Tag Archives: Michael Petrosino

APRIL IS THE COOLEST MONTH, or NEW YORK JOYS (2013)

Every time I get ready to declare, “OK, I will spend the rest of my life happily in California,” New York crooks a dainty finger at me and whispers, “Not so fast, fellow.  I have something for you.”

ny skyline

These are some of the musicians I was able to see, hear, and video during April 2013 — an incomplete list, in chronological order:

Svetlana Shmulyian, Tom Dempsey, Rob Garcia, Asako Takasaki, Michael Kanan, Michael Petrosino, Joel Press, Sean Smith, Tardo Hammer, Steve Little, Hilary Gardner, Ehud Asherie, Randy Reinhart, Mark Shane, Kevin Dorn, James Chirillo, Brian Nalepka, Dan Block, Danny Tobias, Matt Munisteri, Neal Miner, Catherine Russell, Jon-Erik Kellso, Lee Hudson, Lena Bloch, Frank Carlberg, Dave Miller, Billy Mintz, Daryl Sherman, Scott Robinson, Harvie S, Jeff Barnhart, Gordon Au, John Gill, Ian Frenkel, Lew Green, Marianne Solivan, Mark McLean, Dennis Lichtman, Tamar Korn, Raphael McGregor, Skip Krevens, Andrew Hall, Rebecca Kilgore, Dan Barrett, Scott Robinson, Pat O’Leary, Andy Brown, Giancarlo Massu, Luciano Troja, Rossano Sportiello, Randy Sandke, Harry Allen, Dennis Mackrel, Joel Forbes.

And I saw them at the Back Room Speakeasy, the Metropolitan Room, Smalls, the Bickford Theatre, the Ear Inn, Symphony Space, the Finaldn Center, Jazz at Kitano, Jeff and Joel’s House Party, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Jalopy Theatre, Casa Italiana, and Zankel Recital Hall.

T.S. Eliot had it wrong.  Just another average jazz-month in New York.

P.S.  This isn’t to slight my California heroes, nay nay — among them Marc Caparone, Dawn Lambeth, Carl Sonny Leyland, Clint Baker, Jeff Hamilton, Chris Dawson, Marty Eggers, Katie Cavera, Kally Price, Leon Oakley, Mal Sharpe, Tom Schmidt, John Reynolds, Melissa Collard, Ari Munkres, GAUCHO, PANIQUE, Bill Carter, Jim Klippert, JasonVanderford, Bill Reinhart, Dan Barrett . . . .

May your happiness increase.

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ON THE PATH TO SONG WITH ASAKO TAKASAKI

About two months ago I heard Asako Takasaki’s debut CD, ALL OF ME, and I reviewed it here.  On April 4, Asako made her debut at the Metropolitan Room, supported by a stellar trio of players: Michael Kanan, piano, Gary Wang, string bass, Michael Petrosino, drums.  She isn’t a great singer yet, but I am certain she is on the path to that goal.  She has enthusiasm, feeling, and swing — qualities that will keep her afloat in her art.

Here are selections from her debut at The Metropolitan Room, with beautiful accompaniment from Messrs. Kanan, Wang, and Petrosino:

NIGHT AND DAY and MEAN TO ME:

IT’S ALL RIGHT WITH ME:

CRAZY HE CALLS ME:

ALL OF ME:

LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING – MIAGETE GORAN YORU NO HOSHI WO (where Jerome Kern meets a pretty Japanese ballad):

BLUE SKIES:

THEM THERE EYES:

COME RAIN OR COME SHINE:

We wish Asako well on the path!

May your happiness increase.

ASAKO TAKASAKI: “ALL OF ME”

Someone who attempts to sing in a language (s)he hasn’t grown up with is brave; someone who ventures into the well-established classics of “the great American songbook” — with all those monumental icons standing at the rear of the stage — must be even more courageous.  Happily, the young Japanese singer Asako Takasaki is buoyed by the music and unfazed by what others might see as obstacles.  All of this is evident on her debut CD, ALL OF ME.  Here’s a video introduction to it, and to her — and to her colleagues, Michael Kanan (piano); Neal Miner (string bass); Michael Petrosino (drums):

Now, will Asako obliterate the memory of Frank, Billie, Peggy, Lena, Sarah, or two dozen others?  Not yet.  But she is well on her way to being a classic interpreter of these great human texts, and I applaud her efforts.  Her voice gentle and unaffected, Asako easily seeks out the small dramas found in each song — tenderness, exultation, regret, wonder — and the songs are enriched rather than deformed: IT’S ALL RIGHT WITH ME / ALL OF ME / BLUE SKIES / A NIGHTINGALE SANG IN BERKELEY SQUARE / COME RAIN OR COME SHINE / CRAZY HE CALLS ME / I CAN SING A RAINBOW / MEAN TO ME / NIGHT AND DAY / LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING – MIAGETE GORAN YORU NO HOSHI WO / THEM THERE EYES.  On this CD, Asako has the wise subtle assistance of three of the best musicians playing — who motivate her as they direct and caress these songs.

She is worth more than a casual listen, and I predict great things for her — she respects the songs and understands their meanings, no small accomplishment. And bless her for having the courage to sound like herself, rather than attempting to ‘become” Billie or Frank in tribute to their memories: she sings the songs with light-hearted feeling, certainly commendable in itself.

May your happiness increase.

TRUE TO LIFE: MARIANNE SOLIVAN at IRIDIUM (May 22, 2012)

Marianne Solivan is not only an affecting singer but an affecting artist.  I know that her approach to the audience and to her songs — so candid, so deep — is the result of hard work at her craft — but she makes it seem new, fresh, unstudied.  She isn’t “acting,” but exploring, finding her way through the notes and pauses, the facts of the words and the sweep of the music — to create something moving in each phrase.

Even on songs that I have heard for thirty years or more (I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME is one example) Marianne manages to strip away the accretions of familiar expectations to reveal the heart of the music living underneath.  Her candor is remarkable, as she balances power and delicacy, performing without seeming to perform.  Her music is intense but never melodramatic, and she takes us with her.

She proved this once again at Iridium on May 22, 2012, with three special players — each one a poetic sound-painter — who accompanied her on her quests: the pianist Michael Kanan, bassist Marco Panascia, and drummer Michael Petrosino.

The hour-long set made me think, not for the first time, “It is a privilege to hear these musicians.”  I hope you feel the same way!

You’ll have to take this one on faith, but it’s absolutely true.  Marianne and the band decided, wisely, to do a sound check before beginning their performance.  She alerted the audience and the band embarked on a brief LOVE WALKED IN.  When it was over, the crowd at the Iridium applauded.  Not noisily, as at a rock concert, but with real appreciation.  They knew what was happening onstage!

Marianne began with a puckish Declaration of Independence, smiling all the way through, I CAN’T HELP IT (she says she likes the lyrics, and no wonder):

Marianne often begins her sets with IN LOVE IN VAIN — one of the darkest songs I know, and that is including GLOOMY SUNDAY — but she takes it into a brisk medium tempo, somewhat undercutting the sadness.  Although I’ve heard her perform it more than a half-dozen times, each version is new and affecting:

I hadn’t heard Marianne perform I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME . . . but I admire so how she sidesteps the Holiday trap: that is, the temptation to meow and slither as  Billie did so memorably.  This performance, like every other Solivan exploration I know, is all hers:

Another song with a somber title, THE LONELY ONES, a rare Ellington-Duke Jordan (!) collaboration, makes Marianne sing it with perverse enthusiasm and delight . . . if it weren’t such a cliche, I would write that she has a twinkle in her eye.  Perhaps a permanent gleam?

Without trying hard or showing off how hard she’s working, Marianne makes even the most familiar songs shine — we hear them for the first time.  For me, PRISONER OF LOVE summons up Lester Young – Teddy Wilson and Russ Columbo (in that order).  But I have added Marianne’s approach to that pantheon:

I would bet that Michael Kanan, that conoisseur of rare beautiful music, brought MOON RAY to everyone’s attention — it’s one of the unusual tunes written by Artie Shaw, and the band does it beautifully:

Forthright and heartfelt — I WISH I DIDN’T LOVE YOU SO:

What other singer would fuse Alec Wilder’s MOON AND SAND and the somewhat obscure French IF YOU GO?

Another moving experience — watching these four musicians proceed bravely through the possibly over-familiar MORE THAN YOU KNOW — making it fresh at every turn:

What Marianne calls “their hit,” the elusive sweet-sour GUESS I’LL HANG MY TEARS OUT TO DRY . . . is it an affirmation or a despairing resignation or both?  You decide:

And — to close — an exultant DAY IN, DAY OUT:

I haven’t said anything about Michael Kanan, Marco Panascia, and Michael Petrosino.  What do you say about beautifully intuitive players who know when you whisper and when to propel, who know how to blend and support, who make just the right impressionistic clouds of sound throughout an evening?  Why can’t all accompanists be this wise, this brave, this subtle?  Their generosity to Marianne, to the music, and to us, was heartening.

May your happiness increase.

