Tag Archives: 2018

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:

IMG_3462 IMG_3479


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:


Gary Williams: Treasure Seeker


Almost exactly a year ago I presented the Gary Williams album “At The Movies”. In the meantime I saw Gary last October in London at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and met him afterwards.  He came with an excellent band and I had an unforgettable Sunday lunch in this club.

Gary has just released (officially yesterday on September 19) a new album called “Treasure Seeker”.  What makes this album quite remarkable is the fact that it has only originals on it, so this is the debut album of the singer-songwriter Gary Williams. Together with pianist Jon Nickoll (who is the resident pianist at the Savoy Hotel’s American Bar) twelve songs have been written, arranged and recorded for this album (the song “When Sunday Comes” is found twice in different arrangements, so the album has a total of 13 songs and a playtime of 44 minutes).

Gary presented some of the songs yesterday in London and I had the chance to attend this event. The picture shows Gary Williams and Jon Nickoll after performing together.


There is some constancy and some evolution from the last album, the constant part is the band, the arranger Phil Steel and the Kenilworth studios, where the album was recorded. The evolutionary part is the songs, music that we have never heard before, songs where Gary put his feelings and his experience of life into words.

Some more background information can be found in this very entertaining video about the making of the album:

The album starts with the song “The Next Big Thing”, with the horn section at full tilt and a nice twist between the title of the song and the lyrics , because Gary sings “I don’t need to be the next big thing”. A short and crisp song to launch this album.

“Never Say I Love You” has been pre-released as a single on Spotify and is a beautiful soft song, not too slow, not too fast, with an excellent piano solo and again this extra wink between the title and the lyrics: “You can never say I love you too much”.

The album continues with “Kiss Me On A Rainy Day”, a slow love song with a superb big band arrangement played with great dynamics. This is just one of those tunes where Gary shows his coolness, regardless what the band does, he stays soft and relaxed.

“When Sunday Comes” starts with a nice acoustic guitar intro and we hear another soft and easy song, this time in Latin style, with the clear advice to “turn off the phones till Monday”. One of my favorites on the album, the steady groove comes from the acoustic guitar with some percussion. The Fender Rhodes sound is anyway something I just can’t get enough of.

“Don’t Trust A Wink” shows the hard swinging Gary Williams. Accompanied by an outstanding big band, this tune is another highlight of the album. The praise goes to Phil Steel, the band and especially Graeme Blevins on saxophone.

“One Second To Decide” is another big band tune, this is time much more old-fashioned, but played straight and without frills. Also very nice. The following video shows an unplugged version of this tune:

The album continues with “Growing Pains”, a ballad with just Matt Regan on piano and Gary Williams on vocals in a very intimate setup.

“I Blame The Moon” sounds like a traditional folk song (or like a song from the soundtrack to “Lord of the Rings”), with the flute playing the intro and interlude and the acoustic guitar picking arpeggios, a very soft and romantic song, supported by strings and a harp.

“Don’t Talk About Time” is next, a nice pop-song, again featuring Graeme Blevins on saxophone.

“The Dreamer” brings back the big band sound, this time with a jazz blues. It reminds me of songs like “Route 66″. We hear solos by Graeme Blevins on saxophone, Clive Dunstall on piano and Tommy Emmerton on guitar and again the incredible brass section that consists only of Malcolm Melling on trumpet and Chris Traves on trombone (who is also the studio engineer).

The album continues with “Our Love Grows Stronger”, a soft love song arranged in an easy Latin-style with an acoustic rhythm guitar, Fender Rhodes and saxophone, pleasantly laid-back and relaxed, this is the kind of song that you typically associate with Gary Williams.

The title song “Treasure Seeker” is the “last” song on this album. Gary asks us here: “Did I entertain you?” The simple answer is “Yes, indeed”. The longer answer is: “You entertained me and you impressed me at the same time.  This album is of outstanding excellence, beautiful melodies, lyrics that sometimes open the door to your inside, your experiences, sometimes have a little twist and I always enjoy English rhymes. The arrangements are fabulous and the band plays very, very good. So please, let us hear one more song.”

The encore is a Boogaloo version of “When Sunday Comes”, this version has teeth compared to the Latin groove before. The band shows again how precise and accurate it can play and Graeme Blevins on saxophone is one more time the soloist.

Unfortunately, that’s it. But the good things is that you can hear Gary live in London. The show on September 30 at Ronnie Scott’s is sold out, but tickets for his Christmas shows are already on sale. Alternatively, just book Gary for your next birthday party, you won’t regret it.

More details can be found on his website: