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Gary Smulyan with Dominic Chianese at Jazz At Kitano

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Gary Smulyan with Dominic Chianese Jazz At Kitano New York, NY April 5, 2014 Shortly before this show began, on a beautiful Saturday evening that truly marked the start of spring, a small crew of musicians and concert-goers, including this writer, were seated around the bar at Jazz At Kitano. The mood in the room was one of relaxation, with a low hum of conversation and laughter hanging in the air. The intelligently irrepressible Matt Wilson, who took to the drums once the show began, was playing ringleader for an impromptu game where participants ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gary Smulyan & Dominic Chianese: Bella Napoli

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Although Gary Smulyan is arguably the world's greatest baritone saxophonist, does that mean we all want to hear him blow on “Funiculi Funicula?" Is anyone especially eager to learn what world-class jazz players would do with such music, especially if your ancestral homeland isn't shaped like a boot? The quick answer might be no --- until you learn that Bella Napoli also features six vocals by the estimable Dominic Chianese, probably best known for playing devious Uncle Junior in the hit TV series, “The Sopranos." Although Signore Chianese is in his 80s, his tenor is still accurate and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gary Smulyan & Dominic Chianese: Bella Napoli

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Some concepts that seem far out, turn out to be right on. That is the case of the unlikely musical combination which comes together in the entertaining CD Bella Napoli--a salute to popular Italian song classics. Two greats pull this all together: acclaimed poll winner Gary Smulyan on baritone sax and actor-singer Dominic Chianese, well known as Uncle Junior on “The Sopranos," the Emmy-winning HBO TV series. And, as it turns out, Chianese is also a respected singer with a fine tenor voice. This is Chianese's second album For Smulyan, this is the jazz ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Gary Smulyan / Dominic Chianese: Bella Napoli

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Capri records seems to be committed to promoting meetings between actor-singers and jazz heavies. First came the pairing of Wilford Brimley and drummer Jeff Hamilton's trio in September of 2013. Now, right on the heels of that release comes a meeting between Dominic Chianese--best known as Uncle Junior on HBO's The Sopranos--and baritone saxophone ace Gary Smulyan. Together, they bridge the gap between Canzone Napoletana and jazz. Smulyan, the long-reigning king of the baritone saxophone, has a knack for birthing unique and/or interesting projects. The man, after all, put out the reeds-heavy Saxophone Mosaic (Criss Cross, 1993), ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Benedict & Bopitude featuring Gary Smulyan: Five and One

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Diamond hard bop is alive and well and living in Michael Benedict & Bopitude's studio. The quintet's debut, Michael Benedict & Bopitude (Planet Arts, 2011), established the group as a premiere hard bop unit employing the classic trumpet-tenor quintet format used by Miles Davis, Art Blakey and various others. For this edition of Bopitude, drummer Benedict adds baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan, whose Smul's Paradise (Capri Records, 2012) made its own hard bop waves. The pairing is an opportune one. From old bop like Kenny Dorham's “An Oscar for Oscar" to new bop like Bobby Watson's “Quiet as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gary Smulyan: Smul's Paradise

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While the tenor saxophone is no stranger to organ group gatherings, its big brother rarely comes to the party. It's hard to say whether a lack of interest amongst baritone saxophonists, insufficient opportunities for such combinations, or a paucity of players capable of pulling it off is responsible for this issue, but Gary Smulyan won't stand for it any longer. Smulyan, best known for his work with the legendary Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, has never been one to shy away from an opportunity to explore new surroundings. While he initially put his alto away and took on the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gary Smulyan: Smul's Paradise

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Recognized as one of the premiere baritone saxophonist in jazz today, Gary Smulyan has long had an affinity for the classic jazz organ trios and on Smul's Paradise he finally pays tribute to the format joining forces with Mike LeDonne, a master of the Hammond B3 organ. Not since saxophonist Ronnie Cuber performed with Lonnie Smith in the early '70s, has a baritone saxophonist led a typical organ trio. One major difference with this recording however; that the saxophonist fronts a quartet rather than a standard trio for this purpose, enlisting the help of guitarist Peter Bernstein and drumming sensation ...



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