WHAT THE HELL THIS THING IS:
Mitchell Froom and I put this track together in the midst of the NY lock down this Spring. I wrote the song with Byron Isaacs, recorded it on my iPhone (voice and acoustic guitar) and sent it to Mitchell who then blew it up with this great arrangement.
Now Mitchell and I have this thing, no guitar solos in general, but I loved this track that Mitchell put together and was dying to hear what someone would do over it. We decided to throw it out to some friends and see what happened if they did their thing over an extended outro. I sent it initially to Nels Cline, David Hidalgo and Marc Ribot. They all sent back tracks cut from home rigs or whatever they could muster at the time.
Now we have about 15 or so versions from other great players we respect which we’ll post. It just kind of turned into something. Maybe we’re crazy, I don’t know, but…Don’t Get Me Started…
Guitar explorer Nels Cline is best known these days as the lead guitarist in the band Wilco. His recording and performing career — spanning jazz, rock, punk and experimental — is well into its fourth decade, with over 200 recordings, including at least 30 for which he is leader. Cline has received many accolades including Rolling Stone anointing him as both one of 20 “new guitar gods” and one of the top 100 guitarists of all time.
Marc Ribot (pronounced REE-bow) was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1954. As a teen, he played guitar in various garage bands while studying with his mentor, Haitian classical guitarist and composer Frantz Casseus. After moving to New York City in 1978, Ribot was a member of the soul/punk Realtones, and from 1984 – 1989, of John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards. Between 1979 and 1985, Ribot also worked as a side musician with Brother Jack McDuff, Wilson Pickett, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Chuck Berry, and many others.
Valentine “Val” McCallum is an English-Scottish guitarist and singer-songwriter. McCallum has toured with, and served as a studio musician for many well-known musicians. He toured with Jackson Browne and McCallum’s musical resume includes stints with Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, The Wallflowers, Bonnie Raitt and Lorretta Lynn among others. McCallum released his first solo record, entitled At the End of the Day. In addition to his solo album and extensive work in touring and session bands, McCallum is also a member of the comic-country band, Jackshit. The band originated as Vonda Shepard’s backing band on the hit series Ally McBeal.
Gerry Leonard is an Irish lead guitarist and solo artist, known for his harmonic and ambient guitar style and for his work with David Bowie. He has lived and worked in Dublin, Copenhagen, and Manhattan.
When not touring or recording with these international artists, Gerry heads up his own project, Spooky Ghost. Under the name Spooky Ghost, Gerry has recorded two solo albums. The first recording simply called “Spooky Ghost” was primarily an ambient guitar record, made in his New York apartment in 1998. His second, “The Light Machine” (2002) has been described by David Bowie as “Quite the most beautiful and moving pieces of work I have possessed in a long time.”
David Hidalgo is an American singer-songwriter, best known for his work with the band Los Lobos. Hidalgo frequently plays musical instruments such as accordian, violin, 6-string banjo, cello, requinto jarocho, percussion, drums and guitar as a session musician on other artists’ releases. He is also a member of the supergroup Los Super Seven and of the Latin Playboys, a side project made up of some of the members of Los Lobos. With Mike Halby of Canned Heat, he formed another band, Houndog, as a side project.
Hidalgo’s songs have been covered by the Jerry Garcia Band, Waylon Jennings, Bonnie Raitt and others. He has performed in Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival since its inception in 2004, including a performance with Los Lobos in April 2013 at Madison Square Garden.
The Mastersons are singer-songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore. When they’re not touring the world as valued longtime members of Steve Earle’s band the Dukes, the musical and marital twosome make inspired albums of their own emotionally vivid, deeply humanistic songs. The duo’s fourth set of original compositions is the appropriately titled No Time for Love Songs.
Byron Isaacs records and tours with The Lumineers, contributing bass and vocals to their platinum-selling Cleopatra and their current album III. His band with guitarist Peter Cole, Lost Leaders, released a third album, Promises Promises, in March 2019. The band enjoys radio play and performs in the New York City area.
