Posts Tagged ‘new york brass’

The Making of Jay Z’s “Somewhere in America”

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Haven’t posted in a while, too many exciting musical projects. In this picture I am prepping to record the Trombone solo that can be heard on the song “Somewhere in America”. The final take was done on a rare 1960s conn 20H and dialed in with the (music genius and world’s foremost pop/loop/hiphop/younameit  producer/engineer) Ken Lewis. The pBone sounded quite good. It excels in getting that “dry jazz” sound, and for the final result we wanted something more “meaty”. The 1951 Conn 20H is one of the last small (shall we say tiny) bore horns made before everyone made the final switch to the medium and large bore horns. The pBone which is made of 99% plastic has a surprisingly good sound!

Twerk, yeah, ugh-huh
Twerk, Miley, Miley, Miley
Only in America

Two new holiday singles and a hurricane

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

A Merry Channuka to y’all!

 

 

 Laura Jeanne The Bells Ring Out

 

Los Angeles-based SUNSHINE COLLECTIVE have just released their contribution to the sonic holiday landscape with a new song called The City That Forgot to Snow. and is available on iTunes (get it here). It is a really lightweight bubbly and fun song full of many colors. I really hope people will like it. Multi-Talented songwriter Brian Arbuckle teamed up with wife Stephanie Richards to created a truly magical soundscape.  We suppose to start recording but then hurricane Sandy hit. The next day Erin and I decided to go out and see first hand the effects. Although at the time most of the devastated areas were closed, we managed to reach Amity Harbor and see first hand the destruction. Here is a picture of  what was left of a beach front house (click to enlarge):

Amity Harbor after Superstorm Sandy

 Ron Bertolet recorded the saxes on Thursday night from 1 to 3 a.m. due to gasoline shortage at the time.  At Brian’s request we also videoed the session, as he wanted to use it in the video. A few days later a huge Nor’easter struck and lemme tell ya, this city did remember to snow. Making the mandatory snowman with the kids, I had an inspirational moment. My son helped me drag the horns out into the snow, and we shot various snow videos to go along with the song, so check out the video!

 

LJ JumpsSome of you who follow this blog may remember talented Singer/songwrited Laura Jeanne.  Laura was discovered by Budweiser last year in the TV show The Big Time.  A few weeks ago we started experimenting with an idea she had for a holiday song. Originally intended to voice strings and piano, as a small offering for fans, it matured into a full fledged single named “Bells Ring Out (At Christmas Time)” which is now available through iTunes (get it here). I created the midi track and then recorded live strings and horns. We refined the vocal tracks, and the final tracks and vocals were further mixed and mastered by Mark Bishop of Universal music, UK. I think we captured the song spirit, with transparent strings, and glowing colors complementing Laura’s incredible voice. Visit her fan page on facebook!

 

 

 

Has anybody seen the TV remote? It’s important.

Sunday, February 12th, 2012
This year my work is featured in four of Kanye West’s Grammy nominations. Getting everything squared away with the Recording Academy’s (i.e. Grammy) Member Services has been an odyssey to say the least, but the paperwork itself feels like an accolade.
I hear this year’s show is going to have a host – LL Cool J – which is something the powers have opted out of for a while. I think the broadcast could use some personality; naturally, the job goes to a New Yorker. :-)
Now to find the remote for the TV …
The 54th Grammy's

The Critical Mass of Yes

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

You know how some days are loaded with sequences of interesting events where each one is seemingly set up by the action of a previous one? Once in a blue moon I’ll experience a fully loaded day where unexpected things feel so hyper-precise and arithmetical that sitting quietly the pleasant exhaustion, I feel like I should be able to quantify the chain of events as something – something end-user and macro algorithmic. Thursday was one of those days.

After work we decided to try a cozy, dark little vegetarian restaurant in the East Village charmingly named Caravan of Dreams. Erin had covered 5th and 6th streets on foot while doing some street photography earlier and knew how to get there. I didn’t realize that Caravan was a vegan restaurant until we arrived, which worked out in my favor because

A.) Vegan is not a usual food-thing I would choose

B.) The food was delicious. Really.

I wish I could remember what we ordered – something with citrus, basil and fennel, and something with avocado, olives, mango and pine nuts. Whatever – it was all very good. I would not have said yes to this place had I known it was vegan.

