Musical Influences

Most Favorite & Influential Trumpet Players

Most Favorite & Influential Trombone Players

Most Favorite Brass Groups & Classical Ensembles / Conductors

Most Favorite Pop & Rock Groups / Artists

Most Favorite Smooth Jazz Groups / Artists

Most Favorite Straight Ahead / Traditional Jazz Artists/Groups

Most Favorite Country & Folk Groups / Artists

Most Favorite Latino Groups / Artists (thanks to my beautiful Latino Wife!)

Most Favorite & Influential Composers / Songwriters

Most Favorite Musical Arrangers / Producers

Albums I Just Could NOT Live Without

My All-Time Favorite Recorded Songs / Pieces

Favorite Concerts / Rock-u-mentaries captured on Video (DVD/VHS)

Most Favorite Country Tunes

Most Favorite Christmas Albums

My Most Favorite Standards to play over

Most Favorite Singers/Vocalists

Most Favorite Piano & Keyboards Players

Most Favorite Guitar Players

Most Favorite Bass Players

Most Favorite Drummers

Most Favorite Sax Players

New Things I’ve Been Listening to Recently (2009/2010)

In Closing

 

 

 

Most Favorite & Influential Trumpet Players

1) Jules Sposato (1st trumpet teacher)—instilled the importance of ‘Practicing’ & learning to love to practice;

* Peter Ercoli–peer in school–always set the standard for me to shoot for;

* Karl Joseph Kehrle–cousin–& who also gave me the opportunity to play duets;

2) Bob Arthurs (Jazz Improvisation coach & teacher, mentor)—a very detail oriented player, improviser

& teacher, with an incredible sense of ‘Time’. He is the person most responsible for the way I play today, & in helping me to become a solid ‘independent’ player with a strong foundation.

–Thank You for EVERYTHING Bob!

3) Louis Armstong (Jazz / Dixieland)—known to non-musicians as ‘Satchmo’; known to musicians as ‘Pops’

—“without whom we have no idea what we would even be playing now…” -Ellis Marsalis

4) Wynton Marsalis (Jazz & Classical)

Wynton was the guy who showed ‘Jazz’ to me (& to a whole generation of sheltered young–especially white–trumpet players)…& he did it by 1st playing what I (we) could understand (Classical) with incredibly good chops & tone. In my little sheltered white suburbia trumpet world, all I was ever taught was that the players that didn’t develop a good ‘sound’ eventually dropped out of classical playing & became jazz players (as if Jazz was a negative thing or at least a 2nd rate thing). Wynton showed us that he had all the chops, tone, CLASS, youth, etc & yet still chose to play jazz. This made me (& a lot of other musicians, I’m sure) very curious…etc, etc.

5) Fred Mariano (another great Jazz trumpeter that I studied with briefly before Bob Arthurs

–taught me about stylizing melodies)

6) Maurice Andre (to me, the staple soloist of Classical trumpet Concertos)

7) John Wilbraham (Classical Concert Solos—‘The Well Tempered Trumpet’ was one of my 1st & most

influential trumpet records; now just an out of print LP)

8] Arturo Sandoval (Jazz—the ULTIMATE master trumpet technician)

9) Claudio Roditi (Jazz—also of Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Big Band)

10) Leroy Jones (Jazz / Dixieland & of Harry Connick Jr’s band)

11) Ronald Romm (of the Canadian Brass—keeping it light yet sophisticated)

12) Rolf Smedvig (of the Empire Brass—a master of Classical Improvisation)

13) Gerard Schwarz (NY Trumpet Ensemble & turn-of-the-last-century cornet solos)

14) Charlie Affeldt (local classical trumpeter-RIP-who showed me how to trill faster)

15) Chris Botti (Smooth Jazz & Sting’s trumpeter—with his incredibly beautiful tone; you can’t help but be

affected…)

16) Rick Braun (Smooth Jazz—like Botti, but often a bit more aggressive playing)

17) Chuck Mangione & Herb Alpert (Smooth Jazz)—Their commercial successwith the likes of ‘Feels So Good’ & ‘Rise’ showed me (as a kid) that it was totally possible for a trumpet (or flugelhorn) to be the featured instrument in pop music.

18) Doc Severinsen (from the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson—my parents used to wake me back up to hear him play whenever he & the band got featured.

19) Maynard Ferguson (Big Band Screamer)—Although not really my preferred style to listen to, I appreciated what he could on the trumpet & that he intentionally brought his band into many local high schools to showcase for kids. It definitely made an impression on me.

20) Miles Davis & Chet Baker (Jazz)  – both emitted & exuberated the sense of all that is ‘cool’–musically & stylistically

21) Clifford Brown & Freddie Hubbard (Jazz) – 2 of the most incredible legends of bebop

22) Johnny Gath & Artie Pav (of the Knickerbockers)—& the signature recorded solo on ‘Viva Espania’

23) Heinz Schachtner (Concert Soloist—‘Songs of Old Germany’ was another of my 1st & very influential records; now just an out of print LP)

24) Ibrahim Maalouf (Jazz / Middle Eastern) – I just recently became aware of this amazing Lebanese musician who plays on a trumpet with quarter-tone capabilities; my ears have been opened again! Can’t get enough of this guy’s music!

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Most Favorite & Influential Trombone Players

1) Fred ‘Moe’ Snyder—local trombone teacher that EVERYONE studied with; now almost in his 90’s & still occasionally teaches. NBC Orchestra, original member

2) Jimmy Pankow (of the rock group Chicago & horn section arranger)

3) Nick Lane (session player—like Pankow, & horn section arranger)

4) Craig Klein & Lucien Barbarin (Jazz / Dixieland)—of Harry Connick Jr’s band, & who both often play with Leroy Jones (trpt)

5) JJ Johnson & Kai Windig (Jazz)

6) Slide Hampton (Jazz—of Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Big Band)

7) John Utley—(Rock)—of Fighting Gravity; incredibly versatile & a great showman—also plays trumpet (keyboards, congas, flute, etc ALL WELL)…musically, he reminds me of— ‘ME’!

8] Wycliffe Gordon (Jazz)—of Wynton Marsalis’ band—an amazing virtuoso

9) Eddie Bert (Jazz)—local old-schooler that back in the day, played with EVERYBODY BIG but was never really recognized himself. Incredible tone & great improviser…RIP

10) Michael Davis (Jazz/Rock)–of Hip Bone Music & a Youtube channel called Bone2Pick where he interviews in length other great horn players.

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Most Favorite Brass Groups & Classical Ensembles / Conductors

1) The Philadelphia Brass Ensemble (Gilbert Johnson, trumpet: 60’s-70’s)

2) The New York Trumpet Ensemble (Gerard Schwarz, director: 70’s-80’s)

3) The Canadian Brass (Ronald Romm & Fred Mills, trumpets: 70’s-90’s)

4) The Eastman Brass (Barbara Butler, Chris Geier, Vern Reynolds, Cherry Beauregard: 70’s-80’s)

5) The Empire Brass (Rolf Smedvig, trumpet: 80’s–)

6) The Pittsburgh Symphony Brass Ensemble (90’s–)

7) The German Brass (90’s–)—incredible arrangements & ideas; large group

8] Chicago(the legendary rock group’s horn section)—Jimmy Pankow (trb), Lee Lochnane (trpt) & Walt Parazaider (sax)

9) The English Concert (Trevor Pinnock, conductor)—especially for their extensive library of the Handel recordings.

10) Tafelmusik (Jeanne Lamon, director)—especially for their Purcell recordings.

11) Musica Antiqua Koln (Reinhard Goebel, conductor)

12) Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (Sir Neville Mariner, conductor)

13) The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Seiji Ozawa, conductor)—especially for the Stravinsky & Janacek recordings.

14) The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor)—especially for the Aaron Copland recordings.

