Jazz and Classical Interviews

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Maria Elena Infantino Interview

Maria Elena Infantino Photo for Front PageSinger and actress Maria Elena Infantino will be performing on November 3rd (2017) at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood for the opening ceremony of the ARPA International Film Festival’s screening of the film Dalida. Dalida is based on the life and career of the legendary singer by the same name and as Infantino notes, of course she will be performing one of Dalida’s songs.   

Maria Elena Infantino’s performance at the ARPA International Film Festival could not come at a better time, as she continues to develop a new one woman show (she is well celebrated for her Édith Piaf show), this time featuring the music of Dalida.

Infantino says, “Dalida sang in fourteen languages. She was the Disco queen and she was huge in the seventies. She inspired me in the sense that it is so dramatic and theatrical to represent her life on stage. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary since her passing. I met the actress and the director from the movie Dalida, which was filmed in France and I thought why don’t I do this? She had such a wonderful life and for two years I have already incorporated some of her songs into my show. I sing “Bambino,” and “Paroles, Paroles,” the famous duet that she did with Alain Delon. I think I will be doing a show about her very soon, because everyone claims her. The Lebanese love her, the Armenians, the Egyptians, the Italians and the French. I would combine all of these cultures together and you can imagine the audience I would get with such an international flavor. It would unite all of the nationalities together.

The interesting thing about her is while I was  Read More

Celia Berk

Celia Berk front page photoThere is something about listening to a singer who knows how to infuse each and every phrase of a song with authenticity and when she is accompanied by superbly orchestrated musicians playing exquisite arrangements that puts you right in the middle of the scenes that she has vividly brought to life. Celia Berk’s interpretation of the songs on her current album Manhattan Serenade accomplishes all of that. The collection of thirteen songs by composers and lyricists such as David Heneker, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers / Lorenz Hart, Cy Coleman and David Zippel and others is Ms. Berk’s love letter to the city she has lived in and around her entire life. This is home for Celia Berk and in the midst of the hustle and bustle and masses of people she finds beauty and peace. That is really what this album Manhattan Serenade is all about.

It is about a woman who was born in Manhattan and grew up on Long Island, before eventually moving back to New York City, as an adult. As a young girl her mother would take her to the Opera on Saturdays and Celia Berk’s father inspired within her a love for the Great American Songbook.

“My mother took me to the Opera and she started out when she first came to the city and they had a subscription at the Metropolitan Opera. My father, because he commuted all week long into the city, the last thing that he wanted to do (was come back to the city) on a Saturday afternoon.  Frequently I was the one who went with my mother. I saw some of the absolute greats doing the Opera repertoire. That was my whole life,” she remembers. Read More 

Stew Cutler - Every Sunday Night

Stew Cutler Front Page PhotoDrop on in every Sunday night and hear us play. After listening to Stew Cutler’s album Every Sunday Night that is exactly what you will want to do and you will be checking out his website to figure out where he is playing his next gig. For the first time in more than a decade (our fault not his) we sat down with the affable guitarist / composer and talked about his new album.  

The album opens with “The Grind” introduced by Nick Semrad’s organ, percussion by Bill McClellan and a scintillating guitar solo by Cutler. If you like Funk and you salivate over a good groove with a late night nightclub feel then you are going to love “The Grind.”

Cutler talks about when he first started working on this album in 2015, “I was trying to arrange for somebody to come into the club and to just record us there, but for a variety of reasons I couldn’t get it to work. I went to a studio where I had previously recorded and I was very comfortable with the place, plus the engineer (Rich Gaglia) is brilliant. I thought it could flow pretty well if we came in and just more or less played live. It was recorded in one and one-half days.  There aren’t a lot of overdubs.  “The Grind,” was done in just one take.

I met Rich when I was still involved with Fountainbleu (Entertainment Inc., the record label) and I recorded a record there called So Many Streams. We played these songs and we didn’t do it piece by piece. There were no overdubs and there were no songs when I decided I would add acoustic guitar or there was a second synth track. There was none of that, but at the same time Rich Gaglia did his tinkering. He’s tremendous.”  Read More

Maria Schafer - To Know Love

Maria Schafer Front Page PhotoTo say that Maria Schafer is an old soul, a beautiful and classic voice from another era would seem to be stating the obvious, whether she is singing the Harry Warren and Mack Gordon song, “The More I See You” or Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” when she demonstrates her smooth, effortless scatting ability. Both songs are from her current album To Know Love. Where does that old soul vibe come from?

Maria Schafer explains, “I have always been a quiet, curious, studious type of person. It was not that I didn’t get along with children my own age; it was just that as I was growing up I was more interested in spending time with adults. I (wanted to know) what they were concerned about and I wanted to be a part of their conversations. I loved to do well in school and I was very shy. I loved to read and I was interested in the culture of the old school society that was presented in old movies from the forties through the sixties.

In high school I came across a movie called The Girl Can’t Help It featuring Jayne Mansfield and Julie London. Julie London plays a sultry ex-lover of one of the male leads. She keeps coming up in the movie singing “Cry Me A River,” which is the song that got me into Jazz. The way in which people conducted themselves and the way they communicated was always a little more attractive. Read More

Barbara Dennerlein New DVD / CD

Barbara Dennerlein 2016 Front Page PhotoBarbara Dennerlein one of the world’s most highly regarded organists and Jazz composers just released a brand new CD and DVD, My Moments, recorded live at Studio Acusticum in the northern Swedish town of Piteá. The original Jazz compositions are played on both the Hammond organ, for which she is more widely known and the pipe organ. The very congenial Dennerlein who has become a good friend of Riveting Riffs Magazine over the years spoke to us from her home in Germany and referred to this CD / DVD as her most personal recording so far.

She explains why, “It is so pure. It is a solo situation. I am alone with both instruments. It is so personal. I think my personal style has developed over many, many years and it is very special. When you have a solo situation you can hear it more clearly. Also you can hear the little things. Very often when you have a drummer with you no matter how good he is it is always covering details from the organ sound. I do so many little things, because I love the sound and I love the colors that you can make and little changes. I like to experiment with sound and I can do this alone with my instruments. That is why I think it is my most personal one.

(Also), there is nobody else that you can hide behind.  Read More

Elisabetta Russo

Elisabetta Russo front page imageElisabetta Russo is an Italian soprano soloist and Opera star who was born in Bari in the Puglia region of Italy and who grew up in Calabria in the town of Cariati. She now makes her home in Los Angeles, California and recently she received her green card. She has performed with some of Europe’s and North America’s most well-known members of the music community including, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster and Renato Bruson.

Describing her childhood she says, “It is a beautiful city in the Calabria region. I had a loving childhood and I was raised in a very loving family who always supported me. Living in Cariati it was nothing short of an amazing privilege, because I was incredibly lucky to play by the sea, inspired by nature and the coastline. I was twelve years old when my father brought home a magazine, along with a Classical CD of the opera Aida by Giuseppe Verdi. I fell in love with the story, but most of all with the beautiful music. It was my soundtrack for the whole next month. I just couldn’t stop listening to it.

I used to sing Pop music as a child, but then I am an old soul and Rossini, Verdi and Puccini were the right companions for the musical adventure that I was about to start.” Read More 

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