EXPRESSIVE MUSIC (on SHORT NOTICE): MARIANNE SOLIVAN at IRIDIUM, May 22, 2012

I know that some of my readers already have plans for tomorrow evening (that’s Tuesday, May 22, 2012) at 10 PM.  And others might be out of range.  I hope it’s neither presumptuous nor too late to urge you towards a New York City jazz club . . . but I wouldn’t want anyone to miss an opportunity to be uplifted.

That soulfully pensive woman is Marianne Solivan.  In a short time, she’s become one of my favorite singers.  She doesn’t follow routines; she doesn’t “dramatize”; she doesn’t “innovate.”

What she does is more difficult and more valuable: she gives us her heart and craft in every measure, digging deep into each song to share its truths and beauties (and often its sadness) with us.

And tomorrow night she is going to be singing at Iridium with a peerless trio led by pianist Michael Kanan, a generous, heartfelt player who makes everyone around him sound splendid.  Providing intuitive accompaniment will be sound-painters Marco Panascia and Michael Petrosino, both of whom have impressed me substantially in person.

The Iridium is located at 1650 Broadway, at 51st Street.  You can make reservations by calling 212.582.2121. or by visiting  here.

In case you haven’t been transfixed by what Marianne and Michael can do, here is a deep example — their duet on HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN, recorded at Michael’s “The Drawing Room” on March 24, 2012:

And here‘s Marianne’s website . . . where she has a brand-new CD, PRISONER OF LOVE, on display!

May your happiness increase.

“THINKING WITH YOUR HEART”: GABRIELLE STRAVELLI, MICHAEL KANAN, PAT O’LEARY, and MICHAEL PETROSINO at THE DRAWING ROOM (April 1, 2012)

Photograph copyright 2012 by Mike Sergio

Singer Gabrielle Stravelli captured our hearts for good the other night at The Drawing Room, with her combination of absolute accuracy and total abandon.  She dove deep into the music, balancing tenderness and tough,  exuberant swing.  If she’s new to you, prepare to be uplifted; if you know Gabrielle’s work, this was an especially gratifying performance.

She was supported by three of the most subtle musicians I know.  I’ve already written in praise of the eloquent, subtle, surprising Michael Kanan and Pat O’Leary — but drummer Michael Petrosino was an absolute revelation: a true sound-painter, his every stroke and accent strong yet delicate, creating colors and textures that amazed and delighted us all.

Here are eleven marvels — a thrilling evening at The Drawing Room (70 Willoughby Street, Brooklyn, New York): thanks to Gabrielle, Michael, Pat, Michael, Stephanie, and a wonderfully attentive audience.

BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA:

DREAM DANCING:

COME RAIN OR COME SHINE:

SKYLARK:

SO WHAT / OH, BOY (a witty superimposition: Buddy Holly meets Miles Davis):

JOY SPRING (Clifford Brown, lyrics by Jon Hendricks):

INVITATION:

SPRING IS HERE in duet with Pat, a true highlight:

THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC:

I think Gabriell’s impromptu reading of BILL — in duet with Michael, who appropriately ventures into CAN’T HELP LOVIN’ THAT MAN — is a masterpiece of feeling:

DEVIL MAY CARE:

WE’LL BE TOGETHER AGAIN

Gabrielle Stravelli embodies intimacy, playfulness, joy in her music.  When she sings, it is a brave “thinking with your heart,” coming through her songs.

May your happiness increase.

PAY ATTENTION! NO FOOLIN’: GABRIELLE STRAVELLI and FRIENDS in THE DRAWING ROOM (April 1, 2012)

Singer Gabrielle Stravelli is a delight.

I first heard her only a few weeks ago at a noisy brunch gig.  Unruffled by the loud laughter, the eager conversations,  the crash of dishes, she sailed on, serenely swinging, opening her heart to the audience.

She has feeling but no melodrama, an easy, open approach to the song — with a casual natural style that fits her varied material.

And if an artist is judged by the company he or she keeps, please take a look at the instrumentalists below.  This Sunday-evening gig will take place at pianist Michael Kanan’s beautifully calm studio, The Drawing Room.  Michael will be at the piano; the stellar, mobile bassist Pat O’Leary will be doing what he does so well; the nimble Michael Petrosino will be behind his drum kit.

The Drawing Room is at 70 Willoughby Street #2A, in Brooklyn.  The “R” train stops at the corner; many other trains make it their business to come to a halt at the Jay Street station, two blocks away.  Even I could find my way.  April 1, but no joke — 8 to 10 PM.    $10 admission, with a cash wine bar.  And beautiful music!