First Course, 1976; A Twist of Rit, 2015

A few wide shots from my table:
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Lee introduced the band one last time at the end:
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This was the first Blue Note show I’ve been to with a meet-and-greet. I brought a copy of Lee’s 1998 album, This is Love, the first album of his I ever bought. Rit’s House, The Very Best of Lee Ritenour, and Overtime would follow. Then, I gradually filled my collection with every other album in his discography. After A Twist of Rit came out last summer, I completed the collection to date with First Course, Gentle Thoughts, and The Captain’s Journey. The title track from that last album came up in my iPod’s shuffle during my run earlier in the day.

I introduced myself, Lee signed the album, and he told me that his son Wes was on the cover. I never knew that was him. Before leaving the line, we posed for a picture.
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Before gathering my belongings and taking the subway and LIRR back home, I ran into Wes downstairs. I complimented his performance and showed him the CD. Then, we posed with it. The picture took several tries, as the patron I lent the camera to initially shot above the CD, but Wes was patient.
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I wished him luck with the second set, packed up, and headed for home.

Thank you to Lee, Wes, Dave, Giorgi, Tom, and the Blue Note staff for another great night at the legendary venue.

If you’d like to see Lee and the band perform, you have two more nights to do so.

An afternoon at the Fire Island Lighthouse July 16, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in History, Jazz, Military, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, Weather.
5 comments

Two weeks ago, Lori Downing, a co-worker of my mother and sister, invited me to visit the Fire Island Lighthouse. Her father, Bill Laghezza, is among its volunteers. I agreed, not knowing what to expect.

Lori’s original plan for yesterday – a hot and humid day, even by the ocean – was to pick me up at 10:30. That became 11:30. We took the Wantagh Parkway to Ocean Parkway, planning on getting on the Robert Moses Causeway, proceeding to Robert Moses State Park, and walking to the lighthouse. We knew there would be a Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride until 1:00, but we thought it stopped at the State Boat Channel Bridge. It actually ended on the Ocean Parkway, which meant eastbound traffic was diverted back west at the finish line. So, we had to reverse course, taking the Ocean Parkway west, Wantagh Parkway north to Exit W4E, the Southern State Parkway east to Exit 40, then take the Robert Moses Causeway south to the park. By this time, the Soldier Ride was over.

Lori and I parked in Field 5 and walked the path to the Fire Island Lighthouse. I brought my Nikon D5500 and snapped away. Below is our photographic journey. Enjoy.

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The lighthouse’s 15th Annual Benefit Art Show was in its third-to-last day. Here are the exhibits:
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Time to climb to the top:
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It was tougher than using a stairmaster.

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The view from the top deck:
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It was jarring at first being up so high, but I adjusted.

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Lori took my picture:
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Then, Bill joined us and I took a picture of him and Lori:
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Here are a couple of videos I shot while on the top deck while Bill was with us.

“C.I.” is Central Islip.

Time to head back down:
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It was easier going down than it was going up.

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All visitors that climb to the top and come back down get a certificate of accomplishment. Another lighthouse volunteer, Angela, took my picture after filling out my certificate:
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Angela and I had a brief conversation about Earl Klugh and I told her about the show I went to a few nights earlier.

One last piece of business: signing the guest log:
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As a privacy precaution, I blurred out last names, locations, e-mail addresses, and the file location of the log.

I’m so glad I decided to join Lori on her trip to the lighthouse. As I wrote in the guest log, it was worth waiting in traffic to get there. I will never forget the sights, the sounds, or the volunteers I met.

Earl Klugh at the Blue Note July 13, 2016

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

It took many years, but last night, I finally saw guitarist Earl Klugh (“clue”) perform live. It’s been 40 years since he made his solo debut with a pair of albums, Earl Klugh and Living Inside Your Love. Most of his early albums were released on Blue Note Records, and the show I saw was at the infamous Blue Note jazz club in Greenwich Village. It was my fourth time at the Blue Note, and won’t be the last.

The show I saw was the first of 12 over six nights. As usual, I opted for the 8:00 show over the 10:30 show.

My sister drove to the Wantagh LIRR station at 3:45 for the 4:02 train to Penn Station. As fate would have it, the 3:27 train was running a half hour late. So, I boarded that train a few minutes earlier than the train I planned on taking.

