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Nancy Valentine - Lovesome

Nancy Valentine front page photoLovesome is the name of Nancy Valentine’s current album and we would love some more of that and if you are patient you are going to get more, because she has already recorded five songs for another album. On the cover of her album it says Nancy Valentine sings the music of Billy Strayhorn, to which we might add, she sings it pretty well.

The album opens up with Boris Kozlov’s double bass introducing Ms. Valentine’s exquisite vocals as she coos “You Better Know It,” a song by Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, with a new arrangement by John di Martino. There is a sultry tone to Nancy Valentine’s vocals that is further enhanced by her “in the moment” phrasing. Harry Allen (tenor saxophone) and Joe Magnarelli (trumpet) take turns soloing. The song also lends itself to Valentine showing off her scatting chops.

The torchiness, if the readers will permit us to invent that word, is evident throughout Nancy Valentine’s interpretation of Billy Strayhorn’s “So This Is Love,” as she is accompanied elegantly by John di Martino on piano.

“It (the album) didn’t start as a tribute to Strayhorn. I like to get that out of the way. I am just an interpreter of this fabulous music written by the composer Billy Strayhorn and that has surrounded my life.  I have tried to find as many of his songs as possible that resonate with me and to bring them to the public and to have him stand on his own separate from Ellington. This is what it grew into. We didn’t have enough music to fill a CD (originally), so it was through research, study and meeting other people that I found all of this.

Now it is a bittersweet situation and it is also a tribute to the work and perseverance and love for the craft of engineering from Jim Czak, who worked with me meticulously on the vocals for this. He made sure we would talk about the intent of the song and the intent of what Strayhorn might have thought at the time that he was writing. He (Czak) made sure I got out of myself and into the composer. He and I worked wonderfully together for a long period of time as finances would permit (Editor’s note – Jim Czak who served as the sound engineer for Lovesome passed away  Read More

Pegi Young Releases RAW

Pegi Young Photo Front PagePegi Young’s new album RAW featuring her band The Survivors opens with the plaintive song “Why,” a question one party or the other always seems to be left asking when a divorce takes place. RAW is Young’s musical chronicle of her journey through divorce from Neil Young. “Why,” a song written by Kelvin Holly, Spooner Oldham and Pegi Young asks the question “Why’d you have to ruin my life?” The song looks through the eyes of the one being left and she wants to know why he avoided the hard questions and she says he was not straight with her. The playing of Holly, Oldham and newcomer, bassist Shonna Tucker is perfectly balanced and serves as a fine accompaniment to Young’s vocals.

Guitarist Kelvin Holly has performed and / or recorded with Little Richard, Bobby Blue Bland and Gregg Allman to name a few. He also was a studio musician at Muscle Shoals. Keyboardist Spooner Oldham was also part of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm section and he has played on such iconic songs as Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman,” and Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally.” He co-wrote  “Cry Like a Baby,” for The Box Tops and “I’m Your Puppet,” recorded by James and Bobby Purify, a tune that rose to # 5 on the charts. Shonna Tucker played with the Drive By Truckers and appears on records by Booker T. Jones and Bettye LaVette.

As for the album RAW, Pegi Young says, “When (the album) was done and I was listening to it as I was driving down the road one day, I thought shoot this is like the soundtrack of the stages of grief. It was all over the map emotionally as I was for a good amount of time after things changed as dramatically as they did.

I was fishing around for a title in my head and in the band we were talking about it and again one day I was driving down the road and RAW (came to mind). This is just raw emotion, pretty unfiltered. I threw that name out there and everybody seemed to think that it was apropos. It stuck. My friend Eric Johnson who was our tour manager for years and who continued on with Neil in the ensuing years did all of the package art. He is also a good musician. He captured the starkness of some of the lyrics and of that moment in time and of feeling really raw.” Read More


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian Photo One

 

Photo by Daniel Smith, courtesy of STX Entertainment
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Fashion Designer Pamela Quinzi

