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All the best pop has bari sax – go ahead Elliot Bergman

20 Sep

Here’s Wild Belle, saxman Elliot Bergman’s pop duo with his sister.

My friend Eric Biondo made a masterpiece of recorded music

16 May

Listening to the new Beyondo LP is a great way for me to start this day.  Beyondo is Eric Biondo’s band.  I first met Eric Biondo when he started playing trumpet with Antibalas about 10 years ago.  We played together sometimes in a section, in particular with TV on the Radio, and of course he’s sat in with Rev. Vince Anderson.  He’s a great trumpeter, but when I finally saw a live show by his band Beyondo my mind was blown by his songwriting and arranging; then I got his EP The Gambler which is awesome and thrilled at his song a day songwriting challenge.  I’ve known he’s been working on this album for a while and felt happy for him when he announced it was finally finished and available on his bandcamp page.  But now that I listened to it I feel happy for myself, not only to have discovered a new record to listen to in the summer of 2012, but also to know so many amazing musicians who are a part of this recording … there’s plenty of horn-chic action throughout this record laid down by Stuart Bogie, Alex Hamlin, Miwi La Lupa, John Altieri and Aaron Rockers; there’s also a dazzling array of vocalists and other guest musicians including Meah Pace, Jared Samuel and Luke O’Malley.

Listening to a masterpiece of recorded music featuring performances by some of my friends is a kind of moving experience in itself, but I want to also mention that Siren Science is dedicated to Davy Jones.  Eric Biondo played trumpet and cornet with Davy Jones of The Monkees for 12 years.  I was always intrigued that he had this gig — I loved The Monkees when I was little and thought Eric’s 21st century involvement was a perfect match for his personality.  (Have you seen Head?)  For years I told him I wanted to come and see him play with Davy Jones and finally in February he was able to bring me to a show at BB Kings.  I really loved the show and got a groovy kind of thrill hearing Eric play on songs from my childhood like Daydream Believer, Last Train To Clarksville and Hey Hey We’re The Monkees ….. after the show I met Davy and knew that he and Eric were soul mates who’d found each other.  I think the dedication makes this perfectly awesome album even more completely perfect.  I hope people all over the world will hear it.

Happy Birthday to Aaron Johnson, Micah Gaugh and Michael Kammers

1 Apr

This week 3 of my favorite horn players celebrated their birthdays.  I’ve played with Aaron, Micah and Michael in many projects over the years including Electro Fetus, Rev. Vince Anderson & The Love Choir, TV on the Radio, Mackie Riverside & The Street Pushers and Burnt Sugar .  They’re all amazing fiery players who really shred as well as being great section players.

Micah Gaugh plays alto and a bent soprano sax (sometimes simultaneously, which literally makes women scream) and I play with him in Burnt Sugar; he also plays in Apollo Heights and has a solo project called Puppet. Aaron Johnson plays the hot & steamy trombone you’ve heard in Antibalas, The El Michels Affair and Fela! on Broadway, for which he received a Tony nomination in his role as musical director, and Michael Kammers is a screaming tenor man who has a prolifically self composed for 14 piece big band called MK Groove Orchestra which also plays out in a truncated trio format, the MK Trio, plays sax, farfisa and bass pedals in The Suite Unraveling and sometimes tours with Easy Star All Stars.

As an astrology fancier, I felt like I was in a furnace when I got to simultaneously play in a section with all three first decan Arians around my birthday last June when we played in INDOMITABLE, Burnt Sugar’s tribute to James Brown featuring Brandon Victor Dixon.

Even though all three of these guys have repeatedly, um, blown me away with their soloing prowess over the years, I recommend you find them live in concert, because I couldn’t find video footage to emphasize their awesomeness strongly enough on the http://www.  Real life is still best!

Here’s some examples of what they do respectively:

Micah in his amazing solo project Puppet:

Here’s Aaron with Antibalas playing Elephant …

Michael Kammers released his first solo EP, The Claustrophobic Noise EP, last year which I was honored to play on.

You can listen to it right here:

Colin Stetson – Judges, Solo Bass Sax

10 Oct

Colin Stetson ripping it on bass sax with crazy overtones and circular breathing tricks! I’ve been moved to tears by this man’s solo performances.

Michael Kammers presents The Claustrophobic Noise EP

25 Sep

I first met Michael Kammers on a Mackie Riverside & The StreetPushers gig, which is fun because we play 60s & 70s STAX covers. I immediately liked him and lo & behold he turned out to be a wailing tenor sax player and a GREAT team player. I was always happy to section up with him, even on wedding gigs where we had to learn Seawind Horns lines on MJ covers etc. Next I found out he also shreds on Farfisa which strikes a chord with me because we had one in my house when I was a kid and I used to play with it a lot. So when he invited me, I was more than happy to walk around the corner and lay down bari tracks on a couple of his original compositions which were crazy psychedelic prog with a sense of humor jams. He was recording The Claustrophobic Noise EP in his bedroom with most of his studio set up under a loft bed, this being one of the reasons for the name, the other being a nod to a rehearsal studio from his early youth in Syracuse. Anyway, as life tends to unfold in New York we’ve now played many gigs together and I always love playing with this guy whether he’s on sax or keys — doesn’t matter, he’s an all round great musician. I urge anyone who reads this to check out this EP and keep your ears open for more groovy sounds from Michael Kammers because he’s full of them — you’ll find his MK Groove Orchestra (14 piece big band playing all his original compositions) playing regularly in Brooklyn, the trio version of that group popping up all over the tri-state area and you’ll hear him being an asset to lots of other bands too including some I play in — Rev. Vince Anderson & The Love Choir, Meah Pace, Zoe Sundra and Burnt Sugar to name a few.

