Uptown Funk — The next “Happy”?

First it was “Blurred Lines” and then “Happy”.  It looks like the next “gonna-hear-it-at-every-wedding song” will be Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”.

Except … it’s not a Bruno Mars tune.  Officially, it’s a Mark Ronson song that features Bruno Mars.

And just who is Mark Ronson?  He’s a household name in the UK but is not well known in the US despite producing Amy Winehouse’s mega hit album Back to Black and its Grammy winning single “Rehab”.

No matter whether it’s by Bruno Mars or Mark Ronson, it’s a really fun tune, with a great performance from Mars and an excellent arrangement and production from Ronson.

And I’ll be okay hearing it and playing it.  Probably a lot.

Highlights from The Cutting Room — October 17, 2014

Here are some highlights from our show at The Cutting Room on October 17, 2014.

River Deep, Mountain High

Featuring Andricka Hall on lead vocals.

 

Love The One You’re With

Featuring Edlene Hart on vocals.

 

Oh, Darling

Featuring Russ Velazquez on vocals.

 

Higher Ground

Featuring Russ Velazquez, Edlene Hart, and Andricka Hall on vocals.

 

The Letter

Featuring Tom “Blues Buddha” Dudley on vocals.

 

For Once In My Life

Featuring Keith Fluitt on vocals and Steve Wexler on bass.

Name that tune — win two free tickets

The first person to identify the song using just the bass line will win two free tickets to Steve Wexler and The Top Shelf at The Cutting Room on October 17, 2014.

Send your submission to: swexler@stevewexlermusic.com

For Once in My Life — An Appreciation of Michael Henderson

I think I own everything that Stevie Wonder has recorded and released, going back to the early 1960s.  On a recent plane ride to Omaha with my iPhone in shuffle mode I stumbled across a live recording of “For Once In My Life” that Stevie made at a London nightclub in 1970.

The first thing I noticed was that the tempo was brighter than on the studio recording.  The second thing I observed was the absolutely killer bass line that I was ready to attribute to James Jamerson.

It turns out the line was not by Jamerson but by Michael Henderson, a then 18-year old phenomenon who who soon catch the eye of Miles Davis.  Here’s a snippet from the live show.

I’m not the only one that’s been taken by how good this line is.  There are at least two YouTube videos that pay homage to Henderson’s bass playing, including this one.

Enjoy.

Highlights from The Cutting Room — May 2014

We had a great show on May 17 and have some video highlights to share. With

Russ Velazquez, Vocals
Edlene Hart, Vocals
Angela Clemmons, Vocals
Jon Cobert, Keyboard / Vocals
Peter Calo, Guitar
Gene Lewin, Drums
Norberto Goldberg, Percussion
Joe Giorgianni, Trumpet
Chris Pasin, Trumpet
Joe Meo, Tenor Saxophone
Jon Saxon, Alto and Baritone Saxophones
Alessandra Levy, Background Vocals
Carly Cantor, Background Vocals
Rosharra Francis, Background Vocals
Steve Wexler, Bass

(Videography by Larry Blumenstein; video editing by Ralph Scaglione, Flymusicman Project)

Montage

“Higher Ground”, “Love The One You’re With”, “The Letter”, and “Happy”, featuring Russ Velazquez, Edlene Hart, Jon Cobert, and Angela Clemmons.

 

The Letter

Jon Cobert on vocals and solos from Joe Meo and Chris Pasin.

 

Higher Ground

Russ Velazquez and Angela Clemmons on vocals.

 

Happy

Russ Velazquez on vocals.

New Bottles for Old Wine — Van Morrison and Moondance

I’m always impressed with artists that take a tune for which they are famous and change it in a way that is faithful to the original yet fresh.

In the mid 1990s Van Morrison started performing a “big band” version of Moondance, his hit from 25 years earlier.  Here’s one performance from 1995 that features Georgie Fame on organ.

I’ve always enjoyed this song and we will be adding it to the Top Shelf repertoire (with horns of course.)

Sounds from The Cutting Room — January 31, 2014

What a great show!  Full house and terrific performances from

Russ Velazquez, Vocals
Andricka Hall, Vocals
Lon Hoyt, Keyboard
Andrew Zinsmeister, Guitar
Mark Dodge, Drums
Norberto Goldberg, Percussion
Greg Ruvolo, Trumpet
John Trombetta, Trumpet
Joe Meo, Saxophone / Piccolo
Jon Saxon, Saxophone
Alessandra Levy, Vocals
Sarah Anne Sillers, Vocals
Carly Cantor, Vocals
Steve Wexler, Bass

Special Guests:

Angela Clemmons
Gene Lewin
Tom “Blues Buddha” Dudley

Here are some highlights:

Tail Feather / Proud Mary

Andricka Hall and the Shelfettes channel Tina Turner

25 Miles

Russ Velazquez performs the Edwin Starr classic

Higher Ground

Russ Velazquez and Andricka Hall get us higher and guest drummer Gene Lewin drives the band

Inside Out

Sarah Anne Sillers shines on this Imelda May song

Knock On Wood

A fresh take on this Motown staple featuring Russ Velazquez on lead vocals