It is with deep shock and sadness that we report the unexpected passing of Debra Mann, an acclaimed and supremely talented jazz singer, pianist and composer on our Whaling City Sound label. Her most recent recording, Full Circle, featuring the music of Joni Mitchell, was released in August 2018. She had also released three CD recordings on her label, Jobe Records.Her career was decorated with highlights. A Berklee grad, Debra was widely hailed as Rhode Island’s premier jazz pianist and vocalist. She performed at Symphony Hall in Boston as a featured guest soloist with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra. She had the distinct honor of performing at the request of Frank Sinatra. In celebration of Women’s History Month, she performed with her trio on Ron Dellachiesa’s WGBH radio program “Music America.” She was a prized member of the regional jazz community, having shared the stage with artists including Dick Johnson, Herb Pomeroy, Gray Sargent, Marshall Wood, Ted Casher, Jeff Stout, Ed Saindon, and many others. Dino Govoni, Jay Azzolina, Dave Zinno, Marty Richards, Jerry Leake, and Paul Angel joined her on our Full Circle release.She was also a passionate educator, on the faculty of Brown University and Wheaton College.
We at Whaling City Sound, along with the music community, will miss Debra’s extraordinary and elegant musical voice. We mourn deeply her passing and extend our sympathy to her family and friends.For more information see
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Guitarist / Composer / Arranger / Educator
Dave Howard performs throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He is a exciting musician influenced by many great jazz, blues and funk artists. David Howard is a Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
He’s a guitarist, composer, arranger and leader on many recordings including “Souvenirs” featuring Kenwood Dennard. “Clouds”, “Almost Carefree”,and “Block Island Summer” with the Joe Parillo Ensemble, and “Autumn Leaves” with Dave Rasmussen Jazz Orchestra.
Dave has Performed tours and clinics in Europe, and has worked as a Composer and Performer on various jingles.
Some European Concerts and Clinics includes: Roccella Jazz Festival / Clinics with the Dave Howard Calabrese 5tet Project, Cortale’ Jazz festival, Calabria, Italy. Umbria Jazz Clinics with Berklee College of Music, Umbria, Italy and The Pepperoncino Jazz Festival , Calabria, Italy.
Dave leads his group THE DAVE HOWARD INITIATIVE in high energy live performances and recordings of contemporary jazz/funk original compositions.
Dave’s new CD release is “INFINITE BLU” featuring a great group of musicians, six vocalists and all new compositions.
For more than 15 years the Grammy-nominated, saxophonist, flutist and composer Greg Abate has been making his way from his home in Rhode Island to Taos to perform. The jazz musician is back again with friends John Rangel on piano, Andy Zadrozny on acoustic bass, and Pete Amahl on drums. They will be playing jazz standards, originals and bebop.
Abate and friends will appear Wednesday (Dec. 14), 6:30 p.m., in the Adobe Bar at The Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. There is no cover charge for this show.
After graduating from Berklee College of Music in the mid-1970s, Abate played lead alto sax for the Ray Charles Orchestra for two years. He went on to form the popular New England group, Channel One, and to play tenor sax with the Artie Shaw Orchestra under Dick Johnson’s leadership (1986-87).
Recalling his time with the Ray Charles Orchestra, Abate said it was a very good learning experience for him to travel to different countries in Europe and Eastern Europe and to experience people in different countries.
“That was a big experience for me,” Abate recalls.
In 1991, Abate recorded his first CD “Live At Birdland NYC” on the Candid Jazz Label. Since then, Abate has made 17 additional recordings as a band leader.
Another memorable experience for Abate was playing with his musical idol, saxophonist Phil Woods.
In early 2016, “Kindred Spirits: Live at Chan’s” was released as a joint album by Woods and Abate. In a review for “All About Jazz,” Edward Blanco wrote, “Captured live at Chan’s Jazz & Blues Music Club in Rhode Island, ‘Kindred Spirits’ documents two royals of the alto saxophone joining forces for, what would become, one of the last recordings jazz icon Woods would ever make as he goes out in blistering boppish fashion.” Woods died on Sept. 29, 2015.
“I just loved his playing so much. He was so perfect, and so creative…. Someone you look up to and learn from. I learned a lot from him.” Abate commented on Woods.
Musically, Abate said Woods taught him about the importance of leaving space in a solo. Woods also gave him lessons about the music business and life in general. Abate credits Woods for teaching him “to be real and expect to have good stuff happen, to be firm with the business and try not to fluctuate too much on what you want, [and to be] strong with your ideas.”
Though he has played R&B and funk, Abate found his niche in jazz bebop which he considers to be “like freedom of speech in music.”
“As long as your technique can do what you’re thinking and what you can hear in your head, you’re on your way to constant invention of things because there’s no end to it,” said Abate.
“It’s a challenging form. I’m passionate about it because it’s very interesting to me and it makes me feel good when I play it. It’s a challenge and it’s also sort of Zen-like to me. I feel like it’s a heavy meditation to play jazz the way I do it. It’s really very enjoyable,” Abate said. “I never get bored doing it. It’s always fun and it’s a challenge to make it different every time.”
“I have an individual style,” Abate commented. “It’s high energy, passionate, post bebop jazz, but I also play a modern way, too … I bring an original palette of music to people.”
That style has been noted by music critics like Chicago Tribune’s, Howard Reich, who wrote, “Abate is not content to rely on stock bebop riffs and standard chord progressions. Rather, the sharp angularity of his phrases and the often startling pauses in his fast-moving lines give his work a feeling of constant invention and creativity.”
Abate holds a position as an adjunct professor of jazz studies at Rhode Island College and teaches master workshops when he travels. “Teaching puts a creative spin on my life because I can teach what I do, and then I learn from what I teach and I learn from doing it,” said Abate.
For the past decade, Abate has toured in England in the month of November. This year, he was there for 19 days and played 21 different gigs as the guest artist with 21 different rhythm sections at a variety of venues, festivals and workshops.
At other times of the year, Abate travels when he has a break from teaching, or will take a long weekend to tour. He performs throughout the U.S. and Canada and has spent time in France, Germany and Italy in recent years. In 2016, Abate was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame.
Abate also will perform Dec. 15-17 at the Taos Trail Inn, 35309 U.S. 285 in Ojo Caliente. The Thursday night show comes with a buffet dinner for a $20 cover. For reservations or information, call (505) 583-9215.
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