Episode #49 – Summary

31 Mar

Recording Date: August 14, 2009
Recording Location: The Way Out West Festival, Gothenburg, Sweden

This is another “Special Edition” International episode of Studio Jams…and one that focuses, not at all on jazz, but rather on European alt-rock and pop for a change. This is something we have never done before. We asked Tracy Silverman, a friend and frequent Studio Jams guest, to “host” this episode, on a trip that took us to Scandinavia and Sweden’s annual Way Out West Music Festival, fast becoming one of Europe’s most important alternative music festivals. It takes place in the city of Gothenburg in the region of West Sweden.

Gothenburg is a beautifully open, clean and welcoming city with a little something for everyone. Whether your passion is art, music, design, food, shopping, nightlife, or historic buildings, Gothenburg has plenty to offer…with wonderful music everywhere. And each year, for 3 full days, they host the Way Out West Music Festival. It is an extremely well-organized event that always features a strong and diverse lineup of Swedish and International bands and musicians. Throughout the festival, live performances take place all over town, in venues large and small. It typically attracts 25-30,000 visitors.

Gothenburg, Sweden

In this episode of Studio Jams, viewers will see profiles of a few of the many different musicians that appeared at Way Out West, through a combination of interview and short performance segments.

The following artists appeared at the festival and are briefly profiled in this episode:

1. Jenny Wilson (Sweden)…an extremely eclectic performer with a “larger than life” stage presence.

Jenny Wilson

2. Joshua Redman (USA)…a true jazz innovator…a saxophonist with monster chops.

Joshua Redman

3. First Aid Kit (Sweden)…two Swedish sisters with great, great harmonies.

First Aid Kit

4. Wilco (USA)… a popular Americana alt-rock band.


5. Monotonix (Israel)…unbelievable…a rock ‘n roll show beyond description…I have never heard OR seen anything like them in my life. Here is a short YouTube video clip posted by someone else from their performance at Way Out West.


For a nice musical change of pace, and if you like the vibe of a large and friendly outdoor festival, you may want to seriously consider a trip to West Sweden in August and the Way Out West Music Festival.

– Tom Emmi / Producer



Episode #38 – Summary

30 Mar

Recording Date: November 2, 2007
Recording Location: Star City Recording, Bethlehem, PA

Victor Bailey

This was another terrific session…one that featured 4 different A-list, first-call musicians who hadn’t worked together before. First, there was bassist Victor Bailey (Weather Report, Joe Zawinul’s Syndicate, The Brecker Brothers, Mike Stern, Chuck Loeb and many others). As I’m sure many of you know, Victor was the bassist who replaced Jaco in Weather Report after his untimely passing. Next, I brought in guitarist Jeff Golub (Rod Stewart, Billy Squire). Jeff is a rocker – no doubt about it – and a very accomplished soloist as well. I was so glad he was available for this one. It was the 2nd time Jeff appeared on Studio Jams. (He was also a part of Episode #33).

Jeff Golub

On drums, I brought back Anton Fig (The Late Show with David Letterman, Ace Freeley, Joe Bonamassa, and many others). I love Anton and his playing. He hits hard and aggressive, and can quickly create a tight groove and pocket for everyone to build upon. Plus, he is such a versatile musician – as he has to be every night on the Letterman show with Paul Shaffer and the band, who regularly back up musicians from every genre imaginable. I first met Anton years ago in a tiny club in Cape May, New Jersey where he was playing with the great South African bassist Bakithi Kumalo. Since then, he has appeared on the show on a number of occasions, and has been a total joy to work with each and every time.

Anton Fig

Rounding out the group was a keyboard player that guitarist Chuck Loeb had recommended to me…Matt King. Matt works regularly with Chuck (when Chuck is not on the road with Fourplay). He arrived at the studio a good 2 hours before his scheduled session – just to be ready – and simply sat and watched while we were taping another one. After a brief introduction chat, I was immediately impressed by his calm demeanor, warm personality and professional attitude. I knew that working with him would be a pleasure. And it was. Matt was terrific.

Having only 4 musicians that day was nice, as it allowed each of them plenty of room to stretch and contribute. Here is a little video taste from the session…

After setting up, it was Matt who brought up the first possible song to play. He suggested The Chicken – in part, I believe – because it is such a Jaco staple, and out of respect, thought Victor would simply tear it up. And so he did, along with everyone else. After about 10 minutes of rehearsal, we recorded a wonderful take of the tune.

Victor Bailey

Victor then suggested they cover Trouble Man, a soulful song made somewhat popular by the late Marvin Gaye. He took a lead role in this version playing the melody line for the first and last go-around of the form. In between, there were great solo passages by Jeff, Matt and, or course, Victor. We recorded 2 nice takes of this tune after about 20 minutes of fun and light rehearsal. Matt followed that by suggesting the classic Unchain My Heart…again, with plenty of great solos. We taped 2 takes of this.

We then took a short break to listen back to some of what we just recorded. Everyone seemed quite pleased with what we had done so far.

Jeff Golub

After the break, Jeff took center stage, first suggesting they play Rumble, and followed that with In With The In Crowd, a song that was a huge hit for pianist Ramsey Lewis. Each of the guys quickly fell right into place on both these tracks, and sounded as if they had been playing together for years.

Song Names

  1. The Chicken
  2. Trouble Man
  3. Unchain My Heart
  4. Rumble
  5. In With The In Crowd

No surprise, all of the guys were terrific in this session. The chemistry among them was great. For having never played together, they blended beautifully. I’m looking forward to working with all of them again.

– Tom Emmi / Producer


Episode #50 – Summary

30 Mar

Recording Date: July 2, 2009
Recording Location: Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, Canada

This 30 minute “Special Edition” of Studio Jams takes us to Quebec, Canada, and to the beautiful city of Montreal, home of the world famous Montreal International Jazz Festival. But rather than watching musicians perform in a recording studio, we are instead going to meet some of the musicians that appeared at the 2009 festival, and feature a few of them in intimate live performance.

Montreal has earned itself the right to be called a major jazz destination thanks to the storied history of their annual jazz festival. Over the years, it has featured some of the best and most respected musicians in jazz. The Montreal International Jazz Festival is now one of the most prestigious jazz festivals in the world and every year attracts fans from around the globe. Performances take place outside on various outdoor stages and platforms, and indoors in concert halls and clubs throughout an extremely well-organized 6-square block area.

The following U.S.-based guitarists appeared at the festival and are profiled in this episode:

Peppino D’Agostino / guitaristPeppino D’Agostino is a world class finger-style guitarist…born in Italy, he now lives near San Francisco, CA.

Peppino D'Agostino

Frank Vignola / guitarist Frank Vignola is one of the most extraordinary guitarists performing today…his stunning virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice for many, including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, Tommy Emmanuel, the Boston Pops, the New York Pops, and Joey DeFrancesco.

Frank Vignola

Russell Malone / guitarist…Russell Malone is a wonderfully skilled guitarist…strongly influenced by Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian and George Benson.

Russell Malone

A visit to Canada should definitely include a stop in Montreal. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the country and should be on everyone’s travel list of “must-see” cities to visit. Breathtaking views, beautiful landscapes, and historic sites are everywhere. Fun, culture, romance…it’s all here, year-round. And every summer…there’s the Montreal International Jazz Festival!– Tom Emmi / Producer


Episode #39 – Summary

28 Mar

Recording Date: May 18, 2006
Recording Location: Star City Recording, Bethlehem, PA

This session, which included the amazing Jeff Berlin, is a bit unusual in that it features a number of different ensembles, assembled from a diverse pool of 11 different musicians who were all with us in the studio that day. We taped a duo, a couple of trios and a few different full band configurations. It was interesting and fun, to say the least.

Jeff Berlin

Our group of musicians had two bass players, two drummers, two guitarists, two keyboard players, two saxophonists and one percussionist. We had Jeff Berlin and Demitri Sahnas on bass, drummers John Herrera and Rodney Holmes, Jef Lee Johnson and Thano Sahnas on guitar, Jeff Levine on B3 organ, Steve Culp on piano, Jaared and Dominic Amato on saxophones and Emedin Rivera on percussion.

