Tag Archives: CD Releases

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: https://www.vincetampio.com

And finally a playlist on Spotify:


Daniel Bennett Group: We Are The Orchestra

We Are the Orchestra - Album Cover (Photo by Pooja Rudra)

More than two years have passed since I presented an album of the Daniel Bennett Group. The group comes back this September not with mysteries or confusion but with pure music. “We Are The Orchestra” is the name of the latest album that has been released on September 7.

Daniel Bennett prefers to play in small ensembles, he goes on tour only with drums and guitar. For this album he reduced the number of musicians down to two.  He and Mark Cocheo recorded all of the wind, string and percussion instruments with the goal to create the sound of a large ensemble.

The line-up looks as follows:

  • Daniel Bennett: Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet, Oboe, Piano, Percussion
  • Mark Cocheo: Electric Guitar, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Nylon-String Guitar

The collaboration between these two musicians started when Bennett arranged the musical score for “Whitman at the Whitney” at the Whitney Museum in New York City. The show featured Daniel Bennett on saxophone and Mark Cocheo on banjo playing famous opera excerpts from the 19th and 20th century.

The official promotion video explains that in detail:

The album contains eight songs with a total playtime of 29 minutes and features six originals by Daniel Bennett and two opera themes by 19th century composer Giuseppe Verdi.

The album starts with the song “Loose Fitting Spare Tire”, a typical Daniel Bennett composition that modulates heavily. The banjo and the western guitar define the folk sound of this tune. Solo instruments are an electric guitar and saxophone.

“I’m Not Nancy” follows this pattern, a catchy melody based on harmonies with multiple tonal centers. Flute and banjo are the solo instruments and the band sounds this time like a bluegrass combo.

The third song “Gold Star Mufflers” is another Daniel Bennett-original. The piano background gives this song it’s character and the minor chords moving in major thirds create that special “mystery” sound of this song.

The album continues with the “Theme From Ernani”, the first opera theme on this album. The pulse of the song comes from the banjo rhythm, Mark Cocheo plays a great guitar solo (I guess on his telecaster), the flute adds nice fills and someone had fun with the percussions especially with the vibra-slap.

We come to my personal favorite on the album. It’s a composition by Daniel Bennett again and is called “Refinancing For Elephants”. This song has a beautiful contemplative feeling, with the clarinet and the piccolo playing the melody and guitar and tambourin laying the background.

“Inside Our Pizza Oven” goes all the way to Marrakech, a song that reminds me of the atmosphere of the ‘Djemaa el Fna’-marketplace. Daniel plays the oboe and percussion and Mark adds a strumming guitar.

The next tune is the second composition by Guiseppe Verdi on the album. This title is called “Theme From Il Trovatore” and the Daniel Bennett Group interprets this waltz straight even a little bit cheesy, especially when two saxophones play the melody together at 1:30, but it fits perfectly for this song.

The album closes with “Carl Finds His Way”, again a typical Daniel Bennett-composition with moving tonal centers. Mark plays his guitar solo with a distortion effect, so this songs sounds much more like a pop song. Mark and Daniel again have a chance to show their virtuosity and the song ends with a dialog between guitar and saxophone.

The album is quite an eclectic collection of musical elements from folk, classic and jazz music and shows the versatility and the mastery of these two musicians. They have been able to create a full and well-balanced  sound. The Daniel Bennett Group has clearly found it’s style and the success of their unique musical approach proves them right.

More information about the Daniel Bennett Group can be found on their website:

And finally a playlist on Spotify: