On any given Sunday especially if the weather is good, if one travels to Long Island's North Shore "Gold Coast" you will occasionally see beautiful, hand-detailed Rolls-Royces, Ferraris, Bentleys or other luxury-end autos tooling about. In more than one conceptual way, Jazzical Menken is tantamount to experiencing this metallic magnificence. The primary difference, thankfully, is that one can enjoy this marvelous recording 24/7/365 and it never needs brakes or horrors!a tune up.
Virtuoso pianist and composer/arranger Joel A. Martin, under his Jazzical® brand banner has gathered an energized group of world-class musiciansplayers and vocalistsput them with his neatly arranged charts and celebrates very well-known works of Oscar®, Grammy®, you-name-it-award-winning composer, Alan Menken.
Deploying a stellar "show band," as well as the actual vocalists who sang these hits for the Disney movies or on Broadway and a full men's chorus to bootMartin and Company chauffeur the listener on an enjoyable 60-minute Disney ride that is entertainment of the highest order. Throw in two Menken world premieres and it's a bravura performance all-around.
Martin is a keyboard whiz who demonstrates chops aplenty ("A Whole New World") and a gift for soulful swinging. His accompaniment behind the All-Star batting order of vocalists is superb ("Cold Enough to Snow," "So Close"). As arranger, he is shrewd to realize that while he's working with golden-spun material, there's still room to place his own mark"Beauty and the Beast" in a vampish "Killer Joe" groove, for example.
With lead trumpeter Winston Byrd deftly driving this luxury bus, the band swings heavy. The rhythm and percussion sections keep things framed well. But, it's the vocalists that steal this show. Liz Callaway ("Part of Your World," "Somewhere That's Green"), Amanda McBroom ("A Place Called Home"), Christine Pedi ("Jazz Lullaby") and the Gay Mens' Chorus of Los Angeles ("Seize the Day") each take Menken's material and flavor it with boffo theatrical flair.
Jazzical Menken is a terrific musical tribute to Menken and his Mouse House canon. It's as enjoyable as a Sunday ride with Tinkerbell as "The Spirit of Ecstasy" on the hood catching the colors of the wind.
Track Listing: Seize the Day; Part of Your World; A Place Called Home; Beauty and the
Beast; Cold Enough to Snow; Jazz Lullaby; Under the Sea; Colors of the
Wind; A Whole New World; So Close; That's How You Know; Anytime You
Need a Friend; Somewhere That's Green; God Bless Us, Everyone.
Personnel: Joel A. Martin: pianist/creator; Liz Callaway: vocals; Amanda McBroom:
vocals; Christine Pedi: vocals; David Dunaway: upright/electric bass;
Steve Johns: drums; Jon Berger: drums/percussion; Fernando Saci:
Brazilian percussion; Paul Lieberman: tenor sax; Winston Byrd:
trumpet; Jon Mark McGowan: trumpet; Sam Burtis: trombone; Chloe
Sasson: conductor; E. Jason Armstrong: vocal conductor; The Gay Men's
Chorus of Los Angeles (Ryan J. De Korte, Christopher M. Etscheid, Doug
Gardner, J. Russell Kieffer, Santo C. Ragno; Dave J. Sanchez; Dave J.
Volpe; Peter Wilson, Justin W. Wu, Ed Carlo Arafiles, David Backus,
Evan Fable, Steve Goodwillie, Markus Honaker, Will Kohlschreiber,
David J. Lick, Josh Minnie, Lance J. Olson, F. Thomas Simpson, Daniel
T. Stewart Mark L. Britt, Bobby Buchanan, Mark Cramer, Cary Monette,
Denny Schimmel, David Sperber, John Yong, Bill Bowersock, Marty Brier,
Kenny Callaghan, Jadrian Johnson, Brandon Petross Oliver, Billy Rugh,
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds. I love how jazz can involve musicians who may have never met each other can coming together and making incredible music by referring to the Great American Songbook and musicians who have been playing together for years, who have a deep connection and who explore and create original music that is at the cutting edge of musical innovation in every sense. Performing jazz music requires a virtuosity and technique that only strict discipline can teach as well as a spontaneity and playfulness that reflects the simple folk roots of the music.
I was first exposed to jazz as a student in college. Only knowing I wanted to play guitar, I enrolled in an applied music program that focused on Jazz rhythm section playing. The subsequent journey that I have been on since the time that I enrolled in that class has helped me grow not only as a musician but more so as a person.