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6:21PM

LIV WARFIELD - TV Performance - "New Power Generation Hornz"

http://www.arseniohall.com/video/music-performances/4269_Liv_Warfield_Performs_Soul_Lifted/index.html

It was brought to my attention by another retired close-friend & colleague regarding a young singer named LIV WARFIELD.

After tuning in to The Arsenio Hall late night show at 11:00pm March 6, 2014 and viewing her YouTube videos, I found her showcased performance on The Arsenio Hall show was electrifying with an exceptional background band consisting with a brass section of trumpets, trombones, and a full saxophone section featuring two baritone saxes plus a driving rhythm section named the New Power Generation Hornz and her band The Black Birds.


While Prince was appearing as a guest on the show, he brought a special artist with him, Liv Warfield.

Her rendition of “Soul Lifted” was a special moment for the audience to view her exciting soulful performance. 

 In addition, I definitely would like to acknowledge the featured Tenor Sax man – (Keith Anderson) whose name was also bought to my attention; playing the instrumental introduction to her voice. His big sound along with his stage presence and soulful approach to the saxophone style is reminiscent of sharing the bandstand with many musician friends & vocalists during my career as a saxophonist.

It is my pleasure to share this link for your enjoyment.

http://www.arseniohall.com/video/music-performances/4269_Liv_Warfield_Performs_Soul_Lifted/index.html

4:43AM

FAVORITE RECORDINGS - Sil Austin - "Slow Walk" & "Danny Boy"

Many of the radio stations during 1955-1956 were featuring Rhythm & Blues music along with various popular commercial artists that were on the Hit Parade of listings standard songs.

I discovered one of the instrumental favorites recorded by saxophonist Sil Austin. It was an original composition named “Slow Walk." This instrumental was my introduction to the playing talent of Sil Austin, early in my career.  It was many years later when my colleague; Lew Entin of Lew Entin Theatrical Agency in New York, Las Vegas, and Florida brought this interesting fact to my attention.  

Sil Austin was a native of Florida and won the Ted Mack Amateur Hour in 1945. Lew also had the opportunity to schedule him to perform at various clubs and musical productions throughout many auditoriums & Jazz clubs in the South and the East Coast. Sil Austin’s recording of the standard song “Danny Boy” was his signature style of playing a ballad along with his rendition of “Slow Walk” for Mercury Records. During his career, he recorded more than 30 albums and singles. Lew Entin also mentioned that Sil Austin was influenced by Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, and Sonny Stitt. A brief list of the names of my favorite albums recorded by Sil Austin.

 

12:12AM

Johnny Saint - "The Joyriders" - Part I - *A Country Walk Back Home* Instrumental

 "A COUNTRY WALK BACK HOME"  

The inspiration to compose this original melody came about one evening while I was  having a casual meeting with longtime friend and musician, drummer Johnny Saint. We casually reflected about the many cities and nightclubs & musical lounges that we worked through the years. Traveling the east and west coasts of the United States plus the many appearances across the border into various sections of Canada. 

“The Joyriders” was a local Philadelphia based group of five musicians, headed by Johnny Saint and close friends from the surrounding area of the city of Philadelphia. The vocal expertise and musicianship was featured in all of their material from the current Top 10 Hits of the day to various Jazz arrangements that gave each member a solo spotlight at each and every performance.

I was fortunate to join the group in the mid-1960s after I departed “The Frank Virtue & the Virtues Revue.” Most of the members of “The Joyriders” were from the same Philadelphia neighborhood and enjoyed the same type of music from Rhythm & Blues, Classic Rock & Roll and JAZZ.  With this in mind, the experimental boundaries and musical input from each member at every performance was enjoyed by the audiences throughout the country.

While we spoke about the many cities we had traveled in the past. -  I played a demo tape of my instrumental composition “A Country Walk Back Home” that was dedicated to miles of travel through the years. As a drummer . . . I needed his input for a recording session, his creativity and spontaneous rhythm was shared by all during the session.

