Tag Archives: Porto Franco Records

A TRIP TO AVALON with TAMAR KORN and GAUCHO

Suitcases not required.  And you won’t have to show your driver’s license to the pleasant TSA man or woman . . . simply let these superb musicians take you to an ideal place (care of Puccini, Al Jolson, and Benny Goodman).

The travel agent-magicians in charge here are Gaucho, the wondrous swing / gypsy ensemble that has been certified one hundred percent cliche-free by the FDA.  Seen here are guitarists Dave Ricketts and Michael Groh; accordionist Rob Reich; reedman Ralph Carney; cornetist Leon Oakley; string bassist Ari Munkres; percussionist Pete Devine; vocalist Tamar Korn.  This video (beautifully done, thanks to Porto Franco Records) was recorded in 2010 as part of Gaucho’s album PEARL, featuring Tamar. The band is now raising money for their fifth CD, which will feature another great young vocalist – Georgia English, who has studied music with Gaucho’s bandleader since she was 8 years old, and is now a student at Berklee School of Music.  The CD is on its way: I believe it will be out in the first part of July.

See you in Avalon . . .

May your happiness increase.

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KALLY PRICE, ROB REICH, JIM GAMMON: “I’M CONFESSIN'”

Warning: this video is not for those who prefer their singers timid and demure.  Kally Price is the closest thing to a Force of Nature I have ever heard: in fact, if I still had my television set, I would have expected to be notified of this video performance on the Weather Channel.

It’s not that Kally is loud.  Or that she screams and shouts.  Or that she distorts the melody and lyrics into strange shapes, or overindulges in wild scat singing.  None of the above.  But what she does do is to take the most familiar song — in this case, the well-worn I’M CONFESSIN’ — and imbue it with so much intense passion that it’s a wonder that the song doesn’t split at the seams.  Kally has a rich, deep voice that can be sweet, mellow, or downright raw — and a huge emotional range, from caressingly tender to I-am-tearing-myself-open-right-now . . .

She is an extraordinarily powerful actress — I think she could play Medea — but she doesn’t seem as if she is putting on an external guise.  Rather, the words, the music, the power and the sweetness, bubble up from inside her.  Here she’s accompanied by the fine spare pianist Rob Reich (known better as the swinging accordion player for Gaucho) and the eloquent trumpeter Jim Gammon.

Courtesy of Porto Franco Records, you should watch, listen, and marvel for yourself here.  (And I am sure that some of my readers know more about the history of I’M CONFESSIN’ / LOOKIN’ FOR ANOTHER SWEETIE than I do.)

Honestly, I feel shaken after listening to Kally Price.  And that is a good thing!

May your happiness increase.

KALLY PRICE IS POWERFULLY HERSELF

Kally Price is a fully realized singer, not for the timid, someone hard to ignore.  She doesn’t create background music.

Price has a controlled emotional power than is remarkable.  It’s not overacting or “dramatic.”  Rather, she has an impassioned definiteness that comes from within; it’s not something she learned how to do in acting school.  She doesn’t shout or rant, but it’s clear she is not going to let anything get in her way when she’s delivering the messages contained in a song.

I had not heard of her before our California trip, but many people told me about her.  They went out of their way to let me know she wasn’t formulaic or ordinary.

I knew IF I HAD A RIBBON BOW from Maxine Sullivan’s wistful 1937 version, and it had always struck me as poignantly girlish: if I had a ribbon bow, then Prince Charming would come and find me.  The singer of this folk song had not been able to learn much about assertiveness training, had never heard of Friedan or Steinem, so the song struck notes of wishing rather than action.  Kally Price’s rendering is powerful, and you imagine her both singing the song (she is faithful to it) and examining it at arm’s length: pity this poor girl in what I imagine is her best frock, waiting for someone to come and love her, much like one of Toni Morrison’s doomed little girls in THE BLUEST EYE.  Kally performs the song with fidelity but is also able to suggest her frustration at being confined to the constricting world of such narrow hopes and aspirations.

If my deconstructing of this text doesn’t appeal to you, sit back from your computer and witness a forceful performance by a musical actress with great skill and undeniable passion.  Her accompanists are Leon Oakley, cornet; Craig Ventresco, guitar; Rob Reich (at the piano instead of the accordion), and Ari Munkres on string bass.  This performance was recorded at San Francisco’s Red Poppy Art House in May 2010, just before Kally recorded her second CD as a leader:

She’s someone serious — not to be taken lightly!

The other performance from the Red Poppy is a fascinating merging of an a cappella I WANT TO LIVE and Price’s reimagining of RHYTHM — not the Gershwins’ classic but the 1933 Spirits of Rhythm perpetual-motion machine.  Again, whether she’s creating a ferocious soliloquy or she’s swinging deeply, Kally Price is someone to take notice of:

I’m making room on my shelves — between Bent Persson and Sammy Price — for Kally Price’s CD . . . coming soon to you from Porto Franco Records.