15) The Boston Pops Orchestra (John Williams, conductor)

16) The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra (Erich Kunzel, conductor)

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Most Favorite Pop & Rock Groups / Artists

1) Sting (mostly his solo stuff AFTER the Police)

2) Bruce Hornsby (& the Range, & the Noisemakers, solo piano, etc)

3) Chicago (all of it—old AND new stuff)

4) Huey Lewis & the News (especially with the Tower of Power horns)

*Tower of Power

I will never forget my very first ’Rock’ concert–Huey Lewis & the News, the ‘Fore!’ tour at Madison Square Garden circa 1986; I went with my younger brother Mike. They were simply amazing!—musically, incredibly tight with great blending vocals. And they were carrying this 5-piece horn section (of TOP)—which was an absolute ‘wall of sound’; I had never even heard of TOP before then & was amazed to learn that they had had this whole legendary career already! Anyway, after that concert, all I ever wanted to do was play in a horn section like that. That’s also when I started ‘slamming’ songs (ending them on the down landing of a jump) with all the bands I was playing in at the time—so much so, that for a while I was even given the nickname ‘Huey-Blume’!

5) Phil Collins (with the Phenix Horns—of Earth, Wind & Fire)

*Earth Wind & Fire

6) The Eagles

7) Fighting Gravity (the hungriest band I ever saw!)

8] Peter Gabriel (mostly his solo stuff AFTER Genesis)

9) The Dave Mathews Band

10) Marc Cohn (piano)

11) Coldplay

12) Incognito (R&B group)—How incredibly diverse their sound is & Maysa’s vocal

fits them so well (very reminiscent of Earth Wind & Fire). Their albums

‘Adventures in Black Sunshine’ & ‘Tales from the Beach’ are absolutely kickin’;

also ‘The Best of Incognito’.

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Most Favorite Smooth Jazz Groups / Artists

Unfortunately, much of Smooth Jazz today has become like ‘karaoke for instruments’—one solo instrument blowing over a prerecorded rhythm section &/or sample rhythm tracks. Like everything else, it has just become more economical to produce that way—& I am often guilty of it too. However, there really is a trade off; comparatively, the music has become ‘stale’–& it has really become more like ‘Instrumental Pop’ than anything realistically associated to ‘Jazz’.

But what I really like about this genre is when there is REAL dynamic interaction & idea development between actual REAL players in a REAL band setting. ALL below (at least somewhat) reflect this kind of organic playing & recording:

1) Dave Grusin (piano)

*The GRP Allstars (featuring Lee Ritenour-guitar)

2) The Rippingtons (featuring Russ Freeman-guitar)

3) David Benoit (piano)

4) Acoustic Alchemy (guitars)

5) Pat Metheny (guitar)—he is also a straight ahead jazz player

6) Flimm & the BB’s (especially the album ‘This is a Recording’)

7) Bob James (especially his recordings with Earl Klugh)

*Fourplay (featuring Bob James-piano)

8] Joe Sample (piano)

9) Chris Botti (trumpet)

10) Rick Braun (trumpet)

11) David Sanborn (sax)

12) Michael Lington (sax)

13) Spyro Gyra (group)—probably the forefathers of this genre of music

14) The Generation Band (group—featuring Victor Feldman)

15) Crossing Point (group—featuring Richard Reiter)

 

**Actually there are way too many great artists here in this category for me to mention, but some others are: Peter White (guitar), Chuck Loeb (guitar), George Benson (guitar), Norman Brown (guitar), Earl Klugh (guitar), Larry Carlton (guitar), Brian Hughes (guitar), Ken Navarro (guitar), Steve Oliver (guitar), Marc Antoine (guitar), Drew Davidsen (guitar), Gerald Albright (sax), Jeff Kashiwa (sax), Dave Koz (sax), Richard Elliot (sax), Andy Schnitzer (sax), Warren Hill (sax), Eric Marienthal (sax), Eric Darius (sax), Mindi Abair (sax), Candy Dulfer (sax), Boney James (sax), Steve Cole (sax), Nelson Rangell (sax & flute), Dave Valentine (flute), Tom Browne (trumpet), Brian Culbertson (keyboards), Jeff Lorber (keyboards), Don Grusin (keyboards), Dan Siegel (keyboards), Philippe Saisse (keyboards), George Duke (keyboards), Ramsey Lewis (keyboards), Stanley Clarke (bass), Abraham Laboriel (bass), Wayman Tisdale (bass-RIP), Nathan East (bass), Marcus Miller (bass), Harvey Mason (drums), 3rd Force (group), etc, etc…

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Most Favorite Straight Ahead / Traditional Jazz Artists/Groups

1) Keith Jarrett—piano (& his trio—featuring Gary Peacock & Jack DeJonette)—truly believes himself to be merely an instrument through which God reveals himself musically; & to me, it actually sounds that way—he is able to get himself into a trance-like state & play on / from a higher level.

2) Wynton Marsalis—trumpet

3) Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley—sax (especial his recording with strings & his EmArcy small group sessions with brother Nat Adderley on cornet)

4) Tommy Flannigan—piano (with Peter Washington, bass & Lewis Nash, drums)

5) Bill Evans—piano

6) Clifford Brown—trumpet

7) Lee Morgan—trumpet

8] Michel Camilo—piano

9) Chet Baker—trumpet (the ‘Stan Getz’ or ‘Paul Desmond’ of the trumpet—unique in that he also sang–& that his vocal phrasing almost mirrored his approach to his trumpet playing)

10) Miles Davis—trumpet

11) Freddie Hubbard—trumpet

12) Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie—sax & trumpet

13) Branford Marsalis—Branford is 1 of 3 people that has the ability to motivate me go & practice my butt off for like 5 hours straight after I hear them speak. The other 2 are his brother Wynton, & Sting.

14) Oscar Peterson–piano

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Most Favorite Country & Folk Groups / Artists

The things I tend to like about Country music are what most people don’t; I love the slide of a steel guitar (subtly used), a (slight) twang in the vocals, & finger-picking guitars. Even the father of modern Jazz—Charlie Parker—liked Country music (apparently for the stories told in the songs). Done right, I think Country music is America’s OTHER Soul music…

But to me, Country music is called ‘Country’ for a reason—please don’t try to ‘Urban-ize’ it, or you will wreck it…

1) James Taylor (guitar)—the staple Folk artist that EVERYONE is influenced by.

2) Steve Wariner (guitar)

3) Phil Vassar (piano)

4) Bruce Hornsby (piano)—his early albums with ‘The Range’ easily qualify, but his current playing still seems to reflect a country / southern feel, even with its now more jazz-based influence.

5) Tim McGraw (vocal)

6) Keith Urban (guitar)

7) Toby Keith (vocal)

8] Sawyer Brown (group)

9) Mary Chapin Carpenter (guitar)—‘Party Doll +…’ is probably my favorite of all her great albums; a very empowered woman—can tell from her lyrics. I hope to instill that same confidence in my own Daughter when she comes of age…

10) Suzy Bogguss (vocal)—‘Aces’ maybe my favorite Country Album ever.

11) Sammy Kershaw (vocal)—‘Labor of Love’ is easily my 2nd favorite…

12) Vince Gill (guitar)—a great lead singer; an even better back up singer.

13) Manfred Schuler (Zither & Folk Music Ensemble)—for a different kind of ‘Folk’ Music; he is a professor at the State Music Acedemy of Carinthia, Austria who has treated Bavarian & Tirolean / Alpine-Volks Musik (Bauern Stube Musi) as a Cultural-Study worth preserving. Thank you for your efforts & your respect in something that the rest of today’s world might toss away as silly, irrelevant & unimportant. Long live the music from the likes of Rudi Knabl, Alfons Bauer, Georg Freundorfer, Toni Noichl, Anton Karas, Die Schoenauer Musikanten, etc.

*For those who don’t know, at one time I was also a hack-Hackbrett player (hammered-dulcimer) when my Father still played Zither; but because of arthritic pain in his hands, he has now switched to the Ziehharmonika (‘button-box’ accordion)….& now I’m a hack-Trombonist.

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Most Favorite Latino Groups / Artists (thanks to my beautiful Latino Wife!)

1) Luis Miguel (with the Jerry Hey horn section & string arrangements)

2) Mana (Rock)

3) Alejandro Fernandez (especially for his song ‘Canta Corazon’)

4) Miami Sound Machine (I knew about them already—great horns!)