June 15th, 1904

Caravan of Dreams

Anyway, we nearly missed our reservation time at Caravan of Dreams due to the discovery of (yet another) New York historical marker. This one concerned the 1904 fire on the passenger steamboat General Slocum which killed 1,021 congregants of a lower east side Lutheran church. The recent Costa Concordia disaster came to mind while reading how Slocum’s captain mishandled an already atrocious situation. There’s no need to ask why the remaining congregants chose to move their church uptown. Grateful for my life after reading about the Slocum, we headed to dinner and I savored every morsel and counted my blessings – twice.

What Cheer? Brigade at the Balkan Zlatne Uste Golden FestivalOn the way back we took a look at the former church building and discovered that it was now a local synagogue. There was a small flyer taped to the side door announcing an Avram Pengas concert that evening; the same Avram Pengas I had a chance to perform with at last month’s Zlatne Uste Golden Festival.   Back in January my friend Gal called me late in the afternoon asking if I’d like to sit in with Avram & The Noga Group.

Playing with Avram Pengas & the Noga Group © oresti tsonopoulos / flickr

This was an invite just for fun – not a paid gig. For that reason I could have declined, but instead I said yes and wound up having a spectacular time. Again, here was another chance to say yes and head inside to the concert. I’m certain our vegan meal was a contributing reason why our energy level was way above average at this time of night.  We stepped inside the former-church/present temple. Gal was crisp on the drums and halfway through the concert Pengas called me up from the audience to play. This was wonderful honor! It gave me a chance to make up for the fact that I had wandered in past the doorman without paying admission. Since my trombone wasn’t handy I did my super-nerdy-yet-killer Zamfir thing. I am a master of the Flam-flute. Find out if you must, by clicking here.

Here are some pictures from the event, enjoy!

 Bouzouki virtuoso Avram Pengas with guitarist Nick MandoukasThis is what I do when my trombone isn't handyMust remind the management to invest in a few mic standsAvaram's Bouzouki is al dente!Nick, Gal, Avram, Kol and SteveBouzouki virtuoso Avram Pengas

 

The Reality TV people got this one right.

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Hello 2012! We’re almost 21 days in to the new year. Have you worn out all options for entertainment this coming Saturday? I hear it’s going to be a cold one, and you’re probably going to stay inside. If so, ABC is premiering some top performers on a new show “Bud United Presents: “The Big Time.”  This is good  stuff.

OK I have a bias, but it’s trustworthy. Viewers of The Big Time will have a chance to sample the dynamic songs of one Laura Jeanne who I had the pleasure of working with on her debut single Coincidence, back in November. In respect to her engaging personal qualities as well as her full-bodied mezzo tone, this is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter you won’t want to miss.

For Laura Jeanne who was chosen as one of 3 finalists, her participation on The Big Time is clearly a labor of love.

ABC has not announced whether this episode will be available to watch on-line later. So dust off your TiVo or have the in-laws take the kids for a few hours.

Who: British singer/songwriter Laura Jeanne

What: ABC’s Bud United Presents: “The Big Time

When: Saturday, January 21st at 3pm EST

 

Dubby, jazzy, housey, techy, indie, blues & funky … 2011 was all this and more

Friday, January 13th, 2012

There are so many occasions to show gratitude. And yet, there are millions of times when I do not express it enough. Thank you! Thank you all for a great year!

Thanks for a great 2011 everybody!