“PEARL”: TAMAR KORN and GAUCHO

Thanks to Peter Varshavsky of Porto Franco Records, here is a fascinating video documentary of the musical meeting of the San Francisco band GAUCHO with Tamar Korn and friends.  Tamar sings “PEARL,” (music by Dave Ricketts, lyrics by Tamar) aided by Dave Ricketts and Michael Groh, guitar; Rob Reich, accordion, Pete Devine, drums, Ari Munkres, bass; Leon Oakley, cornet.

The session happened on January 24, 2010, and is captured here in lovely black and white.  It took place at Cafe Amnesia on Valencia Street in San Francisco, where Gaucho has been appearing for nine years.

Music from this session can be found on the Porto Franco CD of the same name: details available at  http://www.portofrancorecords.com.

“SING ON!”: GAUCHO with TAMAR KORN, 2010

Some weeks ago, I wrote about the new CD, PEARL, on Porto Franco Records, featuring the San Francisco group Gaucho with special guests Tamar Korn and Leon Oakley.  It’s a fascinating disc, full of unusual twists and turns.  Here’s a video from the actual recording session: Tamar singing her own lyrics to (what else?) SING ON:

Gaucho will be appearing in New York City on January 9, 2011, for those of us who get to the West Coast only intermittently.  They’re worth searching out in the flesh (there is life beyond YouTube).  Details are available at http://www.portofrancorecords.com.

GAUCHO, TAMAR KORN, LEON OAKLEY

Courtesy of Porto Franco Records, recorded on October 16, 2010, COMES LOVE featuring the wonderfully diversified group GAUCHO — Dave Ricketts (solo guitar), Michael Groh (rhythm guitar), Ralph Carney (slide clarinet), Rob Reich (accordion), Ari Munkres (bass), Pete Devine (drums) and guests Leon Oakley (trumpet), and Tamar Korn (vocal):

Again courtesy of PFR — a new CD by Gaucho with guest appearances by Tamar and Leon (and guitarist Vic Wong)!  This is, I believe, Gaucho’s fourth disc, and they’re a wonderful group, mixing elements of New Orleans collective improvisation, French musette / grypsy swing, and unclassifiable down-home rocking. 

And where other “Hot Club” groups have dug themselves a comfortable chugging rut, Gaucho is not stuck with its collective head in the Djangocological past.  Ten of the twelve compositions on this disc are Dave Ricketts originals, with lyrics by Tamar and Pete Devine, and the songs have their own flavor and depth. 

Tamar sings on five tracks, and it’s fascinating to hear her in a different environment — reaching, inventing, finding corners that we didn’t know were there and then turning them in style.  She’s also written lyrics for three (SING ON, LITTLE SWEETIE, and PEARL) and I’m happy to report that her lyrics are heartfelt and graceful without being slick.  Rob Reich adds his own unusual flavorings and Leon (as is his habit) heats the place up in four bars. 

The songs are Sing On (Odessa Sing On)  (5:07) / Little Sweetie  (3:19)  /  Doublebarrel  (4:31)  /  Waiting  (3:25)  /  Pazzo  (3:10)  /   Maripoza Waltz  (3:33)  /  Pearl  (6:30)  /  Sergei Stomp  (2:50)  /  Angel  (5:00)  /  Amnesia  (4:13)  /  Lover, Come Back to Me  (6:08) //

I can’t write (even in jest), “Look for it wherever better books and records are sold,” but it is available as a CD or download through http://www.portofrancorecords.com.

TAMAR KORN / “GAUCHO” IN SAN FRANCISCO

In the jazz world, new “Gypsy Swing” groups seem to proliferate.  Gaucho is one of the best of the Django-inspired small swing groups, a San Francisco staple, inventive and rocking.  They’ve recorded three CDs, each one delightfully consistent.  They are Dave Ricketts, Michael Groh, g; Rob Reich, acc; Ralph Carney, reeds; Ari Munkres, b; Pete Devine – d, perc, and Cheek-O-Phone (TM) — the last something you’ll have to see and hear in person.  “Gaucho,” incidentally, is the band’s version of “gadjo,” the term a Gypsy would bestow on a non-Gypsy.   

Here are two neat video clips that I just found out about, recorded in atmospheric black and white and HD at AMNESIA in San Francisco a few months back.  The YouTube channel is “PortoFrancoRecords,” a label that will be issuing a new Gaucho CD in the fall. 

AND these two videos (and the CD to come) feature the eloquent and always surprising TAMAR KORN.  Need I say more?    

I associate “The Anniversary Song” with a lugubrious reading in waltz-time, and it has always been credited to Al Jolson, who (not surprisingly) did little to create it aside from recording it.  Here it’s offered in a lilting swing four-four, with Tamar singing, dancing (to the accompaniment of Ralph’s adventurous clarinet solo) and improvising with soprano riffs to conclude:

“I Surrender Dear” comes from Mr. Crosby and Mr. Armstrong, but Tamar makes it her own, as always, floating on Gaucho’s impasioned pulse and invention:

Thanks to Peter Varshavsky of Porto Franco Records, whose new website will have a variety of independent music from swing jazz to modern permutations: http://www.portofrancorecords.com/videoblog.  Peter tells me that many musical things are happening quite fast, so there will be more to come very soon!  And energetic YouTube surfers will a number of other clips of Tamar and Gaucho in performance from “charlestonalley,” a friend of swing jazz and swing dance.