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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 #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 #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 #45 – Summary

21 Mar

Recording Date: August 10, 2008
Recording Location: Brecon Jazz Festival, Brecon, Wales

This is a 30 minute “Special Edition” International episode of Studio Jams, one that is quite a bit different from a typical episode. Rather than bring musicians into a recording studio and watch them create fresh new music, we opted instead to take viewers to a notable International jazz festival and introduce them to some of the performers who appeared there, through a combination of interview and short performance segments.

This episode took us to beautiful Brecon, Wales, and to the annual Brecon Jazz Festival. Brecon is a quaint, small market town of about 8,000 residents located in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons, a small mountainous region in central Wales.

My crew and I flew in from Philadelphia to Heathrow Airport in London. We were then met by a private van from the Wales Tourism Bureau for a very comfortable 3 hour trek through the beautiful Wales countryside to the tiny town of Brecon.

Each year, for 3 days in August, the population of Brecon almost triples as jazz lovers from near and far converge on the town for the Brecon Jazz Festival. Every hotel and bed & breakfast within miles of the town are booked solid. The town is so packed that they also create a huge, temporary camping area (for tents, RVs, etc.) just outside of town for the festival weekend (think mini-Woodstock). Thanks to the kind folks at the Tourism Bureau, my crew and I were fortunate to have accommodations in a home smack dab in the center of all the activity, at 1 Buckingham Place. (We affectionately referred to it as 1 Buckingham Palace.) It was perfect.

Although certainly not one of Europe’s largest, the Brecon Jazz Festival is among the most popular – always offering a diverse line-up of International performers. The following artists appeared at the festival and are profiled in this episode:

1. Gwilym Simcock (Wales)… Gwilym Simcock is one of the most gifted pianists and imaginative composers on the British scene.  Able to move effortlessly between jazz and classical music, he can, at times, inhabit both worlds and has been described as stylistically reminiscent of Keith Jarrett.

Gwilym Simcock

2. Wayne Krantz (USA)…Wayne Krantz is a fusion-style guitarist with a nice, hard edge.

Wayne Krantz

3. Jools Holland (England)… Jools Holland is the most popular pianist and bandleader in the United Kingdom, and host the popular Later…with Jools Holland television series for the BBC.

Jools Holland

4. Slim Lightfoot (England).

Slim Lightfoot

5. Arild Andersen (Norway)…Arild Andersen is a wonderfully gifted bassist…in my opinion, reminiscent of Dave Holland, Steve Swallow and Ron Carter.

Arild Andersen

6. Neil Cowley (England)…Neil Cowley studied classical music at the prestigious Royal Academy in London, and by the age of 10 had performed a piano concerto to a full house at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. He now fronts a popular, critically acclaimed jazz trio.

The Neil Cowley Trio

7. John Etheridge (England)…John Etheridge enjoys a glowing reputation throughout the jazz world and has been described by Pat Metheny as, “One of the best guitarists in the world.” He is a gifted and creative player whose approach to music can only be described as ‘eclectic’.

John Etheridge

The Brecon Beacons

So if you are a serious jazz fan and would welcome a picturesque stay in a remote country town in Wales for a few days, then the Brecon Jazz Festival is a perfect destination for you. It would serve you well to check it out.

– Tom Emmi / Producer

Episode #44 – Summary

14 Mar

Recording Date: July 19, 2008
Recording Location: Pescara Jazz Festival, Pescara, Italy

This was a “Special Edition” International episode of Studio Jams…a bit different in concept from a typical Studio Jams program in that we opted instead to take viewers to a notable International jazz festival and simply introduce them to various performers with a number of different interview and short performance segments.

This episode took us back to the beautiful, picturesque Italian city of Pescara and to their annual Pescara Jazz Festival. (Episode #36 also took us to Pescara, for the 2007 edition of the festival.) Pescara is a mid-size city located on the shore of the Adriatic Sea.

