swing

Frank Sinatra/Count Basie Reprise recordings coming from Concord

By the early 1960s, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie had already cemented their respective reputations as two of the most versatile and enduring entertainers of the 20th century. When these two titans united in the studio for recordings on Reprise — Sinatra’s own label, which he’d launched at the start of the decade — the results were historic. The first album was simply titled Sinatra-Basie: An Historical Musical First, a 1963 release that climbed to the top five on Billboard’s pop album charts over the course of a 42-week run. A year later, It Might As Well Be Swing rose to #13 during a 31-week stretch on the same charts.

On September 6, 2011, Concord Records will reissue both of these recordings in a single collection, Frank Sinatra & Count Basie: The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings. Under license from Frank Sinatra Enterprises (FSE), the 20-song compilation is enhanced via digital restoration and remastering, and includes brand new liner notes from music journalist and historian Bill Dahl that provide historical context for these pivotal recordings. Also included are original anecdotes from Quincy Jones, who produced It Might As Well Be Swing.

“It’s virtually impossible to imagine a more swinging combination than Frank Sinatra — the premier pop vocalist of an adoring generation — and the mighty orchestra of Count Basie,” says Dahl in his liner notes. “Such a scintillating summit meeting actually unfolded not once but twice in the studio. This collection brings together both of these historic album-length collaborations, first out on the label Sinatra founded, Reprise. It’s a thoroughly satisfying soiree.”

Dahl provides background information about the history of Basie’s orchestra in the decades leading up to the two recordings. He also discusses Sinatra’s transition from Capitol to Reprise and the artistic freedom that came with it, as well as Neal Hefti’s arrangements for both albums, Quincy Jones’ production of the latter, and brief annotations of every song in the collection.

“Another memorable collection between the Chairman and the Count would soon be recorded for posterity by Reprise, [with Jones] arranging and conducting 1966’s Sinatra at the Sands,” says Dahl. “But even performing for those hip high rollers in Vegas couldn’t top what Sinatra and Basie accomplished during these two studio collaborations. This was musical history in the making, as fabulously fresh and frisky now as it was back then. Let the swinging commence.”
---
TRACK LIST
Pennies from Heaven
Please Be Kind
(Love Is) The Tender Trap
Looking at the World Thru Rose Colored Glasses
My Kind of Girl
I Only Have Eyes for You
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Learnin’ the Blues
I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
I Won’t Dance
Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)
I Wish You Love
I Believe in You
More [Theme from Mondo Cane]
I Can’t Stop Loving You
Hello, Dolly! (from Hello, Dolly!)
I Wanna Be Around
The Best Is Yet To Come
The Good Life
Wives and Lovers

Candye Kane's 'Sister Vagabond' album rings triumphant in challenging year

Candye Kane has been called a survivor, a superhero and the toughest girl alive. (All are also titles of her self-penned songs.) Her eleventh CD release, Sister Vagabond, will hit the streets on August 16, 2011 on Delta Groove Records. Produced by Kane and her noted guitarist Laura Chavez, Sister Vagabond is a worthy successor to their 2010 collaboration, Superhero, which was nominated for Best Contemporary Blues CD in the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards.

The jump-blues singer, songwriter and mother of two from East Los Angeles is a five-time nominee for Blues Music Awards, has nabbed ten San Diego Music Awards and starred in a sold-out stage play about her life. She’s beat pancreatic cancer in the last two years. She has performed worldwide for presidents and movie stars.

But her path to success was not always glamorous or easy. Raised in what she calls a dysfunctional blue-collar family, Candye became a mother, a pinup cover girl and a punk-rock, hillbilly blues-belter by the time she was just 21 years old. Ten CDs, six record labels, millions of international road miles and countless awards later, Miss Kane has proven to be a true survivor as she scrambled her way to the top of the roots-music heap, creating a world renowned reputation that has spanned two decades.