Isaacs was one of the six founders of Ollabelle, played bass for Levon Helm’s famous Midnight Rambles and played on both of Helm’s Grammy-winning albums (writing the song “Calvary” on Dirt Farmer). Isaacs played and toured with Amy Helm, producing her first solo album Didn’t It Rain. In June 2018, Isaacs released his debut solo album, Disappearing Man, to rave reviews. In addition, Isaacs has recorded and/or performed with Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Scialfa, Roseanne Cash, Jackson Browne, Nina Nastasia, Ryan Adams, Chris Smither, Richard Shindell, Mary Fahl, The Weight Band, and Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams.
Mitchell Froom is an American musician and record producer. Froom began his career as a keyboard player in Sonoma County, California. The band Crossfire featured two keyboard players; Mitchell on one side of the stage and brother David on the other with Gary Pihl on guitar. He also played keyboards on the Ronnie Montrose-led group Gamma‘s third album Gamma 3 as well as both late 1970s albums by David LaFlamme, It’s a Beautiful Day and LaFlamme’s solo album Inside Out.
He produced the first three Crowded House albums, which led to more production jobs with Richard Thompson, Los Lobos, American Music Club, Suzanne Vega and Paul McCartney. One early notable work, Key of Cool, later became the soundtrack for the adult film, Café Flesh.
Between 1992 and 2002 Froom formed a full-time partnership with engineer Tchad Blake. Production credits include albums from American Music Club, Stevie Ann, Tasmin Archer, The Bangles, Peter Case, The Corrs, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Crowded House, The Ditty Bops, Tim Finn, Missy Higgins, Indigo Girls, Los Lobos, Robin Gibb, Maria McKee, Pat McLaughlin, Randy Newman, Nerina Pallot, Pearl Jam, Phantom Planet, Bonnie Pink, Daniel Powter, Bonnie Raitt, Ron Sexsmith, The Del Fuegos, Richard Thompson, and Suzanne Vega. Froom and Blake joined with David Hidalgo and Louie Perez of Los Lobos to form the experimental roots collaboration Latin Playboys.
Froom has produced over 60 albums and has composed and produced music for numerous films. He has been nominated for several Grammys including for Record of the Year for La Bamba by Los Lobos (1988) and Producer of the Year in 1993 for both Kiko by Los Lobos and 99.9F° by Suzanne Vega. He was also nominated for the 1998 Golden Globe Award and the 1999 Grammy for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for co-writing with Sheryl Crow the James Bond movie title song “Tomorrow Never Dies”.
Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble, and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times.
The operas – “Einstein on the Beach,” “Satyagraha,” “Akhnaten,” and “The Voyage,” among many others – play throughout the world’s leading houses, and rarely to an empty seat. Glass has written music for experimental theater and for Academy Award-winning motion pictures such as “The Hours” and Martin Scorsese’s “Kundun,” while “Koyaanisqatsi,” his initial filmic landscape with Godfrey Reggio and the Philip Glass Ensemble, may be the most radical and influential mating of sound and vision since “Fantasia.” His associations, personal and professional, with leading rock, pop and world music artists date back to the 1960s, including the beginning of his collaborative relationship with artist Robert Wilson. Indeed, Glass is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film and in popular music – simultaneously.
Steven M. Berlin is an American saxophonist, keyboardist and record producer, best known as a member of the rock group Los Lobos and, before that, Top Jimmy & the Rhythm Pigs, the Blasters, and the Flesh Eaters. Berlin is married and lives with his wife and children in Portland, Oregon. Berlin joined the band Tuatara as a side project in 1998 on their second album, Trading with the Enemy.
As either a session musician or producer, Berlin has worked with the Crash Test Dummies, Backyard Tire Fire, The Beat Farmers, John Lee Hooker, the Paladins, Faith No More, Dave Alvin, R.E.M., the Go-Go’s, the Smithereens, the Replacements, Leo Kottke, Sheryl Crow, the Act, Los Super Seven, Rickie Lee Jones, String Cheese Incident, Alec Ounsworth (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), Raul Malo, Rick Trevino, Jackie Greene, the Tragically Hip, Great Big Sea, the Bridge, Nathan Wiley, the Dandy Warhols, Making Movies, No Te Va Gustar, Brownout and Deer Tick.
