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Gary Smulyan with Dominic Chianese at Jazz At Kitano

Read "Gary Smulyan with Dominic Chianese at Jazz At Kitano" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

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 ...

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Gary Smulyan & Dominic Chianese: Bella Napoli

Read "Bella Napoli" reviewed by Dr. Judith Schlesinger

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 ...

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Gary Smulyan & Dominic Chianese: Bella Napoli

Read "Bella Napoli" reviewed by Larry Taylor

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 ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Gary Smulyan / Dominic Chianese: Bella Napoli

Read "Gary Smulyan / Dominic Chianese: Bella Napoli" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

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 ...

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Gary Smulyan: Smul's Paradise

Read "Smul's Paradise" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

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 ...

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Gary Smulyan: Smul's Paradise

Read "Smul's Paradise" reviewed by Larry Taylor

A baritone saxophonist leading an organ trio is certainly a rarity; the results of Gary Smulyan's Smul's Paradise is, in sixties hip, a “gas." This slang seems especially appropriate here because the CD pays tribute to an often-overlooked organist, Don Patterson, who came on the scene in that decade. Fronting a quartet behind his big bari, Smulyan contributes his tribute, “Blues for D.P.," in addition to including two tunes by Patterson in the eight-song set. Smulyan has said ...

INTERVIEWS

Gary Smulyan: Low Man Aims High

Read "Gary Smulyan: Low Man Aims High" reviewed by Edward Bride

A baritone saxophonist who plays like Bird? And harvests more than a half-dozen Grammy awards in the process? That seeming contradiction characterizes the great successes of Gary Smulyan, one of today's most in-demand jazz performers, educators, and recording artists.

To be fair, Smulyan has his own voice, but he cites Charlie Parker as one of his earliest, most important, and enduring influences. And in these later years, Phil Woods also falls into that category. That one ...

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Gary Smulyan: High Noon: The Jazz Soul of Frankie Laine

Read "High Noon: The Jazz Soul of Frankie Laine" reviewed by Jim Santella

This tribute album by baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan features his bebop-based nonet pulling inspiration from a 1956 album by pop singer Frankie Laine (1913-2007) and trumpeter Buck Clayton. As Laine's foray into jazz's '50s mainstream, Jazz Spectacular (Columbia) represented a piece of the singer's repertoire not as well-known as his pop music. It allowed him to interact with instrumentalists of the era who represented jazz authority and had little to do with themes such as “High Noon," “Mule Train," “Cool ...

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Gary Smulyan: More Treasures

Read "More Treasures" reviewed by Francis Lo Kee

Perhaps if you asked jazz fans to name a progenitorial baritone saxophonist, they might name Harry Carney or Gerry Mulligan. Yet Gary Smulyan's lineage comes more from musicians like Cecil Payne, Leo Parker, Pepper Adams, Serge Chaloff and Nick Brignola--the few baritonists that dared to master the tricky, chromatic music known as bebop. Indeed, More Treasures is oozing bebop and Smulyan is fluent in the language. Some tracks are performed with sax, bass and drums only and though this is ...

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Gary Smulyan: Hidden Treasures

Read "Hidden Treasures" reviewed by Greg Thomas

Hidden Treasures smokes from the very first cut. Joined here by bassist Christian McBride and drummer Billy Drummond, Gary Smulyan makes a major statement with every new release. He eschewed smaltz for hard swing on Gary Smulyan with Strings. On Blues Suite he played fiery baritone sax with a brass section. He led a straight-ahead, take-no-prisoners quintet on The Real Deal. On Hidden Treasures his pared-down ensemble produces such a plethora of rhythmic and harmonic colors that ...


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