2011 Rocked!

Thanks again to Jim Allchin Ron Abel Michael Amante Ruslan Agababayev Yitzy Bald Andreas Bärtels Amir Ben-Haim Johnny Berman Brenda Balasz-Beylek Amir Benhaim Dori Ben Ze’ev Ron Bertolet Yerachmiel Bigun Justin “Just Blaze” Smith Tal B.R. Yanki Briskman Yochi Briskman Suri Brody Walter & Blue tha Engineer at Brown Sugar Studios Jean Carter Teddy Charles Shlomi Cohen Shloime Saul Stern Dachs Dad Barry Dallman Nydia Davila Def Jam Phil DeGorter Don Downs David Eastman Yoni Eliav Nir Erez Marissa Famiglietti Mike Ficco & the Long Island Jazz Orchestra Freilach Orchestra Ian Freitor Avremi G. Jacob Garchik Linda Garrity Charlie Gordon Mark A. Gatz Brian Gelfand Gal Gershovsky Moshe Ginsberg Tony Gorruso Zino Groenewegen Cliff Haywood Mendy Hershkowitz Zuben Mehta & the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Brian J. of the Pimps of Joytime Laura Jeanne Joseph Kaminski Kris Kasanova Terry Keevil Karen Kelly Charles Kiger Ron Ben-Haim Ray Kilday Israel Lamm Eli Laufer Moshe Laufer Gideon Levine Gabriella Lewis Ken Lewis Lex à Her Majesty’s Sound Kjetil Linnes Shahar Livne Steve Lynch The Maccabeats Maybach Music Bonnie McAlvin Stone McEwan Jeremy Miloszewicz Marco Meister Miami Boys Choir Mom Tony Eli Lishinsky Tony Montalbo Gershy Moskowitz Danielle Morandini Bizu Riki Mullu Avi Newmark Shai Nissenboim OdessMama Marco Panascia Yehoshua Pasternak Yehuda Piamente Michael Pruzansky Kenny Rampton Leib Reigler Mathias Roska Mona Rosenblum Rick Ross Dalit Segal Yosef Chaim Shwekey Lipa Schmeltzer Naftali Schnitzler Jerry Sokolov Soulfarm StadiumRed Studios Stewart Taylor Yosi Teaberg Dave Trigg Vignir Vigfusson Murry R.Kahn and the West Islip Symphony Wily Bo Walker Kanye West and Avrum Zamist!

From all of us here at New York Brass!

 

Danny & Dalit February 2011Bathysphere tuesdayMarch 13, 2011 | The West Islip Symphony Orchestra paid homage to St. Patrick's DayTony Gorruso and his Foot LuteTemptationDIY - see-thru drums!Rick Ross, Self Made | Best horns in the city! @NewYorkBrassFour key metrics to a working orchestraProducer Mathias Roska & Co. at The Village UndergroundWith soprano Marissa FamigliettiProducer Justin "Just Blaze" Smith8 Channel Pye T.V.T. Recording/Summing ConsoleGot Sousaphone?An awesome wind is winded with New York BrassRecording Gabriella Lewis at homeWhich way to Sherwood Forest?TromboniumCover to a new singleUnits of FlamBison BurgersThanks Barry!"Hi Erin"Gal GershovskyArranger & Conductor Yoeli DikmanRehearsing with trumpeters (L to R) Joseph Kaminski, Tony Gorruso, Jerry Sokolov & Shlomi Cohen on Sax.Bizu Riki MulluReggie WattsSean FlanneryWorld Trade Center 1Harps!What happens when the percussion section isn't lookingDaniele Morandini - metal headSit. Stay.Bad to the Bone in the ITA!Happy FDT!Turning a 27 MHz or 49 MHz RC Car into a arduino controlled robotTa da!!With NolanMy niece5 Bar licks with Ron Bertolet and Dave TriggNew York Brass doing the final mixdown with Brian J.HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012!

 

A Weird Ballad

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

When I was a wee 5th grade human puppy, my then trombone teacher Shemi Peri invited all of the students to a master class with a dude that had the biggest trombone I had ever seen; It was a bass trombone. Up to that point in my training I had never seen anything so gigantically brass. The dude’s name was Eliezer (Eli) Aharoni and he was there to show the class the latest techniques in breathing and playing trombone. Aharoni had also written some trombone books which impressed all of us. This particular afternoon meeting and listening to Eli Aharoni was the first push towards trombone playing

Eli was the driving force behind the Israeli Trombone Association. Around 1983 he brought the then-presiding president of the International Trombone Association Dr. Erving L. Wagner to give us a master class at the Jerusalem Music Center. The day was the holiday of Purim which is sort of a Jewish Mardi-gras and my hair was colored blue. (I always wonder if Prof Wagner remembers a little boy with blue hair… ). The master class was the first place I ever heard professional trombone playing on the highest level live. What a glorious sound. I knew trombone was the way to go for me.

