Saturday, July 27, 2013

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at new CDs from Tony Bennett /Dave Brubeck, Paolo Fresu and Roberto Magris...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Music from the cat in the hat

Gregory Porter
Think of all the jazz greats who have worn distinctive hats through the years. Count Basie, Lester Young, Abbey Lincoln, Jon Hendricks and Marcus Miller are but a few. Be sure to add rising vocal star Gregory Porter to the list. His ever-present style is a Kanga Summer Spiftfire cap worn over a head and neck wrap.

During my interview with Porter for a profile published in the August issue of Hot House, the singer-songwriter said the hat has become his “vibe” since he moved to the Big Apple eight years ago. Get his thoughts on his music – and the hat – here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Wonderful irony - jazz-style

John Hampton Wagner with
Tommy Goodman and bassist Dominic Mancini
You can never be sure what to expect at a jam session, but it is always nice when previously unknown talent rolls into the venue. Tonight, it was John Hampton Wagner, a Ramada Inn Tuesday jam session first-timer, who drew rave audience response with his takes on "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "What a Wonderful World."

Wagner, who goes by the nickname Hamp, is a singer and trumpeter from Dayton, Ohio, where he emcees Sunday Night Jazz Central Jams. After visiting southwest Florida regularly for the past 10 to 12 years, Wagner said he and his wife bought a home in Venice FL and plan to split their year between Ohio and southwest Florida.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thanks again, Dad...

As it turned out, this past Father’s Day was the last such holiday that I got to spend with my dad. He passed away peacefully in the hours of July 10, family at his side, after more than six months of significant health issues.
Doug Franckling
Father's Day 2013

It’s been said that a young boy’s first hero is his father. In most cases, I think that’s true. But I can only speak from experience. When we were much younger, before we went off to grammar school, a day seemed to last a lifetime rather than whiz by as they do now.
A good part of those long early 1950s weekdays was spent at play – and waiting for dad to come home from work so we could do what dads and sons do together. He’d putter around in the garage or fix things, and I’d be the apprentice with lots of questions. So many questions that my grandfather nicknamed me “Questions.” Or I’d hang around the volunteer fire station with Dad as he did what needed to be done in our village in upstate New York.

One Saturday, he introduced me to what became a lifelong love of freshwater fishing. We caught a 14-inch rainbow trout that morning. Actually, he caught it – but he told everyone else that I was the lucky angler. Dad was like that. But I was luckier than he knew.

He was a man of few words – but spoke volumes through his everyday examples of how to live a life. Work hard, support and nurture your family, enjoy your friends, stretch your creativity and interests…. and seize every opportunity to travel – with Mom. (They made it to all 50 states).

That was Dad. And I thank him again for those lessons.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Digging into the jazz side of Raphael Ravenscroft

It’s one of rock and roll’s most distinctive and memorable saxophone riffs – ever. In fact, many would argue the sax work was primarily responsible for transforming Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” into a mega hit.

Rafferty and producer Hugh Murphy had considered a variety of instruments for the tune’s long instrumental break. Young U.K. saxophonist Raphael Ravenscroft got the call and laid down the bluesy riff for what became the featured track on Rafferty’s 1978 album City to City.  

"Baker Street" catapaulted Ravenscroft's productive career as a respected studio musician, saxophone technique book author, composer and film music scorer. After the Baker Street success, he went on to be featured on recordings by Alvin Lee, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, Marvin Gaye, ABBA, Kim Carnes, Mike Oldfield, Mary Hopkin, Bonnie Tyler, Roger Waters, Willie & The Poor Boys, and Phil Collins' Brand X, among others.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Keeping jazz relevant - tune by tune

I love it when jazz musicians find a way to make their music relevant to the moment. Take last night’s edition of the weekly jam session at the Ramada Inn in Venice FL. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at new CDs from Pascal Le Boeuf, Marc Cary and the Classic Jazz Trio…