Pamela Quinzi Photo FivePamela Quinzi, a fashion designer originally from Rome, Italy, via Milan and who now makes her home in New York City, is considered to be one of the rising young stars on the international fashion scene. Her collection of couture shoes, Kilame is popping up in boutiques in Beverly Hills and in New York City and since there are no two shoes exactly alike you can also contact Pamela Quinzi directly through her website and follow her on the official Kilame Facebook page. Pamela Quinzi also has an accessories collection, but her main focus right now is Kilame. In the past she has collaborated with some of the world’s leading designers and fashion houses to design dresses, handbags and other accessories and she still does create new designs for dresses, jewelry and accessories. Kilame however is her baby and she works feverishly day and night to grow the international presence of her brand (the shoes) and it has earned her the nickname Cinderella of New York.

During our recent conversation Quinzi was in the southern part of Italy on the coast of the Adriatic Sea for a month where she works closely with manufacturers, creating new styles and in May she will be heading back to Los Angeles for the second time in 2017.

“I had been before to LA for traveling and for checking out everything, but this was the first time for the collection to be in LA and a whole new world opened up to me.  I will be in New York and then in Los Angeles for a month in May. I will be with the showroom (in Los Angeles) that is representing the shoes for all of the celebrities. We had a connection with the Oscars through Blanca Blanco the actress. We are (making connections) every day in photoshoots and we have other Read More

Jenny Jones - Blondies Recipe

Blondies Recipe front page photoJenny Jones hosted her own nationally syndicated talk show but that was just one of many jobs that Jenny has held, including waitress, bookkeeper, author, comedian, musician, singer, songwriter, caterer and chef.

Jenny Jones Easy One Bowl Blondies

You only need 3 tablespoons of butter for these yummy, chewy bars. Toasting the pecans makes a huge difference in taste and there’s almost no cleanup if you line your pan with foil. Do not overmix or overbake. - Jenny Jones

Prep Time: 12 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Makes:       16 servings

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons butter, melted & cooled

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 

Read More

October Wish from Australia

October Wish front page photoSarah Gurry and Matt Leffanue from Melbourne, Australia comprise the musical duo October Wish who just released their first album Grief And Grace. If you are looking for a reference point for their music you are going to find that a little more difficult genre wise, because they do an excellent job of blurring those lines, while keeping the songwriting and the music at a high level. There is a little bit of Blue Rodeo’s “Try,” in their music, a touch of Matchbox Twenty’s “3 AM,” a dash of another Melbourne, Australia band, Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” and a smidgen of Coldplay, reflected Gurry and Leffanue’s songwriting.

The production quality on Grief And Grace is excellent with producer Michael Oliphant at the helm. Oliphant who is also a superb keyboardist, singer and songwriter is well-respected by those in the Australian music community.

Sarah Gurry talks about their music, “Because we took so much time (the album was recorded over three years) and we weren’t scared to take time with it we didn’t race any of the songs over the line. I think it has a natural breath about it and sometimes it opens up into orchestral moments that really just showed us what they wanted us to do. Probably one of the best examples is the song that we just debuted as a clip (“Caught Up In This Lie”). Going into the recording process we thought we would have to rewrite it. Matt at one point wanted to ditch it. My partner Johnny was saying that’s my favorite song. You’ve got to keep it going. We got to a point where we said it is what it is and let’s not touch it. Let’s record it exactly how it is and let’s have fun with it. By letting it breathe it became its own thing and I think it showed us Read More

Lene Fogelberg - Beautiful Affliction

Lene Fogelberg Front Page PhotoIt almost does not seem appropriate to refer to Lene Fogelberg as an author, because that moniker almost sounds too distant, too formal, for the young Swedish woman, for really she is a storyteller and that has a much warmer feel to it, as does her book, Beautiful Affliction A Memoir. Not many people write their Memoir when they are still thirty-something, but Lene Fogelberg has already lived a lifetime and more. Her story begins as a young child in Sweden when the doctors determined that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her health and how throughout her life when it became apparent that something was going on inside of her and that she could not do even the simplest of activities without tiring quickly, that indeed something was wrong. This is also a love story, about the love of Lene and her husband Anders who met when Lene was twelve years old and he was fourteen. It is the love of a family, their two young daughters and Lene and Anders’ parents. It is about how Anders’ job transfer to America for the briefest period of time, slightly more than a year, became the catalyst in enabling doctors to discover that if Lene did not have open heart surgery quickly that she would die.