A colorful mixture of the traditional and the eclectic, Kane cut her musical teeth in the early ’80s onstage with Hollywood musicians and friends Social Distortion, Dwight Yoakam, Dave Alvin, Los Lobos, The Blasters, X, Fear and the Circle Jerks, to name just a few. While raising two sons, this role model for the disenfranchised championed large-sized women, fought for the equal rights of sex workers and the GLBT community and inspired music lovers everywhere. Her fans are a mixture of true outsiders: bikers, blues fans, punk rockers, drag queens, fat girls, queers, burlesque dancers, porn fans, sex workers, rockabilly and swing dancers, gray-haired hippies, sex-positive feminists and everyday folk of all ages.

In 1986, then married to Thomas Yearsley of the Paladins, she was touched by the music of Big Maybelle, Big Mama Thornton, Ruth Brown and more. Her self-released 1991 Burlesque Swing caught the ear of Texas impresario Clifford Antone, who signed her to a deal with Antone’s Records. Los Lobos’ Cesar Rosas and Paladin/Hacienda Brother/Stone River Boy Dave Gonzalez co-produced the first album of the deal, Home Cookin’. Picked up by Discovery (later Sire) Records, the Dave Alvin/Derek O’Brien-produced Diva La Grande was followed by Swango in the height of the swing craze.

Rounder/Bullseye Records signed her in 1995, releasing The Toughest Girl Alive, produced by Scott Billington. Four albums followed on the German RUF label, including the Bob Margolin-produced Guitar’d and Feathered. She then pacted with her current label, Delta Groove, releasing Superhero in 2010 and now Sister Vagabond in 2011.

Her full-time, 250-days-a-year touring schedule started in 1992. And today, Kane’s live shows are the stuff of legend. She honors the bold blues women of the past with both feet firmly planted in the present. She belts, growls, shouts, croons and moans from a lifetime of suffering and overcoming obstacles. She uses music as therapy and often writes and chooses material with positive affirmations that leave the audience feeling healed and exhilarated. In a show that is part humor, part revival meeting and party sexuality celebration, she'll deliver a barrelhouse-tongue-in-cheek blues tune or a gospel ballad, encouraging audiences to leave behind religious intolerance. She’ll slay the crowd with her balls out rendition of “Whole Lotta Love” or glorify the virtues of zaftig women with “200 Pounds of Fun.” She often says she is a ”fat black drag queen trapped in a white woman's body” and she dresses the part.

Kane has been included in countless blues and jazz CD anthologies including Rolling Stone Jazz and Blues Album Guide and Musichound: Blues, The Essential Album Guide and Dan Aykroyd’s 30 Essential Women of the Blues. She appeared on the influential call-to-arms of Southern California roots music, A Town South of Bakersfield on Enigma Records, alongside Lucinda Williams and Dwight Yoakam.

In addition to her musical achievements, Kane has become an activist and philanthropist in recent years. In August 2009, she appeared in Dublin, Ireland for the World Congress for Downs Syndrome with her United by Music charity. The project provides performance opportunities, blues history lessons and songwriting instruction to young people with disabilities, encouraging them to write their own blues songs to help them overcome their daily challenges.

A fighter par excellence, Candye has an authenticity, determination and optimism that keep her shows passionate, honest and irresistible.

“I take things one day at a time and today I am feeling great and very optimistic about my new CD,” Kane says. It’s been awesome to write and co-produce again with my guitarist Laura Chavez. I am grateful for every chance I get to make music live, or in the studio. Most people are given only three months to live after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis and three years later, I am still here. So any opportunity I have to create music makes me humbled and grateful.

“People ask me why I want to work so hard and so much, since I tour 250 days a year. Everyone says I should stay home and relax after my health struggle. But music is my life and neuroendocrine cancer is a mostly manageable disease. I will continue to work as much as I can because I know life is fragile anyway. I would be fine if I died onstage doing what I love like Country Dick Montana or Johnny Guitar Watson. I’m not planning on going anytime soon, but when I do exit this plane, I hope it’s making someone else feel inspired by the powerful words in my songs.”