Just before 5:00, I arrived at Penn and proceeded to the 34th Street subway station for the downtown A train to West Fourth Street. Just like my previous trip to Blue Note for Spyro Gyra, I was so early that I was the first in line outside the club. After 5:30, a line began to form behind me. At exactly 6:00, the door opened and I was let in. I chose my center stage table seat and ordered dinner. A father and daughter from Japan sat to my left, which made me wish I spoke enough Japanese to carry a conversation. I was rewarded a half hour later when a man from Ottawa, in town for his daughter’s dance competition, took the seat across from mine. We had a nice, prolonged conversation. It was great.

The show I was about to see was even greater.

Earl Klugh, as he has throughout his 40-year career, played acoustic guitar:
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David Lee was on keyboards:
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Tom Braxton played alto sax (seen below), soprano sax, and flute:
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Al Turner, the Bass Burner, on electric bass:
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…and Ron Otis on drums:
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There were also two special guests, as you’ll see in the set list below:
1. Brazilian Stomp
Originally heard on: Collaboration (with George Benson), 1987

2. Midnight in San Juan
Originally heard on: Midnight in San Juan, 1991

3. Last Song
Originally heard on: The Journey, 1997

4. Across the Sand
Originally heard on: Move, 1994

5. Cabo Frio
Originally heard on: Finger Paintings, 1977

6. Wishful Thinking
Originally heard on: Wishful Thinking, 1984
Special guest: Barry Eastmond, keyboard

7. Vonetta
Originally heard on: Earl Klugh, 1976

8. Living Inside Your Love
Originally heard on: Living Inside Your Love, 1976

9. Dr. Macumba
Originally heard on: Finger Paintings, 1977

10 (Encore). Twinkle
Originally heard on: Crazy for You, 1981
Special guest: Michael Lington, alto sax

Here are various shots of each musician, including the special guests, starting with Earl Klugh:
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David Lee in emcee mode:
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…and at the keys:
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Hearing him on the Kurzweil synthesizer reminded me of Bill Heller, who also uses that model:
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David was quite the character. I loved his antics.

Tom Braxton on alto sax:
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…on soprano sax:
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…and on flute:
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Al Turner:
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Ron Otis:
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Barry Eastmond appeared on “Wishful Thinking,” just as he did on the original in 1984:
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Michael Lington joined the band for the encore, “Twinkle”:
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Wide shots:
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The last note:
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With that, the 8:00 set was complete.

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I complimented Al Turner and Michael Lington as they left the stage, and let Earl know that this was my first time seeing him live. “Really?” Yes, and I hope it isn’t the last time. I spoke to Tom Braxton before the show, but didn’t have a chance to talk to him again afterward.

I got a picture with Al before I left:
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If you’d like to see Earl and the band at Blue Note, you have five more nights to do so. Come on down to the Village and see them play. You won’t be disappointed. I was enthralled. Thank you to Earl, David, Tom, Al, Ron, Barry, and Michael.

Dharma 2.0 recap June 25, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Media, Music, Personal.
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A new era began last night at Suite 1828 in Merrick. Drummer John Favicchia upgraded his band from Dharma All Stars to Dharma 2.0.

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The set now features mainstream covers while retaining Dharma classics, as you’ll notice in the set list.

I was last at the Suite last January for Dharma 1.0. I had planned on returning two months later, but came down with bronchitis and had to stay home. I felt redeemed last night.

I sat in a chair in front of the stage. Behind me, a packed house gathered. We were all in for a wild set.

Dharma 2.0 is led by John Fav on drums:
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Tim Regusis on keyboard:
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Benny Reid on tenor sax:
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…and alto sax:
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Brandon Dove on guitar:
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…and Thomas Velsor on bass:
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SET LIST
1.
Apocalypso (Dave Weckl cover)
2. Spies (Coldplay cover)
3. Coincidence
4. Sing a Song of Song (Kenny Garrett cover)
5. In My Place (Coldplay cover)
6. Kukuc

Here are various shots of each band member, starting with John Favicchia:
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Tim Regusis:
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Benny Reid:
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Brandon Dove:
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Thomas Velsor:
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Wide shots:
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The last note of the set:
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Until the next show, I’ll leave you with a pair of group pictures taken by me…
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…and mutual friend Jeff Krasner:
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Spyro Gyra at the Blue Note May 28, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Basketball, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel.
3 comments

I was back at Blue Note on Thursday night to see Spyro Gyra‘s 8:00 show. This is a recurring expression in these recaps, but it was Spyro Gyra’s third night of a six-night engagement at the famous jazz club in Greenwich Village. It was also the first time I’d seen the band in nearly three years. This was the first time seeing them on land since June 2007 at the YMCA Boulton Center in Bay Shore.