People were playing duets and asking questions and Professor Wagner was giving advice. Suddenly there was a sudden hush. Someone next to me whispered “Micha is going to play something”, I had no clue who he was talking about. A young 24-year-old giant muscular guy walked in carrying a colossal bass trombone, although in his hands the trombone looked small. Then he played. The sound that came out was the deepest fullest sound I ever heard sort of like a trobonephonium. And I can say that to this day – all over the world – I never heard such a sound. His name was Micha Davis, and in my opinion stands in the front row of bass trombone players in the universe.

The bassest bone

Over the years I have played with Micha many times, and we pulled practical jokes and had lots of laughs. But putting aside the jokes and laughs, Micha inspired my playing and keeps on inspiring many others to this day. Eli and Micha’s influence shines on hundreds of talented trombone players and musicians who play in the best orchestras, bands and other music venues worldwide. I have been blessed by the opportunity to play with true giants. I have played and listened to countless trombone players since, some of the finest Orchestras in the world pass through New York, but the control and sound Micha produces is unique. When he plays Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite the storm section gets a new dimension, the bass trombone gives an 18″ sub-woofer a run for it’s money.

In the video Micha Davis is playing Etude #24 from from Eli Aharoni’s (2009) book “The Non-Classic Bass Trombone” titled “A Weird Balad”. Most players feel like they need an oxygen scuba tank or a pressurized diving bell to get through this fun exercise. Micha plays it with his usual nonchalant demeanor.

Time is a sort of river of passing events: Interlochen 1986 ♪♫

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

New Year’s a time to contemplate the past, But this one meant more to me than an average passing event. I came to the United States in 1986 as a fledgling brass-man. I had a summer scholarship to Interlochen Arts Academy in Traverse City Michigan.
You’ve heard it a million times already, but it really does take just a short time to make that all-important first impression. As you can probably tell by this group photo, I was completely in awe. There were hundreds of young people whose brains were wired the same as mine – who liked to do what I liked to do.  Before I came to Interlochen, the enterprise of making music had all the legitimacy of video-gaming or professional poker. 
Time is a sort of river of passing events: Interlochen 1986 ♪♫

By week three, composition and performance had become a tangible and authentic endeavor. I played every day at Interlochen as I had been doing since kindergarten, but here I wasn’t the guy with the trombone; I was a musician. There’s a big difference.  I don’t believe I would have had this experience at a place like Interlochen in a country other than the United States. There’s something weird and fantastic that happens to the brain just being here. Americans use the word “can” more than “can’t” and rarely do you hear Americans ask one another “why?” in a challenging manner. The attitude here is “Why not?”  It took a while, but we finally made the US our permanent home in 2005.

Young trombonist in the hubbub

Here comes trouble!

After Erin dug up this picture and scanned – I remembered that my cabin mate Murry Dweck (Then trumpet player and Now obgyn) sent me a picture he took a few moments before the big picture above was taken. He made sure to circle my face with a pen just in case I miss it. I dug up that picture up too and here it is… Erin went to the same summer camp, and our paths parted for many many years… Although I am a mere spec in the dark area in the middle right, Erin is visible in the crowd – fourth from the left. Sometimes being late lands you a better spot in the picture.

P.S. I also dug up a picture of my cabin mates. I managed to stay in touch with a few over the years. Murry Dweck who sent me the picture is the guy in the blue sweatshirt trying to cover my face.

Cabin Mates - 1986 Interlochen, MI

My aimlessly ambitious cabin mates went on to do great things. Nana on my left is a plastic surgeon specializing in breast augmentation, liposuction, and tummy tuck. Murray who is flashing the full-palm gang sign to my right is a (drum roll) Gynecologist. Topher peeking from the back middle is a MD at Stanford

Bad to the Bone in the ITA!

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Grateful thanks to Diane Drexler and Taylor Hughey at the International Trombone Association Journal for allowing this group of goofballs to grace their pages!

