Join vocalist Shawnn Monteiro on her birthday with the Mike Renzi Trio, featuring fellow WCS artists Dave Zinno (bass) and Steve Langone (drums)
Mike Renzi was music director and pianist for Tony Bennett for a few years, including his recording with Lady Gaga, and also was music director at Sesame Street for a decade or more. He toured with Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, Mel Torme and many others, including a few weeks with Frank Sinatra.
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On Saturday Jan 25th at Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining WCS artists will present a musical tribute to our dearly departed friend and colleague Debra Mann featuring Debra’s bandmates and Whaling City artists Dino Govoni, David Zinno and Steve Langone. The band will also feature Brad Hatfield on piano and Dane Vannatter on vocals. The band will carry on Debra’s annual tribute to the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim as well as some of Debra’s originals and other favorites.
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“NO BOUNDARIES” by DAVE BASS (Whaling City Sound) The third album from pianist Dave Bass continues a unique storyline, as a wrist injury 20 years ago had forced him to put music aside, and become an attorney. But in more recent years he was drawn back into music, and eventually gave up his legal practice to become a full-time musician. Bass composed eight of the tunes here, with another five covers, and his melodic imagination and vibrant technique really makes this album glow. Bass works with a core quartet here, with Ted Nash on flutes, saxes and clarinets, Carlos Henriquez on bass and Jerome Jennings on drums, with three of the cuts substituting a trio of Latin percussionists for the drummer. In general the album is a tasty mix of mainstream jazz with Latin accents. “Lennie’s Pennies,” from Lennie Tristano, opens the CD with kinetic swing that is just a hint of what’s to come. The sax provides the mystery and sex appeal to “Spy Movie End Credits” while Bass crafts the buoyant foundation. Jazz singer Karrin Allyson guests on two standards – a lilting, Latin-flavored run through Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “If I Loved You” and the Bass original “Time of My Life.” It feels like a South American party has broken out on “La Mulata Rumbera,” and the layered woodwinds on “Tango Adagio” highlight one of Bass’ most lovely melodic themes. Bass has some fantastic two-handed ability, like on “Neither Have I Wings,” where the steady comping of his left hand is so contrasted by the brightly skittering melody of his right hand, you’re convinced it’s more than one pianist…
“STORIES TOLD” by DAVE ZINNO’S UNISPHERE (Whaling City Sound) Bassist Zinno and his quintet do a fine job here of incorporating edgy jazz with their Brazilian influences, and Zinno’s love of Rio is an obvious factor throughout–which is a good thing. Five of the tunes here are penned by band members, while four more are covers. Unisphere includes Zinno on bass, Mike Tucker on tenor sax, Eric “Benny” Bloom on trumpet and flugelhorn, Tim Ray on piano, and Rafael Barata on drums. The peppy jazz/samba “Neurotico” kicks things off by showcasing all the players. “Larrytown,” written by Zinno about a Rio neighborhood, deftly portrays the hustle-bustle and multi-colored hues of the city, over a lovely piano foundation, before bursting out in a torrid sax sprint. One remarkable piece is Ray’s arrangement of the Beatles’ ballad “Michelle,” which gets a bit of a bop interpretation, and shimmering harmonic explorations, before the trumpet brings it home with a gradual return to that timeless melody. Tucker’s “Requiem,” written for his late father, is stately and melancholy, but its bluesy theme also resolves into hope, as if in gratitude for having known this person. Zinno’s “Backup” is the kind of toe-tapping swing you can’t find much these days, and the band’s rendition of Jobim’s “Triste” is gorgeous exhilaration…
“BRIGHT IDEA” by GREG MURPHY TRIO (Whaling City Sound) It’s been a good year for dynamic piano trios, none more so than Murphy’s, which includes bassist Eric Wheeler, and Wynton Marsalis cohort Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts on drums. Murphy is a Chicago native whose jazz journey took him, over four decades, from his home to New Orleans, then New York City, where addiction overcame him, and then back to Chicago to clean up, and finally back to the Big Apple. He had a lengthy association with legendary drummer Rashied Ali, and then also bassist Reggie Workman, which accounts for his solid background in the music associated with John Coltrane. So many jazz players are technically advanced and conceptually daring, but just not appealing to a listener. But Murphy is a sterling example of avoiding that pitfall, for no matter how dazzling his technique or far afield his themes go, they are always tuneful and accessible. The rapid sprint through “Softly As in a Morning Sunrise” is a bop showcase, with a hot drum solo in its midst. Murphy includes a handful of pop covers here, proving he doesn’t take himself too seriously, and the electric piano-centered take on Pharell Williams’ huge hit “Happy” is funky but enhanced from the original. The title cut “Bright Idea” kind of careens out of the gate, but despite the breakneck pace, Murphy’s articulation is flawless, as he crafts a thickly textured theme evocative of McCoy Tyner. The intriguing midtempo number “Well, Of All Things,” could be a movie all by itself, with so many things going on melodically. And a recently discovered Coltrane piece, “Untitled Original 11383,” begins as a 12-bar blues before going off into all sorts of tangents, but Murphy deftly keeps it on track and driving forward throughout…
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