Rich Hinman is an American musician and songwriter. He plays the guitar and the pedal steel. He has toured and/or recorded with kd lang, Sara Bareilles, Rosanne Cash, Ben Kweller, Marc Cohn, Rhett Miller, Anais Mitchell, Cyndi Lauper, and many others. His solo record, Glacier, was released in 2014. Additionally, he released a collaborative LP with Adam Levy in 2019 titled VS and debuted a self-titled EP in 2020.
Chris Bruce is an American bassist and guitarist. At the age of 14, he started recording at studios in Chicago, and later in Detroit, with his older brother and various George Clinton affiliates. His professional career began with Wendy & Lisa in 1989. Since then, he has worked with Seal, Tom Waits, Sheryl Crow, Liz Wright, Meshell Ndegeocello, Trevor Horn, Doyle Bramhall, Jill Jones and Chris Connelly, among others.
Photo: Tore Sætre / Wikimedia
Tony Scherr is an American jazz and folk rock bassist, guitarist, singer-songwriter, and record producer.
Scherr played with Woody Herman as a teenager, and moved to New York City in the late-1980s, where he became a prolific session musician, working with artists such as Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Norah Jones, and Ana Egge. He has been a member of a number of bands, such as The Lounge Lizards, Sex Mob, Jesse Harris and the Ferdinandos, and Chris Brown and the Citizen Band. Scherr owns a recording studio and has worked as record producer for many of the artists he performs with.
In 2002, Tony Scherr released his first solo album, Come Around, on Smells Like Records. His song “Sacramento” was later covered by Leslie Feist on her album Let It Die, with alternate lyrics and a new title, “Lonely Lonely”.
Tony Scherr’s second album, Twist in the Wind, was released March 17, 2008.
Photo: Nomo michael hoefner / http://www.zwo5.de
Scott Metzger is an American guitarist. His collaborations with other artists include Phil Lesh, John Scofield, Joe Russo, John Mayer, Nels Cline and Oteil Burbridge. Metzger has been a full-time member of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead since its inception in 2013, and has been performing with Circles Around the Sun as of December 2019.
Photo: Mandy Pichler
Over the years, Billy Harvey has been playing his own brand of Post Modern Pop, working not only as an artist but also as a musician (Patty Griffin, Forest Rangers, The Courtyard Hounds), or a producer (Luke Wade, Charlie Mars, Bob Schneider, Slaid Cleaves, Steve Poltz).
As an artist he has been the recipient of the International Songwriters Award for Best Rock Song “Frozen Through,” and broke into the Top 100 on the CMJ charts with his hauntingly soulful release “Bearsick.” Harvey‘s other releases include the More Happy Than Sad EP and eight full-length albums, including 2018’s The Arsonist, 2017’s Elephants in the Room, and 2015’s Dear Danger.
Teddy Kumpel is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. In 1988, he moved to New York City to settle into being a professional musician. In 1989, he interned at a studio on 45th St. in Manhattan where he learned how to cut tape, run midi from a computer in sync with tape and work a mixing console.
Teddy has always had a passion for making his own music. He put out his first record, NOME SANE? in 1994. His band did a European tour and recorded another record called “The Lost” in Montreal at Studio Piccolo. Teddy started writing songs with developing artists and helped catapult two record deals on Warner Brothers in the late 90’s. This earned him a publishing deal with EMI Music Publishing. He continues this activity with NYC artists to this day. After successes with songwriting, Teddy decided to try his hand at writing songs for a rock band he would then front. He called it “Teddy But” and put out two records.
In 2008 Teddy was creating a funk band with two guitar players, but couldn’t find another guitar player who was happy just playing rhythm guitar. Around this time, the first multi-track looping pedal came out and Teddy spent a couple of years figuring out how to loop with a live trio. This created, LOOPestra which played over 300 gigs at a Monday at midnight residence at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC between 2011 and 2018. LOOPesta live performances became a NYC institution and community building experience.
Teddy toured with Joe Jackson between 2015 – 2019. After that tour, Teddy decided to resurrect ‘NOME SANE?’ with the original drummer, Matt Miller and amazing musician, Bob Stander.
Photo: Bob Adamek
Jeff Beal is an American composer of music for film, media, and the concert hall. With musical beginnings as a jazz trumpeter and recording artist, his works are infused with an understanding of rhythm and spontaneity. Steven Schneider for the New York Times wrote of “the richness of Beal’s musical thinking…his compositions often capture the liveliness and unpredictability of the best improvisation.” Beal’s seven solo CDs, including Three Graces, Contemplations (Triloka) Red Shift (Koch Jazz), and Liberation (Island Records) established him as a respected recording artist and composer.
Beal’s eclectic music has been singled out with critical acclaim and recognition. His score and theme for Netflix drama, House of Cards, has received five prime time Emmy Award nominations & two statues. Regarding his compelling score for the documentary, Blackfish, the late film critic Roger Ebert wrote of Beal’s ability to “invoke many genres; thriller, mystery, melodrama.” Another lauded documentary, The Queen of Versailles, opened the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote that, “scored wittily by composer Jeff Beal, the film glides along on Beal’s waltz theme, a theme full of elegance and class and a discordant hint of storm clouds.”
Scoring Ed Harris’ beautifully balletic painting scenes in Pollock was an exceptional opportunity for Beal. Film critic for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan wrote “To watch Lisa Rinzler’s expressive shots of Harris as Pollock create his paintings, especially the famously acrobatic drip canvases, to Jeff Beal’s Aaron Copland-influenced music is little short of thrilling.”
He has received nineteen prime time Emmy nominations for his music, and has won five statues. Other scores of note include his dramatic music for HBO’s acclaimed series Carnivale and Rome, as well as his comedic score and theme for the detective series, Monk. Beal composes, orchestrates, conducts, records and mixes his own scores, which gives his music a very personal, distinctive touch.
Beal’s commissioned works have been performed by many leading orchestras and conductors, including the St. Louis (Marin Alsop), Rochester, Pacific (Carl St. Clair), Frankfurt, Munich, and Detroit (Neeme Jaarvi) symphony orchestras. Kent Nagano commissioned and premiered two works, Alternate Route for trumpet and orchestra with Beal as soloist, and Interchange for string quartet and orchestra. Other commissions include the ballet Oasis for Smuin Ballet, Light Falls for the World Science Festival, The Metropole Orchestra, Ying String Quartet, Debussy Trio, Henry Mancini Institute, Chamber Music Festival of Lexington & grammy winning guitarist Jason Vieaux. His score for Philip Haas’ art installation Butchers, Dragons, Gods & Skeletons, was showcased at the Kimball Art Museum and the 2011 Venice Biennale. His first choral commission, entitled The Salvage Men, is written for the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Current commissions include new works for The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, a concerto for flutist Sharon Bezaly, song cycles for Cantus, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
Audley Freed is an American guitarist. As a member of the band Cry Of Love, he recorded two albums and cowrote two number one Billboard Rock Tracks. Since then he has toured and/or recorded with artists including The Black Crowes, Jimmy Page, Dixie Chicks, Peter Frampton, Jakob Dylan, Chris Robinson, Joe Perry, Gov’t Mule, Johnny Halladay, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Robben Ford among others. He has written or co-written songs recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Train, Chris Robinson, Gary Allen, Gov’t Mule, Aaron Lee Tasjan and more. He is a frequent house band member at events including The MusiCares Person Of The Year shows honoring Bob Dylan and Fleetwood Mac, The Elvis Comeback Special 50th Anniversary Show, and tributes honoring Gregg Allman, Jerry Garcia, Bob Marley and others. He has performed with Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson and lots more. For the past several years he has been touring and recording as a member of Sheryl Crow’s band. In 2009 Audley was voted one of the “100 best rock guitarists” in Classic Rock magazine.
Duke Levine is an American guitarist.
Greg Leisz is a Southern California-based multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer. He has worked as a touring and recording musician with many of the best known artists in the music world. He plays guitar, pedal steel guitar, lap steel guitar, mandolin and banjo.
Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen, Eagles, Joe Cocker, kd lang, Emmylou Harris, David Crosby, Bill Frisell, Bonnie Raitt and Robert Plant are a few of the artists with whom he has recorded and performed.
He is currently touring and recording with Jackson Browne and is a member of the group Charles Lloyd and the Marvels.
As a producer he has worked with Lucinda Williams, Dave Alvin, Matthew Sweet and MaiGroup.
He appeared on back to back Grammy award winning albums of the year in 2014 (Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”) and in 2015 (Beck’s “Morning Phase”).
The Americana Music Association awarded Leisz a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. He was awarded a Grammy in 2011 for his work with Ray Lamontagne and the Pariah Dogs on the album “God Willing & The Creek Don’t Rise”. In 2019 Greg was inducted to the Rock Godz Hall of Fame.
Photo: Steve Proctor
Son of classical musicians and formally trained as a violinist, David was first signed (by the legendary Mary Martin), at sixteen, to Warner Bros. Records as a member of “Quacky Duck And His Barnyard Friends”, along with founding members Dan and Daegal Bennett, sons of singer Tony Bennett.
At age 18, David joined Bob Dylan’s band for four years, starting with the “Rolling Thunder Revue”. He recorded three albums with Dylan and appears on numerous compilations and live albums, including “Biograph” and “Bob Dylan Live 1975 The Bootleg Series Vol. 5”. David appeared in the NBC special “Hard Rain”, and the feature film “Renaldo and Clara”.
In 1976 David was signed to Arista and released three albums (two of which he co-produced with T-Bone Burnett and Steven Soles) as a member of the critically acclaimed “Alpha Band”. He later went on to work with Burnett on his solo albums and other projects, including writing the score for the feature film “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”.
David is an award-winning film and television composer with many major credits. His score for the A&E mini-series “Broken Trail”, co-written with Van Dyke Parks, was nominated for an Emmy. David’s first film score was for the notorious epic “Heaven’s Gate”. It led to a four-film collaboration with director Michael Cimino, which resulted in a Golden Globe nomination for his score for the Oliver Stone-penned “Year Of The Dragon”.
Other long-standing relationships are with the esteemed Mexican auteur Arturo Ripstein, and with Maggie Greenwald (“Ballad of Little Jo”, “Songcatcher”). His score for Ripstein’s “Deep Crimson (Profundo Carmesi)” won David the Golden Ocelot at the Venice film festival (Best Musical Score); this honor was repeated at the Havana Film Festival. His work with Greenwald is also highly acclaimed; on her film “Songcatcher” (a music-centric film about song collecting in the Appalachain Mountains), David not only wrote the score, but researched and supervised all of the traditional ballad singing and folk music in the film.
David has written scores in a multitude of styles for many other film directors as well, including Harold Ramis, Walter Hill, Thomas Schlamme, Frank Pierson, Robert Duvall, and Gavin O’Connor. Some of the many television directors David has worked with include Glenn Jordan, Jeff Bleckner, Tim Hunter, and Robert Allan Ackerman. David produced the soundtrack albums for the films “Heaven’s Gate”, “Year of the Dragon”, “The Sicilian”, “Desperate Hours”, “Ballad Of Little Jo”, and “Broken Trail”, among others. Excerpts from his scores for “Heaven’s Gate” and “The Sicilian” have been performed at the Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall, respectively.
David continues to be a world-class recording and performing musician. A founding member of “Bruce Hornsby and the Range”, David was awarded an RIAA platinum album and a Grammy Award for “The Way It Is”, as well as as RIAA gold albums for Bob Dylan’s “Desire” and “Hard Rain”. He performs and records with a wide range of artists, playing a variety of instruments including electric/acoustic/classical/slide guitars, violin, viola, mandolin, mandocello, Irish bouzouki, pedal steel guitar, lap steel, banjo and Dobro/National resonator guitars.
Adam Minkoff is a composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist from New York City.
Minkoff released his debut album, titled Til the End My Dear: Arrangements of Stravinsky, in 2018. What began as a live performance in New York City to celebrate the centennial of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Minkoff’s transcription (done entirely by ear) is an adaptation of Stravinsky’s orchestral work for an eight-piece rock/jazz ensemble. The record also includes re-orchestrations of five additional Stravinsky compositions.
