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Today At The Monterey Jazz Festival: A Full Day Of Amazing Signings At The Mini-Amoeba!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, September 17, 2011 01:41pm | Post a Comment
It’s Saturday, our second day at the 54th annual Monterey Jazz Festival where we are onsite with a Mini-Amoeba store! Our tent has been jumping with festival goers who can’t get enough of the pianist Hiromi, whose newest release, Voice, has been flying off our shelves after her two performances at the festival yesterday. It’s Hiromi Mania! If you’d like to check out the piano magic, check out her albums on our site. Other hot items at the Mini-Amoeba include Richard Bona’s Ten Shades of Blues and Raul Midon’s Synthesis


Today we have a full roster of signings and it’s sure to be an amazing day for fans, who will have the opportunity to meet their heroes inside the Mini-Amoeba tent.

Donny McCaslin -- 3:30pm
Jazz saxophonist Donny McCaslin got his start after attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston, when he joined Berklee professor Gary Burton’s quintet, with whom he toured for four years. McCaslinDonny McCaslin Monterey Jazz Festival Amoeba Music moved to New York in 1991, working with bassist Eddie Gomez and then joining the group Steps Ahead, with whom he made the 1995 disc Vibe. McCaslin began to turn heads with his solo work in larger ensembles like Ken Schaphorst’s Big Band and Maria Schneider Orchestra, where his performance on the album Concert in the Garden received a Grammy nomination for “Best Jazz Instrumental Solo” in 2004.

His music became more adventurous as he worked with the quartet Lan Xang (which evolved from an experimental partnership with fellow New York saxophonist/composer David Binney) and the Douglas Quintet. Over the last two years, McCaslin has achieved wider praise for the incisive twists and purposeful turns of his emotionally charged solos. Those qualities – along with startling virtuosity, and his distinctive voice as a composer – has actually been on display for much of the previous decade, during which McCaslin proved himself a valued sideman on recordings by Danilo Perez, Luciana Souza, and performances with Tom Harrell, Brian Blade, John Patitucci, the Mingus Band, and Pat Metheny. Previous albums under his own name have shown him subtly incorporating elements of Latin American music within adventurous jazz frameworks.

In 2008, McCaslin won the DownBeat Rising Star Poll, and released the trio album Recommended Tools. His new electric record, Perpetual Motion, was released in 2011 and features Adam Benjamin and Uri Caine on Fender Rhodes, bassist Tim Lefebvre, and Antonio Sanchez and Mark Guiliana on drums.

Mitch Woods -- 4:30pm
Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88’s are the torchbearers of a great American musical heritage. Taking their inspiration from the great jump n’ boogie outfits and swingin’ little big bands of the ‘40s, they breathe fresh life into the music that gave birth to rock n’ roll. Mitch takes his cue from his jumpin’, n, jivin’, shoutin’ n’ honkin’, pumpin’ n’ poundin’ predecessors, Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway, Joe and Jimmie Liggins, Louis Prima, just to name a few. Mitch’s pile-drivin’ piano licks and energetic stage persona combine with the Rocket 88’s swingin’ horns, thumpin’ bass, rockin’ guitar, and jungle drums to send a crowd into dancing delight. They are one of the first bands on the West Coast to reach back to an earlier time in American music using humor, style, musicianship, and showmanship to forge their own swinging brand of music, which they coined rock-a-boogie. Mitch and the 88’s have distilled the essence of jump, swing, boogie woogie, made it their own, and deliver it to the present.

Soul Rebels & Kermit Ruffins -- 5:30pm
The Musical Majesty of New Orleans!

Soul Rebels Brass Band formed when Lumar LeBlanc and Derrick Moss, originally members of New Orleans’ iconic Dejean’s Young Olympia Brass Band, decided they wanted to play the new, exciting music they were hearing on the radio while respecting the tradition they loved. Both New Orleans natives, the pair was steeped in the fundamentals of New Orleans jazz, but inevitably, contemporary styles of music began to seep into their psyches. They found a stylistic middle ground when they spun off and formed a band of young, like-minded local players from all over New Orleans.

Soul Rebels honed their skills where most New Orleans brass bands do—in the street. But by the time Souls Rebels Monterey Jazz Festival Amoeba Musicthey were a functioning unit, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band had already broken out as an international touring act. That band’s success showed Soul Rebels a New Orleans brass band could not only have a contemporary sound, but it could also have a place on stage. Although the Dirty Dozen had updated the brass band tradition with elements of R&B and funk, Soul Rebels took it a step further, incorporating hip-hop, especially through half-sung, half-rapped lyrics. Soon, Soul Rebels’ contagious originals and updated takes on standards won them a loyal local audience. They began rocking some of New Orleans’ most beloved live music venues. A chance gig opening for the Neville Brothers got them a real start—and an official name. It was youngest brother Cyril Neville who first called them “Soul Rebels,” a band that strived to incite positive change in its treasured musical heritage.

Since those days, the band has settled on a seven-piece lineup, building a career around an eclectic live show that harnesses the power of horns and drums in the party-like atmosphere of a dance club. Their weekly show at Uptown New Orleans spot Le Bon Temps Roulé has been known to descend into a sweaty shout-along as the band mixes up songs from its five studio albums with hits by Jay-Z and OutKast. While touring the U.S., Soul Rebels have shared the stage with notable artists from many corners of the pop and jazz worlds, including A Tribe Called Quest, Green Day, The Roots, Counting Crows, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Digital Underground, Allen Toussaint, Lionel Hampton, Terence Blanchard, and Branford Marsalis.

