Pianist/Composer Silvio Amato delivers a remarkable beautiful album titled, "Variations of Relevance" produced by Grammy Award Winner Jimmy Haslip. Featuring guest appearances by The Budapest Symphony Orchestra, trumpeter Randy Brecker and many other talented musicians on this Jazz Crossover release.
After an intensive career as a young pianist working for important pop Italian singers in Catania, his birth town, Amato moved to Milan in the mid-’80s, where he continued his work as a composer and an arranger. During this time, Amato began to collaborate with a variety of pop artists; his musical productions extended to a wide range of sectors, but the television-cinematographic one received the most focus. Among his productions, the most significant ones are his compositions for children’s TV shows of the Italian network, Mediaset.
Just as remarkable are his productions of all genres for the main national networks: theme songs for prime time shows and newscasts, TV shows and soap operas, sit-coms and TV movies. Amato’s productions also include numerous movie soundtracks, such as for the movies “I Mitici” (“The Heroes”) by Carlo Vanzina, “Svitati” (“Screw Loose”) with Mel Brooks, “Ti voglio bene Eugenio” (“Eugenio, I love you”) with Giuliana De Sio and Giancarlo Giannini, and the soundtrack for Jerry Calà’s “Torno a vivere da solo” in 2008 and “Operazione Vacanze”, in 2011. Amato frequently collaborated with spotlighted artists in the Italian music scene, who have appeared at various points in time at the Sanremo Music Festival: “Ti penso” composed for Massimo Ranieri for the 42nd edition of the Sanremo Festival and “Amoreunicoamore” sung by Mina in her 2010 album “Caramelle”, among others.
In 2005 Amato began his collaboration with the Wild Rose Company in London, and was commissioned to compose music for their dance shows on ice. His compositions for Snow White on ice (2005), Peter Pan on ice (2006) and Beauty and the Beast on ice (2007) were sensationally successful for both critics and audience. In the last few years, Amato’s creative activity has taken various paths: on one side, his cinematographic compositions; on the other, his productions for orchestras and musical ensembles. The latter category includes his Religious Cantata for voice, chorus and symphonic orchestra, his Ricercare in re minore for the sax, soprano, and organ, composed for the duo Tagliaferri-Sciddurlo, and his The Happy Prince, a musical tale for instrumental ensemble and voice over. This last work, created in March 2006, was published by Feltrinelli-Curci within the project “arte solidale” in collaboration with ACLI. This opera was performed by the Instrumental Ensemble Scaligero (directed by Flavio Emilio Scogna and by Gabriele Lavia, voice over), who, in the summer of 2007 performed, The Happy Prince in Japan. In 2009 the opera was performed in various Italian theatres. Also in 2007, in collaboration with the Ambrogino d’Oro, a children show founded in 1964, Amato participates with the song “Dino and Tino”, that was awarded the first prize.
In 2009, Amato moved to the USA where he began various collaborations in the cinematographic, theatrical, and TV sectors. The opera “Religious Cantata” that was initially developed in Italy towards the end of 2008, was finally produced, and much acclaimed, in 2011 in Boston, with the title “Illuminessence, prayers for peace”. This piece marked the closing of the events in memory of the victims of 9/11 in New York. The opera was performed by the orchestra and choir “The NEC Youth Philharmonic”, directed by Benjamin Zander. The concert was broadcast on air by WGBH nation-wide and was streamed world-wide
Keyboard wizard, multi-instrumentalist and composer Cody Carpenter delivers a stunning progressive album titled, "Control". This is Cody's third Blue Canoe Records release and it features guest appearances from Jimmy Haslip, Scott Seiver, Virgil Donati, Junior Braguinha, and Jimmy Branly.
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“Reflections from Dave Pope”
This project, which is my first commercial recording, has come to fruition much too late in life in life but better late than never. Juggling family life, a career in banking, and a music career on multiple instruments has been quite an endeavor but one I would not trade for anything. I made a conscious decision in my early twenties to choose a dual career path, knowing the challenge would be to do justice to both. Since then, I have committed to being the best musician I can be under the circumstances and have worked very, very hard at being able to “hang” with musicians at the level on this record.
There are several special aspects of this record worth mentioning. It is the debut recording of my brother Mike on piano, which is actually his “second”instrument. Primarily known as a virtuoso bass player, this record gives Mike the opportunity to make a musical contribution as a pianist and as you will hear, the contribution is remarkable. Also, it joins Mike with his mento on bass, John Patitucci of whom I have always been a big fan and am honored to have on the record.