In back from left to right artist & instrument: Shai Nissenboim – Bass Trombone, Nir Erez – Tenor Trombone, Maestro Zubin Mehta – Stick, Yehoshua Pasternak – Tenor Trombone, Shahar Livne – Contrabass Trombone in F, Daniele Morandini – Bass Trumpet Flugelbone, Tal B.R. – Bass Trombone Front: Danny Flam – Alto Trombone, Micha Davis – Bass Trombone.

www.ita-web.org/

The Bad Dogs to play L’entrepôt

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Last year I did some brass work on The Bad Dogs’ self-titled debut EP. This interesting R&B/ pop group consists of the very young French singers Mathilda Buzaré and Marie Niquet, who occasionally perform covers as well as original songs with Marie’s father Jean-Christophe. That will be the case this Friday night when they open for the très très rock’n’soul Head Shakers at L’Entrepôt (i.e. “The Warehouse”) located at 7 rue Francis de Pressensé, 75014 in lovely Paris. Cool poster, no?

 

If you’re like me and happen to be too busy with work and car-pooling etc. to zip off to Paris for The Bad Dogs’ Tween-heavy show,  this video should whet your interest. So cuuuuuute. (Eat your heart out, Justin Bieber!)

 

 

The goal for the album was to create a nu-funk retro sound, and recreate the original brass vibe of the 60s, using ribbon microphones microphone placement and playing style – (a little less clean but more’funky) . The horn section consisted of  1 or 2 trumpets, trombone, alto/tenor and bari saxophones. The arrangements range from replaying original licks on some of the song to actually writing  fully new arrangements.

LISTEN TO THE ALBUM HERE: and if you like it – help out young artists by buying their music!

Something new at the indie potluck – Laura Jeanne

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Meet multi-instrumentalist, UK singer-songwriter Laura Jeanne.

I know what you’re thinking – she really looks like a young Tammy Wynette. And wouldn’t it be great if she had a voice to match? Well fear not music fans– she does, and New York Brass was the lucky crew tasked with brassing-up her debut single Coincidence.

 

Not Laura

Laura

Coincidence is unquestionably indie pop; A romanticized hat-tip to the likes of Tori Amos and Jewel. However, I think you’ll agree that Laura Jeanne offers something very different from the usual twee-below-the-knee aesthetic. Yes you say, different but how? Here at the Brass Works we’ve been scratching our heads trying to identify the ingredient responsible for renovating the indie pop sound she puts out there. This is what we came up with: Laura Jeanne is happy, and her happiness is the spark. Yes – Coincidence is free from the expected later day indie melancholia. And by melancholia, I am referring to the powerfully despondent debut song Shadowboxer from Fiona Apple, Smashing Pumpkin’s 1979 and Belle & Sebastian’s I Want the World to Stop. There are plenty of other examples, but you get the point. We bounced this idea over to her side of the pond and were pleased that she agreed.

"Yes! Music makes me happy and I am a happy person generally.”

As was the case with the brass on Coincidence, first-timer brass customers often amend their original request after hearing the majestic potential of brass loops placed into their mixes. “Wow really?” they’ll say; “You can crank those trombones even more, add some bass trumpet and maybe you know, like, light it on fire?

Is this loud enough?

Each brass draft on Coincidence generated a request for more layers and on top of that, even more.  By the second week we had added a Chicago Hotdog’s worth of French horns, bass trumpet and trombone. Fun! But trying to make multiple brass audio layers work over Laura’s cool voice proved to be a problem. Too many tracks risked making it all sound overly coincidental. (Ha-ha. OK that’s twice.)

 

 

 

Her engineer’s superb final mix did tame these elephants allowing the song to shine.  Hear those Kung-Fu grip diminished 7th tremolos at 01:17?   Laura is channeling the Peter Buck/Michael Stype energy circa 1987′s The One I Love. Is it country or pop? Both? Or is it just a coincidence? (Three strikes! OK OK I’ll stop.)

  • Director: Ben Simister
  • Cameraman: Colin Nuttall
  • Assistant: Julia Bobbin
  • Editor: (BAFTA award winner) Stephen Moore
  • Make-up Artist: Julie Kendrick
  • Guitarist: Tom Moon

About the video, Laura explained “The director Ben & I came up with the idea together and we shot the ‘Coincidence’ video over 2 full days in central London, at The Cumberland Hotel (Marble Arch), The Hard Rock Cafe, and the famous Wellington Arch. We were able to film in a Cumberland Hotel Suite and also inside London’s Hard Rock Cafe, where I have done a couple of gigs. The whole thing was just incredible – a DIY dream come true.”  If you like Coincidence and want to hear more from this admirable lady with the alabaster voice, the best and easiest thing you can do is to simply share this link with your friends and neighbors on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, whatever, and encourage more independent artists to get their stuff out there. 