Synopsis:

(Produced and composed at IEA Recording Studios in the mid-70s - I was able to secure the talents of my friends that have recorded for major labels in the past. Even though, the saxophone is featured as the solo instrument. The rhythm section is tightly led by my friend Johnny Saint who devised a swinging touch of a two-beat rhythm tempo - which many people enjoyed dancing too at every performance.)

 In the following Chapters:

I also would like to recap some of

Johnny Saint’s memorable moments of his career in music.

Chapter 1

Looking back over more than 35 years in the music business . . .I realize what a blessing it was to be able to play an instrument as a drummer. - To be able to make a living at it is even sweeter. It is the only job that you would do for no pay, just to have the chance to play.

Johnny SaintFORT PITT- Atlantic CityMy group was called “The Joyriders” and from 1959 to 1963 I would play at Atlantic City’s “Fort Pitt” musical lounge located on New York Avenue & the Boardwalk from 10:00 pm to 3:00am.  After we completed our work schedule, our band and some friends all visited the famous Club Harlem located on what was known as “Kentucky & the Curb” where Chris Colombo & his band alternated with saxophonist Willis “Gator Tail” Jackson’s band until 5:00am. Then it was off to Rocky Castillani’s club at Missouri & Atlantic Avenues to play more music.


That point reminds me of the mornings I spent listening to some of the best music I ever heard at “Rocky’s” Bar that was owned by former middleweight boxer Rocky Castellani in Atlantic City.  The house band was an organ trio but by 4:00am . . . it became a Jazz Open House that featured visiting musicians from the surrounding seashore areas of Somers Point & Wildwood, New Jersey. During this time it would be possible to see, hear and enjoy as many as 10 or more musicians on the bandstand taking part of a swinging Jam Session that would last until the early morning hours of daylight.

Reflecting back to the age of five years old, my first interest in music was when I would listen to a Fat’s Waller radio show as I ate my lunch every day.

I liked the melodies being played, but I was more interested in the tempos and how it all meshed together with the other instruments. At an early age, when I began taking drum lessons at Wurlitzer’s Music store located at 10th and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia, PA . . . I honestly believed I was destined to be a musician. At the age of 14, I played my first job in a neighborhood bar, with a trio consisting of accordion, banjo and myself on the drums. I made $10.00 each night for Friday and Saturday weekend. I was hooked.

I also remember that on the second floor of Wurlitzer’s Music Store there was a free open space that was available for Jam Sessions every Tuesday Night to visiting musicians working within the Philadelphia area with other traveling Big Bands. Whoever was in town would stop by and play for this Jazz Open House.

One night there was Horace Silver, Chet Baker, and Zoot Sims all on the bandstand at once. One night a 15year old young man sat in and played his trumpet and blew everyone away . . . his name was Lee Morgan who later became a leading Jazz trumpeter and composer with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. 

  *<> * (More interesting material in upcoming future Chapters)

 

3:49AM

SAM DISTEFANO - A Tribute to a Friend & Colleague - Part III

It was just brought to my attention by Mike Distefano, his dad Sam Distefano will be celebrating his 87th birthday in this month of December 2013.

Mike also mentioned. Since they both retired from the Riviera Hotel & casino in 1993 -they formed their own entertainment management & consulting firm which they continued to operate successfully until 2003.  Currently they both maintain a healthy lifestyle consisting of a low-fat diet combined with daily exercise that includes swimming, cardio workouts, and resistance training with weights.

 

***As a Tribute to Sam Distefano in this Part III section***

I would like to share a Bio and some interesting facts from his respected career in as a Musician, Production, and position of V.P. of Entertainment for various major casinos.