This recording was tracked in two half-day sessions at Mike’s studio with virtually no pre-session planning. It was also mixed and mastered by Mike with the kind assistance of our brother Peter during tracking. The project was intentionally loose, spontaneous, and not overly produced. My objective was to have fun and document what was happening musically in our lives in the moment. More importantly, I hope you will have fun listening. - DAVE POPE
A native Southern Californian, Roger Burn was a multi-talented musician; a master vibraphonist, pianist/keyboard player, drummer/percussionist, singer, composer, arranger, meticulous music copyist, band leader & music publisher. He possessed perfect pitch and began playing the piano by ear at an early age. He began his career as a drummer, starting at the age of eleven. By the time he was fourteen, he quickly picked up the piano and soon after, the vibraphone.
He began practicing two hours a day, working his way up to five hours a day, at one point. He insisted on keeping his windows closed, even in hot summers, (with no air conditioning) as he was concerned - “I wouldn’t want someone walking by on the sidewalk to hear me while I’m practicing.” He was a perfectionist.
His high school band director, Ed Wolfe, describes Roger as being verbally “outgoing” and “perhaps not too subtle” as he recalls their first conversation:
“Mr. Wolfe, I’m Roger Burn. I play percussion, and I have a question. Can you improve this jazz program so that it will be as good as Robin Snyder’s at Bonita HS? If not, I’m going to transfer over there for my last two years.”
“Hello, Roger. Nice to meet you!”
“Roger and other students would come down to the apartment and play Risk. After the other students left, Roger would always ask questions about music theory. Sometimes he would stay quite late. His parents, Ed and Joyce seemed to always know where he was and did not seem to object, but since we had a Jazz Band rehearsal every morning at 6:30, I would have to ‘throw him out’ often so that we could get some sleep,” said Wolfe.
“He was not particularly interested in the traditional harmony of the common practice period, but when we talked about Twentieth Century techniques, his ears really perked up. He learned about tritone substitutions, extensions and altered chords, and suddenly there was an interest in learning to play piano as he was already becoming quite proficient on vibraphone,” relayed Wolfe.
Wolfe recalled, “He was not interested in learning technique from the Czerny book I provided, or practicing any of the “adult beginning” pieces I provided. He simply wanted to improvise and learn new chord voicings...(he was especially in love with the dominant seventh with a sharp nine or other altered variations he could use in the blues). He wanted to learn how to arrange, so I “loaned” him my Mancini Sounds and Scores textbook. He kept it for the rest of his life...So it began!”
“I did not learn until later that he had begun writing out (by hand) a fake book of jazz tunes that he called ‘The Good Book’. He was proud to exclaim to me that these tunes had ‘the right chords’ and were not like some of those other fake books. In addition to many of his favorite jazz standards (over 150 pages), are some 20 original compositions, some of which were performed by the San Dimas High School jazz combo. “Animal Blues” was written for his friend and bass player, Rusty Houts, and “Gerswintite” was an opportunity to show off some new chord voicings he liked,” said Wolfe.
“It was plain to see Roger was a musical prodigy,” said his sister, Elaine Burn. “He would sit daily with a pencil & ruler while he effortlessly re-wrote all the chord changes in the Real Book . He claimed ‘The chords are all wrong!’ ”
Wolfe recalls, “Those who spoke with Roger often may have observed that his life was basically one long run-on sentence, with no punctuation in site! He was opinionated, biased, driven and always outspoken, but he was also fiercely loyal, disciplined, caring and compassionate to those who he felt deserved it. He also had a great sense of humor and a sense of right and wrong ...Roger was right, and the rest of us ...had some work to do!”
Wolfe relates the following story, “Another time, in Reno, Roger did not make it back to the hotel from the Basie performance at the Pioneer Theater in time for curfew. I went back to the Pioneer and after some searching, found him backstage talking to some of the Basie sidemen....that was Roger!”
“In Roger’s senior year, he was leaning towards Cal State Northridge as a choice under the jazz direction of Joel Leach. He was particularly angry that freshmen would have to play in the marching band, frustrated by this, he chose to leave after only one year in the college program. The rest is basically known by all of his professional friends and acquaintances,” said Wolfe.
“Over the years, Roger and I remained close. I used him as a guest soloist with my bands, and he was fiercely loyal to me personally as an ‘educator who knew and did it the right way’. He was a good man, and I love him and miss him,” exclaimed Wolfe.
He studied with the best in the field - Freddie Gruber for drums and Victor Feldman for vibes. He was self-taught on the piano and keyboards, taking only one piano lesson!
He drew musical inspiration from the greats; Victor Feldman, Lionel Hampton and Red Norvo. He idolized Buddy Rich, Louie Belson and Steve Gadd. He was influenced by Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Oscar Petterson and Gershwin. His modern taste and appreciation included the Yellowjackets, especially Jimmy Haslip, bass player of Yellowjackets, producer & longtime friend, Pat Metheny, Sting, Quincy Jones, Bella Fleck and Peter Gabriel.