Again, while it is not a huge festival, the Pescara Jazz Festival is extremely well-respected for staying true to the traditional jazz genre. Their main performance venue is an open-air amphitheater just a hundred yards of so from the beach…making it an ideal, comfortable and very relaxing space for an evening jazz concert.

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

1. Kerem Gorsev Trio (Turkey)…an excellent world-class pianist from Istanbul, Turkey

Kerem Gorsev

2. Gianluca Caporale Quartet (Italy)…an Italian saxophonist

Gianluca Caporale

3. Acta Fabula (Italy)

4. Carmine Ianieri Quartet (Italy)…an Italian saxophonist

Carmine Ianieri

5. Gary Burton Quartet Revisited (USA)…a legendary vibraphonist; the group included bassist Steve Swallow and guitarist Pat Metheny

Gary Burton (with Pat Metheny)

6. Bobby Hutcherson Quartet (USA)…another legendary vibraphonist

Bobby Hutcherson

7. Herbie Hancock ( USA)…a jazz legend, what more can you say

Herbie Hancock

8. Enrico Rava (Italy)…a well-known Italian trumpeter

Enrico Rava

9. Maria Schneider Orchestra (USA)

Maria Schneider

A reminder…again, if you’re planning a July trip to Italy, and if you are a serious jazz fan, then you have to include a trip to the 3-day Pescara Jazz Festival in the city of Pescara. It’s a great place to hear great music…and I can’t wait to go back!


– Tom Emmi / Producer

Episode #36 – Summary

13 Mar

Recording Date: July 13, 2007
Recording Location: Pescara Jazz Festival, Pescara, Italy

This was another “Special Edition” International episode of Studio Jams…different in concept from a typical Studio Jams program in that rather than bring musicians into a recording studio and watch them create fresh new music on the spot, we opted instead to take viewers to a notable International jazz festival and simply introduce them to various performers who appeared there, through a combination of interview and short performance segments.

This episode took us to the beautiful east coast of Italy, to the annual Pescara Jazz Festival. Although not one of Europe’s largest annual festivals, it is certainly among the most prestigious – as it has remained true to the traditional jazz genre, and for the most part, has resisted simply adding popular rock and pop groups to its line-up, just to help them sell more tickets.

Pescara is a mid-size city located on the shore of the Adriatic Sea. Unlike Rome and the Amalfi coast on the other side of the country, Pescara and the Abruzzo region of Italy has not yet been “discovered” and overrun with tourists. It is a beautiful part of the world, for sure – I suspect much like Tuscany was, 20 years ago. We, as Americans, were definitely in the minority while we were there, and truly some of the very few people at the festival that spoke any English at all. We loved it. We were visitors, not tourists.

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

1. The Guiseppe Continenza Quartet (Italy)…Guiseppe Continenza is a fine guitarist, from the Jimmy Bruno/Pat Martino school of jazz


Guiseppe Continenza

2. A24 (Italy)…this was a straight-ahead quartet named after A24, the major highway across Italy from Rome to Pescara

3. Panjeazz (Italy)…another straight-ahead quartet

4. Speakin’ Four (Italy)…I believe this quartet was a local Pescara group of musicians

5. Marco Di Battista & Marcello Sebastiani (Italy)…this gifted pianist and bassist travel extensively throughout Italy

Marco Di Battista

6. The SF Jazz Collective (USA)…one of the few American groups that were there; this configuration included the great Joe Lovano on sax and Stefon Harris on vibes

Stefon Harris

7. Ornette Coleman (USA)…a true jazz legend, what more can you say

Ornette Coleman

Here is a short sample of some highlights from the festival…

If you’re planning a July trip to Italy, and if you are a serious jazz fan, a trip to the 3-day Pescara Jazz Festival in the city of Pescara should definitely be on your itinerary. In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we paid them another visit the following year to tape another “Special Edition” episode for this series (see Episode #44).


– Tom Emmi / Producer