Monday, June 1, 2009

Sister's 70th Birthday

****** My sister Lois was completely astonished and for once, made speechless, if only for a brief 30 seconds or less. About eighty of her best friends and many surviving aunts and uncles, nieces and one nephew howled "Surprise!" and later sang "Happy Birthday" before she began to slice into a huge chocolate cake adorned with two candles shaped into a "3" and a "9".

****** We enjoyed a lovely family visit with everyone, especially the two ladies in their 90's, both chipper, bright and delightful. Tell me it's in the genes, please.

****** I'm off to New York this week to participate in the final mix of the cd and to challenge my favorite photographer Eric Stephen Jacobs to produce a cover shot we'll all sigh over. Dinner with Marc Myers which will be both business and pleasure since he has agreed to write the liner notes for the new work, and reasons for choosing the songs will be topics between courses. Projecting late summer, early September release date.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two Bombs = Tart

***** It's heartbreaking for Boston sports' fans: The Celtics, the NBA defending champions failed in their last "must win" situation against the Orlando Magic, and the Bruins (a team so much improved over a recent long history of inconsistencies in spite of heroic attempts) also flamed out, defeated by the Carolina Hurricanes, of all people. A hockey team in North Carolina. A half inch of ice on the roads down there closes schools and causes near panic amongst the citizenry. But they seem to have acquired much valuable knowledge about the slick surface since I lived in the area some twenty years ago. New Englanders are so deflated and the Spurrs certainly share in the disppointment. I baked a French Apple Tart* to cheer us up.

* I used Ina Garten's fabulous and easy receipe. And since the weather forecasters are telling us the temperature in Greater Downtown Stoneham will reach 90+ degrees on Thursday, I will refrain from baking until conditions return to more normal spring-like 70's.

News of the projected release date for the new CD on Arbors will be published here in the coming weeks. Legendary Bucky Pizzarelli plays guitar, Steve LaSpina's the bass player, and Ken Peplowski played his tenor and clarinet. Swingin' stuff.

Now to tend to my mini-deck garden.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Bad ...

****** I hasten to add the name of Aaron Weinstein, the gifted, young violinist who played beautifully on the new cd last week. I apologize to Aaron for omitting his name in yesterday's post. It was a pleasure to have him join us.

Celtics played a terrific second half last night and triumphed over the Orlando Magic 92-88. The Boston Bruins NHL team took their second game in a row from the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2, and the Boston Red Sox defeated the LA Angels in Anaheim by a score of 4-3. Boston is THE center of the sports universe these days.

Talk to you later.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Very Busy Week In New York ...

****** After all the stress and anxiety associated with the preparation for last week's work in New York, it is extremely satisfying to unpack and relax. It's especially pleasant to reflect on the superb musicianship and professionalism of all the people involved. The new cd for ARBORS RECORDS was recorded on May 6 & 7th and I'm eager to hear it. Let me explain that last remark: The truth is that the best thing to do with newly recorded material is let it rest for at least a week to ten days. If I listen to yesterday's work today, I guarantee I will detect significant flaws and hundreds of reasons to beg to do it all over again. I will listen to the two sessions over the weekend. I think the songs are good choices, and I KNOW the over-all feeling is light swing, much in the tradition of the great Lee Wiley. Musicians are Bucky Pizzarelli, Steve LaSpina (b), and Ken Peplowski.

It was exciting to be in the city that never sleeps, where I lived for over fifteen years. We enjoyed dinner at Patsy's, Frank Sinatra's favorite Italian restaurant where the staff is always cheerful and upbeat, and the food is the very best. We were given a sneak preview of some unpublished photos of Frank Sinatra taken by Bobby Banks in February, 1977. The photos will be on display at Patsy's from May 7th – May 21th. I also spotted famous author Philip Roth dining with a beautiful lady, and couldn't resist telling him (ever so briefly, of course) how much I admire his work.

May 8, 9 and 10 were spent at The Iridium Jazz Club with Ken Peplowski, Leader on clarinet and tenor, Warren Vache, trumpet; Ted Rosenthal, piano; Pat O'Leary, bass and Chuck Redd drums. The program's theme featured music associated with Benny Goodman in this, the Centennial of his birth. Very swinging stuff, of course, and I was proud to follow in the tradition of some of Benny's outstanding vocalists like Peggy Lee, Helen Ward, and Martha Tilton.

Will return to New York in two weeks for final editing of the recorded material and a photo shoot for the cover. Meantime, I've been asked to host a summer mini-film festival in a Rhode Island coastal community which will feature my all-time favorite black and white movies of the 1930's and 1940's. Details will follow.

I will now move to the other room to watch the second half of a crucial NBA confrontation which at the half stands Boston Celtics 37, Orlando Magic 45, with the series tied 2-2.