Lapis Luna Vintage Jazz & Classic Swing Music

Lapis Luna brings you the captivating jazz of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s with a classic glittering sound. Standards, enchanting ballads, obscure swing-era gems, and vintage melodies the way they were meant to be heard: vibrant, fun, romantic, and cool.

The Lapis Luna Quartet is in an open run on Thursday evenings from 9pm to Midnight in the Plaza Hotel's Rose Club on Fifth Avenue at Central Park South. There is no cover, but there are marvelous drinks and champagne — of course!

The band is Shawn Aileen Clark on vocals, John Merrill on guitar, Chris Pistorino on bass, and Brian Floody on drums and percussion.

New York Magazine has identified Lapis Luna as an 'Ultimate New York City Wedding' band choice for four years running, and accordingly they were the wedding band for Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) and Geoffrey Arrend's (500 Days of Summer) nuptial celebration. Lapis Luna has also recently been featured as the swing band in the ad campaign for Kate Spade's new fragrance 'Twirl.'

In addition to their open engagement at the historic Plaza Hotel, Lapis Luna has other exciting performances in the city this spring, including:

Friday, May 20, 2011, 7:30pm to 9:30pm with the Lapis Luna Six. Smalls, 183 W. 10 Street at Seventh Avenue. A concert at one of the best jazz clubs in New York City. $20 at the door. Begin your evening in the sweetest, swinging way.

For more information on Lapis Luna, including full schedule, song list, and videos, please go to www.lapisluna.com or their Facebook page.

Hot Club of Cowtown's new CD salutes Bob Wills

Bob Wills has always been a core inspiration for the Hot Club of Cowtown’s sound, but it has taken the Texas-based trio a dozen years to fully honor the King of Western swing. A fortuitous tour in England last spring led the band to London’s Specific Sound studio, where they spent two days recording a 14-song marathon of only Bob Wills tunes. The result, What Makes Bob Holler, is a lively tribute to the American music icon, respecting Wills’ legendary music while putting Hot Club’s own signature on these songs. “We have been meaning to make this album for a long time,” says Elana James, who co-founded Hot Club with Whit Smith (they’re joined by bassist Jake Erwin).

Launched in 1994, the Hot Club of Cowtown has grown to be the most globe-trotting, hardest-swinging Western swing trio on the planet, continuing to develop a unique sound inspired by the band’s namesakes: the hot jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli of the Hot Club of France, and Bob Willis & the Texas Playboys.

And with the imminent release of What Makes Bob Holler on Proper American on February 1, the Austin-based band looks to a busy 2011. They start the year opening seven U.K. arena dates with Roxy Music, followed by a taping of NPR’s Mountain Stage in Charleston, W.V. in late January and an appearance at South by Southwest (SXSW) in March — before touring coast to coast in support of the album.

Bob Wills’ music — in this case the recordings of radio shows from 1946-47 called the Tiffany Transcriptions that are the fundamental inspiration for HCCT’s repertoire and style —offers a terrific platform for some ace musicianship in the form of Smith’s guitar, James’ fiddle and Erwin’s nimble bass. By spotlighting Wills’ early, pre-World War II catalogue, the disc happily matches obscure B-sides with some of Wills’ most popular work. Tunes like “Big Balls in Cowtown” and “Stay All Night” are numbers that “people always love when we play them live,” says James, “so it was a no-brainer to gather them into a record.” Other songs, like “Osage Stomp” and “The Devil Ain’t Lazy,” might not be as well known, but they are the type of tunes that originally attracted Smith and James to Wills’ music. “We’re playing what knocked us out about Western swing in the first place — the early fiery energy and jazzy improvisations,” says James.

