Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Monday evening New York got a breath of "Fresh Air" administered by the lovely Brianna Thomas, a voice of extreme beauty and excellence, a vocalist who takes us back to the days of great show business and innovative jazz stylings. It was a packed house of musicians, singers, teachers, students, and family members who came expecting something wonderful. However, we got much more: we witnessed the birth of a real artist.

I am most fortunate to have been her voice instructor at The New School for the past several semesters. Our work together not only secured her vocal column, but has given her an understanding of how to maintain vocal health and promote serious longevity. Brianna's talent is one that only God can take credit for; we are only blessed to have been a small part of her journey toward total professionalism. Our Executive Director, Martin Mueller, wore a smile of pride that shone like a beacon (see photo).

The Brianna Thomas Quartet performed recently at Dizzy's at Lincoln Center. Her evening's title was "Night Time is the Right Time," but when you listen to Brianna, any time is the right time for that breath of "Fresh Air."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Joy Spring

This past Friday evening my "Story Song Stage" class at The New School presented their final performance, ending this semester. We had a packed house and the students did themselves proud.

We had taken time and care to give our show an appropriate title: you guessed it, "Joy Spring," and one of the lovely young ladies in the class sang the very intricate jazz selection which lent its name to the show. Needless to say I was very proud because it was so well received.

Another source of pride was the participation of my wife, Etta, who accompanied one of the selections on cello. I took a chance and had the Bachianas Brasileiras by Villa Lobos performed by eight voices, one cello, piano, upright bass, and drums. It is a very serious classical work intended for eight cellists and one soprano. I had presented this work in my company before with great successes, but had never ventured until now to change the tempo to a slight Bossa Nova feel and only use one cello. IT WORKED!

There were many other highlights and the students felt quite accomplished.

Our show title was also appropriate because of the JOY I feel in being able to share that my vocal manual, The Art of Jazz and Bel Canto, is finished and published. This is not a how-to book, but a guide and support for vocal maintenance and longevity. I am most GRATEFUL to have gotten this done; next, is the memoir, which is still in the works.

Spring also brings the acknowledgement of my position this summer at Morgan State University as a faculty member for their Opera Workshop. My last experience there was so wonderful, my anticipation is over the top.

So "Joy Spring" is truly a beginning, not just the end of a semester. BRAVO class of "Story Song Stage" 2011. Thanks to my beloved cellist Etta, pianist Nori Ochiai, bass player Lucas Dedmon, and drummer Andrej Hochevar. It was a JOY.