My original plan on Thursday afternoon was to take the 4:27 westbound train from LIRR’s Wantagh Station (currently in the first phase of renovations) to Penn Station. But I was bored at home, so I left the house an hour and a half early. I walked 20 minutes to the train station and boarded the 3:09 train. I use a backpack, so I must have looked like a high school student to some fellow adults I passed. (Wantagh High School lets out at 2:19.) Wantagh Elementary School had a fire drill as I walked past it on Beech Street. I was glad to hear it was a whooping siren and buzzer instead of a ding-ding-ding bell. That’s why I dreaded fire drills as a kid. I don’t like surprises and I like those big bells even less.

The train ride was longer than scheduled due to a delay at Jamaica, but I still got to Penn Station within an hour of boarding. My girlfriend took Metro-North and the S and 1 trains, and we met at Penn 15 minutes after I arrived. We then took the A train to West Fourth Street. We walked up the stairs at West Third and killed time by watching basketball games at the West Fourth Street Courts. At 5:20, we decided walk up the block to Blue Note and wait for the doors to open. There was no line at first, but about 15 minutes, a line began to form.

Shortly after 6:00, the doors opened and my girlfriend and I chose our usual table at center stage. Our seats were the last before the stage.

Through dinner and dessert, 8:00 came, Spyro Gyra walked on stage, and the show began.

As he has been for all 40 years, Jay Beckenstein was on saxophone. He mostly played alto:
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…but was briefly on soprano:
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Tom Schuman, also with the band for all 40 years, played keyboards:
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Julio Fernandez, with the band for 29 of the last 31 years, was on guitar:
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Scott Ambush, in his 25th year, was on bass:
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…and newcomer Lionel Cordew on drums:
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Each night’s shows were at 8:00 and 10:30. Here is the set list from Thursday’s 8:00 show:
1. Catching the Sun
Originally heard on: Catching the Sun, 1980

2. Stolen Moments (Oliver Nelson cover)

3. Havana Moonlight
Originally heard on: Got the Magic, 1999

4. Morning Dance
Originally heard on: Morning Dance, 1979; Access All Areas, 1984; Road Scholars, 1998

5. Cape Town Love
Originally heard on: Original Cinema, 2003

6. Harbor Nights
Originally heard on: Incognito, 1982; Access All Areas, 1984

7. Good to Go-Go
Originally heard on: Good to Go-Go, 2007

8. Funkyard Dog
Originally heard on: Good to Go-Go, 2007

We’ve reached the part of the recap with various shots of each musician. We start with Jay Beckenstein:
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Playing alto and soprano simultaneously on “Funkyard Dog”:
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Tom Schuman:
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Julio Fernandez:
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Julio’s vocal intro to “Havana Moonlight”:
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Julio was born in Havana.

Scott Ambush:
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Lionel Cordew’s drum solo before “Funkyard Dog”:
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Scott and Tom:
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Julio and Lionel:
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Scott, Jay, and Tom:
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My girlfriend and I had a wonderful time. We couldn’t have asked for a better show. I can only imagine what the 10:30 crowd saw.

Spyro Gyra are still at Blue Note tonight and tomorrow night. So, if you haven’t seen them yet and you’re free either night, come on down to the Village and see them live.

SJFS 2016 Night 2 recap May 4, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Football, Internet, Interviews, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Travel, TV.
13 comments

Other SJFS recaps: 2008, 2008 meet-and-greet, 2009, 2010, 2011, 20122013 Night 1, 2013 Night 2, 2014 Night 1, 2014 Night 2, 2015 Night 1, 2016 Night 1

Day 2 of my weekend in Milford, Connecticut, began at sunrise. I went right to sleep when I returned to the hotel the night before. So, the first thing I did when I woke up was move the pictures I shot from my camera to my laptop. After that, I took the elevator down to the lobby and helped myself to breakfast. The day progressed from there. To pass the time, I watched episodes of Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show while editing Friday’s Smooth Jazz for Scholars pictures. When the latter rounds of the NFL Draft were televised, I had that on with the TV muted as I continued to listen to (when editing) and watch (when not) the Chat Show.

If such a thing existed, I would have teleported from my room to the Tilles Center Atrium for this year’s WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony. Instead, this recap by 2014 inductee Frank D’Elia will have to do. Jeff Kroll, inducted last year, informed me that next year’s ceremony will probably be earlier in the year, eliminating a conflict with Smooth Jazz for Scholars.

Eventually, 5:15 came and it was time for dinner. My girlfriend and I ate at the Olive Garden in nearby Orange. It was the first time I had been to any location other than the one in East Massapequa. Since I ate waffles and muffins at breakfast, I avoided those delicious breadsticks, limiting myself to minestrone, lasagna, and a creme de menthe candy when the check came.

My girlfriend improvised on her alto saxophone again while we waited in the parking lot adjacent to the Parsons Complex Veterans Memorial Auditorium. This time, she even played in front of audience members waiting on the auditorium steps. They loved it.

In the auditorium lobby, I met Jay Rowe‘s mother, Mia DiStasi, as I preordered Jay’s upcoming album, Smooth Ride.

At 8:00, Kevin McCabe welcomed the audience:
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There were plenty of people like me that also attended Friday’s show.

Once again, John Patterson, president and CEO of the Monroe County (Michigan) Convention and Tourism Bureau, promoted the River Raisin Jazz Festival:
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After two songs from West Shore Middle School students Friday night, Saturday night saw two songs by the East Shore Middle School Jazz Band:
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They played “Blues at Frog Bottom” and “Peter Gunn.”

After chairs were removed from the stage, Jay Rowe and his band came out.

Jay played keyboards:
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Steve Scales on percussion:
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Trever Somerville on drums:
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…and Dave Anderson on bass:
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The stars of night 2 were Eric Darius on alto saxophone:
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Chieli Minucci (“key-ELLIE min-OO-chee”) on electric guitar:
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…and acoustic guitar:
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Nelson Rangell on alto sax…:
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…flute…:
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…and piccolo:
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He also whistled a couple of bars:
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Nick Colionne on electric guitar:
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…and with Jay’s band on seven songs, including the finale, just like the night before, Rohn (“Ron”) Lawrence on electric guitar:
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SET LIST
1. East Coast West Coast (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Red Hot and Smooth (2006)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

2. Goin’ All Out (Eric Darius)
Originally heard on: Goin’ All Out (2008)
Featured musicians: Eric Darius (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

3. If I Ain’t Got You (Alicia Keys cover) (Eric Darius)
Originally heard on: Just Getting Started (2006)
Featured musicians: Eric Darius (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)
Eric worked his way through the audience in the middle of the song.

4. Uptown East (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Slice of Life (Special EFX) (1986)
Featured musician: Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

5. Dance on the Delta (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Upcoming Special EFX album
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci (acoustic guitar), Nelson Rangell (flute, alto sax)

6. From Here (Nelson Rangell)
Originally heard on: Red (2015)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (alto sax, whistling), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

7. Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me) (The Brothers Johnson cover) (Nelson Rangell)
Originally heard on: Nelson Rangell (1990)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (piccolo), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

8. Buckle Up (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: The Journey (2016)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (electric guitar), Nelson Rangell (alto sax)

9. Rainy Night in Georgia (Brook Benton cover) (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: It’s My Turn (1994), Keepin’ It Cool (2006)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (vocals, electric guitar), Eric Darius (alto sax)

10. Night on the Town (Eric Darius)
Originally heard on: Night on the Town (2004)
Featured musicians: Eric Darius (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

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

12. The Road Ahead (Nelson Rangell)
Originally heard on: Destiny (1995)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

13 (Finale). James Brown tribute
Featured musicians: Everyone, led by Nick Colionne (vocals)
Nick went into the audience twice for his “Whatta ‘Bout You?” routine.

Now for various shots of each musician, starting with Jay Rowe:
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Eric Darius:
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Chieli Minucci on electric guitar:
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Acoustic guitar:
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Nelson Rangell on alto sax:
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Flute:
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Piccolo:
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Whistling:
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Tambourine break on “Buckle Up”:
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I always love when Nelson joins Steve Scales on percussion.

