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Jon Sheckler Trio: Cityscapes


A brand new album comes from drummer and composer Jon Sheckler. It’s called “Cityscapes” and it features

  • Steve Denny – Fender Rhodes
  • Aron Caceres-  Double Bass
  • Jon Sheckler – Drums

Official release date was October 19 and Jon Sheckler celebrated it with a release show at the Nublu Classic. The album is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

This album has a special setup: all songs have been written by drummer Jon Sheckler and sound is dominated by a Fender Rhodes.

I have to admit that the Fender Rhodes piano is one of my personal favorites. For me, it still has this modern electric sound compared to a piano or grand piano. So good preconditions for me to listen to this album.

The first song “Right Side Up” starts with an easy and melodic theme with nice rhythmic breaks, played very relaxed in medium-up tempo.  The first solo goes to the piano, Steve Denny gets great support from Jon Sheckler and Aron Caceres stays focused. A bass solo with nice interplay with the piano comes next. Jon Sheckler plays the last solo of this tune. His excellent drums solo is straight and dynamic at the same time. Jon says about that song:  “I wanted the first track to be an example of the whole album.  It has a good singable melody that seems less complicated then it is.  You don’t really feel the key changes and abnormal form.” And yes, this first song sets the stage for the whole album. It lasts a little bit over 7 minutes but is entertaining and diversified.

“Cold Reading” is the second tune. It has a much slower and heavier groove. It becomes softer for a extensive bass solo and tension rises with the piano solo that follows. The song ends with a very nice and dynamic outro.

The song “Junction Junction” is one of my favorites on the album. It is a 24-bars moll blues played in up-tempo. We hear a great piano solo, where Steve Denny is again fully supported by bass and drums and then Jon gets his chance to shine with a another perfect drums solo.

The title song “Cityscapes” comes next. This is not really just a song only, it’s more like a suite. It has three different parts plus a drum solo between the second and third part. The first part lasts about 4 minutes, the second goes for 5 minutes, followed by the drums solo of about 2:30 minutes before the final part comes.  The total playtime of this masterpiece is 15:47 minutes. Jon gives more details: “The three sections each represent a neighborhood in New York and New Orleans. The first section is based around Ridgewood in Queens, the second is inspired by Midtown Manhattan and the final act is meant to sound like the Garden District in New Orleans. The tune is so sprawling and the title invokes so much imagery that it had to be the foundation of the record.” The Ridgewood-section is quite contemplative and features Aron Caceres on bass. Midtown Manhattan starts soft before it really picks up and ends with piano and drums enlivening each other. The drums solo leads over to the Garden District part which is a sunny, almost Caribbean theme played with variations by the piano.

The album continues with the tune “CBR”. Another highlight for me. A neat theme played in straight swinging style in the sound of a Jazz standard. Piano and bass play very good solos and the drummer has two 8-bar solo breaks, in typical jam style.

“Each Others”, a beautiful ballad, comes next.  According to Jon it is one of the songs that are “landing very well” with the audience. Especially the bass solo is very catchy.

The last tune on the album is “3rd Floor Walk Up”. A steady 7/8 groove lays the foundation of this song. Steve Denny takes again the opportunity to play a fantastic piano solo and Jon Sheckler follows with an impressive and very dynamic drums solo. The song and the album fade out with a pulsating bass. Very cool.

“Cityscapes” is an excellent album with a distinct sound. The Fender Rhodes piano creates this special and unique touch. All compositions have tonal centers and give the listener an easy access to the songs. The musicians are masters on their instruments and manage the up-tempo tunes in a very relaxed and easy way. The interplay is also remarkable and shows that these guys have spent a lot of time together and understand each other very well. So a clear recommendation from my side.

More information about upcoming shows are found on Jon’s website:

And finally a playlist on Spotify:

Vince Tampio: The Nook

tampio-the-nook-1 Six months ago I presented an electronic album from trumpeter Vince Tampio. He comes back today with a straight-ahead jazz album called “The Nook”. It is already Vince’s fifth solo album, this time however completely recorded live in the studio and with acoustic instruments only. The line-up of this album is

  • Vince Tampio: trumpet, flugelhorn
  • John Swana: valve trombone
  • Brian Blaker: tenor saxophone
  • John B. Hedges: piano
  • Ben Basile: double bass
  • Charlie Heim: drums and percussion

Vince explained to me that Ben Basile is a close friend of him since they met at the State University of New York (SUNY) and they performed together in many different bands. Brian Blaker is also a musician Vince met during his studies (this time at the University of Arts (UArts) in Philadelphia). John B. Hedges was his composition teacher at SUNY and John Swana was his trumpet instructor at UArts. Finally, Charlie Heim is the drummer of “Johnny Showcase”, a psychedelic funk band from Philadelphia where Vince helped out before. So quite an interesting combination of musicians, who inspired and accompanied Vince in his musical career.

The album features six songs in total, five compositions by Vince Tampio plus one Jazz standard. It is available since September 18 and the release party took place on October 3 at Chris’ Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia. Here are some pictures from that show:

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The album starts with “Dangerous Cucumber” a moll-blues oriented song played in medium tempo. The first solo goes to Vince, he keeps it soft and relaxed. The second solo is for Brian Blaker on tenor saxophone, more dynamics there. Finally, Charlie Heim plays a great drum solo over two choruses. What Vince wanted to achieve with this album is to catch the spirit of the first Miles Davis quintet from the late fifties, and the first song shows that this band is able to do that, the stay cool and relaxed but also maintain the tension.

The title song “The Nook” comes next. It refers to a corner with spandrel glass at the “Tattooed Mom” bar in Philadelphia and I guess the cover picture has been taken there. This song is one of my favorites on the album, a steady pulse by the bass lays the ground for the improvisation. Great groove by the rhythm section and two excellent solos by sax and trumpet.

“Fresco” is a soft song in 3/4 time that features Vince. This composition has a nice old-fashioned mood that comes mainly from the piano sound.

“Two Dollar Breakfast Special” refers to a menu item at the Main Street Bistro in New Paltz, NY (Actually, it’s $ 1.95, I checked the breakfast menu card). This song features John Swana on trombone. The melody is played by the piano, accompanied by the 3-piece horn section. This song comes what I would call 50′s funky style, riff-oriented and with a straight groove.

“Split Orange Graffiti” is loosely a reharmonization of “Blue In Green” with a different melody. Vince explained: “Each soloist improvises over their own chosen chord progression.”  An extensive ballad that keeps its grip through Charlie Heim on drums. Very cool and mystic.

“Dear Old Stockholm” is the only Jazz standard on the album. The song has a nicely re-arranged head. We hear solos from John B. Hedges on piano and Vince Tampio on flugelhorn.

The album is a nice reminiscence to the late 50′s. It has been recorded live in one room without headphones or separation. Thanks to Brendan McGeehan from the Elm Street Studios the sound on the album is clear and distinct, but really natural at the same time. The selection of tunes and the interpretation fit together and reawaken the spirit of that period. It also shows the capability of the musicians to catch that certain spirit and breathe it into their own material.

If you want to know more about Vince please check out his website:

And finally a playlist on Spotify: