Friday, January 7, 2011

An Ido Sushi New Year's Eve- Furry Murray & new friends

New Year's Eve is always an enigma for me. To spend it with my friends is wonderful, but as a musician, I always want to be making music. This New Year's Eve I decided to combine the two at IDO SUSHI, a Japanese restaurant in Greenwich Village where I have been entertaining, doing my Furry Murray Fridays since May of 2010. Not only did some of my favorite people come out like Tim and Valbourg Lynn who brought Robert Edelman and the great artist, Ilona Granet, but the Flamenco dance troupe Noche Flamenca who brought a crew of 18! (They are performing at The Cherry Lane Theater till January 12)

MY PLAN was to start playing New York songs for my 11:00 set and started with "How About You", then "I'll Take Manhattan" and a Cole Porter song written for "The New Yorkers" that I heard Bobby Short perform called "I Happen to Like New York." It has a great bridge:
"Last Sunday afternoon I took a trip to Hackensack,
But after I gave Hackensack the once over, I took the next train back."

After that I did Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind," a wonderful song that can rouse any crowd, even one that includes cynics and non-believers. I brought us to the count-down to 2011 by getting everyone to join in with my rendition of the Dominico Medugno hit, "Volare" in Italian, I might add! Then we brought in 2011 singing "New York, New York."

Usually, I invite singers up to join me at Ido Sushi and that night with several tables filled with a rhythm clapping, rowdy rapping Flamenco dance troupe, I decided to jump into 2011 immediately. I approached the big table and said, "By the way you are clapping in rhythm, I know you are a musical crowd. I also know there has to be some wonderful singers among you and if you would like to come up and sing, I would be happy to accompany you." Sometimes people are quite shy, but not our Noche Flamenca table. I immediately saw three men start to fiddle with their napkins and get up from the table!! When the first of them got to the stage, I said, "What song, what key?"He said, "Sorry, no English, just play riff and I improvise!" Well, I started playing a "montuno" that I got from Dizzy Gillespie and the singing took us to a place where we were down the tracks like a train in motion! Two singers later, 45 minutes had past and I could not have been happier doing one of the things I love to do which is to communicate with music!!!

Let me not underestimate the incredible environment that Tora and Jane have created at Ido Sushi that makes this all possible. It's magic! Ido Sushi boasts nightly music programs including my buddy, Tommy Mandel who does a "Rock Cafe" on Tuesdays. (Tommy graciously used to let me sit in at his Friday gig at The Empire Diner) "Opera Night" happens every Wednesday and Saturday. I have worked at more upscale venues for more remuneration and more famous personalities, but this was the most joyous New Year that I have had in a long time! Visit me at my Furry Murray Fridays at Ido Sushi. more info at:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings / Allen Toussaint at Best Buy Theater

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, December 30, 2010. Everybody get on the dance floor! Holy Moly! I have been Dapped, Tapped and Zapped by the awesome Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings' show some nights ago. My composer/pianist friend, Leslie Steinweiss from Mannes School of Music arranged for us to see the show. His son, Homer has been the drummer. (and backbone for the group's groove and swing for some years. He has even written songs for the group) After Mark Ronson heard him drum, he dapped him, oh I mean tapped him as the meat and potatoes of the rhythm section to record his Amy Winehouse hit album "Back to Black." Also, check out "Make the Road by Walking" created with Tom Brenneck for Dunham Records! This was sampled by Jay-Z for his smash hit from American Gangster, “Roc Boys (and the Winner is…)” and when I say "Dunham Records" it is really vinyl!

Getting back to the show, Allen Toussaint was the warm-up act and he is one of the great New Orleans based songwriter/producer/ arranger and singer. And I must mention that his funky style honey-dipped piano playing is totally unique and is a complete musical meal all by itself. Close to the end of his set, he brought out the Dap Kings to join him (which included 3 horns) and I am always amazed at how well placed his syncopated horn parts are. Like the consummate producer that he is, he even directed the horn solos by pointing at the trumpet player and saying "trumpet" than "tenor" and then, "baritone" and then saying "trumpet and now everybody." And with a jazzy contrapuntal interplay flowing through the air, he looked at the audience and said "That's New Orleans!"

After an intermission, The Dap Kings came out and started the ball rolling with some tight funk playing that made me want to "shake and shimmy." After a few songs, the star of the show, Sharon Jones came out to join the band and I have not experienced this kind of non-stop exhilaration since watching James Brown during his "Living in America" tour!! Special favorite songs were "Window Shopping" and "100 Days, 100 Nights." Her patter is everything you want to know and her dancing is everything you want to see and her singing is like nothing you have ever heard. Infectious as can be and I burned my throat shouting, hooting and hollaring. (I explained that to my New Year's Eve audience at IDO SUSHI why my voice was froggy-toned that night.) I am thinking of checking out Sharon Jones again later this month on the 23rd in Poughkeepsie at the Bardavon Opera House. More on that.