> EARLY YEARS<

Sam Distefano is an exceptionally gifted, brilliant-minded, Italian-American jazz-pianist & talent executive born on the south side of Chicago, IL, in December 1926.  He exhibited signs of genius at an early age by demonstrating a wide range of talents that included speaking 2 languages fluently, performing piano recitals of complicated classical pieces (including the 'William Tell Overture' perfectly at only 8 years old & with a high fever no less), & earning straight A’s throughout elementary school & high school.  He was elected editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper at Tilden Tech & interviewed then General Dwight Eisenhower at the Drake Hotel for the paper when he was only 16.  As a teen & early-aged adult, he worked many jazz clubs on piano in the Chicagoland area.  He studied time & motion engineering at IT&T Institute & attended college briefly at the University of Illinois at Navy Pier before joining the military in the early '50’s.

>MILITARY PERIOD<

It was during this period that his lifelong, close friendship with the famous jazz pianist, Bill Evans, ensued.  During the Korean War, Sam & Bill Evans were stationed together at Ft. Sheridan in northern Illinois, bunkmates in the same platoon, & performed together in the 5th Army Band.  This unique opportunity enabled Sam to further develop his jazz piano playing.  It was also during this period that his wide range of talents once again shone through as he was accepted into the 5th Army Band on trumpet, called upon to perform "Taps" at many Chicagoland area Vet funerals, assigned percussion parts (including crash cymbals in the marching band), & was awarded the National Defense Service Marksmanship Medal for having demonstrated perfect firearms skills & proficiency in combat training.

>EDUCATION<

After serving honorably in the U.S. Army from '52-'55, Sam moved to Miami, FL & invested in a notable nightclub named the Crab Shanty that he changed to the Stut N’ Tut where he performed with the legendary jazz trombonist, Carl Fontana.  Performing in & operating the Stut N’ Tut enabled Sam to return to college.  Majoring in accounting, he graduated from the University of Miami in '57 with a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.  He accomplished this degree on limited amounts of sleep from having to work nights at the Stut N’ Tut while attending his full class load during the days.

>EARLY MUSICAL CAREER<

After graduating college, Sam was able to returned to his hometown of Chicago where his versatility of talent was exhibited yet again as he was working days as an industrial engineer for IT&T, & nights as a musician playing both piano & upright acoustic string bass.  Sam performed in many of the city’s famous nightclubs such as the Cloister, the Tradewinds, & the Living Room, relieving such famous pianists as Joe Parnello (Frank Sinatra’s pianist), Larry Novak, & Joe Iacco on their off-nights.  It was at one of these clubs that Victor Lownes & Hugh Hefner caught Sam performing with his trio & accompanying female jazz vocalists on piano.

PLAYBOY – Victor Lownes & Hugh Hefner liked Sam’s playing enough to ask him to perform with his trio at the 1st Playboy Club, which opened on Walton St. in Chicago, in February of 1960.  This launched what would turn into an elaborate 25-year career with Playboy that included Sam being promoted to musical director at their club in Miami from 1962-1969; orchestra leader, conductor, & entertainment director at their country club & resort hotel in Lake Geneva, WI from 1969-1978 (where he led his own 32-piece orchestra, accompanied on piano, & conducted for, such artists as Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, Liza Minnelli, Anthony Newley,The Smothers Brothers & Ann Margaret, to name a few); & eventually vice-president of entertainment for their entire international chain of clubs & hotels worldwide.  He also served, along with producer/director, Peter Jackson, as executive producer of the "Playboy Fantasy" production show & revue at the Playboy Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ from 1981-1983.  Sam was retained as a consultant for Playboy through the end of 1984. 

During this period that Sam owned, operated, & often hosted at, Doro’s Italian Restaurant & Lounge at 871 N. Rush St., a popular downtown Chicago nightspot frequented by VIP’s, Hollywood stars, & every "who’s-who" of the entire Tri-State area.  A Chicago VIP himself, He was often featured in Irv Kupcinet’s Chicago Sun-Times "Kup’s Column," plus local radio interviews, & on T.V. journal shows like WFLD’s "PM Magazine Chicago." 