Nick Colionne:
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Singing “Rainy Night in Georgia”:
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Rohn Lawrence:
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Steve Scales:
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Trever Somerville:
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Dave Anderson:
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Next, two shots, starting with Rohn and Eric:
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Nelson and Chieli:
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Rohn and Nelson:
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Nick and Nelson:
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Nick and Eric:
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Steve and Trever’s duet on “Night on the Town”:
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The James Brown tribute finale begins with Nick channeling the Godfather of Soul:
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The rest of the band was in on the seance:
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“Fellas!”:
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The response was inadequate:
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Take 2: “Fellas!”:
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After a “yeah!” response, Nick imitated James’s incoherence in a questioning tone, eliciting more “yeah!” responses.

Then, he laughed: “Ha-ha-ha!”:
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“Can I count it off?”:
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“1, 2, 3, 4!”:
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And away we went.

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The “Whatta ‘Bout You?” routine:
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Back on stage:
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The cape routine:
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Jay can dance:
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Time to bring it home:
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That was it for night 2.

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What a wild night and a fantastic weekend.

My girlfriend drove me to Bridgeport Station at around noon on Sunday and my journey home began. Until next year, Milford.

SJFS 2016 Night 1 recap May 4, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel.
13 comments

Other SJFS recaps: 2008, 2008 meet-and-greet, 2009, 2010, 2011, 20122013 Night 1, 2013 Night 2, 2014 Night 1, 2014 Night 2, 2015 Night 1, 2016 Night 2

Ten years ago tomorrow, May 5, I met keyboardist Jay Rowe following a Special EFX concert at the since-defunct IMAC (Inter-Media Art Center) in Huntington. A friendship was born. (We posed for a picture that can be seen here.) About seven months later, he invited me to his annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars benefit concert the following April in his hometown of Milford, Connecticut. I agreed to go. Last Friday, I made my tenth annual pilgrimage to Milford for the 14th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars. This was the fourth year with two shows, and the third in which I went to both shows.

The journey began Friday morning in a cold wind on the platform at the Wantagh LIRR station. I took a westbound train to Penn Station. My next stop was Penn’s Amtrak terminal. I waited an hour, which included a quick nosh at Tim Horton’s, then boarded the Vermonter on track 8E. I was in coach, which resembled the commuter trains I’m used to riding. About 70 minutes later, I exited the train at Bridgeport. My girlfriend was waiting for me.

I met her on Facebook six years ago. She first discovered me four years before that through this website because of an interview I did with Brian Simpson at WCWP. (You can find that interview here.) She noticed me in the audience at the 2009 SJFS, but didn’t approach me. When we connected on Facebook, I assumed she was a fan of my stint as host of Evening Jazz, a WCWP format at the time. We shared a love of music, both for listening and playing. I’m a piano man, she was a sax woman.

We checked in at Hampton Inn in Milford around 2PM. After a few hours of settling in, we went out to dinner and dessert at Friendly’s. From there, we drove to the site of Smooth Jazz for Scholars: the Parsons Complex Veterans Memorial Auditorium. We were early, so we waited in the parking lot for a half hour.

While we waited, my girlfriend improvised on her alto saxophone to backing tracks on her MP3 player.

Shortly after 8:00, show #1 began with an introduction by Kevin McCabe:
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Next to speak was John Patterson, president and CEO of the Monroe County (Michigan) Convention and Tourism Bureau:
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John was promoting another annual jazz event: the River Raisin Jazz Festival.

Then, it was time to showcase Milford music students. First to perform were students from West Shore Middle School, who sang “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley…:
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…and “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran:
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From there, it was on to the Foran High School Jazz Ensemble, who performed Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”:
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The students then gave way to Jay Rowe and his band.

Jay was on keyboards:
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Steve Scales played percussion:
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Trever Somerville on drums:
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…and Dave Anderson on bass:
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The stars of night 1 were Matt Marshak on electric guitar:
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The aforementioned Brian Simpson, who was briefly on keyboard…:
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…but mostly on keytar:
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Peter White on acoustic guitar:
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Marion Meadows on soprano saxophone:
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…and with Jay’s band on seven songs, including the finale, Rohn (“Ron”) Lawrence on electric guitar:
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SET LIST
1. Red Hot and Smooth (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Red Hot and Smooth (2006)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

2. Cadillac Kid (Matt Marshak)
Originally heard on: Colors of Me (2012)
Featured musician: Matt Marshak (electric guitar)

3. Teddy P (Matt Marshak)
Originally heard on: Urban Folktales (2011)
Featured musician: Matt Marshak (electric guitar)

4. Just What You Need (Brian Simpson)*
Originally heard on: Just What You Need (2013)
Featured musicians: Brian Simpson (keyboard, keytar), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

