Top Ten Interviews of 2012

I am continuing the top ten interviews I conducted in 2012 …

So far …

10. Lee Mellor

9.Jason Rockman

8. Susie Arioli

7. Cecile Doo Kingue

6. Roger Walls

Roger Walls is a walking Jazz encyclopedia. Is it any wonder …?

Walls has been around playing his horns for thirty plus years. If he has not played alongside the likes of Tony Bennett, then he played for the likes of Ella Fitzgerald. A genuine good guy from a different time ..

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https://keenemusic.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/roger-walls-showcases-his-new-cd-midnight-ride/

5. Randy Bowen ( See Spot Run )

Randy is the nicest guy you will ever meet. A class act and a gentleman. We met over a cup of coffee and Randy went into detail about every aspect of See Spot Run’s career – and then some …

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https://keenemusic.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/see-spot-sit-but-not-for-long/

Please stay tuned for the rest of the list and my TOP TEN CONCERTS of 2012!

Susie Arioli; Changes are Standard

Jazz crooner Susie Arioli did not plan on being a singer…

Art – or rather drawing, was her thing. In fact , she even enrolled in a four year Fine Arts program at Dawson College in Montreal. Something she did not finish because it was too confining for her free – spirited ways.

‘It is a lot of work being an artist.” Says Susie. ” There are a lot of things, tedious things involved in the process. It is not like singing where you just show up, sit down and open your mouth and sing. I’m not lazy but I guess my personalty suits what I am doing …”

Arioli has been doing the   ‘singing thing’ on and off since her late teens and early twenties. Starting from singing at any hotel / club which had a piano. Something Susie says was quite common in Montreal in the eighties.

” I would go from place to place looking for bars with pianos and sing. Thinking the whole time how great I was. When you are young, you have no idea just how good you are not. It takes an experience to humble you a bit …” Says Arioli.

Susie’s experience of being humbled took place as she took the stage and realized the reverb box was missing during a gig in a big hotel. Arioli  does not care who you are – without that tool, any voice will not sound very good.

” I was singing top forties stuff with a sprinkling of jazz.” Explains Susie. ” When you are doing other people’s songs, you must try to produce them accurately. Without the reverb box, I went through a painfully educational experience. Even Madonna would not sound good without it. I’m not saying she can’t sing, she would not sound as good. Everyone uses it …”

Arioli, following her humbling lessons, truly discovered her talent working with the Stephen Barry Blues band.  An experience which she holds dear to her heart. It was the first time she worked with true professionals. She followed their jams which sometimes took place at community centers. Her older sister and her getting right into the experience as the pair designed posters for the band.

“They were true gentlemen. I was not thrown into a situation where I was singled out with catcalls or something. They were so nice and they helped me to take my ‘ heart-pounding anxiety’ and harness it into something meaningful.”

The rest, they say –  is history…

Susie Arioli along with her arranger / guitarist Jordan Officer, have combined for seven albums and have traveled all over the world performing Jazz standards for an ever growing fan base. Her big break came when she was asked to open for Ray Charles’s show in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts in 1988. An opportunity which opened the door for a singer whose voice has been compared to a young Ella Fitzgerald – before the iconic singer became known for scat.

” Ella, Sarah Vaughn and a young Billy Holiday are the singers which influenced me the most.” Says the Toronto – born, Montreal – raised Arioli. ” I grew up listening to them  along with Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. My parents were kinda beatniks. They were very cool. My Dad was Italian and used to wear those wife beater shirts and he was a very hairy man. Looking back – I think he must have really stood out …” Laughs Susie.

Susie also holds Brazilian singers in high esteem. Mostly because they sing with their mouths close to the microphone. In doing so – a low, deep in bass sound is parlayed to an audience. Something which Arioli admires.

The late guitarist Jeff Healey is another person the singer admires. Susie had the opportunity to sing with Jeff on her ‘Pennies from Heaven’ CD in 2002.

” Jeff was a great guy. He had this amazing collection of 78 records and the cool thing was – he could tell you which song it was by feeling the grooves. There was no brail. He would pick one up, run his fingers on the grooves and tell you what song it was. A truly amazing thing.”

