Author: dbadmin

Saxophone Today

It used to be that the way to catch some of the best up-and-coming musicians was to go to Vegas and jump from lounge to lounge. Vegas has changed, and the number of lounge acts working there today has dropped precipitously. Today your best bet to find up and coming artists is to go to New York and catch those who work the cabaret rooms, hotel bars and clubs, as well as some of the bigger rooms around town. There you will find a mix of established artists and those to keep your eye on. One of the artists in that environment who is making a big splash is saxophonist, vocalist, actor, writer and comedian (he’s a member of the New York Friars Club), Danny Bacher.

Raised in Wayne, New Jersey, Bacher started on the alto saxophone at the age of 10 before moving on to tenor, soprano and baritone. Studies with William Paterson University faculty, and playing alongside college musicians, while still in high school, eventually led Bacher to bigger opportunities. Graduating with a degree in Theater and Music from New Jersey City University, Bacher quickly started working not only stateside but also internationally performing original works. Settling on the soprano as his instrumental voice, he also took vocal lessons from acclaimed artists like Grammy-nominated singer and educator Rosanna Vitro. All of this helped Bacher develop a strong multifaceted musical style. Early work as a comedy team with his brother Josh eventually traversed into a solo career as a singer-saxophonist-entertainer. Since then Bacher has developed a fervent following, among not only lovers of music but also today’s best musicians. Big-name artists like cornetist Warren Vaché, saxophonist Houston Person, trombonist and arranger Pete McGuinness, and Phil Woods’ long-time drummer Bill Goodwin, among others, make Danny’s debut album Swing That Music! a can’t-miss recording. The critics are, as well, suitably impressed, with the New York Times stating Bacher “(reveals himself) to be a… prodigiously talented musical preservationist.” The Times went on to say, “in his bebop solos he revealed enough of his inner wild man to suggest a maniac behind the cool.” Jazziz magazine seconds that, “(Bacher) pulls plenty of fire from his sax.” Bacher is truly here to stay.

Primarily you’re a soprano saxophonist, but you do play a little tenor. How did you come to focus so primarily on the soprano?

It was a physiological thing first, but there was always something about the soprano that attracted me. I don’t know if it was because I was always a closet clarinet fan while growing up, and I often listened to Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw recordings, but I liked the idea of being set apart. I knew early on everybody and their brother played tenor and alto, and occasionally you get a renegade who goes to bari, but very rarely do you find someone who plays soprano and those that do, use it, in a sense, like a novelty. With the exception of a few cats, it’s really an instrument a lot of people don’t put enough time into. Even someone like Johnny Hodges, who I absolutely love and I think of as a king on alto, played soprano in the famous 1938 concert in Carnegie on a tune or two, and yet he has a different sound on it. He doesn’t play soprano with the Johnny Hodges “warm and silky” sound he had on alto. He sounds like a totally different musician on the soprano. The point I’m making is the soprano is its own beast; between the embouchure and working on getting a good sound, there are only a handful of guys I could say have a beautiful sound on the instrument. The two who come to mind are Lucky Thompson and Zoot Sims, and you have to include Sidney Bechet in that list, even though he had a real distinct sound with a heavy vibrato, and it’s considered by some to be even a bit of a dated sound, still Bechet had a beautiful tone.

I was influenced by so many different instrumentalists growing up, not only clarinet players but also great tenor players like Ben Webster, Zoot Sims, Stan Getz, and right on through to some of the more modern players. However, I always went back to the soprano. Tone was, and is, so important to me, and it was important to me when I first started to play alto. I knew early on, even before I could read music, that I would rely on my ear for tone; I’ve always had a very strong ear and was able to play by ear right from the start. I would listen to big band records like Basie, Ellington, Goodman, and Glenn Miller. At the time I wasn’t able to decipher what the saxophone parts were, I just played along with the melody lines no matter what section had it; trumpets, trombones, clarinet, whatever. I would pick up on the melody and play along.

So this was an early training ground for you.

Yes. It gave me a sense of swing and allowed me to exercise my ear muscles by playing along with all of the different instruments. And yes, I know I’m digressing from your original question about why the soprano, but I need to go in this direction to explain that question. But getting back to the saxophonists I focused on; most people are asked who their influences are. What they really mean is, if you’re a saxophonist, what saxophone players do you listen to and want to emulate. But I went a little further than that. For me it was, who had a sound I love regardless of their instrument and who in a solo sense influenced me. I listened really hard, and still do, to people like Clark Terry who was a tremendous influence on me. Warren Vaché was also an influence. Both of those guys have a great sense of harmony, swing, lyricism, the blues, and melody when they’re soloing. I’m a bit of an old-fashioned sentimentalist in the sense that I think very melodically. I know there are a lot of guys who can play all over the instrument and kill it with regard to playing in and out of the changes, but that was never my taste in terms of how I like to play and who I love to listen to. I love people like Lester Young, Sims and Webster, guys who could really say something by not saying so much in a solo.

