Soul Train, the television show which featured Gino Vannelli as it’s first ‘white’ performer is long gone. Gino, on the other hand, is improving with age.
The sixty-six year old native Montrealer returned home this past weekend on the heels of his first album of new material in over a decade. Wilderness Road is the name of Gino’s twentieth album and it may rank as one of his best.
On Friday and Saturday night at Place des Arts, Montrealers got a taste of the new album along with Vannelli’s greatest hits. They also received a profound example of what made Gino famous in the first place.
Sure Gino had the looks for the seventies. The sex appeal of John Travolta long before Travolta exited his T.V Barbarino character and emerged as Danny in Grease and Tony in Saturday Night Fever. Travolta should be thanking Gino with a regular paycheck.
Aside from the image, what separated Gino from the pack of both Italians and non Italians, was his attention to detail and his inner belief system. Those two elements (and persistence) made Herb Alpert of A&M Records pay attention. Much the same way the crowd at Place des Arts did on Saturday night. Rarely does an artist gather such focus between songs. Five hundred pins dropping would not be heard as each ear hung onto every word Gino spoke.
The reasons for the attention span is simple. Gino’s voice and his band’s precision. Aside from a couple of songs in Vannelli’s arsenal ( I Just Wanna Stop, Living Inside Myself, Wild Horses), Gino’s songwriting has not been easy to classify. His songs are diverse, complex and simple. His arrangements are unique and lean towards perfection. The audiences at a Gino show are given musical gifts before he opens his mouth.
People I Belong To, Nightwalker, Feel like Flying, Apaloosa, Black Cars, NightDrive (along with the songs mentioned above) contain vocals by Gino which are that of a much younger man. Some people are blessed with a singing ability and then there are ‘those’ blessed to hear it.
Two of the songs from the new disc showcased both Vannelli’s vocals and his songwriting brilliance. Yet Something Beautiful and Older N’ Wiser.
Both songs inspired on two fronts. Musically, Older N’Wiser displays Vannelli’s Jazzy versatility while Yet Something Beautiful is pure Dicken-esque in it’s brilliant storytelling. Gino’s vocals on the latter reaching depths not heard from anyone half his age. The vocals alone leaving the audience speechless in awe.
Like most ‘classic’ artists – the unfortunate part of Gino Vannelli 2019 is commercial radio’s unwillingness to play the new tunes and a hunger for the old tunes from those only wanting to live in the past. Fortunately for Gino, his band is not a ‘cover’ band and are talented enough to play the new album in it’s entirety if the demand is there. Fortunately for Gino, his band can also play the complex rhythms and arrangements of the past.
In short – Gino and his mates are ready for Soul Train 2.0
The Montreal International Jazz Festival is celebrating an anniversary with a bang.
It has been forty years since those days on St Denis street. A simpler time for the city of Montreal, music and the world.
Simple may have been good for humanity but the complexity of The Montreal Jazz Festival is more than welcome. The city of Montreal has become a beacon for all music from all corners of the globe. Jazz may be the brand yet diversity remains at the core of the biggest festival of it’s kind in North America.
This summer, 150 indoor shows will take place in and around the city of Montreal. Among the crowds, the sounds and sights – music will provide an ambiance unlike any. Forget the LED lighting, the gourmet food from all ethnic groups or the stars in the sky. None of them would be as enticing without the sounds of the multi – talented artists visiting the city. How do you say Bienvenue with a trumpet or a saxophone?
2019 brings a lively bunch of tunes to the city. Some of the acts fulfilling the void left by months of cold winter nights are the who is who of music. The kings, the Queens and their devoted disciples. Talent is an understatement when describing the playlist of live music showcasing their art from June 27th to July 6th.
Norah Jones, Blue Rodeo, Melody Gardot, George Benson, Alan Parsons, Alt -J, Peter Frampton, Buddy Guy and Colin James. All bases are covered at Salle Wilfred Pelletier. Soulful Blues, Country Pop and Jazz will exit Place des Arts and engulf the masses on Rue Ste Catherine.
A few of the artists performing at Theatre Maisonneuve. A few of the artists creating magic.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival adds more venues and more artists each year. The city has become one giant Rue St. Denis as it enters it’s fortieth season as both an innovating festival and a badge of honor for all who perform and attend.