Minkoff subsequently produced and arranged an episodic recording project to commemorate the 90th birthday of Italian film composer Ennio Morricone. Starting with music from the 1962 film Diciottenni Al Sole, Minkoff recorded and released 53 reinterpreted Morricone compositions over the span of a year, pairing each track with original artwork. The project concluded on November 10, 2019 (Morricone’s 91st birthday) with a compilation featuring music from each of Morricone’s western films that debuted between 1963 and 2015.
Minkoff is currently finishing three separate recording projects. With his rotating ensemble Vaalbara, Minkoff recently completed a two-volume jazz record of original music. He is also working on two film-related releases: a speculative film score for large ensemble written over a period of 12 years and recorded with 26 musicians, and a solo reimagining of the soundtrack from the 1973 British horror film The Wicker Man, recorded entirely from his bedroom during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic quarantine.
Minkoff has also been a touring member of Dweezil Zappa’s band since 2017. He has also toured with singer-songwriter Amy Helm and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II.
A Los Angeles native, Adam Levy moved to San Francisco in 1990 and worked as a studio musician, appearing on Tracy Chapman’s multi-platinum 1995 album New Beginning. At the end of the decade, Levy moved to New York City, where he became a member of drummer Joey Baron’s group Killer Joey with guitarist Steve Cárdenas and bassist Tony Scherr. Levy then met Norah Jones and was a member of Jones’ band from the beginning of her career through her bestselling albums and world tours. He has also played with Rosanne Cash, Chris Difford, Amos Lee, Lisa Loeb, and Allen Toussaint. He leads a trio called the Mint Imperials.
Nir Felder is an American jazz guitarist, composer, and songwriter. He grew up in Katonah, New York, and attended the Berklee College of Music. Before leading his own band, he played with Greg Osby, Esperanza Spalding, Jack DeJohnette, and Meshell Ndegeocello. He has also collaborated with Australian jazz pianist Barney McAll and singer Gian Slater in the experimental jazz ensemble, Sylent Running.
In 2013, Felder performed a tribute to saxophonist Dexter Gordon at the Montreal International Jazz Festival with Terri Lyne Carrington, Greg Osby, and Orlando le Fleming. The quartet recreated and played two albums of material by Gordon, Go (1962) and Our Man in Paris (1963).
Golden Age (2014), Felder’s first album, was released by Okeh with Aaron Parks on piano, Matt Penman on bass, and Nate Smith on drums.
Guitarist Avi Bortnick is best known for his long musical association with influential jazz guitarist John Scofield, playing rhythm guitar and electronics, composing and producing. In addition to playing with Scofield, he has played with his own groups and with a wide range of New York-based artists, including Jim Weider’s Project Percolator, Erik Deutsch, Forro in the Dark, Shitty Shitty Jam Band, Rene Lopez, the Ghost Train Orchestra, Jihae, Betty Black, Bunga Bunga Party, and Jason Blum. When living in the San Francisco Bay Area, he played with Zigaboo Modeliste, Bobby McFerrin, What It Is, Jeff Narell, and Kotoja. He is known in musician circles for his rhythm guitar playing and ability to blend in a variety of musical configurations. In addition to his life as a guitarist, Avi is an experienced acoustical consultant, and has developed the iPhone/Android application Time Guru metronome, and the VoxBeat multi-track looper for iPhone.
Brooklyn-based guitarist and producer Luca Benedetti has been performing in a wide variety of Roots, Jazz, Country, and Americana-inspired projects since moving to New York in 1996. His most recent collaborations include performances, production and recordings with Hermine Deurloo & Steve Gadd, Jim Campilongo, Martha Redbone, Speeding West, Honeyfingers, Tubby, The Brooklyn Boogaloo Blowout, Erik Deutsch, Jon Cowherd, Tony Scherr, Zephaniah & The 18 Wheelers, The Dang-it Bobbys, Jason Loughlin & The String Gliders, Kelli Scarr & North of Amarillo, The National Reserve, and Margo Valiante.
As an original member of Honeyfingers, Luca co-produced and performed on the Jim Campilongo and Honeyfingers album “Last Night, This Morning” hailed by Vintage Guitar as “a brilliant record with magic and artistry” and by Guitar Player Magazine as “….a hoedown throwdown that looks to be one of the top guitar records of the year”.