Like no other book that we have ever read before Beautiful Affliction A Memoir will have you crying, will have you believing once again that miracles really do happen and will have you grow in admiration of Lene Fogelberg and be moved by her husband’s devotion to her. The book also ends on a bit of a funny note, but we will leave that for the readers to discover for themselves.  Read MoreRead More

Scott Tarulli New Album

Scott Tarulli front page photoWhen a big name performer utilizes quality musicians to accompany their performances the contributions of their sidemen and women can sometimes get overlooked when the glare of the spotlight is on the featured performer. There is also however, another train of thought and that is smart and talented artists surround themselves with people who make them look good and often give them a lot of space, so their talents can be showcased as well. Scott Tarulli falls into the latter category and he has recorded with and / or shared the stage with the likes of, Jerry Marotta, Tony Levin, Mark Egan, Ira Coleman, Nile Rodgers, Steve Gadd, Abe Laboriel, The Temptations, Bernard Purdie, Chuck Rainey, Peter Eldridge and Guthrie Govan.

Scott Tarulli has also released three solo albums, Transitions in 2002, September in Boston Live in 2004 and the 2012 release of Anytime, Anywhere. There is also a fourth album in the works for 2017.

In addition, to being a very good guitarist and composer, Scott Tarulli teaches at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Scott Tarulli’s story begins in Medina, Ohio where his family lived until Tarulli was ten years old. At that point they moved to Boston and he has lived in the Boston area ever since. Read More

Nilla Nielsen Releases New Album

Nilla Nielsen Photo Front PageSinger, songwriter, musician and suspense novelist Nilla Nielsen may be the best kept secret outside of Sweden or at least to North American music fans. The very congenial Swede has just released a brand new album Good Day and it opens with a fabulous the fabulous title song. It starts out slowly, before hitting stride as a mid-tempo song and Nielsen’s vocals are backed by strong musicians, Bengt Johnson on drums, Niklas Ekelund (electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin), Erik Urban on bass, Tomas Pettersson on Hammond organ and Nilla Nielsen also plays harmonica.

Nielsen describes “Destination Unknown,” in this way, “It is about a true adventure. I was traveling around in Sweden with my best girlfriend at the time and we met so many wonderful people. When I sing this line about, “Angels in worn out shoes,” it was a homeless person that we met on the street and it just moved us. We had a very special connection. The song is about us traveling around, all of the meetings, how open the feeling was, how open the world was and how it felt. We were never alone. It doesn’t matter where you are, (because) it is about who you are there with.”

Most of the songs on the album were both mixed and mastered by Nilla Nielsen, with the exception of a couple of them that are from older recordings, but she mastered those ones as well in her own studio. Good Day, the album, showcases Nielsen’s ability to easily transcend genre boundaries.  Read More

Elisabetta Russo

Elisabetta Russo front page imageElisabetta Russo is an Italian soprano soloist and Opera star who was born in Bari in the Puglia region of Italy and who grew up in Calabria in the town of Cariati. She now makes her home in Los Angeles, California and recently she received her green card. She has performed with some of Europe’s and North America’s most well-known members of the music community including, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster and Renato Bruson.

Describing her childhood she says, “It is a beautiful city in the Calabria region. I had a loving childhood and I was raised in a very loving family who always supported me. Living in Cariati it was nothing short of an amazing privilege, because I was incredibly lucky to play by the sea, inspired by nature and the coastline. I was twelve years old when my father brought home a magazine, along with a Classical CD of the opera Aida by Giuseppe Verdi. I fell in love with the story, but most of all with the beautiful music. It was my soundtrack for the whole next month. I just couldn’t stop listening to it.

I used to sing Pop music as a child, but then I am an old soul and Rossini, Verdi and Puccini were the right companions for the musical adventure that I was about to start.”