Tal Herzberg, farewell friend!

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Tal Herzberg & Ms. Gaga – one of the many notables he produced

Goodbye Friend!

It is a sad day for music. It is a sad day for me. Tal Herzberg was a producer, engineer, programmer, bass player, Grammy-nominee and also my friend. A very short time ago, Tal was discovered to have cancer – liver cancer most likely.

We played together in the Israeli Air Force Orchestra during our compulsory national service. Tal was a bassist and sat to my left. We once assembled on the tarmac to play welcoming music for visiting dignitaries, and I remember the sun glinting off of Tal’s head in the afternoon heat. Yeah, even as a 19-year old he had the tough Bruce Willis bald look going on.  Active duty in the military is no picnic, even for the lucky ones like us who were assigned to band duty.  Tal was referred to as “the union boss” during those years because he looked out for our welfare; he wasn’t afraid to approach our crazy C.O. to advocate for our dignity and the other essentials – such as more water.

He told the funniest, dirtiest jokes too, and in general he kept our spirits up during the toughest times.

Tal emigrated to the US in 1992 and he loved his life in Los Angeles.  Before taking the plung into engineering and producing some of today’s top artists, he was full-time employee of  a company called Waves, and worked hard demoing their audio products throughout the industry. I’m kind of in a fog right now. We spoke less than two weeks ago, and I keep asking myself: “Are you sure he’s dead? Maybe this is a hoax.” Many people spend their lives running after the material world, Tal dedicated himself to music. Moments like these, put life in perspective – His life has been cut short,  but his achievements are more than many people dream of. His death is not only a personal loss, it is a tragic loss to his close family, and it is a loss to the music world.

It is ironic and sad to note that on this very day, here in the U.S.A, the national cancer research budget has been greatly reduced. I’m making a donation to cancer research in Tal’s name and I encourage everybodoy to give what they can.

ת.נ.צ.ב.ה

The Future is Now with Teddy Charles

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Vibraphone Grandmaster Teddy Charles has been in retirement from jazz recording and performance for more years than he was active. Even so, he remains one of the very best vibraphonists in the world. I have to suppose this is the essence of what it means means to be a legend, and also what it means to be very old which Teddy is at age 86.

But let me back up  and explain how I came to meet Teddy Charles. For musician this is hard to admit – I knew very little about Mr. Charles or jazz itself until late last summer.

To be honest I did not know who Teddy Charles was until Steve Witthoft, happened to invite me to a Wednesday night jam at Teddy’s house. I met Steve while playing in a local big band. He is an excellent trombone player and more about him in a future post. If it weren’t for his invitation, I would still be “jazz ignorant” about Teddy.

When I mentioned the name to Bo he flipped out. Turns out Bo heard about Teddy and was a great fan.

The real inspiration for YDKWLI happened when my two sons and I were over at Teddy’s house helping him archive his life’s work.

We cleaned the piano!!

A job well done!

The Strut, by Benny Golson
The original music for The Strut, by composer and saxophonist Benny Golson, who is a year younger than Teddy. The number eventually debuted as “Strut Time” on the 1958 album The Other Side of Benny Golson.

“Unburying the piano” would be another accurate way to describe that afternoon. Anyway, at some point the four of us came upon an unmarked cardboard box. Inside? Pure treasure.

1955 Screen Blues

Original folio for 1955 Screen Blues

Now some words about seeing the music in the box, and how holding the original paper and seeing the pencil marks brought you closer to feeling. Closer to understanding the nature of Jazz. You passed your inspiration on in a follow-up phone call to Bo

Jazz Hall of fame vibraphonist Teddy Charles played with Charlie Parker 60 years ago. He wrote the arrangement to Miles Davis’s “Nature Boy”, and the list of people he recorded with sounds like a “who’s-who” of Jazz and Blues hall of fame. Coltrane, Mingus, Roach, Cannonball Adderly… drop a name any name…  In 1964 he played with Aretha Franklin on “Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington”, that is close to 50 years ago!  His biggest album was going to be “Russia Goes Jazz (Teddy Charles)“, United Artists UAL 3365. He hired the best of the best musicians of the time for this project: Zoot Sims, Pepper Adams, Eric Dolphy, Hall Overton to name a few. Alas, in an a unfortunate turn of events an unknown group released its debut album the same day he released this album. Under the same label, no less. Their name? “The beatles” (!)