Jeff Berlin is a legend of the electric bass. He is considered by many to be the finest electric bass player in the world. Noted for his fluid lyrical playing, Jeff is also a pioneer of slap bass.

Rodney Holmes

We taped lots of interesting music material that day. A total of 6 different tracks made it into the final edited episode. There are a few other takes that didn’t make the final cut. First, we included a track with a full band of 6 musicians, that included a core rhythm section of Jeff Berlin on bass and Rodney Holmes on drums, performing Coltrane’s jazz standard Impressions.

Jef Lee Johnson

That was followed by a trio of Jeff Berlin on bass, Rodney Holmes on drums and Jef Lee Johnson on guitar recording a terrific track of 5G, a vintage track that was in fact written and recorded by Jeff Berlin back in 1979. Jef Lee had suggested they play it and Rodney agreed. But it was funny to see Jeff trying hard to remember it, as he hadn’t played it himself in a number of years! After 10 or 15 minutes of rehearsal, the 3 of them hit it hard and delivered it full force. It was great. As many of you know, Jef is one of my favorite guitarists. Listening to him with Jeff and Rodney was incredible and truly inspiring. I loved it!

We also featured Jeff (Berlin) in another trio set-up with drummer John Herrera and percussionist Emedin Rivera performing an improvised solo treatment of the Eric Clapton/Tommy Simms hit, If I Saw You In Heaven. We recorded 2 nice takes of this tune.


Then there was a totally different band configuration that recorded interesting covers of both Theloneous Monk’s Well, You Needn’t and Stanley Turrentine’s Sugar. There were nice solos on both these tunes from a number of the players, including Steve, Jef Lee, Dominic and Jaared.

Another highlight of this session for me was our spontaneous taping of guitarist Jef Lee Johnson and saxophonist Jaared playing the classic Killer Joe…only the 2 of them. They were just fooling around with it during a break…and it sounded great! So much so, that I simply told my cameramen to start rolling tape again and asked the 2 musicians to simply continue with what they were doing, but to please just go back and take it from the head. It too was terrific…a magical spontaneous moment.

Song Names

  1. Impressions (band)
  2. 5G (trio)
  3. If I Saw You In Heaven (trio)
  4. Well, You Needn’t (band)
  5. Sugar (band)
  6. Killer Joe (duo)

– Tom Emmi / Producer


Episode #48 – Summary

27 Mar

Recording Date: June, 25, 2009
Recording Location: JazzAscona, Ascona, Switzerland

Ascona, Switzerland

This was another International “Special Edition” episode of Studio Jams – one that takes us into the Swiss Alps, to the stunningly beautiful town of Ascona, Switzerland. Ascona is a quaint and quiet little town located on the shore of Lake Maggiore, only about 10 miles or so from the Italian border. Lake Como is also but a few miles away.

Each year, the JazzAscona International Jazz Festival pays tribute to New Orleans-style jazz, and invites musicians from all over the world to join in the celebration. Concerts are held in clubs (some permanent, others temporarily created in large tents just for the festival) and on a multitude of outdoor stages scattered around town. In this episode, viewers get a chance to learn a little about some of the performers at the 2009 edition of the festival through interview and performance segments.

The following artists are profiled in this 30 minute episode:

1. The Niki Haris Quintet (USA)…a seasoned vocalist, well versed in jazz, gospel, pop and R&B.

Niki Haris

2. Jason Marsalis (USA)…a versatile, well-versed drummer…brother of Wynton, Branford and Delfeago Marsalis, and the youngest son of pianist Ellis Marsalis.

Jason Marsalis

3. The Chicago Stompers (Italy)…an Italian big band jazz group that re-creates the authentic jazz vibe of the U.S “roaring 20’s.”

The Chicago Stompers

4. Gege Telesforo (Italy)…a seasoned Italian jazz vocalist and instrumentalist, extremely well-schooled in scat and vocalese…also a journalist, and television/radio personality.