By 1998 Smith and James had relocated to Austin, Texas, and released their debut, Swingin’ Stampede, on HighTone Records. Seven more albums over the next decade generated much critical acclaim and a devoted following. The New York Times’ Neil Strauss proclaimed the Hot Club “conscious always that above all else, the music is for dancing and an old-fashioned good time.” Craig Havighurst, in Nashville’s Tennessean, calls them “one of the most original groups on the Americana circuit, deserving of attention both live and on record” while the Sunday Times of London lauded HCCT as “the world’s most engaging Western Swing band — their shows are all about energy and joie de vivre . . . the devil-may-care style that combined the rigor of Jazz with the down-home sentiment of country and earthiness of the blues — it is as a live act that they have made their greatest impact.”

What Makes Bob Holler arrives on the heels of 2009’s Wishful Thinking, an Americana radio Top 100 album on which HCCT blended their love of hot jazz and Western swing with original songs, a Tom Waits cover and forays into more eclectic territory. The Austin Chronicle’s Jim Caliguiri called it “the Cowtowners at their peak” and David Eldridge, in the Washington Times, describes the disc as “one of the year’s most unexpected listening pleasures.”

What Makes Bob Holler is something of an 180-degree swing from Wishful Thinking’s more eccentric set list. It is the first time HCCT has focused on only one style for an entire album and they are proud enough of the results to express interest in doing more. “There are so many great songs that we didn’t get to,” says James. “We’re going to have to make a box set, eventually, but we’re just going to make it piecemeal,” adds Smith with a laugh.

While the new disc focuses on Bob Wills music, HCCT’s live show will remain a engaging mix of what the band does best — whatever moves them at the moment. James reveals that the band often plays without a set list. “We have faith in the system that is the band. This energy that we plug into and it takes us away.” Smith describes their shows as “like a rock ’n’ roll show” and “people pick up on the energy and the sincerity.”

David Grisman's new website, AcousticOasis.com

I'm very pleased and excited to announce the arrival of my new website, AcousticOasis.com, featuring new and previously unreleased projects that are now available to you as high-quality digital downloads, exclusively through this site. All projects include downloadable graphics (CD covers, tray cards and labels) and cost is less than most other download sites.

Among the initial Acoustic Oasis releases are extended versions of Acoustic Disc projects like the 170-minute Extra Large Pizza Tapes with Jerry Garcia, Tony Rice and myself, exceptional live performances like The Bluegrass Quintet - Live in Japan, vintage recordings of historical importance such as Giovanni Gioviale - Italian Mandolin & Banjo Classics, out- of-print gems like jazzmaster Don Stiernberg's Mandolin Restaurant and new Oasis recordings like Slapback by mandolin whiz-kid Josh Pinkham and his grandfather, Texas swing legend Jerry Thomasson.

Also available are videos, educational materials, special bargain compilations, free streaming radio & tv, and a free daily download.  New releases and features will be coming each month so you'll want to keep checking us out!

After 20 successful years with Acoustic Disc, I want to thank all of you for your continued support and encouragement - and extend a big welcome to check out Acoustic Oasis!

Catherine Russell CD Release Party Monday April 12 at Dizzy's Club

World Village/harmonia mundi proudly announces the release of vocalist Catherine Russell’s Inside This Heart Of Mine on April 13, 2010. Her third album for the label, Inside This Heart Of Mine is a collection of 13 songs -- tied together by the special place these songs hold inside the heart of Catherine Russell.

It's a heart that's warm and effusive, bluesy and erudite, bold yet vulnerable, passionate yet ethereal. Just listen to Cat's masterful reading of “Troubled Waters”, a seldom heard tune scored by the Duke Ellington Orchestra for both Ivey Anderson and Mae West, performed here as a sultry meditation. Then there's “We The People”, a never before covered Fats Waller tune from an originally unreleased recording, a tongue-in-cheek populist manifesto from the previous Great Depression, which implores legislators to provide “syncopation” as the surest way to “please the people.” The Spencer Williams languid blues melody, "Slow As Molasses", was originally recorded as an instrumental by Luis Russell in 1929 with his band The Jungle Town Stompers. Wordsmith Rachelle Garniez added lyrics just for these sessions, allowing Cat’s evocative vocal spin on the new creation, some 80 years following her Dad’s original version.