For many years he was first on call for playing the vibes here in New York. This fell out of favor when synthesizers went big during the late 70’s and early 80’s. He was also busy sailing his historic scooner, the “Mary E”  – a 75 foot authentic clipper built in 1906. In 2008 he began a come-back with help from many friends and colleagues  including Chris Byars and many others. Apparently he outlived all the people he thought would go before him, such as his manager and many of his friends. I suspect that it is his sense of humor that keeps him going strong at 83 years old.

I have been playing and learning a heck of a lot from him for a while now. While producing “You don’t know what love is” for English blues phenomenon Wily Bo Walker and his quintet, I thought that it would be an opportunity for Teddy to shine again with the magic touch of a true vibraphone master. These with fake B3, fake pianos, fake brass, fake strings, and fake slide whistles, I thought it could really be great if we used a real vibraphone.  Bo was excited to play with a true giant, and this turned out as a huge success! As of now (3/2/2011),  The track, is now topping the US, UK and Global Jazz download charts on MySpace.com.

For nostalgia’s sake, here is Teddy playing the vibes with Aretha Franklin’s 1964 recording of “Unforgettable”. The song was recorded as part of her tribute to Diana Washington. After the release of this tribute album, Columbia drifted away from their early jazz dreams for Aretha:

You Don’t Know What Love Is (part #2)

Friday, February 11th, 2011

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but Wily Bo Walker’s voice is stratospheric.

The man with the pipes

The more I listen to him sing You Don’t Know What Love Is, the more I understand the subtle interplay between melancholy and passion, the yin/yang at the heart of this Jazz Standard. Earlier this morning I had been waiting for the kids to come downstairs so I could take them to school. I hit play on You Don’t Know What Love Is while flipping through an old Forbes magazine, and at 1 minute :30, I became aware of having been transported into an intense state of relaxation and mindfulness. Was that me getting all sentimental over a Verizon ad on page 7 featuring a father and son telephone reunion?

That’s what a good song does; it takes over, and the listener welcomes the transcendence.

Click to play: You Dont Know What ♥ Is

I hope we’ve been able to bring something new and fresh to Don Raye and Gene De Paul’s masterpiece.  You can purchase this track (Wily Bo Walker Quintet/Heartbeat Records) on iTunes and Amazon.com. However, we are offering it on the above downloadable link for a limited time. Right click and download You Don’t Know What Love Is onto your iPod or Zune or whatever you’ve got. Give it a listen. Put it on the mixed tape for your Valentine. But most importantly, please let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Scottish blues impresario Wily Bo Walker records under his own name, and also with his group Rattlin Bone. (He’s followable on Twitter.) The vibraphone tracks were offered courtesy of the Grandmaster on that instrument, Mr. Teddy Charles.

Teddy's 1957 Vibe-Rant

A few months back I jumped at a chance opportunity to join in his semi-regular Wednesday night jam sessions at his place out on Long Island. Enjoy lots of jam photos on Flickr here.

Take a look at Teddy’s extensive discography with the likes of giants including Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald via jazz historian Noal Cohen.

You are also hearing pianist Ruslan Agababayev, Marco Panascia on bass and Eran Asias on drums. That’s me on Trombone.

Thank you music appreciators. We look forward to your comments.

Thank you, and again, thank you!

Jazz Standards: You Don’t Know What Love Is (part #1)

Monday, February 7th, 2011

A lot of work went into the melancholy cover art for the Wily Bo Walker Quintet’s “You Don’t Know What Love Is” single. How does it look? Singer Wily Bo Walker, Vibraphone Legend Teddy Charles and I are extremely pleased with the song itself and a link to it will follow in the next blog post.

Cover to a new single

Sepia goodness …

Most music lovers probably know this standard via Billie Holiday’s 1958 rendition, but the song was actually written in November, 1941 by Don Raye (1909 – 1985) with lyrics by Gene De Paul (1919-1988) for the Abbott and Costello film Keep ‘Em Flying.

