Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Reading

I have completed the task of reading Justin Cronin's book titled "The Passage", and after 766 pages of vivid encounters with creatures of horrendous proportions and voracious appetites mainly for human flesh, I am rewarding myself with a very dry martini. I fell for the hype. That's why I bought the book. But I can see it transformed by special effects' technicians who will create scenes of mass destruction, desolation and desperation on film for a young audience whose stupendous support at the box office will generate millions of dollars for all involved.

Apparently, Mr. Cronin has two follow-up books ready for publication, but I shall pass. I am not much for this sort of "literature", so the rest of the summer I will be re-reading Hemingway. Incidentally, go here for a comprehensive review of "The Passage" written by Ron Charles, the Fiction Editor of The Washington Post. He may persuade you to get on the band wagon too. I can't deny the story is a near-perfect summer read. Just keep the martini pitcher handy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 20th Caught In The Act

On July 20th, I proudly performed as part of the Jazz In July series at the 92nd St. Y in Manhattan's UES. Artistic Director Bill Charlap assembled an all-star band: Ken Peplowski, tenor and clarinet; Byron Stripling, trumpet; John Allred, trombone; Ted Rosenthal, piano; Bill Charlap, piano; Sean Smith, bass, and Lewis Nash at the drums. The program was titled "Hooray For Hollywood" and I got to sing four melodies I've always liked but never actually inserted in any set list ever (except for "As Time Goes By" which was the closer featuring all of the soloists).

In the first part of the show, I sang "When You Wish Upon A Star" from the 1940 animated Disney film "Pinocchio". In the movie, the song is sung by the insect character Jiminy Cricket, the sweet voice of Cliff Edwards doing the actual singing.

With the elegant assistance of John Allred on trombone, we channeled Lee Wiley's version of "Moon River" from her legendary cd "Back Home Again".

In Part II, I sang "The Days Of Wine And Roses" while standing beside handsome Byron Stripling whose trumpet gave the song gorgeous added texture, and then "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" as Ted Rosenthal played piano with great sensitivity, gracefully guiding me through the familiar, beloved changes. I can't begin to tell you what an immense pleasure it all was for me.

My good friend, main photographer/make-up man and Best Pal Eric Jacobs saw to it that my face and hair looked their best so that I strode on stage with confidence, and the audience was warm and welcoming, just as one has come to expect from the knowledgeable 92nd St. Y jazz fans. Thanks to everyone but especially darling Bill Charlap.