During her youth Elisabetta Russo played Classical piano and she also took vocal lessons. She later auditioned for the S. Cecilia Conservatory of Music in Rome, from which she graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor degree in Vocal Art and she also has a Master’s degree cum laude in  Read More

Anna Danes Has Found Her Wings

Photo front page Imagine if you will for a moment living in three different countries by the time you are eleven years old and having to escape the first one under the guise of a vacation. Then you achieve scholastic excellence in your new found home, begin a promising career as an attorney, give it all up for love and move to a fourth country. As a single parent you think you are giving your child a gift by providing her with singing lessons, she stubbornly refuses to take part in them and then magic, at the suggestion of the vocal coach you take the rest of the lessons and you launch a career as a Jazz singer, topped off by recording your most recent album in the very same studio where Frank Sinatra once recorded. It sounds a little farfetched I know, except all of this really happened and it could not possibly have happened to a more deserving person than the warm and gracious Jazz singer Anna Danes, who now makes her home in San Diego, California. This is only part of Anna Danes’ story, read further and you will discover a courageous lady who is always looking forward, who does not dwell on the disappointments of the past and who just released her second album.  

Anna Danes’ story begins in Gdansk, Poland, “Life (in Poland) was certainly very, very different than it is here, especially on the economic side of things and with personal freedoms, because there were none.  It was the time of the communist regime in Poland and so things were scarce and you had to fight to survive every day.  You couldn’t leave the country, unless the government gave you permission to leave the country.  You couldn’t speak your mind and if you could speak your mind it could backfire and it would affect your  Read More

Design by Moises Nieto

Moses Nieto Photo One

Photo by Sabado De Frebrero, Courtesy of image.net

Gypsy Soul - 20 Years of Great Music

Gypsy Soul 2016 front page photoGypsy Soul, the husband and wife duo of Roman Morykit and Cilette Swan, augmented by an assortment of musicians, just announced the North American release of their new album, simply titled True. It is their thirteenth recording and the songwriting, instrumentals, vocals and production capture the essence of this superbly talented and equally congenial twosome. There are no weak links with this collection of eleven songs.    

When asked to reflect upon the fact that Gypsy Soul has established a musical legacy that has endured for almost twenty years, Roman Morykit says, “It is interesting, because I have never even given it a lot of thought. It is just one of the things that we do, it is like breathing. It’s like it is time for another record, we have enough material. It is part of who we are and what we do. It is only when people like yourself who are friends and fans point out that we have made thirteen albums that we realize we have had a career of (almost) twenty years as Gypsy Soul. It will be twenty years next year.

Back to Cilette’s earlier point, it is short and time flies by and all of a sudden you are on number thirteen. It is astonishing to us actually that we have managed to keep doing this for this long.”

For the Oregon couple, the story of Gypsy Soul begins twenty-seven years ago in Edinburgh, Scotland.

That would make us twenty-nine now,” says Roman.

“I know we met as toddlers right,” chimes in Cilette, before recalling how they met, “I was in a band with Roman’s brother and that is how it all started. I had been living in France and I moved to Edinburgh. I went there on a little weekend trip and I fell in love with Edinburgh. I said to myself, I must live here and I made it happen.

I met Roman’s brother in a recording studio.  We started writing together.  Read More

Christine Flowers, Jazz & Mini Ninjas

Christine Flowers front page photoTake a white American girl who grew up in North Carolina and Georgia, and who attended the first integrated school in the state of Georgia, where many of her fellow students were the children of civil rights activists, mix that with listening to a healthy dose of Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy on Sunday mornings and she has now lived in Paris, France for most of her adult life and what do you get? You get a terrific Jazz singer named Christine Flowers, who is also a voice actress, and recently launched her own YouTube channel featuring weekly ten minute restorative and therapeutic yoga sessions. You also get a woman who knows who she is, has strong convictions concerning human rights and who appears to be very comfortable in her own skin.

