Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Conversation With Jazz Vocalist Gail Wynters

Vocalist Gail Wynters & Saxman David Hall
With Gail Wynters

I was playing a gig at Giuseppe's Ristorante Italiano last night and noticed a blonde lady sitting at the bar, having coffee, and listening to me play. It was hard to see in the dimly lit room. She looked a lot like the fine jazz singer Gail Wynters, but I couldn't tell for sure. Fifteen or twenty years ago Ms. Wynters sat in with me on a gig, but we haven't played together since.

Because I wasn't positive that it was Ms. Wynters, I took a break and, through my sound system, played a Gail Wynters recording from my iPod and watched her closely to see her expression. I chose to play her version of "How Deep Is The Ocean", a cut from her "Boogie To Heaven" cd. I started the track, and within four beats, she lit up with a big smile, laughed, and said "I can't believe you are playing that! That's Dr. John playing the piano intro." It WAS Ms. Wynters!

We then had a wonderful conversation about music, musical venues, and musicians. She described some of her recording projects and talked a little about the time she spent singing in New York. Before I began my next set, she gave me a copy of her latest cd, one that has yet to be released. It is a fine recording featuring her, the fantastic pianist Roger Kellaway, and the great bassist Jay Leonhart. I sure enjoyed our conversation, the cd, and am hoping that we perform together onstage sometime soon. What a treat for me! She is great.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Airmen Of Note "Cool Yule" CD

Cool Yule

One of the great benefits available to those who teach music is the opportunity to receive great, free recordings from the service bands. They offer these cds as educational and recruiting material. Last month I received The United States Air Force Airmen of Note's "Cool Yule" cd. It is absolutely fantastic.

The musical arrangements played on the cd are witty, fun, and swinging! The album opens with "Jing, Jing, Jing", a combination of Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing" and the traditional "Jingle Bells". Also included is "Santanooga Choo Choo" (Chatanoogo Choo Choo/Santa Claus Is Coming To Town), "Faithful In Paris" (April In Paris/O Come All Ye Faithful), and many more. My favorite is their version of "Up On The Housetop". It is done with Stan Kenton's "Peanut Vendor" in mind.

I have played this cd for my students, for friends at my gigs at Giuseppe's Ristorante Italiano and Caproni's Restaurant, and for the school band directors I visit each week. Everyone loves it.