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Most Favorite & Influential Composers / Songwriters

1) George Frederick Handel—probably the hardest ‘Rocker’ (in his own day) I’ve ever ‘known’…complex in his simplicity—catchy melodic ideas with to-the-point / no-meandering; absolutely brilliant.

2) Henry Purcell—Handel’s predecessor & probably his most direct influence

3) Johann Sebastian Bach—simply the best; the staple to study in counterpoint.

4) Giovanni Gabrieli—true polyphonic music at its best

5) Anthony Holborne (& his fellow English contemporaries—William Brade, etc)

6) Antonin Dvorak—especially for his ‘New World’ Symphony#9

7) Aaron Copland—by far my favorite 20th Century Classical composer; incredible chord voicings; true Americana

8] Elmer Bernstein—creator of the true ‘Western Movie’ orchestral sound; in the vein of Copland; true Americana—no relation to Leonard Bernstein, but he was great too!

9) Igor Stravinsky—Rite of Spring / Firebird suite—modern harmonies/dissonance

10) Gustav Holst—especially for ‘the Planets’; in the vein of Copland

11) John Williams—especially for his Olympic compositions as well as film scores

12) John Philip Sousa—his marches are ‘as American as apple pie’.

13) Rudi Knabl—timeless instrumental Zither melodies with beautiful (chord) changes—that could easily be applied to various musical settings.

14) Keith Jarrett—every note felt & carefully thought out—impromptu!; much like the great Bill Evans; true Americana

15) Dave Grusin—many great Smooth Jazz compositions as well as film scores; true Americana

16) David Benoit—protégé of Dave Grusin who by far made his own name for himself

17) Russ Freeman (Smooth Jazz)—of the Rippingtons

18) Sting—possibly today’s greatest song writer; musically as well as lyrically

19) Bruce Hornsby—along similar lines to Sting & Keith Jarrett, as well as film scores; true Americana

20) Phil Collins—it’s as if he has this incredible ‘recipe’ to composing great pop hits–& he is living proof that musical tastes do NOT change as fast as ‘they’ would have us believe.

21) The EaglesDon Henley, but really all of them!–& including Jackson Browne & JD Souther who are also somehow connected. ‘Desperado’ is just 1 example of an endless list of great songs that came out of their incredible collaborations.

22) Lionel Richie—he has written an enormous volume of great & beautiful pop songs (Truly, Easy Like Sunday Mornings, etc). And his recent R&B hit ‘Just Go’ with Akon shows he is still capable of being an effective creative force in this new electronic age of pop music.

23) Billy Joel & Elton John—they both have contributed SO MUCH to defining what is so special about American / Western Pop Music.

24) LeRoy Anderson–composed light classical music taylored mainly for the Boston Pops Orchestra; he was brilliant to ‘paint’ clever musical visuals.

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Most Favorite Musical Arrangers / Producers

1) Dave Grusin (smooth & traditional jazz, big band, orchestral, etc. He also created the GRP record label to provide a marketable avenue specifically for jazz artists, mainly showcasing their ‘smoother’ side, but without actually interfering in the artists’ own creativity); heavily influenced by Henry Mancini

2) Jimmy Pankow (Trombonist & main musical arranger of the band Chicago–the person most responsible for creating Chicago’s unique & distinctive ‘sound’)

3) Jerry Hey (& his studio horn section & lush background string arrangements—on infinite recordings) & Gary Grant (a staple member of the JH Horn Section, who has given opportunity to, promoted, & produced SO MANY other trumpet player’s projects)

4) David Foster (the last of the great ‘big-time’ producers who continues to demand & maintain a high standard of musical quality, because he is a musician himself, piano–& who hasn’t sold out to rap, hip-hop & the rest of today’s fast-food like ‘music’; also a great songwriter). And I knew how great David Foster was way before his recent popularity; back in the 80’s, almost everything great had his name on it somewhere…as did Jay Graydon & Bill Champlin.

5) Burt Bacharach (he elevated the sophistication of ‘pop music’… “by using unusual chord progressions, striking syncopated rhythmic patterns, irregular phrasing, frequent modulations, odd & changing meters, etc to produce greater climactic effect than most popular music”; also a great songwriter)

6) John Williams (many movie scores as well as the Olympic themes…mostly with the Boston Pops Orchestra)

7) Quincy Jones (similar to Bacharach—very responsible for creating & contributing to the sophistication of ‘pop music’, most specifically during the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s using lush background strings, etc…)

8] Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds (‘Change the World’ w/ Eric Clapton; remake of ‘True Colors’ w/ Phil Collins; his own ‘Playlist’ album of cover tunes)

9) Bruce Hornsby (mainly within his own music, by creating different spontaneous arrangements of them at every show…also has written several scores for films & songs for other artists including Don Henley & Bonnie Raitt, etc)

10) Mark Morganelli—he & his staff have really been the backbone in bringing & retaining accessibility to high quality Jazz music in Westchester County NY. (& he’s a trumpet player too!)

11) Leopold Stokowski–especially for the transcriptions of J.S. Bach’s works he made for large orchestra

12) Vince Corozine (with whom I am currently studying Arranging & Orchestration)–of the Norm Hathaway Big Band

13) Rob Mathes–who has done an incredible amount of brilliant arranging & orchestrating in modern contexts, recently with the likes of Sting, etc.

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Albums I Just Could NOT Live Without

1) Every Step of the Way (David Benoit)—Smooth Jazz

2) But Seriously… (Phil Collins)—his ‘Face Value’ is also up there

3) The Soul Cages (Sting)—a brilliant concept album; about a little boy who grows up watching his father work like a slave in the ship building industry in the hopes of achieving a better future for them someday. When the father accidentally gets killed on the job, the boy is left to find his own way in this world…. **I could easily name several other of Sting’s solo albums here (Bring on the Night, Dream of the Blue Turtles, Nothing Like the Sun, Ten Sumner Tales, Mercury Falling, Brand New Day, etc.) but in my opinion this one truly stands out, even amongst all those other great albums of his.**

4) Harbor Lights (Bruce Hornsby)—marked a shift in Bruce’s already great song writing & playing, from a Country-based Pop style towards a more Jazz-influenced style of compositions very conducive to improvisation.

5) Hot House (Bruce Hornsby)—took Harbor Lights even to the next level. And then he kept right on growing; next check out ‘Spirit Trail’, etc, etc…

6) Still Live (Keith Jarrett Trio)—an incredible double live Jazz Standards album

7) Standard Time Vol#3: The Resolution of Romance (Wynton Marsalis)—incredibly melodic & lyrical trumpet playing.

8] The Glorious Sound of Brass (The Philadelphia Brass Ensemble)

9) Music for Organ, Brass & Percussion (E.Power Biggs & the Boston Brass)

10) Handel’s Concerti Grossi, Op.6 (The English Concert-Trevor Pinnock)—for me especially Concerto#’s 5-8 (of 12). Handel apparently composed & arranged all pieces of music in this suite in a little more than a month’s time—& personally I can’t find even one to consider so low as ‘mediocre’ in the lot; they’re all great!

11) Live In London (Al Jarreau)—just a documented ‘tip of the iceberg’ for him at the height of his ‘pop’ career during the 80’s (he is also a serious jazz guy)

12) Collection (Dave Grusin)—This is actually sort of a ‘greatest hit’ album—but there are so many other of his tunes—before & after this album—that would also have qualified. Here, ‘Mountain Dance’, ‘An Actor’s Life’, ‘Early AM Attitude’, ‘River Dance’, ‘theme from St. Elsewhere’, ‘She Could be Mine’ are my favorites

13) Props for Pops (Leroy Jones)—if you want to hear great Dixieland music this album is a must. I wish I had a 10th of this guy’s ideas…let alone the ideas of his trombone players’ (Craig Kline & Lucien Barbarin)! & Leroy is probably the closest thing we have to Louis Armstrong today.