He began working professional gigs at the age of sixteen in Los Angeles. He would spend entire Saturdays hunting down rare jazz albums at Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, adding to his album collection of over 1,000 albums, all in alphabetical order.
He formed several bands and served as the bandleader. His first band, in the 1980s, was “Triple Spec.” The name referring to the music industry phrase, “on spec”, meaning that many projects are on speculation, thus “Triple Spec” was born. They played often at Cafe Cordiale on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Years later, he formed a new band, “Shapes”, which was a platform for his contemporary jazz compositions as well as for others in the band; Dave Derge (drums), Mike Higgins (guitar) and Andy Suzuki (saxophones & flute) and Dean Taba (bass.) His music was syncopated and sophisticated. He was constantly blazing his own trail.
Shapes performed in Jakarta at the Java Jazz Festival and then later, on the island of Bali, performing in Indonesia for two weeks. As part of a back up band for Indonesia's own, Dwiki Dharmawan for his 'World Peace Orchestra', he also performed again in Jakarta for the Java Jazz Festival, along with Shapes’ members Andy Suzuki, Tollak Ollestad, along with charter member on percussion, Walfredo Reyes, Jr., who played drumset.
He again played with the World Peace Orchestra at the Temecula Jazz Festival, joined by new Shapes member, Edwin Livingston, on bass. In addition, Jimmy Haslip, of the Yellowjackets & producer of all his albums, played with Shapes on bass, as well as Russ Ferrante on piano, from the Yellowjackets.
Highlights of his career include playing with The Brian Setzer Big Band, Chaka Khan, Lionel Ritchie, Stevie Nicks, Lou Vega, Barry Manilow & Ann Margaret, to name a few. He wrote charts for Mary J. Blige and numerous others.
He played vibraphones on the score of the Academy Award winning film “Sideways” starring Paul Giamatti.
Tragically, cancer took his life at the age of 46. Here’s what he said in his last blog;
“I will NOT shed this mortal coil until I'm satisfied that I've done all that I can, and ladies and gentlemen, I have ONLY begun to do what I feel that I'm called to do, which is to make music. All things considered, I feel VERY fortunate and yes, even an agnostic like myself, feels blessed, too. I'm surrounded by the love and support of so many friends, some of which I never knew even liked me!!!!”
He played and composed music to the very end! He toured Europe, Indonesia and had plans to return.
WE MISS YOU ROGER! We hope to honor you and your beautiful music that we all felt so blessed to hear, with this re-release of your last three albums! God rest your soul!
Elaine, Jimmy and Blue Canoe
Fromage is Atlanta-based pianist/ composer Randy Hoexter's second recording as a leader and Blue Canoe first. Randy’s vision was to chose a collection of cover songs, with the intent of re- inventing familiar material with a modern twist. However, instead of selecting deep and poetic material, Randy decided to take on the arguably greater challenge of "cheesy" pop songs. Once this concept was established, Randy interviewed many of his fellow musicians, did research, and dug into his own past to put this collection together.
Randy puts it like this:
"I did lots of research on surveys of the "worst songs" of all time, and certain titles kept popping up. These songs are part of the culture, especially for people my age. The goal here is not to make fun of these songs, but to take them seriously and do our best to make some modern art."
Once the material was selected, Randy went to work creating arrangements that both explored new harmonic and rhythmic areas but still honored the original themes and ideas in the songs. Many of the tunes were re-harmonized or given a new meter in order to take them in new directions. The timeless sound of Randy’s piano drives all the arrangements, and the majority of the charts feature a five- piece horn section with trumpet, saxophones, trombone and a signature bass clarinet. All of the instruments are brought forward at various times for solos and features.
These demanding, modern arrangements immediately brought to mind the talents of former Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip, who enthusiastically joined in. Legendary drummer Dave Weckl contributed three tracks as well. Randy also brought in a group of the Southeast's finest jazz players including saxophonist/multi woodwind virtuoso Sam Skelton, brilliant guitarist Trey Wright, Veteran session drummer Tom Knight and Cirque du Soleilpercussionist Kit Chatham.
Fromage, an elegant name for the everyday, sums up a recording that takes the listener to a new, and yet familiar place.
Randy Hoexter's Artist Page
Randy Hoexter's - "Fromage" Album Page
Blue Canoe artist, Hiroe Sekine, is back in the spotlight with her fourth release, "Hiroe's Spirit". With this bold effort, Ms. Sekine brings fresh, unique arrangements to jazz and classical songs in a very original way.