When Hurricane Katrina struck their hometown in 2005, the band scattered across the region. Though a few members relocated to cities in Texas, the band frequently reconvened for gigs in New Orleans. Since the storm, the band has been more successful than ever serving as an international ambassador of the New Orleans sound. Now a hardcore touring band with a solid-as-ever lineup, the band has recently represented its hometown on television, appearing in the season finale of the HBO seriesTremé and the Discovery Channel hit After the Catch. But the title of its 2010 live album, No Place Like Home, reveals exactly how the band feels about its city’s rich cultural heritage and the opportunity to spread it around the world.


Of all the musicians portraying themselves in the quasi-fictional world of HBO’s ground-breaking series, Tremé, only one comes across as completely genuine and downright real. Trumpeter, vocalist, andKermit Ruffins Monterey Jazz Festival Amoeba Music bandleader Kermit Ruffins holds his own in every scene with the award-winning actors whose characters populate post-Katrina New Orleans. Ruffins exudes a natural charisma on the screen that can’t be taught or faked.

While still in high school, Ruffins he co-founded the Rebirth Brass Band – a group that revolutionized the brass band community in New Orleans with songs like “Do Watcha Wanna” that have become anthems. Young musicians playing second-line music helped revitalize the anemic social aid and pleasure club scene as well. When Rebirth was formed in 1983, there were less than ten of the iconic clubs on the back streets of New Orleans. Now there are so many that the “season” of Sunday parades extends from Labor Day to Father’s Day.

After less than a decade fronting the band and touring the world, Ruffins made a bold and risky decision to leave Rebirth and go solo. At the time there were very few young musicians playing traditional jazz. Nearly all the backing musicians on his first album were decades older. Now, Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers are a beloved institution – a must-see for every New Orleans visitor and a favorite of local critics and music lovers. As he’d helped spur the formation of new brass bands in his 20s, he’s since influenced the city’s musical direction in the twenty-first century.

John Pizzarelli -- 7pm
John Pizzarelli, the world-renowned jazz guitarist and singer, has established himself as one of the prime interpreters of the great American songbook and beyond, bringing to his work the cool jazz flavor of his brilliant guitar playing and singing.

Pizzarelli started playing guitar at age six, following in the tradition of his father. After playing in pickup John Pizzarelligroups and garage bands through high school he began exploring jazz with his father as a teenager,and was able to perform with a number of great jazz musicians who would be a major influence on his work, including Benny Goodman, Les Paul, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry and Slam Stewart. John went out on his own after recording My Blue Heaven for Chesky Records in 1990, then toured extensively, playing clubs and concert halls, opening for such greats as Dave Brubeck, Ramsey Lewis, and Rosemary Clooney. In 1993, he was honored to open for Frank Sinatra’s international tour and then joined in the celebration for his 80th birthday at Carnegie Hall bringing down the house singing “I Don’t Know Why I Love You Like I Do” with his father accompanying him.

Pizzarelli signed with the GRAMMY® Award-winning label Telarc International in 1999 recording a string of successful CDs starting with Kisses in the Rain, a diverse set of standards and original tunes that showcases the spontaneity of his live performances within a studio setting, followed by Let There Be Love. On his 2002 album, The Rare Delight of You, Pizzarelli teamed up with veteran pianist George Shearing. In the tradition of classic quintet-and-vocalist recordings, they lay down great standards as well as a couple originals, all with vibrant arrangements. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the John Pizzarelli Trio along with pianist Ray Kennedy and bassist/brother Martin Pizzarelli, Live at Birdland was released in April of 2003. This two CD set seamlessly James Taylor folk with Gershwin and Van Heusen standards, in addition to original Pizzarelli compositions.

In 2006, Telarc introduced Dear Mr. Sinatra, John’s tribute CD to “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” featuring the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. The CD features John Clayton’s clever reworking of classic standards like “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “You Make Me Feel So Young,” as well as songs written Sinatra for like “Ring A Ding Ding,” “Nice And Easy” and “The Last Dance.” His 2008 recording, the GRAMMY Award-nominated With a Song in My Heart, celebrates the music of legendary composer Richard Rodgers.

His latest recording, Rockin’ In Rhythm, the singer-guitarist’s first ever Duke Ellington recording, features 12 classic tracks that prove Pizzarelli – like Ellington – knows how to show off the strengths of the musicians in his band. In addition to a cut for solo guitar, four songs highlight the quartet and seven include the Swing Seven horns with arrangements by Don Sebesky.

In addition to being a bandleader and solo performer, John has been a special guest on recordings for major pop names such as James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Kristin Chenoweth, Tom Wopat, Rickie Lee Jones and Dave Von Ronk, as well as leading jazz artists like Rosemary Clooney, Ruby Braff, Johnny Frigo, Buddy DeFranco, Harry Allen and, of course, Bucky Pizzarelli. He was featured opposite Donna Summer, Jon Secada, and Roberta Flack on the GRAMMY Award-winning CD Songs From The Neighborhood: The Music of Mr. Rogers in 2005.

Relevant Tags

Treme (3), Hiromi (2), Kermit Ruffins (3), Mitch Woods (3), Donny Mccaslin (2), Soul Rebels (4), Monterey Jazz Festival (26), Richard Bona (2), Raul Midon (1), New Orleans (45)