14) Hello Cleveland (Fighting Gravity)—Rock; one of the best live albums EVER, from by far the hungriest band that I’ve ever seen & heard. This album is only an ‘end result’ of how this incredibly hard working band cultivated its own songs while laboring relentlessly in the ‘trenches’ on the road. To see where they evolved from—the group itself & their songs—at this point, one would have to listen to ALL of their albums in order—as unfortunately this band is no more.

15) Eros (Chris Spheeris)—New Age; for the ride home after EVERY gig. His ‘Europa’ album is also good—like the same thing really.

16) The Healing Game (Van Morrison)—he always makes music with REAL instruments & no electronic enhancements. A very Gospel / Southern-Baptist sounding album; his ‘Days Like This’ album is also up there.

17) Dancing with the Lion (Andreas Vollenweider)—New Age (like a concept album, with a very Greek/middle-eastern feel)

18) Welcome to the Real World (Mr. Mister)—very electronic & synthesized based, but a very sophisticated & underrated 80’s album. When Peter Cetera left Chicago (after Chicago 17), Chicago had offered this band’s lead singer Richard Page their open slot. With the relative success of this album, Page declined, stating he wanted to continue cultivating his band Mr. Mister, & eventually Jason Schef got the job with Chicago. Unfortunately for Page, Mr. Mister really only achieved ‘one album wonder’ stature & broke up shortly thereafter.

19) Mad Season (Matchbox 20/Rob Thomas)—a great 3 chord rock album in the vein of the Rolling Stones, enhanced with its share of horns, lush strings, etc…& of course Rob’s incredibly distinctive poetical lyric writing & vocal performance. And after it has finished, keep on listening…

20) Cannonball with Strings (Cannonball Adderley)—“…his buttery tone, his long, fluid phrases that wound as genially as a country lane, & his mastery of bebop changes to which he added a new kind of big-hearted funkiness”.

21) Crash (Dave Matthews Band)—a lot of ‘meat & potatoes’ music with a lot of layers (also good: ‘Under the Table & Dreaming’ & the ‘Lillywhite Sessions’)

22) Night & Day; The Big Band Album (Chicago)alsoChicago 16, 18, 21, 25 & BOTH The Heart of Chicagobest of…’ albums.

23) The Rainy Season (Marc Cohn)—very Gospel / Southern-Baptist sounding; & if you submit yourself to the song ‘Things We’ve Handed Down’, you’re probably exempt from the obligation of going to Church for like a month (very reminiscent of Hornsby’s ‘Halcyon Days’, ‘Fortunate Son’ & ‘Dreamland’)…

24) Aces (Suzy Bogguss)—Country

25) Double Vision (Bob James)—with David Sanborn & Al Jarreau (very smooth!)

26) Going Home (Dan Siegel)—with Kenny Rankin’s vocal (great ‘feel good’ music)

27) Out of This World (Europe)—an 80’s Metal band album. Kee Marcello is an amazing virtuoso guitarist. This album was something that I always listened to whenever I was feeling down for an extended period; always seemed to help me back ‘out’.

28) Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi)—it’s packed with great songs but especially for ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’.

29) 90125 (Yes)—also great is their album Union

30) Playlist (Babyface)—although met with much criticism from his R&B piers & his ‘usual’ audience, this album to me shows that he is a REAL musician with great taste & universal appreciation for tunes probably outside his normal realm. All of the tunes he selected to ‘cover’ here are beautiful with great (chord) changes; & he even made the song ‘Please Come to Boston’ finally listenable (& great!) to me. I find myself listening to this album quite often…

31) The Edge of Forever (Hilary Stagg—New Age)—what my children fall asleep to every night, & a sure way to relax.

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My All-Time Favorite Recorded Songs / Pieces

I believe it was Duke Ellington who said that there are really only 2 kinds of music—good music & bad music! While this may be subjective, there is also a lot of truth to it. And rather than focus on different music genres here, I felt it better to explain what I think ‘good music’ is in general—across-the-board.

I tend to prefer music that is sophisticated—not necessarily technically complex, but rather crafted in a way that is multi-dimensional—like a ‘musical onion’, if you will. I enjoy ‘pealing away the layers’ of even the simplest tune in order to hopefully hear something new on it almost every time I listen. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like ‘Rap’, ‘Hip Hop’ (with exception of maybe Will Smith & Queen Latifah) or most of ‘today’s’ other ‘fast food’ music; in addition to the pollutant lyrics & disgustingly thuggish imagery, it also tends to be only one-dimensional musically & thus not very interesting—especially to musicians. Music is made up of at least 3 components: Melody, Harmony, Rhythm (& I agree to add ‘Time’ on its own as a 4th); to make my point, Most Rap really only uses a fraction of those elements (& mostly just Rhythm) almost the same way every time & not even very cleverly…it might be considered as some form of Art, but it’s really not Music.

I also much prefer musical pieces that are dynamic & continuously evolving or growing (or at least changing), as opposed to what could be considered ‘museum-like pieces’—that are played exactly the same way every time…

When someone says to me that they heard a great cover band—& by ‘great’ they mean that the band sounded exactly like the original artists’ or bands’ recordings; that is actually a TURN OFF for me. I am NOT from the mindset of trying to play ‘cover’ tunes exactly as they are on the ‘record’—to me this is ‘regurgitating’ (an intended negative connotation) & the result is usually sub-par to the actual original recordings anyway. I actually want to hear & play with cover bands that are open & confident enough to having THEIR OWN original thoughts on the tunes they play & cover—some new & fresh ideas, or at least different ones, & maybe actually even better than what’s on the original! That is also my approach towards how I arrange, & what pieces I choose to arrange…

 

1) Mountain Dance—Dave Grusin (this is not only my favorite of his MANY great compositions, but it is also by far my favorite Smooth Jazz tune ever, & is the epitome of why I’ve gravitated towards this genre of music in the first place)

2) Song C—Bruce Hornsby (& at least 20 others of his tunes! The Show Goes On, The Road Not Taken, The River Runs Low, Lost Soul, Love Me Still, The Valley Road, Fields of Grey, Harbor Lights, Hot House Ball—multiple versions of all, etc, etc)

3) Find A Way to My Heart—Phil Collins; by far my favorite (but also Burn Down the Mission—Phil Collins’ version of the Elton John tune; also Dance into the Light, Take Me Home, I Don’t Wanna Know, Easy Lover, Inside Out, Do You Remember, If Leaving Me is Easy, Something Happened on the Way to Heaven, One More Night, The West Side, It Don’t Matter to Me, etc, etc.)

4) Things We’ve Handed Down—Marc Cohn (also Walk Through this World, She’s Becoming Gold, Walking in Memphis, Listening to Levon, etc, etc)

5) Country—Keith Jarrett (also My Song—multiple recorded versions)

6) Caribe—Michel Camilo (multiple recorded versions)

7) Spain—Chick Corea (multiple recorded versions)

8] Baker Street—Jerry Rafferty (& a live version by Candy Dulfer-sax)

9) Symphony #9, from the New World—Antonin Dvorak (Fritz Reiner & Sir Georg Solti recordings, both with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

10) Fragile—Sting (also Fields of Gold; multiple recorded versions of both) (& at least 20 others of his tunes! The Hounds of Winter, I Burn for You, Fortress Around Your Heart, If I Ever Lose My Faith In You, Children’s Crusade, We Work the Black Seam, Shape of My Heart, Englishman in NY, Bring on the Night, etc etc)

11) Desert Rose—Sting & Cheb Mami (very Middle Eastern flavored)

12) Jalula—Fighting Gravity (at least 2 recorded versions); also Bouncing Off the Bottom, Breathing, Colors on the Wall, Mash it Up, Walk into My Eyes, etc

13) (I Hope You) Dance—Lee Ann Womack (incredibly powerful & humbling lyrics)

14) Alone—Heart (also Almost Paradise—Ann Wilson with Mike Reno–Footloose)

15) I Can’t Fight This Feeling—REO Speedwagon

16) Forever—Kenny Loggins (also Love Will Follow, Whenever I Call You Friend, This is It, Heart to Heart, Danny’s Song, Return to Pooh Corner, etc)

17) What a Fool Believes—Doobie Brothers (with Michael McDonald)