My Brother Is James Chance

10 Sep

This is an adorable short film about James Chance’s brother David Siegfried, how he looked up to James and put a band together for a midwest Contortions tour. David, a microbiologist, also gives an insightful commentary on his side hustle – he has candy vending machines. I played a bunch of gigs with James Chance in the mid 90s and found him to be a brilliant genius, amazing sax player and all round musician and very sweet person.

Most Fabulous Band The Lounge Lizards.

20 Aug

When I was a young lady saxophone player I remember being at a party in St. Kilda in Melbourne and freaking out* over a record someone put on that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. The song was Do The Wrong Thing by The Lounge Lizards from their debut self-titled album released in 1981.

Within hours I bought the record and within months I’d practically worn it out (although I still have it and listen to it more than 25 years later). I’d never heard anybody play saxophone like John Lurie and was in love with the way he and his contemporary James Chance were reinventing the sound of the instrument. When it finally came along I grabbed No Pain For The Cakes, the second Lounge Lizards album and loved it just as much, back in the days before playlists where you could just play 2 albums back to back on the record player. When the third album , Voice of Chunk was released a couple of years later, it was only available via mail order from New York. What a hassle, but like a good super fan I went & got an international money order and put my order in the mail, along with a letter saying I was coming to New York and wished I’d be able to catch a live show while I was in town. Maybe a month later a fax came to my job at the record company from a kind soul named Ali whose gender may have been either telling me there was a gig at The Knitting Factory and my name was on the guest list – New York City, just like I pictured it! I went to the show at the Knitting Factory on Houston Street found Ali who turned out to be a girl, met a beautiful girl called Rene who turned out to be John Lurie’s girlfriend and somehow found myself at the afterparty at The Odeon. It was like a punkjazz no wave downtown 81 nine years on fairytale . The next day I ran into the bass player Oren Bloedow on the street and he took a picture of me at the corner of Houston & Lafayette in front of a big tinsel star in the sky above the Puck Building. Anyway, to this day when I hear the Lounge Lizards I’m reminded that John Lurie is one of my favorite saxophone players and one who I’ve always been inspired and influenced by. I only saw them twice more after that glamorous night so I was excited to find this concert online.

* Do The Wrong Thing still makes me freak out.

The Great Lonnie Youngblood

10 Aug

The last two days I got to work in the studio with one of the greatest tenor sax players I’ve ever heard, Mr. Lonnie Youngblood. I used to go and see his live set sometimes at Frank’s Cocktail Lounge in Fort Greene in Brooklyn, where he had a residency for 10 years with his r&b band. Despite really being in my opinion one of the great saxophone players of the 20th century, Lonnie’s path took some difficult turns, being signed to three consecutive record companies in the 60s who faced bankruptcy before they could bring his music to a worldwide audience. As it unfolded he became most widely known for hiring a promising 16 year old Jimi Hendrix in 1966. Lonnie’s story is unsurpassably told in the bio on his website and only paraphrased by me at best, so I urge you to read the story of how he was born with a saxophone in his mouth and grew up to play with many illustrious soul and r&b artists, led many bands, launched the career of Jimi Hendrix, fell in love at first sight with his wife of over 40 years, succumbed to and overcame drug addiction and continued all the while to grow as a great musician here:
Known as The Prince of Harlem and one of Harlem’s Sons of Fun, you can hear him ripping on Soul Serenade performed in St. Peter’s Church in New York in this video:

Honey Ear Trio – Steampunk Serenade

2 Aug

Last night on my weekly Monday gig with Rev. Vince Anderson & The Love Choir at Union Pool we had a visitation from one of the great sax players I have the privilege to know here in New York, Erik Lawrence. Erik and I first met on myspace(!) a few years ago when our bari wielding profile pix caught our respective eyes. We’ve been friends in real life ever since and have played together a few times — it’s always a pleasure. Erik, like most of us sax players, is involved in a plethora of projects, but he just released a CD of his original music with the Honey Ear Trio (with Rene Hart and Allison Miller). It has the 21st century mark of a great CD because several times I’ve come running from the kitchen to find out what the song playing on my iTunes shuffle to discover it was a track from Steampunk Serenade. Moreover, it sounds great heard from beginning to end, just like in the good old days of albums. Here’s a taste of Honey Ear ….

The Amazing Baadasssss Colin Stetson and his bigasssss bass sax!

8 Mar