>LAS VEGAS<

Immediately following his successful 25-year career with Playboy Enterprises, Inc., Sam was contacted and hired by corporate conglomerate tycoon, Meshulam Riklis in 1984 to head the entertainment department as vice-president of entertainment & special events at Riklis’ legendary Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.  Launching and booking many successful entertainment events at "The Riviera” during his decade-long tenure there.  These included numerous world-heavyweight championship-boxing bouts, concerts, & full-scale production shows like "A New Year’s Eve with Frank Sinatra & Pia Zadora;" the "Legends of Comedy" event, which featured Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, & Danny Thomas; "Burns & Hope Together," wherein George Burns & Bob Hope performed live together for the first time; "Luciano Pavarotti with the Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra;" the "Evening At La Cage" female impersonator show; the "Evening at the Improv" comedy club; the "Crazy Girls" sexy revue; & the award-winning "Splash" multi-million-dollar production-extravaganza, which Distefano associate-produced, that ran successfully for over 20 years in the Versailles Theater, & was acclaimed as "Las Vegas’ International Show of the Year" by the Las Vegas Review Journal for over 10 years in a row.  Sam was often a featured guest on the KVVU Las Vegas hit T.V. show "AM Southern Nevada," as well as a judge on the popular '80’s & '90’s national T.V. series "Star Search," with Ed McMahon, that paved the way for today’s talent search shows like "American Idol" & "America’s Got Talent."

The career of Sam Distefano was a highlighted exhibit in the Las Vegas Museum of Entertainment History at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino, & in '97, he was honorably inducted into the Casino Legends Hall Of Fame.  To this day, Sam remains the frequent subject of numerous, popular books about the history of music & entertainment in Chicago, Las Vegas, & the iconic Playboy Clubs.

 

>FAMILY & PERSONAL INTERESTS<

Sam hailed from humble beginnings.  His parents were both Roman Catholic immigrants from Sicily, with limited education.  His mother was a seamstress & his father was a meat plant worker on Chicago’s south side in the famous "Back of the Yards" union stockyard district during the Great Depression.  Yet they succeeded in raising 2 children – Sam & his only sister, Mary.  Distefano married in '67 in Miami (his wife, Pam, was an airline stewardess for Eastern Airlines), had 1 child in '69 (a son, Michael), divorced in '78, & never remarried.  His personal interests include reading National Geographic magazine, traveling, fishing, & playing poker (he was the 1st place winner of 3, large, international poker tournaments hosted at the Riviera & Desert Inn Hotels & Casinos in Las Vegas in '88 & '94, respectively).  He is an avid movie & T.V. fan of Charles Bronson, Steven Segal, Peter Sellers (the 'Pink Panther' films), & Peter Falk (particularly the '70’s detective series, 'Columbo.').  Sam participated in many large, charitable, fundraising events in both Chicago & Las Vegas for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association, & Injured Police Officers’ Fund.  A devout Catholic, he attends Mass regularly at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Las Vegas.  Sam also enjoys performing music with his son Mike (who also plays jazz piano & drums).

2:03AM

ILLINOIS JACQUET - "Texas Tenor"

My friend and colleague Lew Entin of Lew Entin Theatrical Enterprises often represented Illinois Jacquet,
Buddy Tate, and Arnett Cobb on many bookings throughout their music careers of the past decades during the 1950s and 1960s.  
Illinois Jacquet was raised in Houston, Texas where he
began playing drums and soprano sax during his high school years.
After performing with various local bands, he moved to the West Coast and joined Lionel Hampton as a tenor saxophonist and gained popularity for his 64-bar solo on the original
Lionel Hampton recording of “Flying Home.” 

 

Illinois Jacquet toured nationally and recorded with many "Jazz At The Philharmonic" (JATP) concerts that were produced by Norman Granz during the 1940’s and ‘50s as a principal soloist. Along with tenor men Buddy Tate and Arnett  Cobb, their hard-driving full tone swinging approach of playing became known as the “Texas tenor style.” He is also known as a master showman of the tenor saxophone. 

(Jazz Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow - pg.101)