Consisting of new and old entries in the Great American Songbook, vocalist Tony Messina’s debut spans a range of styles. It catches the subtle spice of Jobim's "One Note Samba" (including a clever piano sampling of "The Summer Knows"), mellows into the Gershwins' remorseful "Isn't It a Pity," changes tempo for "Come Rain or Come Shine," swings into a bouncy take on Van Morrison's romantic plead "Moondance" and takes a fiery jungle tour through Harold Arlen's "Old Black Magic" (complete with a Sinatra and Dorsey-esque full-swing coda), taking the listener through a gambit of emotions and styles along the way.
The only constant, it seems, is Messina's talent and care in each and every performance. Every note is considered yet free. Every song digs into its own story and lets it fly. Such is especially the case with Messina's own compositions. From the cabaret opener "Wonders of the World" to the emotional title track and the more up-tempo (though no less meaningful) "It's a Loving World," Messina fits himself at least near the Songbook pantheon. While somewhat reminiscent, Messina's lyrics add a freshness and energy often lost and laid stale in these great old standards, revealing and building upon their inner secrets.
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total)
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total). He saw an alto sax on my neck and said: Hey, how about you there, would you like to play something for us? I played a piece with the piano. OK, said Lee, how about you play something unaccompanied? Oh yeah! I was deep into transcribing Sonny Stitt and pretty much into playing as fast as possible as many right notes as possible. So I played Oleo in about 300 beats per minute and was very proud of myself. Lee was tapping his foot all the way through. Hmm, he said, that was in time and all that... (I thought - yeah, of course, haha!) and then he said, You've got a lot of quantity, how about quality? It took me 15 years to realize what he meant.