Tag Archive: jazz

Russ Spiegel

Before We Get Started…

When I began writing this column, I had no idea if anyone would ever read it, let alone respond to it. I’m still not sure how often it gets looked at, though Joey over at earbits.com assured me about 50-60 people read “Notes” each week. I hope they are not counting the times I check it myself – that may account for about 30% of those hits! I did take it upon myself to post the link to my writings each week on facebook and a number of friends have responded saying they actually read my stories, which is encouraging. I especially like the response I got from fellow guitarist Sebastian Noelle, who responded with a fairly odd New York experience of his own:

Russ Spiegel

There is a natural antipathy amongst quite a few musicians towards singers. If you ever heard or wondered about musicians’ misgivings on this subject, just remember the oft-told joke spoken ‘round the late-night hangs and wherever musicians gravitate:

Q: How do you know a singer is outside your door?
A: She can’t find the key and doesn’t know when to come in.

Well, now that you’ve read about one of my brighter musical moments, I wanted to share with you another side of the jazz musician’s life: not exactly horrific, just one of the more bizarre situations I have found myself in. My thanks to Chris Parrello for reminding me of this story, and his particular role in it:

Mr. Moustache

As I was scuffling to find my next topic, Joey here at earbits.com recommended I write about my best, or at least most memorable, gig I ever had. I have to say a number of concerts stick in my mind: the time I led my big band at the 30th Deutsches Jazz Festival in Frankfurt, Germany, in front of thousands of jazz fans (and also shown on German TV), or the week I spent playing at the wonderful jazz club Innere Enge in Bern, Switzerland in quartet with my mentor Gene “Mighty Flea” Conners (more on him in my my most recent blog), maybe the time I played with my quartet Guitar Hell at the club Sunset in Paris, or the concert I did with my Indian-Jazz group Sundar Shor in front of the Gateway of India in Mumbai, India – the list is happily long. One gig though that really sticks in my head was not necessarily the most musically satisfying, but the setting made a deep impression on me.

In Memoriam: Gene “Mighty Flea” Conners 12/28/1930 to 6/10/2010

The author (with hair!) & the Mighty Flea. Leonard Jones on bass, Ralf Heinrich, drums. Frankfurt, Germany, sometime in the mid ‘90s.

Hi there and welcome to my new series, “Notes of a Jazz Survivor.” As someone who has been surviving as a jazz musician for over 20 years now, I was delighted to be asked by Yotam and Joey over at earbits.com to share some of my thoughts, experiences and insights into what it takes to “survive” as a performing musician in an environment of rising costs, low wages and diminishing performance and recording opportunities.

Welcome to Jazz Reality

I’ve just wrapped up an interview with one of our upcoming jazz artists, Brettina Robinson, who, as it turns out, isn’t just beautiful to listen to and look at, but to know as well.  She’s personable, professional, and driven to turn what she loves into a long and healthy career.

Brettina, her self-titled album, features 11 great songs recorded and produced over 7 months starting in September of last year. The process, which took place at Studio City Sound, was like working with family, she says.  All of the music was recorded live, something that Brettina says was necessary to get the kind of energy she wanted.

Russ Spiegel - Composer and GuitaristBy far one of the biggest channels shaping up here at earbits is our jazz station. We’ve got close to 100 great artists already on board and we’re adding more every day. One of the exciting artists we’ll be featuring is The Russ Spiegel Jazz Orchestra. Led by Russ Spiegel, a killer composer, arranger, and guitar player, this 17-piece Jazz Big Band knocks out famous tunes by Duke Ellington, Paul Weston and more, using Russ’s original arrangements, as well as some high-energy originals composed by Spiegel himself. You can check it out on their latest album, Transplants, available on CDBaby.

Nick Mancini on VibesIn case you’ve missed it, we’ve been interviewing several jazz artists that will be gracing the “airwaves” when earbits launches this summer – monster after monster, like bass-master Damian Erskine, and Blood, Sweat and Tears’s Jens Wendelboe.  Today, we caught up with L.A.’s finest vibraphonist, Nick Mancini.

For those of you not in the know, Nick is the epitome of a “jazz monster”.  His sound is solely his own, his chops are blinding, and his between-song banter makes his already fantastic jazz performances equally entertaining comedy shows.  He has a killer new album out called N:ow, which will be available for sale on this site later this year (or email him on Myspace and tell him you want one badly).  Nick plays L.A.’s top venues with some of its best musicians – Otmaro Ruiz, Robert Russell, Dave Wood, Nate Wood (no relation), Jimmy Branly, Russ Spiegel, Matthias Bublath, and our own Yotam Rosenbaum.

Champian FultonThis is my first CD review for earbits.  I had to choose from over 40 great albums that have quickly piled up on my desk.  It is amazing how many great “undiscovered” artists are out there and it’s our mission at earbits to connect these high quality artists with their target audience.

Choosing which album to review from the pool of greats was an easy task.  Champian Fulton is an incredible vocalist and piano player.  It took me two seconds to fall in love with her voice.  It is so sincere and real.  On this album, The Breeze and I, Champian is joined by Neal Miner on bass, and Fukushi Tainaka on drums.