Jordan Officer, Susie’s partner in crime since the beginning, is another person who Arioli holds high as far as his talent goes. Officer, the arranger of practically every song on Susie’s collection of seven  CDs –  is on his way out.

” Sometimes, a comfortable place can be creatively restrictive. ” Admits Susie. ” I think it has become that way. Not just for me but for Jordan as well. He needs to grow and so do I. He won’ t be completely out of the picture, he just won’t be my main guy anymore.” She continues. ” I have my own identity and so does he. We have both been living in this beautiful cocoon. It is too comfortable and too easy. Sometimes we need new challenges.”

Arioli is in the process of  ‘auditioning’ four guitarists for her next album ( a tentative Autumn release) and at least one of them is a big name. A name which Arioli would rather keep secret for now.

For now, including a show at Place des Arts on Thursday November 22, Officer and Arioli will be together on stage along with other band members Bill Gossage ( Bass), Cameron Wallace ( Tenor Sax) and Tony Albino on drums. They will be performing a list of songs from Arioli’s newest CD; All the Way, as well as a couple of Christmas tunes. The rest of the show will contain songs from the Great American songbook. Some staples of Arioli’s choices will be included because of audience appreciation.

” I just read an interview with Tony Bennett. After all these years, he still subtracts or adds songs by the way they are received during a performance. As a performer, you’d be stupid not to.” Says Arioli. ” The audience is the consumer. You must ( or should ) perform what they are paying for. If not – how long can you be a supplier for?”

Some changes are standard …

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Show starts at 8pm at Salle Wilfrid- Pelletier Thursday 8pm

Stay tuned for a review.

Top Ten Drummers

The men behind the scenes. The backbone of most bands. The guys whose mistakes can nullify anything in a heartbeat …

To narrow down a list of the best drummers is next to impossible – here is a (rim) shot at just that …

Ginger Baker

Stewart Copeland

Jimmy Chamberlain

Terry Bozzio

Keith Moon

Mike Portnoy

Neil Peart

John Bonham

Gene Krupa

Buddy Rich

Misstress Barbara – Concert Review

Techno – pulsating, dance – rave type of music is an acquired taste.

Especially if ‘Disco Duck‘ was considered dance music when a listener was thirteen going on thirty.

Photos courtesy of Kid Mercury Entertainment

Misstress Barbara;  former DJ – turned – songwriter / producer / singer, comandeered her computer to Club Soda on Friday night to instill her techno music to anyone who was in attendance. This was her first Montreal show under the title of her new disc – Many Shades of Grey. Her first album – ‘I’m No Human’ was released in 2008 following the advice of friends to try her hand at singing.

Barbara knows something about the techno circuit. She has traveled around the world as one of the top DJ’s for sixteen years before settling down to croon. Judging by the crowd and reaction, the same amount of folks would have filled the place if a Panda Bear was on stage. This is not a knock on Misstress Barbara’s singing or songwriting ability. That part – she has down. What Barbara needs to learn is how to entertain.

A show such as this did not include drug-induced ravers swinging out of their minds to fast paced beats. The attendees, stood in one place and danced. Well .. swayed is a better word. Their eyes never leaving Misstress Barbara’s perch on stage. How did she return the favor? By being dull …

Boring in banter and boring in creativity.

The one story she attempted to parlay to an equally mixed French / English crowd – thwarted by her own guitar player. Drowned out by the six stringed dude with his attempt at distortion. Hello …? Practice was at six …! Did you not get the memo Mr. Madonna – guitarist wannabe …?! When she got down to telling her tale of slipping a note to a beautiful woman at a bar to invite her to a show for free – an ending worthy of a bad sitcom finale stole the show.

“There are many beautiful people in Quebec.” Declared Barbara from her stance. “I could get them all at my shows for free. But … that would not be good for sales.”

Barbara stood behind her computer doing what Barbaras – turned – DJs – turned -singers do. Once in a while – a tambourine appeared as she slapped it on her hand or hip. Then – for extreme excitement, a drum stick clashed mightily on a symbol to the right of her office ( computer ) at the desired peak of a tune. Keith Moon she ain’t …

‘The Right Time’ and ‘I’m No Human’ battling for the title of song of the night – according to the rush which swamped the crowd at the appearance of both. The show was two hours long. Who knew one song could be that long? A non-techno type of music fan would have deciphered the show as such.