Along with Campilongo Luca also co-produced and performed on the highly praised release, “This Highway” by rising country star Zephaniah O’Hora. The album was hailed as “…classic country mastery” by Saving Country Music and ““Classic country perfection” by Wide open country.
His 2010 debut record “Ta Da…”, was recorded with his own Jazz & Roots inspired group, Luca Benedetti’s Thermionics, which Relix magazine called “…a knock-out collection of instrumentals that will warrant repeated listens.”
Shortly after moving to NY, Luca became a founding member of the hard-edged Jazz/Funk group, ULU. After his tenure with ULU, Luca continued touring and recording in the U.S., Europe, and Japan with numerous artists including Cuban Surf Rockers, The Cuban Cowboys, Soul/R&B artists, Cooly’s Hot Box, Angela Johnson and Alt-Bluegrass/Folk group, The Dang-it Bobbys.
From 2014-2016 Luca lived in Vancouver, BC where he co-founded with Speeding West with local guitar/pedal-steel ace, Scott Smith. The group developed a loyal following and released their self-titled album in 2017.
Luca holds a Bachelor’s Degree from The Berklee College of Music and a Master’s Degree from The City College of New York. While attending the latter, Luca studied with Jazz legend, Ron Carter, who quickly became a mentor and friend. On several occasions Mr. Carter invited Luca to perform, including a memorable trio performance for the ASCAP Hall of Fame ceremony honoring Milt Hinton and Artie Shaw.
Luca’s session work has been featured on advertisements by McDonald’s, Subway, Rolex, Arby’s, The Cotton Industry, Axe, AT&T and many more. He also scored the music for The Cuban Cowboys inspired soundtrack for KPI TV’s “Lucha Libre: Life Behind The Mask.”
An active music instructor, Luca has taught privately as well as at The City College of New York, The Long Island Conservatory & Larchmont Music Academy.
Luca was born in Rome, Italy but spent the majority of his youth living abroad with his family, which exposed him to numerous musical cultures across Africa, South America, Europe and Asia.
Photo Credit: Kyra Kverno
Robbie Mangano is an American musician, composer, producer, engineer, teacher, sound designer, transcriber and analyst, consultant, and tech advisor. He has performed with Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Morello, Sean Lennon, Banned from Utopia, Grandmothers of Invention, and Project/Object, among others.
Photo Credit: Nathan West
The story for me begins in Lubbock Texas. I had the dubious honor of being basically raised in my father’s recording studio. Mom and Dad are both accomplished musicians. Dad got his start playing saxophone and writing horn charts for Norman Petty, the producer engineer mastermind behind Buddy Holly’s music. Petty gave dad a tape machine and some other recording equipment to help him get his own studio off the ground. Mom is an effortless singer and a brilliant songwriter. She was a child prodigy and a regular on local TV variety shows. It’s no surprise that my two siblings and I all grew up to be musicians as well.
Despite my growing up in the country music stronghold of Texas, it was jazz music that really inspired me to want to play. First it was saxophone. I started playing gigs and shows around town when I was 15. At 18 I bought an old Hammond organ off the want ads and a true obsession ensued. There was always something about the sound of the organ that just felt like it was my voice. Like it was a tool I could use to say something I needed to say.
The dream was always to go to New York and study jazz with the legends. But I had no money, I didn’t know how I could make it happen. My break came when Stephen Stills heard me play and invited me to join his touring group. Working for Stephen was like a finishing school in and of itself. After the first summer tour with Stills, I rented an apartment in Brooklyn sight unseen, packed up my stuff and left Lubbock.
Wasn’t sure exactly how to make ends meet in the city but my string of luck soon continued when Stephen brought me on board for a run of Crosby, Stills and Nash dates in Australia. It was the beginning of whole new chapter for me. The tour went well and soon after, another tour, and then another. It turned into nearly 10 years of touring before I knew it. In between tours I was playing, studying and meeting new friends in New York. So not only was I ‘living the dream’ in the city I’d always wanted to live in, I was also getting to see the whole world with CSN. Amazing!