18) Up on the Roof—James Taylor’s cover version of it (also Carolina in My Mind, Copperline, Country Road, Her Town Too, Mexico, Fire & Rain, Your Smiling Face, Sweet Baby James, Never Die Young, Handy Man, etc, etc)

19) Summer of 69’ (Oh What a Night)—Frankie Valley & the 4 Seasons

20) Hallelujah Chorus (from ‘the Messiah’)—G.F. Handel (to me, this is possibly a ‘perfect’ piece of a music–I will only say that about a select few)

21) Day Dream Believer—The Monkeys (the ultimate ‘bubble gum’ pop)

22) New York State of Mind—Billy Joel (& about 20 others of his tunes! Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, Angry Young Man, The Downeaster Alexa, Just the Way You Are, I Go to Extremes, Captain Jack, The Ballad of Billy the Kid, Miami 2017-Lights Go Out on Broadway, And So It Goes, etc, etc)

23) Rosalita—Bruce Springsteen (also Born to Run, Thunder Road, etc)

24) Where the Streets Have No Name—U2 (also Mysterious Ways, etc)

25) Lights Will Guide You Home (Fix You)—Coldplay (also Speed of Sound, Clocks, Talk, The Hardest Part, Violet Hill, etc…)

26) Sailing to Philadelphia—Marc Knopfler (also What it Is, Silvertown Blues, Golden Heart & Dire Straits stuff like Walk of Life, Why Worry, etc)

27) Baby I Love Your Way—Peter Frampton

28) Bad Love—Eric Clapton (also Pretending, Forever Man, No Alibis, It’s in the Way, She’s Waiting, Old Love, Before You Accuse Me, etc)

29) Wonderful Tonight—Eric Clapton / Babyface / Michael Buble versions

*The Spitzbuam to hopefully someday record my arrangement of this tune!

30) Time in a Bottle—Jim Croce / Babyface versions

31) Just the Two of Us—Grover Washington Jr. & Bill Withers

32) In the Blood of Eden—Peter Gabriel (also Solsbury Hill, Shaking the Tree, In Your Eyes, Don’t Give Up, Mercy Street, Steam, Come Talk to Me, etc, etc)

33) Ants Marching—Dave Matthews Band (multiple recorded versions; also Drive In Drive Out, Stay, Grey Street, Tripping Billies, #41, etc…)

34) Canzona per Sonare#2—Giovanni Gabrieli—Philadelphia Brass Ensemble (to me, this is another possibly ‘perfect’ piece of music)

35) Fantasie in C—J.S. Bach—The Canadian Brass

36) Voluntary—William Walond—The Eastman Brass Quintet

37) Quintet—Malcolm Arnold—The Eastern Brass Quintet

38) Hotel California—The Eagles / Don Henley (multiple recorded versions)—also The Long Run, Desperado, Take it Easy, Lyin’ Eyes, I Can’t Tell You Why, New Kid in Town, Take it to the Limit, Life in the Fast Lane, Already Gone, Heartache Tonight, End of the Innocence, How Long, etc etc…

39) Trumpet Concerto—Leopold Mozart (W.A.’s father)—Maurice Andre

40) Air on the G String—J.S. Bach (L. Stokowski arrangement)

41) Air from the Water Music Suite—G.F. Handel—The English Concert

42) Arrival for the Queen of Sheba (from Samson)—G.F. Handel—J. Wilbraham

43) I Watched Her Walk Away—Rippingtons (also Take Me with You, A Kiss Under the Moonlight, etc)

44) Catalina Kiss—Acoustic Alchemy (also Ariane, The Alchemist, Boulder Coaster, The Stone Circle, etc)

45) Kei’s Song—David Benoit (also Every Step of the Way, Saturdays, etc…)

46) Fantasy—Tom Grant (remake of the Earth Wind & Fire song)

47) After All—Al Jarreau (also Since I Fell for You, Moonlighting theme, So Good, Somehow our Love Survives, We’re in this Love Together, Roof Garden, High Crime, Heaven & Earth, I will be Hear for You, etc, etc)

48) What You Won’t Do for Love—Bobby Caldwell (also Tell it Like it is, Show Me Your Devotion, Heart of Mine, In My Daydreams, etc, etc)

49) All My Children—Flimm & the BB’s

50) Next to You—Dan Siegel & Kenny Rankin (also Searching from the same album)

51) Get Here—Oleta Adams

52) Sweet Baby—Stanley Clarke & George Duke

53) Always & Forever—Luther Vandross’ cover version

54) Last Train Home—Pat Metheny (& check out the ‘brush’ work!)

55) Know You By Heart & Beneath the Moonlit Sky—Dave Koz w/David Benoit

56) Show Me—Michael Lington (also You & I & Twice in a Lifetime)

57) True Blue—Mindi Abair(also Bloom & Flirt)

58) Give it All You Got—Chuck Mangione (also Feels So Good)

59) Sandu—Clifford Brown (traditional Jazz)—also Jacqui

60) But Not for Me—Chet Baker (Jazz standard)—also Autumn in New York

61) The Preacher—Leroy Jones (traditional Jazz)

62) Surrey with the Fringe on Top—Cannonball Adderley (Jazz with strings)

63) Georgia on My Mind—Gerald Albright (Smooth Jazz—hot sax)

64) Get Up Stand Up—Dave Grusin & Lee Ritenour (Smooth Jazz) Marley cover

65) Mambo 2000—Warren Hill (Smooth Jazz—hot sax)

66) Charged Particles—Chick Corea Elektric Band (Jazz / Rock Fusion)

67) Sailing—Christopher Cross (what a picture he ‘paints’; musically & lyrically)—also All Right, Ride Like the Wind, Think of Laura, Arthur’s Theme, etc.

68) The Riddle—Five for Fighting (incredibly powerful lyrics; also ‘100 Years’)

69) Gypsy—Fleetwood Mac (I like this band even more now than I did when I was growing up; they have a very ‘Adult Sound’ that I now understand better).

70) In the House of Stone & Light—Martin Page (& listen to the drummer!)

71) Come Sail Away—Styx / Dennis DeYoung—the 1st rock tune I ever heard!—also Lady, Rockin’ the Paradise, Fooling Yourself, Grand Illusion, Grove of Eglantine, Winner Takes All, Best of Times, Babe, Show Me the Way, etc, etc

72) I Won’t Hold You Back—Toto (also Rosanna, Africa, I’ll Be Over You, Hold the Line, Child’s Anthem, etc)

73) Do You Believe in Love—Huey Lewis & the News (also Some of My Lies are True, If this is It, I Want a New Drug, Workin’ for a Livin’, Back in Time, Power of Love, Naturally, Simple as That, Perfect World, Heart of Rock n Roll, I Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do, Feelin’ Alright, etc, etc)

74) Will You Still Love Me?—Chicago(& like EVERYTHING of theirs, especially: Make Me Smile, Dialogue parts 1& 2, Old Days, Feeling Stronger Everyday, 25 or 6 to 4, Questions 67 & 68, Just You & Me, I’m A Man, Free, Hard to Say I’m Sorry/Get Away, Love Me Tomorrow, You’re the Inspiration, I Remember the Feeling, If She Would Have Been Faithful, Feel, etc, etc)

75) September—Earth Wind & Fire (also Fantasy, After the Love is Gone, Let’s Groove Tonight, Shining Star, Gotta Get You into My Life, Sing a Song, Can’t Hide Love, Boogie Wonderland, That’s the Way of the World, etc, etc)

76) Only Wanna be with You—Hootie & the Blowfish

77) Let it Be—The Beatles (also Hey Jude, Elenore Rigby, Magic Mystery Tour, In My Life, All You Need is Love, Yesterday, etc)

78) Brown Eyed Girl—multiple versions/covers…especially: Van Morrison’s (the original); Jimmy Buffet’s (slower); the Nerds (as a Reggae—but I don’t think they ever recorded it though…a shame); Everclear (a remix): & yes the Spitzbuam (my arrangement that I hope we record someday!!)

**for me, one of the true tests of what makes a ‘good song’ great, is if it can be played in many different ways, contexts, grooves, etc…this song is ALL that!