This decades spanning collection of songs, originally performed by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee, Maxine Sullivan, Howlin’ Wolf, Wynonie Harris, Fats Waller, and Catherine’s father, Luis Russell, draws from Vaudeville wit, Tin Pan Alley tune craft, New Orleans swagger, Swing Era sock, the European Cafe, Jump Blues jive, modal Delta Blues, and Django-esque swing, with an immediacy and a timeless quality that’s refreshingly oblivious to current “trends”. Here in you’ll find works by Hall of Fame Songwriters, like Andy Razaf, Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler, Alec Wilder, and Willie Dixon, as well as being introduced to newer Contemporary songs with an old-time vibe by Rachelle Garniez and producer, Paul Kahn.

For the sessions, Musical Director/Arranger/Guitarist/Banjoist, Matt Munisteri (Holly Cole, Little Jimmy Scott, Brock Mumford), assembled the cream of New York City based players, including trumpet great Jon-Erik Kellso, who contributes arrangements, trombonist John Allred, and saxophone/clarinetist Dan Block. The rhythm section includes players from Catherine Russell’s road tested band, including stride and swing connoisseur Mark Shane on piano, Lee Hudson on bass, and Brian Grice on drums (Count Basie Orchestra, Eartha Kitt). Additional players on the album include legendary hipster Howard Johnson on tuba, Rachelle Garniez on accordion, Sara Caswell on violin, Neal Miner on bass, and Rob Garcia on drums.

Catherine Russell is a New Yorker, born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a native of Panama who moved to New Orleans and then New York City, becoming a pioneering pianist/composer/bandleader, and Louis Armstrong's long-time musical director. Her mother, Carline Ray, an outstanding bassist and vocalist, has performed with Mary Lou Williams and International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Considering her roots and family pedigree, it’s no surprise that Catherine Russell is a one-of-a-kind singer and musician. Cat is in demand as a backing singer and multi- instrumentalist, having performed and recorded with artists including Steely Dan, Levon Helm, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Carrie Smith, and Rosanne Cash.

Of her debut album "Cat", (World Village/Harmonia Mundi), she made critic and Sinatra biographer, Will Friedwald's top 10 list who stated "She is a fresh and original voice. The most exciting debut album I've heard in a long time."    "It's a delight to hear the real thing in Catherine Russell", wrote the dean of jazz writers, Nat Hentoff, in The Wall Street Journal.


Catherine Russell's second album on World Village, "Sentimental Streak", was released in 2008 to universal acclaim, hitting the Billboard and I-Tunes Jazz Charts, and JazzWeek and Living Blues Radio Charts. Cat was a guest on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and NPR's "Fresh Air". She won the prestigious German Record Critics' Award in the Jazz category and Living Blues magazine's 2008 critics' poll as "Artist Deserving More Attention." L'Acadamie du Jazz in France chose "Sentimental Streak" as finaliste for Prix du Jazz Vocal 2008, while Grammy Award winning writer and jazz critic Francis Davis picked "Sentimental Streak" as Vocal Album of the Year in the 2008 Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll.

Since the release of her albums, Catherine Russell has performed on three continents. She's been the surprise hit at major events including the Chicago Blues Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Bern Jazz Festival, Rochester International Jazz Festival, Tanglewood Jazz Festival, Lotus World Music Festival, I Love Jazz Festival in Brazil, Panama Jazz Festival, and at premier venues like The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, The Dakota in Minneapolis, and Yoshi's in San Francisco. All Music Guide says, "Russell emerged as a retro old school vocalist for the ages."