5. Saturday Cool (Brian Simpson)*
Originally heard on: It’s All Good (2005)
Featured musicians: Brian Simpson (keytar), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

6. Promenade/Could It Be I’m Falling in Love (The Spinners cover) (Peter White)
Originally heard on: Promenade (1993), Reflections (1994)
Featured musicians: Peter White (acoustic guitar), Marion Meadows (soprano sax)

7. In Rainbows (Peter White)
Originally heard on: Smile (2014)
Featured musicians: Peter White (acoustic guitar), Marion Meadows (soprano sax)

8. What Cha Gonna Do? (Brian Simpson)*
Originally heard on: Above the Clouds (2007)
Featured musicians: Brian Simpson (keyboard, keytar), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

9. Lifestyle (Matt Marshak)
Originally heard on: Lifestyle (2014)
Featured musician: Matt Marshak (electric guitar)

10. Bueno Funk (Peter White)
Originally heard on: Glow (2001)
Featured musicians: Peter White (acoustic guitar), Marion Meadows (soprano sax)

11. Treasures (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: In Deep (2002)
Featured musicians: Marion Meadows (soprano sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

12. Humanity (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: Soul Traveler (2015)
Featured musicians: Marion Meadows (soprano sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

13 (Finale). Kiss (Prince cover)
Featured musicians: Everyone

*-Jay was not on stage during this song.

Now for various shots of each musician, starting with Jay Rowe:
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Matt Marshak:
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Brian Simpson:
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Peter White:
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Leading the audience on “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”:
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The audience followed:
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Marion Meadows:
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Rohn Lawrence:
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Steve Scales:
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Trever Somerville:
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Dave Anderson:
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Next, two shots, starting with Rohn and Brian:
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Rohn and Marion:
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Peter and Marion:
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The finale: “Kiss”:
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The last note:
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Night 1 was complete:
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Before heading back to the hotel, my girlfriend and I caught up with Brian Simpson and I spoke with Peter White.

Click here to see how the second night went.

Yellowjackets at Birdland April 25, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
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Three months and two weeks after my previous visit to Birdland Jazz Club, I returned to see the band Yellowjackets perform. As with the Jeff Lorber Fusion, I went to the middle night of Yellowjackets’ five-night engagement, which coincided with the release of their new album, Cohearence.

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This was the second time I’ve seen Yellowjackets perform. The first time was also at Birdland on my 25th birthday, which coincided with their 25th anniversary. I posed for a picture after the show with original member Russell Ferrante, whom I had interviewed a month earlier on WCWP. The picture can be found here and the interview here.

Since 2006, original bass player Jimmy Haslip, and drummer Marcus Baylor, left Yellowjackets. Will Kennedy, who was with the band from 1987 to 1999, returned on drums, and Dane Alderson is now on bass.

So, let’s introduce the band:

Russ played piano and keyboard (not always at once):
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Bob Mintzer was on tenor saxophone…
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…and EWI (electronic wind instrument):
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Will Kennedy on drums:
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…and Dane Alderson on bass:
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All five nights had shows at 8:30 and 11:00. Here was Thursday’s 8:30 set list:

1. Spirit of the West
Originally heard on: Club Nocturne, 1998

2. Inevitable Outcome*
Originally heard on: Cohearence, 2016

3. Monk’s Habit
Originally heard on: Time Squared, 2003

4. Golden State
Originally heard on: Cohearence, 2016

5. Claire’s Song*
Originally heard on: Mirage a Trois, 1983

6. Even Song
Originally heard on: Run for Your Life, 1994

7. An Amber Shade of Blue
Originally heard on: A Rise in the Road, 2013

*-Bob played EWI

Now for various shots of each band member, beginning with Russell Ferrante:
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Bob Mintzer on tenor sax:
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…and EWI:
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Will Kennedy:
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Dane Alderson:
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Unfortunately, my view of Dane was mostly blocked by Bob, so I could only get this picture and the one earlier in this post.

A pair of wide shots:
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The end of “An Amber Shade of Blue”:
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After the show, I went to the merchandise desk and bought a copy of Cohearence. I also brought a copy of the Bob Mintzer Big Band’s latest album, Get Up!