Abbott and Costello?!

A soulful duo …

The bombing of Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941 kids!) occurred in between the film’s start and completion, and I wonder if the attack set the stage to ‘wake up’ the film’s editors to the absurdity of featuring this raw passionate song in a slapstick comedy film.  “You Don’t Know What Love Is” was left on the cutting room floor just before Keep ‘Em Flying’s release.

Passionate and Haunting

At the time the actress and singer Carol Bruce (1917-2007) was naturally disappointed. Who can blame her? Here’s a wonderful Carol Bruce YouTube clip showcasing her singing style. Larry Clinton and Carol Bruce. Look closely -you might recognize her from later work on the sitcom WKRP In Cincinnati.

I read somewhere that of all the De Paul and Raye songs and instrumentals, “You Don’t Know What Love Is” remains their most appreciated and most recorded.

Whadya know! Album of the year, no less!

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Best album of 2010

According to the December issue “Rolling Stones Magazine” we are playing on the best album of 2010!

Album of the year

My Beautiful Dark Twisted New York Brass

Friday, November 5th, 2010
beautifuldarktwisted

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – All of the lights

I’ve been under a gag order not to talk about this until the the all-clear signal for the official release date. This has not been an easy task. I’m a gregarous person by nature as it is, but not being able to tell people that I recorded something for Kanye West!

Countdown sequence

Whoops –  cat’s out of the bag. But it’s OK.

Yes, the recording that Tony and I did back in May (featured in this blog post) was the brass for Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” This track features Rihanna as well as cameos by John Legend, The-Dream, Fergie, Alicia Keys, Kid Cudi, Elton John (on piano), Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, Tony Williams and La Roux singer Elly Jackson.  That’s a whole lot of WOW.

Kanye’s official video can be seen here, and it looks awesome.  However,  I think this version sounds great too.

All Of The Lights


Star-struck over silent film ‘Louis’ at the Apollo

Friday, September 3rd, 2010
Going to see 'Louis' at the Apollo Theater in Harlem

It's showtime!

A couple of weeks ago Erin sent me this article in the New Yorker about a Marsalis CD in production. I was delighted to see some familiar names mentioned, and that Andy Farber was conducting the music on the CD. I have to admit though that I only l i g h t l y skimmed the article the first and on the second times around I saw Andy Farber’s name.  Long story short, a phone call to Maestro Farber pointed me in the direction of ticketmaster.com. It was only after I had decided to buy tickets that I discovered we had GREAT seats to see not just a jazz concert, but a new silent film accompanied by Wynton Marsalis, pianist Cecile Licad and a 10-piece all-star jazz ensemble at New York’s famous Apollo Theater. Fantastic! Shot by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (Deliverance & The Deer Hunter)  ‘Louis’ is a semi-fictionalized account of a young Louis Armstrong and his first cornet. It stars a wonderful young actor named Anthony Coleman, who was in the audience that night. (more…)

Greatest pickup line ever – “Is that an alto horn?”

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

A few months back I was complaining about the lack of women in brass. It’s true – most professional brass players are dudes. Since the birth of my daughter, I’ve begun to notice these things. This week however, I traveled to Buckinghamshire to work with blues musician Bo Walker on his latest project. The train ride was unseasonably warm, and I was hoping for something to distract me.

Alto Horn Girl

Exhibit A: "Is that an alto horn?"

I know what you are thinking – the young woman in Exhibit A caught my eye.  Sort of.  Look at what she has parked at her feet.  I suspected an alto horn case!  Its not often you see people traveling with the lesser-played brass instruments (I bet you do not even know what a Alto horn is), and a female brass musician to boot. I am always asked if I my trombone is a bag of golf clubs…

Intrigued, I very politely (this being England) turned  and asked her about it. Turns out her name is Wendy, and she was on the way to Chesham to visit family. (more…)

Next year remember to bring noise cancelling headphones, sunblock and trombone

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

 

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Amped for my first Indianapolis 500.

Sure I like the song Back Home Again in Indiana but I’d love to do a full brass rendition of Mission Impossible during the final fifty laps. Maybe next year …