Catherine Russell's "Inside This Heart of Mine" is a personal selection of gems from the 1920s through the Present; vital interpretations, bursting with soul and humor. Deepening the approach of her previous recordings -- an off-the-beaten-path song selection, sparkling small group acoustic swing, and a stunning vocal approach -- with "Inside This Heart Of Mine", vocalist Catherine Russell joins the ranks of the greatest interpreters and performers of American Popular Song.

Catherine Russell CD Release Party
Monday April 12
at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Broadway at 60th Street,
(33 West 60th Street)
NY, NY 10023
(212)258-9595

Marshall Ford Swing Band To Release Debut Album

Marshall Ford Swing Band — the “young and refreshing” Austin five-piece whose vocals, piano, guitars, bass and beat combine for a swing sound that sometimes goes country and sometimes scatters some jazz — releases its first studio album, the bright and buoyant IT’S ABOUT DAM TIME, on February 16 with CD release shows across the state.

Marshall Ford Swing Band members — Emily Ann Gimble (vocals and piano), Greg Harkins (guitar and vocals), Jeremy Wheeless (guitar), James Gwyn (drums) and Kristopher Wade (upright bass) — give it their all, onstage and now in the studio.

Word of mouth in Austin music circles and gigs in some of the city’s most popular restaurants and other venues, as well as time at the fiddle camp of legend Johnny Gimble (yes, Emily’s grandfather), have pushed the band’s evolution from its traditional country start to one embracing Western swing and its most engaging elements: retro shout vocals, twin guitar leads (by Harkins and Wheeless), an animated piano, and lyrics simple and straightforward.
Like the album, the band’s shows are full of up-tempo old-time swing tunes that band members love and love to play and country- and jazz-infused originals — all of which set toes to tapping and couples to dancing.
“This group’s tunes are reminiscent of the early days of swing music, where the bass kept the beat and the mandolin was a prominent fixture,” said the Austin American-Statesman.
Marshall Ford Swing Band upcoming shows include:
February 14, Sengelmann Hall, Schulenberg*
February 18, Dan’s Silverleaf, Denton*
February 19, The All Good Café, Dallas*
February 20, Saxon Pub, Austin*
February 26, Poodie’s Hilltop Bar & Grill, Spicewood
February 27, Dosey Doe, The Woodlands*
March 6, Auslander Biergarten, Fredericksburg*
March 8, Sam’s Burger Joint, San Antonio*
March 11, The Continental Club, Austin
March 26, Camp Street Café, Crockett
April 9, Central Market North, Austin
May 29, The Cain Center, Athens, Texas
* CD release shows

Swing Into The Holiday Season With George Gee's Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra

George Gee- for the Grateful Web

This Holiday season, The Edison Ballroom and producer Mickey Marchello, former guitarist from the legendary New York Rock Band Good Rats, will welcome the swing era sounds of George Gee and his Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra as they entertain guests with a new show that evokes a golden era:  "Sleigh Bells Swing."  George Gee and his 22-piece Big Band offer the perfect Holiday treat for not only swing and jazz music fans, but also for tourists and tri-state area residents looking for an incredible Holiday entertainment experience.  The Edison Ballroom poses as the perfect backdrop for George Gee's musical extravaganza with its plush leather walls and sophisticated art deco accents in tones of whites, blacks, shades of grey, and platinum juxtaposed against illuminated glass tiles.  Combined with the décor of The Edison Ballroom and a presentation of classic Holiday songs, guests will feel as if they are re-entering a fantasy world of 1930s/1940s retro era of glitz and glamour that no longer exists – until now.
 
A world-renowned professional swing band leader, George Gee is also the only Chinese-American one. He has compiled a hip and cosmopolitan big band show fully equipped with 22 tuxedoed musicians, captivating singers, rhythmic tap dancers and gravity-defying lindy hoppers, punctuated by a custom-tailored bandstand to complete the look of this elegant evening.  "Sleigh Bells Swing" will begin with an interactive and multi-media floor show with the full swing orchestra and complete cast during dinner, MC'ed by the seasonal anecdotes of Mickey Marchello.  After the show and four course meal, the complete 1,700 square feet dance floor will open for dancing to the swingin' big band sounds of George Gee and his orchestra.