Gege Telesforo

5. Othella Dallas (USA/Switzerland)…a jazz vocalist, originally from the U.S. but now a longtime resident of Switzerland…a seasoned pro in her 80’s, she still performs regularly with her Swiss trio.

Othella Dallas

6. Chris Barber (England)…a British jazz trombonist, now in his 62nd y ear as a big band leader.

Chris Barber

7. The Creole Coconuts (Italy)…a European jazz group, led by 2 clarinettists (not to be confused with Kid Creole and the Coconuts).

8. Freddy Cole (USA)…a wonderfully gifted pianist and vocalist, and younger brother of the late Nat King Cole.

Freddy Cole

Again, one of the things that truly make this festival unique is how it effectively pays tribute to New Orleans and its rich jazz tradition – year in and year out. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that it takes place in such a breathtakingly beautiful location in the Swiss Alps. JazzAscona is a festival I hope to visit many more times in the years to come.

– Tom Emmi / Producer


Episode #47 – Summary

26 Mar

Recording Date: August 16, 2009
Recording Location: Svenska Grammofon Studion, Gothenburg, Sweden

This was an International episode of Studio Jams – taped at the Svenska Grammofon Studion in Gothenburg, Sweden. SGS is one of Scandinavia’s leading recording studios. (Interestingly, it is owned and operated by members of the band The Soundtrack of Our Lives.)

Tracy Silverman

It was somewhat spontaneous how it all came to be. I knew I would be in Gothenburg taping at the Way Out West alt-rock festival for a different series. Traveling with me would be my crew and our host, violinist Tracy Silverman. So I thought, “while we are there, why not try to hook up with an old friend, Swedish guitarist Soren Reiff and look into the possibility of taping another episode of Studio Jams – this time with Tracy, Soren and, again, with some of his friends. (Soren also appeared on Episode #34.) So Soren and I used email to iron out the details so we could make it happen.

Pontus Engborg & Jannik Jensen

I knew Tracy and Soren would hit it off. Both are wonderful, experienced pros. Tracy, a good friend and one of my favorite musicians, has already appeared on a number of different Studio Jams episodes, so I knew what to expect from him. I again had to totally rely on Soren to line up and confirm the other musicians for the gig…specifically a bassist, drummer and keyboard player. I was very glad (and comforted) when I heard from Soren that he had arranged for bassist Jannik Jensen, a good friend of his who was also part of Episode #34 that we shot in Stockholm the year before, to join us. Jannik is a wonderful player as well. The two of them have worked together many times in the past.

Mattias Bylund & Tracy Silverman

I met the other musicians –  Pontus Engborg on drums and keyboard player Mattias Bylund – for the first time that day in the studio. They, too, are A-list players with plenty of professional experience. I couldn’t have been more pleased with Soren. Once again, he delivered in a very big way. All of them had arrived and were already setting up, when my crew and I arrived at the studio that day. Everyone spoke fluent English, so effectively communicating with each other was not an issue at all.

Our tight studio set-up

There were, however, a couple of unexpected logistical and technical issues that we had to address. First of all, the studio space was long and narrow, making it a bit challenging for both musician set-up and camera placement. Plus – after almost a week of shooting around Sweden prior to the session – unfortunately 1 of our 3 cameras went on the fritz and died, creating a less than ideal situation for us. As a result we had to shoot this session with only 2 professional cameras. Luckily, one of my cameramen did have a personal digital video camera with him that we opted to use as a 3rd video source – just in case. We simply locked that down on a 2-shot of bass and drums.

Soren Reiff & Jannik Jensen

After working through all of the technical kinks, we were ready to go. To get us started, Tracy suggested a cover of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature. It came together beautifully. We recorded 2 takes of the song – both with nice solo passages from Soren, Tracy and Mattias. Next, Soren introduced everyone to one of his originals, a song called Funky Mama. Great tune, with lots of interesting rhythm kicks. It took a while for everyone to get on the same page with it, but when they finally did, we recorded 2 great takes of the song.

After a short break, Tracy suggested they play a cover of Stevie Wonder’s I Wish. We recorded 2 complete takes of this song – 1 a bit faster tempo than the other. The session closed with another one of Soren’s original tunes, a beautiful ballad called Miss You. Tracy contributed a beautiful solo on this track.