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Favorite Concerts / Rock-u-mentaries captured on Video (DVD/VHS)

1) 3 Nights on the Town—Bruce Hornsby (simply incredible!—especially the tracks ‘White Wheel Limousine’ & ‘Rainbow Cadillac’, but all are amazing—& actually all 4 of his DVD’s out are excellent)

2) Heart of Rock n’ Roll—Huey Lewis & the News (with TOP horns) VHS only

3) Live at 25—Huey Lewis & the News

4) Bring on the Night—Sting (with Branford Marsalis & Omar Hakim)

5) All This Time…live in Tuscany—Sting (with Chris Botti & Dominick Miller)–actually ALL of his other DVD’s out are also excellent

6) Live in BostonChris Botti (& friends with the Boston Pops)—Chris is a great guy, very approachable & is ALL about his sound. All of his DVD’s (several with Sting, Night Sessions, the 1st Orchestra one, etc) are excellent; this one just stands out for me (as a musician).

7) Journey & the Labyrinth—Sting (the music of John Dowland)

8] Seriously—Phil Collins

9) All Live—Phil Collins (& a great showcase for the Phoenix Horns)

10) Live By Request—Chicago

11) Live in London—Al Jarreau; VHS only

12) Secret World Live—Peter Gabriel (& visually amazing!)

13) Concert in Central Park—Paul Simon (the one WITHOUT Garfunkl; nothing personal. And long live the legacy of Michael Brecker-sax who left us way too soon, sub coming to a long bout with Leukemia). Chris Botti’s on this too…

14) Homecoming—Miami Sound Machine (in Miami) VHS only

15) Live at the Record Plant—GRP Allstars (Dave Grusin & Lee Ritenour)

16) The Hang—Don Grusin & friends (especially Abraham Laboriel again on bass)

17) Vivo!—Luis Miguel

18) MTV Unplugged—Mana

19) Blues & Swing—Wynton Marsalis (& he’s also a Prophet!—in this documentary made back in the 80’s, he states that we are in a ‘Cultural Dark Ages’; to me 80’s music was still good….but here we are now for sure! & Wynton seems a lot more optimistic than I am about it…

If you really want to know: in my opinion, ‘Technology’—which in today’s terms really means the same thing as ‘instant gratification’—& ‘Culture’ are actually INVERSELY related. And ‘Technology’ is also predominantly Money-Driven while ‘Culture’ is not-necessarily so—it incorporates other VALUE-Systems as well. And because we are increasingly being conditioned to have an UNQUENCHABLE INFATUATION with continuous advances in today’s / tomorrow’s Technology, we are now tending to substitute ‘Technology’ for our actual ‘Culture’—which is an empty promise. And until this world’s END-ALL fascination with ‘Technology’ is curbed & used merely as a ‘tool’—as really only the MEANS in ASSISTING us towards achieving a GREATER end, ‘CULTURE’–‘work ethic’, ‘skill development’, ‘cultivation of an interest or passion’, ‘patience’, etc—will remain in the ‘dumper’—where it has been discarded to…

 

One more personal observation about Culture, specifically ‘American Culture’; it seems that it has almost gravitated to become whatever is ‘new’ or ‘in’ at any given period of time—which is thus also very ‘high-tech’ related.

This wouldn’t be SO BAD if what was ‘new’ or ‘in’ was actually at least equal to or an improvement from what had come before. However, just because something is ‘new’ or ‘in’ doesn’t alone make it better. It is an absolute shame to discard ‘quality’ for the mere sake of something that is just temporarily ‘new’ or ‘in’. Thus, in many areas of OUR ‘Culture’—including Music—we seem to be DE-evolving. And of course, OUR ‘flashy’ & ‘money driven’ American Culture then affects the rest of the world’s…Maybe our influence should cause us to acknowledge a deeper responsibility towards REAL ‘Culture’…just my opinion)

20) Live By Request—Hall & Oates

21) Incognito—Live in Jakarta

22) Fighting Gravity—the one they SHOULD’VE but unfortunately NEVER made.

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Most Favorite Country Tunes

1) Love, Me—Colin Raye

2) (I Hope You) Dance—Lee Ann Womack

3) Holes in the Floor of Heaven—Steve Wariner

4) Calypso—John Denver

5) From a Distance—Kathy Mattea’s cover of it

6) Home to You—John Michael Montgomery (also I Can Love You Like That)

7) Like a River to the Sea—Steve Wariner

8] The Walk—Sawyer Brown

9) Last Day of My Life—Phil Vassar

10) Little Did I Know—Sammy Kershaw (oh that groove! Now that’s a Polka—Cajun style!)

11) Streets of Bakersfield—Dwight T Yokum & Buck Owens

12) Down at the Twist & Shout—Mary Chapin Carpenter

13) I Can Still Make Cheyenne—George Strait

14) When You Say Nothing At All—Keith Whitley & Allison Krauss versions

15) Crash Course in the Blues—Steve Wariner—finger pickin’ good!

16) American Child—Phil Vassar

17) Callin’ Baton Rouge—Garth Brooks

18) Dreamland—Mary Chapin Carpenter

19) I Cross My Heart—George Strait

20) One More Day—Diamond Rio

21) Making Memories of Us—Keith Urban (also You’ll Think of Me)

22) Some Girls Do—Sawyer Brown

23) Carlene—Phil Vassar

24) It Won’t Be Like This for Long—Darius Rucker (of Hootie & the Blowfish)

25) Sails—Steve Wariner (an Orleans cover)

26) T-R-O-U-B-L-E—Travis Tritt

27) To Make You Feel My Love—Garth Brooks (a Bob Dylan cover)

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Most Favorite Christmas Albums

1) What’s it Gonna Be Santa? (Chicago)Chicago 25—traditional Carols with a twist of great horns & interesting arrangements…

2) Star Bright (Vanessa Williams)—honest? I totally bought it for the cover, but I’ve kept it for the great music!

3) A GRP Christmas Collection, especially vol#1 of 3 (various Smooth Jazz artists)

4) A Christmas Album (James Taylor with Dave Grusin)

5) A Festival of Carols in Brass (Philadelphia Brass Ensemble)

6) A Christmas Concert (Pittsburgh Symphony Brass)

7) Merry Christmas…(Lawrence Welk & his Champagne Orchestra) a family tradition.

8] Come Darkness, Come Light (Mary Chapin Carpenter)—possibly my favorite

9) A Charlie Brown Christmas (Vince Guaraldi Trio)

10) A Soulful Christmas (Brian Culbertson)

11) The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (Jethro Tull)

12) If on a Winter’s Night (Sting)

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My Most Favorite Standards to play over

1) Polka Dots & Moonbeams

2) Body & Soul

3) Old Cape Cod

4) ‘Round Midnight (Thelonius Monk)

5) Stardust (Hoagie Carmichael)

6) Autumn in NY

7) All the Things You Are

8] Have You Met Miss Jones?

9) 500 Miles High (Chick Corea)

10) Perhaps (Charlie Parker—blues)

11) It’s You or No One

12) Yardbird Suite (Charlie Parker)

13) Come Back to Sorrento

14) Tico Tico

15) When I Fall in Love

16) Tenderly

17) I’m Old Fashioned

18) The Preacher (Horrace Silver)

19) St. Thomas (Sonny Rollins)

20) All of Me—hey, if it was good enough for Louie, it’s good enough for me too!