A native of Japan, pianist Hiroe Sekine has been living in the Los Angeles area since 1993, performing at many venues, festivals, and others, including the Jazz Concert Series at Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA) in 2014 and 2016. Ms. Hiroe studied jazz at University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. In 2010, Ms. Sekine's debut album, "a-mé", was named by "All About Jazz" as one of the 25 best albums of the year. Ms. Sekine's long-time musical relationship with Russell Ferrante of the YellowJackets continues on "Hiroe's Spirit" and the result is a classical crossover stunner. Over the years, she has worked with musical greats such as Bob Sheppard (Chick Corea, Steely Dan, Michael Brecker, Joni Mitchell), Tony Dumas (The Manhattan Transfer, Chick Corea, Etta James, Mariah Carey), Peter Erskine (Weather Report, Pat Metheny, John Scofield,) and Abraham Laboriel (Al Jarreau, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles) to name a few.
"Hiroe's Spirit" opens with a dramatic rendition of “Pavane pour une infante défunte” by French composer Maurice Ravel. It begins with Ms. Sekine hinting at the melody with her strong piano phrasing against a simple drum beat. Bob Sheppard floats to the front with his sax and takes over melodic duties before the listener is drawn in by spirited accompaniment with Michael Valerio (bass), James Tate (drums) and Akira Jimbo (shaker). Together they reach the summit with dramatically soaring sax ringing triumphantly in the end.
Another very original take on Spirit is Ms. Hiroe's version of Ave Maria. She chooses a very upbeat approach with riveting drum and bass intro. The great Abraham Laboriel contributes both electric bass and vocals in this unique approach to the standard. The changes in rhythmic patterns throughout the interpretation keep the listener engaged as Ms. Hiroe falls in with a breathtaking piano solo that will leave an audience wanting for more. At the end, all come together in a force of rocket-paced bass groove along with subdued vocals that magically just works. Creatively divine, indeed!
"Hiroe's Spirit" is an intelligent, stand-out creation that will not be matched this year. Take a ride with Hiroe Sekine's "Hiroe's Spirit" today....this one is not to be missed.
Cody Carpenter is at it again with his sophomore release “Force Of Nature” on Blue Canoe Records. This stunning instrumental prog-rock, fusion effort is the follow-up to the outstanding "Interdependence" (2018). This prolific songwriter and keyboardist has teamed up with some old friends and new to bring the listener into the prog glory days of Yes and Emerson Lake and Palmer.
Cody Carpenter is the son of Adrienne Barbeau, a star of film, television and the Broadway stage, and legendary Academy Award winning writer, actor, composer, producer and director John Carpenter. The Senior Carpenter is best know for classic horror films (Halloween, The Fog, The Thing) and sci-fi thrillers (Escape From new York, Starman). As a composer, he is known for synthesizer-based pieces and is perhaps best known for the theme song to the movie Halloween (1978). It is not difficult to see how Cody Carpenter comes by his synthesizer based compositions. Cody was introduced to his first musical instrument around the age of three and has been playing and composing original music ever since. In addition to contributing music for two of his father’s films, Vampires (1998) and Ghosts of Mars (2001), Carpenter composed and performed the full-length score for “Cigarette Burns” and “Pro-Life” in Showtime’s Masters of Horror (2005) movie series. Cody co-wrote, co-produced, and performed on the acclaimed Lost Themes (2015) and Lost Themes II (2016) with his father and Daniel Davies. In 2016 and 2017 Cody toured North America and Europe with his father and a six piece band, performing material from both Lost Themes albums and his father’s films. In 2018, Cody (along with John Carpenter and Daniel Davies), helped to compose the music for the latest Halloween movie released on October 19th, 2018, starring Jamie Lee Curtis.
Mr. Carpenter opens like a tornado with the expansive track "Transcendence". He plays all the instruments on this firestorm except the drums contributed by Grammy nominated (with Tenacious D) artist Scott Seiver (Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran). "Transcendence" pulls no punches and sets up Cody Carpenter's blistering pace for the rest of the "Force".
Cody brings in some friends on "Fantasy of Form". He rounds out the rhythm section with multi-Grammy winner Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets founding member). Mr. Carpenter starts things off with a bouncing keyboard lead and Grammy winner John Konesky (Tenacious D, John Carpenter) responds with a singing solo. Mr. Haslip lights things up with a riveting solo about midway through just before Mr. Carpenter takes over and brings things home. The interplay between rhythm section and the soaring keyboard work is mesmerizing.
Cody Carpenter’s "Force of Nature" is an incredible second effort. The years of absorbing the influence of his father and the fusion masters have certainly brought sonic fruit in this 50-minute demonstration of power. There is clearly no slowing down this "Force of Nature”.