I had to wrap quickly after Miss You. My crew and I had to hustle to make a train out of Gothenburg that would then get us to Stockholm in time for our overseas flight home. Looking back, it was yet another great afternoon of some fresh, new music. Music truly is a universal language. We proved it again that afternoon.

Big thanks go out to Soren. He has exposed me to some wonderful Scandinavian musicians – and for that I am thankful. I am also very thankful that he (and Jannik) both thought so much of our program to make the 3 hours trek from Stockholm to Gothenburg (and back again, too!) just for the gig. Thanks a million, guys. You’re the best. Until next time…!

Song Names

  1. Human Nature
  2. Funky Mama
  3. I Wish
  4. Miss You

– Tom Emmi / Producer


Episode #46 – Summary

23 Mar

Recording Date: July 23, 2009
Recording Location: Milkboy Recording Studios, Ardmore, PA

Tracy Silverman

This was a session that just sort of came together naturally. It was one of the smallest gatherings I have ever assembled for a taping, as there were only 4 total musicians. First, there was Tracy Silverman on electric violin. As many of you know, Tracy is not only a good friend, but a world-class musician. He is classically trained, with strong rock and jazz sensibilities. He has appeared on a number of Studio Jams episodes. Although he lives in Nashville, Tracy visits Philadelphia often to see family that lives here. Anyways, when I learned that he would be in town, I immediately talked with him about putting together another session. As a big fan of the show, Tracy was quick to say “let’s do it.”

Steve Forrest

Tracy thought it would be nice to add bassist Steve Forrest, who happened to be traveling with him. Steve is one of Nashville’s finest bass players and a first-call musician for all kinds of sessions, so naturally I said “sure…bring him along!”

Next, I called Jef Lee Johnson to join us on guitar. Jef is a true American original and a true American gift to the musical world. He is a fresh, funky player with a very crisp and hip edge. He has performed and/or recorded with many of the biggest names in funk and R&B, and has collaborated with such heavyweights as James Carter, Rachelle Ferrell, D’Angelo, Billy Joel and George Duke, among many others. He is also no stranger to the program and has been featured on a number of episodes in the past. Jef is one of my favorite guitarists.

Jef Lee Johnson

To round out the group, we asked Roy “Futureman” Wooten (Bela Fleck & The Flecktones) to join us on drums. This multi-Grammy Award winner is another musical heavyweight. I had no idea what to expect at this session, but I knew it would be good. Individually, they are all wonderful musicians. Collectively, I thought there would be magic.

After they all got comfortable in the studio, I think it was Steve who suggested they play the Duke Ellington standard In A Sentimental Mood. After 10 or 15 minutes of rehearsal, we recorded 1 take of the song. True to form, Jef’s guitar licks gave it an extremely funky feel, unlike any other version of the tune I have ever heard. Nice.

Tracy Silverman

Jef then continued the funk by suggesting they play a cover of Miles Davis’ Gingerbread Boy. I sensed that it perhaps had been a while since Jef played it, is it took a few minutes for him to recall many of the changes. When Jef finally got it, Steve and Tracy seemed to pick it up in a heartbeat. We recorded 1 take of this tune as well.

Tracy then led the group through a couple of Open Jams that allowed plenty of room for everyone to contribute fresh and impressive solos. Tracy’s musicianship is just so strong. I never tire of hearing him play. The session ended with a totally unrehearsed 1 take recording of the Jimi Hendrix classic Fire. They hit it hard from start to finish. The interplay between Tracy’s fretted 6-string electric violin and Jef’s guitar was truly mind-blowing. Jimi would’ve been proud.

We taped this session at Milkboy Recording Studios in Ardmore, PA. We have taped Studio Jams episodes there many times in the past, as the owners are strong supporters of our program. They always do a terrific job for us.

Song Names

  1. In A Sentimental Mood
  2. Gingerbread Boy
  3. Jam 1
  4. Jam 2
  5. Fire

– Tom Emmi / Producer