21) That’s All

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Most Favorite Singers/Vocalists

I often tend to prefer ‘instrumental music’ (without vocals)—probably stemming from my father having primarily been an instrumental Bavarian zither player when I was growing up—although he did occasionally sing (in German—which I didn’t always understand) along with his playing. Thus to this day, even when there is a vocalist, I’m usually more listening to the timbre of the voice & how it interplays with the music accompaniment, rather than to the actual content of what the vocalist is actually singing about; it takes a REAL LOT to get me to focus on the lyrics—something that very few singers achieve for me. Having said that, there are still many exceptional ‘singers’ who are worth recognizing:

1) Sting—very unique timbre & a very good storyteller

2) Bruce Hornsby—not necessarily a beautiful voice; more of a storyteller

3) Paul Simon—not necessarily a beautiful voice; more of a storyteller

4) Phil Collins—very unique timbre

5) Al Jarreau—extremely versatile & often uses his voice as an instrument

6) Bobby Caldwell—very unique timbre (& with Michael Lington on Sax)

7) Schavone ‘Vonz’ McGee (Fighting Gravity)—& by far the best ‘front man’ of a band I have ever seen; seriously, right next to Bon Jovi–& also a very down-to-earth guy as well

8] Bobby McFerrin—truly a genius. To call him the ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ guy is like calling Hornsby the ‘Way It Is’ guy, or Marc Cohn the ‘Walking in Memphis’ guy—maybe even worse; just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in all cases mentioned above…among his other amazing vocal talents, Bobby conducts symphony orchestras & often substitutes his voice on certain parts in place of the actual instruments–& matches that instruments tonality; he is an unlimited source of ‘spontaneous creative audio inventions’….don’t let his often-silliness fool you.

9) Peter Cetera (with Chicago & his Solo stuff; produced, David Foster)

10) David Pack (of Ambrosia)—very unique timbre

11) Michael McDonald (soulful)

12) Darryl Hall (soulful)

13) Peter Gabriel—very unique timbre

14) Steve Winwood—very unique timbre; back in the late 80’s, pop songs with negative or pessimistic lyrics had become very popular—almost exclusively on mainstream radio. Stevie Winwood comes along with his ‘Back in the High Life’ album with these incredibly uplifting lyrics, mandolins, James Taylor, Chaka Kahn, etc—it was like a breath of fresh air! A brilliant album with even more brilliant timing.

15) Luis Miguel (…with the Jerry Hey horns & string arrangements)—LM may very well be the hottest (production) act in the WORLD today; reminds me a lot of Al Jarreaus’s pop stuff in the 80’s—they both actually used many of the same studio musicians. And you get a lot of ‘concert’ for your money’s worth—a very elegant night out; NO encore’s—“Buenes Noches” & he leaves you wanting more.

16) Andrea Boccelli (produced, David Foster)

17) Celine Dion (often produced by David Foster)

18) Kenny Rankin (RIP) Jazz

19) Michael Buble (produced, Daved Foster)

20) Christina Aguilera—when Herbie Hancock (pianist) asked her to sing over ‘Singing My Song’ (an old Ray Charles tune) for his album ‘Possibilities’, she apparently recorded & sent back 11 significantly different vocal versions of it for him to choose from. She is often compared to Brittany Spears because of their Mickey Mouse club association (& because they’re both a bit eccentric)—but musically, not even close (no offense to Brittany; she’s more of a dancer).

21) Chaka Kahn (R&B)—with her incredible 4 octave vocal range!

22) Frank Sinatra—he had an incredible voice & incredible pronunciation

23) Nat King Cole& his beautiful daughter Natalie Cole for that matter

24) Anita Baker & Sade (R&B / Smooth Jazz)

25) Patti Austin & Roberta Flack (R&B / Smooth Jazz)

26) Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Paula Cole

27) The front men—Dennis DeYoung, Steve Perry, Steven Tyler, Sammy Hagar, David Lee Roth, Jon Bon Jovi, Chris Daughtry, etc (Rock)

28) Charles Brown (Blues & piano)—thanks Bonnie Raitt for introducing us sheltered folks to him late in his life; I’m glad I didn’t miss it—may he RIP.

29) Liza Moran – friend & incredible vocalist with the Norm Hathaway Big Band

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Most Favorite Piano & Keyboards Players

1) Bruce Hornsby (Rock—influenced by Country, Jazz, Gospel, Blue-Grass, etc…)

2) Dave Grusin (Smooth Jazz)

3) David Benoit (Smooth Jazz)

4) Keith Jarrett (Traditional Jazz)

5) Tommy Flannigan (Traditional Jazz)—may he RIP

6) Michel Camilo (Latin Jazz)

7) Rob Mullins (Jazz)

8] Joe Sample (Smooth Jazz)

9) Dan Siegel (Smooth Jazz)

10) Marc Cohn (Rock; a very Southern Baptist sound—in the vein of Hornsby)

11) Jeff Lorber (Smooth Jazz)

12) Brian Culbertson (Smooth Jazz)–& he’s also a trombonist!

13) Phil Vassar (Country; a very Southern Baptist sound—in the vein of Hornsby)

14) Chick Corea & Herbie Hancock (Straight Ahead Jazz & Fusion)

15) Billy Childs (Jazz-Classical Fusion)

16) Bohdan Sochan (Jazz)—teacher & friend; where are you now?!?

17) Garrick Olsen (Classical)—especially for his Chopin Waltzes recording

18) Jacqueline Schwab (folk)–solo piano, especially on many of Ken & Ric Burns’ documentaries

19) Svetlana Gorokhovich (friend & accompanist on my 1st solo CD “My Classical Passion”

20) Yuja Wang (Classical)

21) Sandy Garuffi (friend & fellow musician)

22) Tom Bitondo (friend & fellow band-mate in The Cuff Links)

 

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Most Favorite Guitar Players

1) Daryl Stuermer (of Genesis & Phil Collins’ band)

2) Eric Clapton (& his protégé John Mayer)

3) Marc Knopfler (of Dire Straits)

4) Kee Marcello (of Europe)

5) Eric Johnson (Rock Fusion)

6) Lindsay Buckingham (of Fleetwood Mac)

7) Keith Howland & Terry Kath (of Chicago)

8] Dominick Miller (of Sting’s band)

9) Peter Frampton

10) Richie Zambora (of Bon Jovi)

11) Prince—During George Harrison’s induction into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, he ripped this incredible solo on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.

12) Chuck Berrya founding father of Rock-n-Roll

13) Pat Metheny (Smooth Jazz & Straight Ahead Jazz)

14) Kenny Wessel (teacher & took over Metheny’s spot in Ornette Coleman’s band)

15) Stanley Jordan(Straight Ahead Jazz & Smooth Jazz)

16) Lee Ritenour & Larry Carlton (Smooth Jazz)

17) Russ Freeman (of The Rippingtons—Smooth Jazz)

18) George Benson (Smooth Jazz & Straight Ahead Jazz)

19) Chuck Loeb (Smooth Jazz)

20) Earl Klugh (Smooth Jazz)

21) Norman Brown (Smooth Jazz)

22) Paul Jackson Jr (Smooth Jazz; of Al Jarreau & Luis Miguel’s band, etc)

23) Andreas Segovia (Classical)

24) Pepe Romero–& his entire guitar playing family (Classical)

25) Steve Wariner (Country)

26) Keith Urban (Country)

27) Paul Krische (friend & fellow band-mate in The Spitzbuam)

28) Matt Kiamie (friend & great local singer / songwriter)

29) Gus Wieland (friend & fellow band-mate in The Cuff Links)

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Most Favorite Bass Players

1) Abraham Laboriel (Smooth Jazz)

2) Nathan East (Rock & Smooth Jazz)

3) Tony Levin (of Peter Gabriel’s band & World Music)

4) Stanley Clarke (Smooth Jazz)

5) Wayman Tisdale (Smooth Jazz)—RIP big man

6) Marcus Miller (Smooth Jazz)

7) Will Lee (Jazz / Funk)

8] Eddie Gomez (Smooth Jazz & Straight Ahead Jazz)

9) Brian Bromberg (Smooth Jazz)

10) Cesar Monito (friend & fellow musician)

11) Walter Wedler (friend & fellow band-mate in The Spitzbuam)

12) Lou Ubriaco (also a great guitar player—friend & fellow musician)

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Most Favorite Drummers

1) Billy Kilson (of Chris Botti’s band; Jazz)

2) Manu Kache (of Peter Gabriel & Sting’s bands)

3) Omar Hakim (of Weather Report & Sting’s band)

4) Lewis Nash & Victor Lewis (Jazz)

5) Joel Rosenblatt (Jazz)

6) Dave Weckl (of Chick Corea’s bands)

7) Buddy Rich (Jazz)

8] Neal Pert (of Rush)

9) Carter Beauford (of The Dave Matthews Band)

10) Tris Imboden (of Chicago & formerly of Kenny Loggins’ band)

11) Jeff Porcaro (of Toto)—RIP

12) Vinnie Colauita (Rock, session player)

13) Harvey Mason (Smooth Jazz)

14) Alex Acuna (Smooth Jazz & percussionist)

15) Herb Morscher (friend & fellow band-mate in The Spitzbuam)–by far the best I have ever heard or played with in that style of music; to me, his approach revolutionizes the whole genre & completely breaks down its typical traditional stereotypes.