Edison Ballroom's "Sleigh Bells Swing" will run straight from December 20th, 2008 through January 3rd, 2009 (with no performance on December 24th, 2008).  Tickets for the floor show and dinner are $190.00 per person including all drinks and dancing; tickets are $75 per person for general dancing, include open bar and hors d'oeuvres  (post-dinner and floor show).

ABOUT THE EDISON BALLROOM

The Edison Ballroom, first opened in the 1930's, reopened June 2008 following a $5 million renovation targeted to make it the premiere venue for a wide variety of private events and celebrations. Located at 240 West 47th Street in the heart of Times Square (between Broadway and 8th Avenue), the Edison Ballroom boasts a long and illustrious history that is still visible in the details of its restoration.  The new renovation is meant to highlight the room's art deco flair of the 1930's.  Owner, Allan Wartski (Christo's Steakhouse and Hakata Grill) hired Glen Coben of the award winning New York-based architecture and design firm Glen & Company to design the interior.  A neutral palette was used to play up the architectural details, spotlighting their beauty. The main floor houses a 700 square foot stage framed by elegant and traditional silk curtains. Upstairs is a balcony that has its own bar.

ABOUT GEORGE GEE

Nearly three decades ago, in an era when punk, new wave and heavy metal ruled, a Chinese-American musician named George Gee launched his imaginative big band vision.  A native New Yorker, George Gee has always loved the syncopated jump styles of the Big Band Era and his career was propelled by the support of  swing giant Count Basie.  He grew up with rock 'n' roll, R&B and disco – but also developed a powerful passion for swing. At renowned Stuyvesant High School, George Gee wowed the crowds with his flashy showmanship on bass in the school's jazz band.  After an extended stint on the road, George returned to his hometown of NYC in 1989 to make his big band dream a reality.  He  summoned top notch musicians – (young and old), including veterans of legendary bands such as those led by Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and also Latin and pop music giants – all to continue living his big band dream.
 
With each performance, George Gee's powerful and entertaining swing orchestra continues to set new standards and reach for loftier heights.  George Gee and the band were recently invited to the Middle East to perform for an audience including The Prince of Jordan and musical impresario Quincy Jones. Gee also served as a primary expert for the nationally broadcast and DVD distribution of the documentary "The Joint is Jumpin'" and was also a featured appearance on PBS's "Live at Lincoln Center" for 11 million viewers.  George Gee continues to tour the world spreading the Gospel of Swing and is ecstatic about his collaboration with The Edison Ballroom.

BEASTIE BOYS & FRIENDS ANNOUNCE SWING STATE VOTER AWARENESS TOUR

Beastie Boys - photo by Amanda Bell- for the Grateful Web

The Beastie Boys have confirmed selected dates through the crucial swing states of the upcoming election. Joining the band in various markets will be Sheryl Crow, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, Crosby & Nash, Santogold, Tenacious D, and special guests, as well as representatives from the Rock The Vote, who will be on hand to distribute information on local polling sites, including early voting locations where available.

Nov 1 St. Paul, MN - Roy Wilkins Auditorium
Beastie Boys/Ben Harper/Tenacious D
Tickets at Ticketmaster

Nov 2 Milwaukee, WI - US Cellular Arena
Beastie Boys/Ben Harper/Crosby & Nash/Tenacious D
Tickets at Ticketmaster

Plus more dates forthcoming!

Swing Fiddler/Vocalist Elana James Releases Solo Debut

Elana James- for the Grateful Web

"When one door closes, another opens" might seem little more than a comforting cliché, but don't try telling that to Elana James.  Dealt a nasty surprise little more than two years ago, when the band she'd worked with for close to a decade suddenly dissolved, James was more pleasantly stunned just weeks later by an invitation to join Bob Dylan's band - and what she learned in the course of touring with a legend set her on a new path whose first (but certainly not last) milestone is the February 27th, 2007 release of her solo debut, Elana James (self released on Snarf).