Looking back Christine Flowers describes herself as, “I really am an artist and I was a failure at academics. I was so flighty and I was so daydreamy about other things, music and poetry and all of that stuff.  I didn’t (care) about anything else. I was just allergic to that stuff. The funny thing is when I finally got out of high school and had I not graduated out of a performing arts high school (she pauses) all of my credits were because I was a singer, an actress and a dancer or I don’t think that I would have graduated.

There were a few years that went by that all I did was act and sing. Then I decided to go back to university. I realized that I was quite good at studying and academics. It was a choice and I even got really interested in physics and astronomy. I found out I was really, really good at that, but the only thing was, I wasn’t good at math. I got my head around the theory about it, but I couldn’t go ahead in that discipline, because I didn’t have the head  Read More

Barbara Dennerlein - DVD / CD

Barbara Dennerlein fpBarbara Dennerlein one of the world’s most highly regarded organists and Jazz composers just released a brand new CD and DVD, My Moments, recorded live at Studio Acusticum in the northern Swedish town of Piteá. The original Jazz compositions are played on both the Hammond organ, for which she is more widely known and the pipe organ. The very congenial Dennerlein who has become a good friend of Riveting Riffs Magazine over the years spoke to us from her home in Germany and referred to this CD / DVD as her most personal recording so far.  

She explains why, “It is so pure. It is a solo situation. I am alone with both instruments. It is so personal. I think my personal style has developed over many, many years and it is very special. When you have a solo situation you can hear it more clearly. Also you can hear the little things. Very often when you have a drummer with you no matter how good he is it is always covering details from the organ sound. I do so many little things, because I love the sound and I love the colors that you can make and little changes. I like to experiment with sound and I can do this alone with my instruments. That is why I think it is my most personal one.

(Also), there is nobody else that you can hide behind. You have your own inspiration. I play the pedals very intensely, I have a whole band in a way, as I play with my feet the bass player’s work and I have both of my hands for comping and soloing. It gives me a lot of freedom and my style, which is very different from other organists, can be heard very clearly on the solo performance. It is wonderful and I just can let it go and it flows. I have a lot of inspiration and the two instruments are fascinating.

It is also only my music and my own compositions. It is only things that I wrote and I played. It is very wide ranging. There is a wonderful Blues (song) played on the Hammond organ and it is called “Bluesy,” and there are some Read More

 

 Design by Karla Spetic

Karla Spet Photo Two

Photo by Mark Nolan / Getty Images All Rights Reserved, protected by copyright  ©

 

Cindy Alexander and Deep Waters

Cindy Alexander Photo One BEarlier this year Cindy Alexander released her album Deep Waters, a collaborative effort with Colin Devlin of The Devlins. It is Cindy Alexander’s best album yet. It is a collection of songs that are original tunes, with two exceptions a cover of “Heaven’s Wall,” by The Devlins and Jann Arden’s “Good Mother.”

The new album opens with Cindy Alexander covering “Heaven’s Wall,” a 1990s song by the Irish band The Devlins, from their 1997 album Waiting. She has always had a good voice, but this song fits very well with Alexander’s vocals and her phrasing is excellent. As the song builds to a crescendo at the 2:30 mark Cindy Alexander’s connection with this song is evident as she repeats the chorus “Come on, take my hand, we’ll rise above it all / Then we can meet as planned outside of heaven’s wall.” 

“When I was going through Colin’s material, before we were going to start writing together, I was listening to his music and I came across this song. It is a Devlin’s song from the ‘90s and it hooked me. I loved the groove and I loved that the beat was relentless, but there was this slow and steady build. It kept going through my head and it was an earworm. When it came time to put the songs together I thought it would be nice to cover one of his songs. I love the guitar solo by Colin,” says Alexander.

The album Deep Waters was difficult for us to get through the first time and only because each of the songs is so well presented that the tendency is just to keep replaying them, before finally convincing yourself to move on to the next song.

The current album originally started out with the premise that there would be a series of EPs with different songwriters and producers with which Cindy Alexander would collaborate. Colin Devlin was one of them.

“It is completely the brainchild of  Read More

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