More than 10 years ago, my former boss at work, Michael Donaldson (an inveterate 45 collector), brought me a little something he picked up at a thrift store. It was super rare 45 of a New York-based vocal trio named The Three Graces singing a song dedicated to their latest heartthrob, Larry Applebaum. I was startled to see the title of the recording, issued by Golden Crest in 1960, written by Cy Levitan.
It has many of the characteristic pop sounds of the day: jangly guitars, sax solo, vocal harmony and several very catchy hooks. It’s taken me many years to find a clean copy, so I’m grateful to Jeff Krulik, Gary Levine and Lee Michael Demsey for tracking it down for me. I now have my new closing theme for my radio show!
Multi-instrumentalist and educator Steve Wilson is busier than ever these days. He’s got his own group and has appeared on more than 150 recordings from duets to big bands. In addition to being a much-in-demand clinician, Wilson teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University, the City College of New York and the Juilliard School. His most recent release as a leader was Live in New York: The Vanguard Sessions (Random Act), and his next vinyl-only release Sit Back, Relax, & Unwind (J.M.I.) is due out later this year. We carved out some focused listening time at the Watergate Hotel prior to Maria Schneider’s Orchestra sound check at the Kennedy Center.
“Bounce Parts I & II” from Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere (Waterbaby Music). Smith, drums; Kris Bowers, keyboard; Fima Ephron, electric bass; Jeremy Most, guitar; Jaleel Shaw, alto saxophone; Chris Potter, tenor saxophone. Recorded in 2014.
Lisa Fischer has long been considered a singer’s singer. She won her first Grammy in 1991 for her hit “How Can I Ease the Pain,” but in years since, she’s become a go-to, first-call backing vocalist, sharing the stage with many of the biggest names in business, including The Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Sting and more than two decades with the late Luther Vandross. The 2013 Oscar-winning documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom reminded audiences of her prodigious vocal skills and helped revitalize her career as a solo artist. We caught up with Ms. Fischer on the last day of her sold-out weekend at Blues Alley. Her perceptive comments were offered with insider’s insights punctuated by joyous laughter.
Gregory Porter & Common
“Running” (from Refugee Song, LLC). Curated and Produced by Keyon Harrold and Andrea Pizzicone; Lyrics by Andrea Pizzicone, Keyon Harrold, Common; Music by Keyon Harrold and Jasson Harrold. Recorded in 2016.
Before: I feel transported, like I’m traveling through space. I might get the feeling of being lost but there’s something about this voice makes me feel safe. Continue reading →