The Jazz Festival starts June 27th and runs until July 6th
First thing you need to know, Foreigner 2019 is not your Father’s Foreigner.
Gone is the golden voice that belted out the songs of many people’s youth. Lou Gramm (vocals) and Mick Jones ( Guitar, Keys, vocals) wrote collectively or individually a Rock n Roll catalog which placed the band as one of the biggest selling bands of all time. Gramm may be gone but Mick, his new band and the songs remain.
Foreigner 2.0 is led by what a front-man should be. Kelly Hansen has the chops to rival Gramm. Kelly Hansen has the energy to rival Mick Jagger. Kelly Hansen has the comedic banter to earn a position at Just For Laughs. Tunes like JukeBox Hero, Cold As Ice and Urgent are delivered with power, tightness and adrenaline. In short – Hansen makes it feel as if the (over forty) patrons in attendance are back in high school and worrying about pimples.
Jones (who was taught how to play ‘Hey Joe’ by Hendrix himself) is a legendary figure. Not many men or women can grace a stage with such a pedigree of tunes. Waiting For a Girl like You,Dirty White Boy, Hot Blooded,Feels Like The First Time andI Wanna Know What Love Is – all part of a Rock n Roll catalog which has stood the test of time. Rock n Roll purists cringed at the music of Foreigner in the eighties along with most of the eighties’ bands. Listening to Foreigner 2.0 in the present day makes the case for Rock n Roll 2019 being ‘dead’ ring true.
With many 2019 Rock bands, it is all about melancholy and Zeppelin – like screaming. Too many bands called Rock n Roll lack songwriting, harmonies and swing. Too many bands lack diversity. Foreigner and Foreigner 2.0 may have a sound that makes people aware who they are immediately yet within that sound is talent on many platforms. Within that sound is something that is essential to Rock n Roll. Saxophone.
Jeff Pilson (bass), Bruce Watson (lead guitar), Michael Bluestein ( keys) and Chris Frazier (drums) are powerhouses in their own ‘homes’. Collectively, released upon the masses, they are a band of gypsies hungry to rape and pillage musical souls with conviction. Foreigner 2.0 are kicking at the door of becoming Foreigner 6.0. Like the iPhone – Foreigner may change but the ‘apple’ remains close to the tree.
All the great bands in history have included Sax or horns on their records and live. Sax is what made the transition of Jazz ( Rock n Roll in popularity once upon a time) to Rock so smooth. The transition of Blues to Rock so smooth. The transition of Country music to Rock so smooth. Saxophone brings soul and a grounding to the guitars. It is a leash to harness the errant solos or the runaway singers. Tom Gimble last night at Place des Arts was the gatekeeper. Filling in and breathing out at the proper time.
Foreigner 2019 may not be your Father’s Foreigner but they are are not dead nor are they disabled. Foreigner 2019 are alive, well and making your son’s band look bad.
Not just for regular folk, business people or pets. More than anyone, artists and musicians require a changing of course to right a sometimes leaky boat. It ain’t easy maneuvering the seas of art, just ask the Flock of Seagulls circling aimlessly overhead.
Here now are The Top Ten Musician New Year’s Resolutions.
10. In 2018, out of respect for my spouse, I will no longer sleep with the man / woman in row 4, seat 6 …
9. ‘ Moves Like Jagger ‘ doesn’t work live unless you ‘move like Jagger … ‘
8. No more gigs with ‘money for nothing and chicks for free …’
7. Investigate the reason why my manager is driving a Porsche while I take the bus …
6. No more appearances at 5am on ‘Tom Cruise’s Telethon of Scientology’
5. Don’t enter any more contests where I have to pay for winning!
4. No more gigs that are interrupted by badly played hockey by the Montreal Canadiens.
3. Before singing ‘when I think about you I touch myself’ at a wedding gig, make sure Harvey Weinstein’s victims are not in attendance.
2. ‘You Dropped a Bomb on Me’ must be scratched from the set list before touring North Korea.
And the #1 Musician New Year’s Resolution ?
1. If I actually write a song, I can stop delivering pizzas full time !