Almost evenly divided between captivating originals and deftly chosen standards, Elana James is a portrait of an artist at the crossroads between where she's been and where she's headed.  Whether she's singing or leading a swinging instrumental with her violin, James is confident and convincing - the legacy of years spent as a member of the acclaimed Hot Club Of Cowtown.  But while the album offers a healthy dose of her own take on the energetic "string jazz" that was the Hot Club's stock in trade, it points in new directions, too, serving up a compelling change of pace with "All The World And I," a haunting folk-flavored song that reveals a hitherto-unknown side of her creativity.  Leavened by favorites like Duke Ellington's "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)," the sprightly western swing anthem "Silver Bells," and a tip of the hat to Dylan ("One More Night"), Elana James marks the arrival of a strong new musical voice.

Even more than her contributions to the Hot Club's repertoire did, the set's original songs display Elana's deep affinity for the musical vocabulary of swing.  Backed by an ensemble that includes both current band members and some of the brightest lights of her adopted home town of Austin's rich musical scene, songs like "Twenty-Four Hours A Day," "Oh, Baby" and "Down The Line" go down smooth, yet swing ferociously from the first note to the last.  There's a nod to the dancers with the classic lines of her "Eva's Waltz," too, while James - with some help from Texas fiddle/mandolin legend Johnny Gimble - brings her own touch to "Goodbye Liza Jane" and "Silver Bells" in instrumental interludes that serve to complement the songs and highlight both James's and the ensemble's virtuosity.  And when it comes to interpreting standards, Elana easily rises to the challenge, whether giving a winsome reading of country music pioneer Carson Robison's "The Little Green Valley" or a sultry take on "I Don't Mind."

elana"One thing I realized when I was playing in Bob Dylan's band was that what we were doing was what everyone is doing, just at a higher level," James says.  "You write some songs, you teach them to people, and then you tour around and play them.  He's had unparalleled success, and he's peerless in what he does, and yet - on the outside, he's still off doing exactly the same thing as everyone else.  That was a revelation to me.  And it made me realize that if I started my own thing, there's a lot of dignity in just doing it; you don't have to worry about who you're playing for, you don't have to worry about how it's received, you just have to do it."

For Elana James, that realization led to a new career - and with the release of Elana James, it's led to a new opportunity for connoisseurs to discover the full extent of a remarkable musician's talent.

Elana James & The Continental Two ~ 2007 Tour Dates

* With Bruce Robison (solo)

3/16 SXSW / Momo's (9 PM) / Austin, TX
3/17 Gruene Hall / New Braunfels, TX

3/21 Maria's Taco Express / Austin, TX

3/23 Club Helsinki / Great Barrington, MA

3/24 United Methodist Church / Middlebury, VT
3/27-29 Rodeo Bar / NYC
3/30 Café Nine / New Haven, CT
3/31 Narrows Center for the Arts / Fall River, MA
4/10 Coffee Gallery / Altadena, CA

4/12 The Mint / Los Angeles, CA
4/13 Acoustic Music San Diego / San Diego, CA

4/14 West Side Theatre / Newman, CA
4/15 Freight & Salvage / Berkeley, CA
4/16 Don Quixote's Intl Music Hall / Felton, CA
4/18 Grass Valley Center for the Arts / Grass Valley, CA
4/19 Palm's Playhouse /  Winters, CA
4/20 Hotel Utah Saloon / San Francisco, CA
5/03 Continental Club / Houston, TX
5/05 Continental Club / Austin, TX
5/06 Gruene Hall / New Braunfels, TX
5/29 Ballard Park / Ridgefield, CT
5/30 Club Passim / Cambridge, MA