I had Russ sign my copy of Cohearence. Even though I’m about 90 pounds thinner than the last time he saw me, he remembered me when I introduced myself. Ten years later, we posed for another picture:
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Next, I introduced myself to Bob Mintzer. We chatted briefly as he signed both Get Up! – I told him “Truth Spoken Here” was my favorite track – and Cohearence. Then, we posed for a picture:
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Russ and Bob weren’t the only people I spoke to that night. In the audience were my friends keyboardist Bill Heller and guitarist Chieli Minucci. I caught up with them before calling it a night and heading for home. It was a lively and energetic set, especially when it came to Bob and Dane’s call and response on “An Amber Shade of Blue.” I’m already looking forward to next time.

In the meantime, I’ve listened to Cohearence a few times since Thursday night and love it. My favorite track so far is “Inevitable Outcome,” which was part of Thursday’s set.

Shelly Peiken, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter March 28, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Football, Music, Personal.
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Posing with Confessions of a Serial Songwriter after I finished reading it

NOTE: This is more of a recounting of my experience leading up to buying the book, and then reading the book, than a review of it. I didn’t want to give too much away.

A few years ago, I added a friend on Facebook via mutual friends. Her name was Shelly Peiken (“PIE-kin”), and she was a native of Freeport, New York. Her mutual friends included my aunts, Randy and Robin, and a few other family friends from Freeport, where I spent much of the first 11 1/2 years of my life. Little did I know that Shelly was an established songwriter, having written “Bitch” for Meredith Brooks and “What a Girl Wants” for Christina Aguilera, among countless others. I mostly listen to instrumentals, having fallen in love with them during the local forecasts on The Weather Channel, but I was as tuned in to mainstream music as the next person.

I first heard – or rather, I saw – “Bitch” sometime in 1997 on a weekly late night NBC show, which aired after Late Night, called Friday Night Videos. Another memory of that song came later that year when my friend Joey sang the chorus as we walked through Splish Splash water park in Riverhead on Labor Day Weekend.

“What a Girl Wants” came to my attention when I was a freshman in college at LIU Post (then C.W. Post). I vividly remember having the bridge to that song in my head during the 1999-2000 NFC Championship Game, as the Buccaneers were driving (unsuccessfully) to regain the lead over the Rams late in the 4th quarter.

I knew Shelly was working on an autobiography, but didn’t know the title, or if it was out, until I noticed a post of hers in my Facebook news feed last Monday. The book is called Confessions of a Serial Songwriter. I headed to Amazon to see the book’s listing (which I linked to in the previous sentence). I contemplated whether or not I should buy it throughout the morning and into the afternoon. I twice watched a video on the listing page where Shelly explained how the book came to be. I didn’t realize until typing this now and searching YouTube that the video was posted over a year and a half ago. For you prospective buyers, here’s the video:

Sold! I bought Confessions… after watching a second time. Since it was Prime eligible, I figured I would have the book by Wednesday, but it didn’t arrive until Friday. Little did I know that my father Bill had also purchased the book. His copy arrived the next day. It sat on the kitchen table, tempting me. Do I dare read his copy before I get mine?

I didn’t succumb to temptation…until Friday morning. I whizzed through 46 pages before putting it back where I found it. By afternoon, my copy had arrived. I read another 19 pages in the afternoon and another 21 pages in the evening. 86 pages in one day! I’ve never read that fast! It helped that I imagined Kevin Pollak narrating the book as I read. He was in my head because I’d been listening to his autobiography on Audible. It’s called How I Slept My Way to the Middle: Secrets and Stories from Stage, Screen, and Interwebs. Plus, I had discovered his long-running chat show, simply titled Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show.

Saturday was another busy reading day. I read 48 pages in the morning, 36 pages in the afternoon, and 16 pages in the evening. Another 98 pages down. Even though it was only 8:06 PM when I completed page 185, I felt tired and went to sleep.

I woke up at sunrise. After watching Kevin Pollak’s interview with Drew Carey, I resumed reading Confessions… I read 42 pages before stopping to craft the first draft of the post you’re reading now. By mid-afternoon, I finished the book! In under 54 hours, I had read all 276 pages, including thank yous, the glossary, the song index, credits, and “about the author.” What an adventure!

There’s more to Shelly than “Bitch” and “What a Girl Wants.” And there’s more to the book than all the songs Shelly wrote. She also goes into the business side of songwriting and the changes it’s undergone in the last 15 years. I highly recommend Confessions of a Serial Songwriter. You won’t be disappointed. Order your copy today.