The years since moving to New York have definitely brought quite a few amazing experiences to say the least. Just as I hoped, I’ve gotten to meet and play with so many phenomenal musicians and artists. But what I’ve learned from these experiences is more than I could’ve ever imagined. For me, the dream is alive and well and tomorrow is beckoning.
Although Mercy is Jon Cowherd‘s first album under his own name, the esteemed pianist/composer/arranger/producer is already firmly established as one of the jazz world’s most accomplished, expressive and in-demand young musicians.
The Kentucky-raised, New Orleans-schooled, New York-based Cowherd is best known for his long-running partnership with drummer/bandleader Brian Blade, with whom he co-founded the Brian Blade Fellowship, whose acclaimed, influential albums showcase Cowherd’s stellar keyboard work and singular compositional skills. When not recording and touring with the Fellowship, Cowherd has worked extensively with a broad array of players and singers from the jazz, pop and rock worlds.
His impressive resume aside, Mercy is the most compelling example yet of Jon Cowherd’s remarkable sensitivity, inventiveness and versatility. Recorded in an inspired three-day session at New York’s Avatar Studios, the sterling set is comprised of ten new Cowherd originals, with his sublime keyboard work anchoring an all-star quartet that includes Bill Frisell on acoustic and electric guitars, John Patitucci on acoustic bass and longtime collaborator Brian Blade on drums. The resulting album is a creative landmark for Cowherd, with such ambitious numbers as “The Columns,” “Postlude,” the three-part “Mercy Suite” and the playful departure “Recital Hour (Timmy’s Theme)” demonstrating his gifts as an instrumentalist and composer.
“It definitely feels like a personal milestone,” Cowherd says of Mercy. “My collaboration with Brian Blade has given me the freedom to record my own pieces, but I still felt the need to make a statement under my own name. That notion was intimidating for a long time, and I never felt ready until the last couple of years. I felt that my playing had to get to another level before I released something as a leader. Studying classical piano with Jeff Goldstein from 2001-2009 really helped me gain that confidence.”
A consistent dedication to honing his talents and broadening his musical horizons has been a lifelong mission for Cowherd. Growing up in Kentucky as the son of musician parents who doubled as music educators, he embraced music early in life, taking up piano, french horn and violin as well as singing. In 1988, he migrated to the musical mecca of New Orleans to attend Loyola University. There, he studied jazz piano and improvisation under Crescent City piano legend Ellis Marsalis and with noted players John Mahoney, Steve Masakowski and Michael Pellera. He also joined local bands led by Tony Dagradi and Delfeayo Marsalis, and played with the New Orleans Ballet and the New Orleans Symphony and Opera. In 1993, Cowherd moved to New York, where he earned a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from the Manhattan School of Music.
It was in New Orleans’ hotbed of musical inspiration that Cowherd met fellow Loyola student Brian Blade, with whom he would form the Brian Blade Fellowship. With Blade on drums and Cowherd on piano, and both sharing compositional duties, the Brian Blade Fellowship has proven to be an enduring and rewarding creative unit, releasing the albums Brian Blade Fellowship (Blue Note, 1998), Perceptual (Blue Note, 2000) and Season of Changes (Verve, 2008).
When not collaborating with Blade, Cowherd’s keyboard work, as well as his producing and arranging skills, have kept him at work on a wide variety of projects with an equally varied assortment of artists. He’s currently a member of Cassandra Wilson’s band, the Alicia Olatuja band and Nate Smith & Kinfolk, and his instrumental work has graced albums by the likes of Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, Rosanne Cash, Lizz Wright, Iggy Pop, Alicia Olatuja, Marc Cohn, Mark Olson and Victoria Williams, and he’s recorded alongside such world-class musicians as Joni Mitchell, Daniel Lanois, John Leventhal, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Nate Smith, Dave Easley, Jeff Parker, Marcus Strickland and Jack Wilkins. As a producer, Cowherd has overseen albums by Lizz Wright, Alyssa Graham, Maria Neckam and The Local NYC. He also recently served as keyboardist for and co-musical director for the all-star Joni Jazz concert at the Hollywood Bowl, in honor of Joni Mitchell, in which he performed with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chaka Khan, Kurt Elling, Aimee Mann, Glen Hansard and Cassandra Wilson