16) Jason Brower (friend & fellow band-mate in The Cuff Links)–a master at extremely complex technical drumming, who shines as if comfortably at home on ‘Fusion’ music.

17) Ron Negro (friend & fellow musician)

18) Nick Mangini (teacher & fellow musician)

19) Bill Yob (friend & fellow musician)

20) Nadav Snir-Zelniker (friend & fellow musician)–incredible, exciting Jazz & Big Band drummer, who can also sight-READ ANYTHING!!!

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Most Favorite Sax Players

1) Julian ‘Cannonball‘ Adderley

2) Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker

3) Lester Young—‘Prez’

4) Stan Getz & Paul Desmond

5) Branford Marsalis

6) Michael Brecker–RIP

7) Sonny Rollins

8]Paquito D’Rivera

9) Jimmy Hill (Jazz-RIP)–played with Etta Jones (singer); couldn’t read music. My teacher Bob Arthurs had played alot with him & once commented to me that he had never heard Jimmy make a mistake while improvising. I heard him play ‘Polka Dots & Moonbeams’ by himself one time–just standing alone on a stage in front of an irrelevant MAYBE 35 people audience; it changed the whole way I approach my own playing.

10) David Sanborn

11) Gerald Albright

12) Michael Lington

13) Andy Schnitzer

14) Warren Hill

15) Eric Marienthal

16) Michael Paulo

17) Frank Mirrodi (friend & fellow band-mate in The Spitzbuam)

18) John Serio (friend & fellow musician)

19) Vincent Gugleotti Jr. (friend & teacher—RIP)

20) *EDDIE DANIELS (Eddie Daniels, Eddie Daniels, EDDIE DANIELS!!!) – but on CLARINET*

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New Things I’ve Been Listening to Recently (2009-2011)

1) Rivers (Patrick Leonard)–Aside from being a great pianist & composer, Mr Leonard is also apparently an avid fly fisherman. This album is a very unique collection of works that were apparently inspired by & based on a journal that Leonard kept during a fishing expedition in Montana (the CD liner notes are actually set up like a fishing journal & include several of his entries). The concept of using a theme to embody a collection of works has been done before: Handel did it with his Water Music & his Royal Fireworks suites, Holst did it with his Planets suite, Mussorgsky did it with his Pictures at an Exhibition suite, etc….& rockers during the late 70’s & early 80’s even did it with their ‘concept albums’; so why not in a jazz medium? What a great idea.

Using only piano, bass, cello and gentle percussion, Leonard  creates a sound that takes you out of your home or car and puts you on a river. The music that results is not necessarily depressing, but it is kind of melancholic in a way; very reflective—maybe since fly fishing is mostly a sport of solitude.  I’m sure he had much time there to think clearly & contemplate how the flow & play of a river, sunlight on the water, & the sound of the boat sliping through the current would translate into complex & interesting musical rhythms.

Leonard’s music here is much in line with the various soundtracks that have also been provided by the likes of Keith Jarrett, Dave Grusin, Jacqueline Schwaab, etc—all of whom I have a very deep respect for.

 

2) Viva La Vida (Coldplay)—a great concept album possibly comparing the French Revolution & the plight of 21st century Latinos into North America—repressed peoples innate struggle & search for a better life (I am neither sympathetic to or against it here; I’m just making the observation). I really like Chris Martin’s voice (a very unique timbre) & the songs are of a sophisticated rock. This album has caused me to check out some of their other stuff; by far, my favorite tune of theirs is ‘Lights Will Guide You Home (Fix You)’ off their ‘X & Y’ album—to me very reminiscent of U2’s ‘Streets with No Name’…

 

3) Expressionism (Janah)—my friend Amber Collangelo of Rose Hill Music just turned me on to this band. It’s an eclectic rock band with some Middle Eastern undertones. This album is my 1st exposure to them & I like it—the tunes are interesting & have a unique female vocal timbre singing on them. I’ve previewed their next few albums & found that they now feature a male vocal & are a little more edgy with even a stronger Middle Eastern sound—something that I am very fascinated with & interested in, as that sound is so foreign to my ‘western ears’. Probably why I like practicing the Harmonic Minor & Double Harmonic scales so much…

 

4) Paris Blue (Kyle Eastwood)—Clint Eastwood’s son, is a bass player—both acoustic & electric, legitimately. This album is very hip; my favorite of his tunes here are those very Middle Eastern / Moroccan / Algerian influenced, with very tasteful use of modern loops, which is not usually found on a jazz album. It IS definitely Contemporary Jazz, but definitely NOT Smooth Jazz.

 

5) Rob Thomas—since he’s gone solo, it seems to me that Rob has experimented in many different veins of Pop / Rock music. I like the fact that I never know what to expect from him (song to song, let alone album to album!) other than that it’s always going to be quality-stuff, & the presence of his ever incredibly poetic lyrics & delivery. He’s also one of the few guys to still ACTIVELY use horns in much of his studio stuff; he’s either reminiscent of the ‘old school’ sound or he’s already ahead of his time, depending on how you look at the apparent cycle of musical tastes. But really he’s just doing his own thing—in the midst of the industry’s attempt at musical ‘cloning’ (& for that he deserves a refreshingly BIG THANK YOU).

 

6) Daughtry—I am so NOT a fan of American Idol, however I really like Chris‘ voice because his sound is actually part of an actual band. They have such a retro–& yet today’s, rock sound—all at the same time! To me their sound is very reminiscent of Bad Company, Boston, etc…& then heavy grunge like Puddle of Mud, StoneTemple Pilots, etc…I’m checking out everything of theirs I can find.

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In Closing

There have been (& continues to be) many other influences on me—surely too many to mention here—but hopefully I have not omitted any of the major ones. While this bio-list may seem a bit over-the-top to some, I hope that one can at least see & begin to understand how passionate I am about my music. Ironically, I feel fortunate that my parents originally steered me clear of a full-time career in music (despite my pleas to do so otherwise), because in today’s world, it is next to impossible to make a living at it or to support a family on it–& those who try to often become jaded & eventually resentful towards it (that’s not to say in a perfect world I wouldn’t LOVE to live my absolute dream—of being a professional musician on the road with big-time bands & as a session / solo recording artist!). But fortunately I have never had to rely on music for the money & thus it has NEVER been ‘about the money’ for me; I have never even thought of it as a ‘business’—even though a good part of it actually is. Rather I play (every single time I pick up my horn or write / arrange a piece of music, etc) out of the mere passion for making Music (as an Art-form)—which to me is really about the preservation & propagation of a certain Culture in-&-of-itself (& the various aspects of it); while I may be ‘entertaining’ when playing, hopefully I am much more than just an ‘entertainer’. I have been blessed with not only this ‘Labor of Love’ but also with the ‘Love of the Labor’—as I also love to practice; & I am NEVER on ‘auto-pilot’ or in the headset of just ‘going through the motions’ when playing or practicing music. It is also a very humbling experience for me—as the more I seem to learn about music, the more I realize how little I actually know about it.

Recently a student of mine commented that she wished I could perform magic; so that she would instantly ‘know’ how to play instead of toiling in the laborious process of learning an instrument. I tried to explain to her that she was missing the actual point; that it is ALL about the journey & that there really is no destination to ever arrive at. The joy is really in the ‘learning’ itself & about the process of self-discovery, & in the ‘little steps’ of incremental progress that one makes along the way. To really enjoy making music on any level, one should be happy (& yet not satisfied) in each of those developmental steps—which in-turn propels one to ask the next questions, & then the next ones after that, etc…

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