There were no peaks and valleys. Just one continuous beat with a packed Club Soda staring at Misstress Barbara, her computer, and some dude on guitar who was late for sound check.

Hey …!

Rick Dees never realized just how good he was …

Rick’s Rockin’ Hallowe’en Bash (or How I Met Mick Jagger )

The scene …? Brutopia.img_3026

The place …? Downtown Montreal.

The feeling in the air …? General malaise and spookiness.

The reason …? Hallowe’en!

A shiek on drums, a nun on bass, a conehead on guitar, a giant – sized man of Haitian  descent on vocals and a straight – unabashed Mexican on the congas …

The name of the band? Kebeko …

The type of music? Caribbean – led, in your face, rap/ r and b / rock dance type stuff. The assorted ‘ghouls ‘ and boys boppin’ til three am. At one point, a gay pirate / Keith Richards leading a harmonica – charged finale worthy of an encore laden with power.

Enjoy through the eyes of Captain Jack Sparrow

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Please stay tuned for part two of my interview with Sass Jordan

Zachary Richard ; Zydeco comes Home

Are stories your thing …?

If so – a Zachary Richard concert is the place to be. Historically, musically and most importantly; emotionally.

Last night at L’Astral, as part of the Jazz All Year Long series, M. Richard of New Yorek, Louisiana – utilized numerous skills to pulverize a sold out crowd into submission. A happy submission …

‘Le Fou ‘ is Richard’s 20th studio album and on stage, surrounded by Nicolas Fiszman on bass, Eric Sauviant on guitar and Justin Allard on drums – the ‘ adopted’ Quebecer introduced his new disc to a welcoming, predominantly Francophone audience.

Wow!

Beginning with the first song of the night, ‘Laisse le Vent Souffle’ (Let the Storm Wind Blow) – Richard made sure the emotional gusts were captured by an audience obviously in love with the man.

The first set contained folksy songs which arrive from a profound place in the holder of three doctorate degrees’ heart.  Seldom do words flow from fountain of truths as is the case with M.Richard. The lyrics in songs such as ‘ La Chanson des Migrateurs’ ( The Migrant’s Song) and ‘Original ou Caribou’ ( Moose or Caribou ) transcend the plains of consciencness.

There are messages in each song and this singer (who just happens to be a published poet as well) – delivers notes of resistance and mankind’s craziness in such a manner, acceptance is not just a fact – it evolves into a way of life …

Musically, Richard strums the guitar, plays the harp and accordion. Musically, Zachary Richard and his backing band fly above most artists occupying the high levels of charted music. The Black Keys would be a great opening act for a foursome this divine.

And … M. Richard is funny to boot!

Following the first song and sweeping the band introductions out of the way, Richard explained that a lot of tunes the audience would be hearing – ‘they would not know’! ‘ Its okay …’ Continued Richard. ‘ We don’t know them either!’

With such ‘Socratic’ gems tossed into a salad bar containing pure Louisiana – based Zydeco fruits of love, Richard had the audience ‘alive and jumping’ in the second set.

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The songs ‘Sweet Sweet’,’ Clif’s Zydeco ‘ and ‘ Dancing at Double D’s’ – kicked even the most dormant moose into a mood reserved for an anxious child on Christmas morning. The ‘ slightly above middle – aged ‘ crowd stood , clapped and slapped in anticipation of every note arriving from a stage equipped with talent.

‘ You don’t know how this song ends ‘ Quipped the sixty – two year old songwriter right in the middle of a song. ‘ It’s okay – neither do we ..’

Just another element of humour which – along with the music, brought numerous smiles to the enthusiastic crowd. Numerous smiles and numerous standing ovations.

‘Most people think I am Quebecoise’ Stated one of the patriarchs of the Cajun sound from center stage. ‘ I am from Louisiana and was the only white boy growing up in my neighborhood. I remember cleaning the glass with my hand and looking through a window at all the Zydeco musicians playing Cajun music …’

As mentioned … Zachary Richard is a storyteller …

Watch Zachary Richard video here!

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