A lot of these guys, including Dexter Gordon, were guys who really understood the lyrics of whatever song they were playing. That always fascinated me as a young player because before I was a singer I was just a saxophonist, both instrumentally and musically. I got into the singing later. Really understanding and learning what the message from the songwriter is, is an important element of really digging a piece in its entirety. People like Johnny Mercer, Yip Harburg, Sammy Cahn, Stephen Sondheim, and Ira Gershwin, are all great songwriters and poets, and are all great influences on me. Knowing the lyrics that were married to these fantastic melodies was, and is important to me. When I started I really thought more melodically and didn’t pay much attention to lyrics at first, until after I got into singing. Learning the lyrics has not only enhanced my musicianship, but has helped me convey the story of the tune through every part of my performance, whether it’s singing a standard and telling a story as a vocalist, or by just playing  on my sax. By really understanding the vibe and message of the tune. I believe this often helps guide where I go with my improvisation.

So back to how you ended up on the soprano.

Oh, yes.  Of course! I apologize for digressing yet again. Back to the soprano: I started to get some neck issues from playing these heavy horns from the age of 10 onward. At one point I was playing the bari, and the chiropractor I was going to at the time took an x-ray of my neck and said, “You’re 20 years old and have the neck of a 60-year-old.” With the exception of my neck being able to collect Social Security in five years, it didn’t sound like a good prognosis. So I really started to work on the soprano to give my neck a rest and started right off developing the sound I wanted on it. I focused primarily on the tone. Unfortunately, the soprano is, to many people, the ugly step-sibling of the saxophone world. Intonation wise it’s tough to find a soprano that will play in tune, and it’s often just as hard to get a good sound on a soprano. There are so many great saxophonists who people revere and love, but when they pick up the soprano, man, it’ll make you just turn the dial, because you just can’t take it. The soprano is a very acquired taste and sadly has a bad reputation. There are people who demonize the horn and criticize it because someone like Kenny G, who brought the soprano into a new light of popularity, played it the way he does. I either get people who come up to me at gigs who say, “What is that, some kind of flute?,” or someone who once said to me, “I love that gold clarinet.” People don’t know it’s a soprano saxophone. This is probably because I play a straight soprano. The shape throws people a bit. I’m sure if I played a curved soprano people would probably think it was a cute little toy.

So why the straight one?

I like how it’s ergonomically laid out. Going back to the tone I feel there is a difference to me between the straight and curved horns. All of my influences that were tenor players who also played soprano, generally played straight horns. I think I just liked the look and feel of the straight ones more. When working on my sound, I tried to translate what I was able to do on my tenor and alto to the soprano. I just worked hard on the sound, and I think this sets me apart from many who play the instrument. I like the fact that the soprano is novel and there are not a lot of guys who focus solely on the soprano, even though there are plenty of guys who play it.

You do have a great sound on the soprano. Were there any special exercises you did to develop your sound?

It might be corny to say this, but listening and trying to recreate the sound of others helped me a great deal. If you have someone’s sound you like, whether it’s on the soprano or not, try to emulate it. Two influences of sound on the saxophone, for me, besides the obvious saxophone players I’ve already mentioned, along with Stan Getz, and Paul Desmond who has a gorgeous velvety tone on alto, are Clark Terry and Warren Vaché. Warren actually plays cornet and has a beautiful soft tone on his horn, but especially Clark when he blows on trumpet and flugelhorn he gets a little bit of a breathy sound that I just love. It’s so organic. I listened to those players and tried to get a bit of a breathy sound that is similar to theirs. Besides the instrument itself, the reed you choose also plays a big role. I’ve experimented with a lot of reeds, but I always go back to the black box Marca reeds. When I went to their #3½, which is a half-strength more than I usually use, I found they produced too much resistance and air for me. The black box Marca #3 strength works perfectly for me. However, reeds are such a personal thing. From what I was told, Steve Lacy, who is not a big influence on me, but who you have to consider because he’s a real soprano player, would play on a strength #1 reed with a real open mouthpiece; I couldn’t even get a sound if I played on a #1 reed.

I used to play a Yanagasawa S901 soprano for about 15 or 16 years as my primary professional soprano horn. I was using a Selmer hard rubber Super Session mouthpiece and ended up using a round wood ligature made by Roberto’s Woodwinds in New York. It was, at the time, a great setup, but when I switched to the Selmer Mark VI all of a sudden that setup was not working any longer for me. My sound totally changed and I wasn’t happy. I then went on a quest and ended up getting a setup put together for me by Joe Giardullo of Soprano Planet. Joe has a lot of wonderful mouthpieces he makes for different players. I went up with my Mark VI and spent two afternoons with Joe trying out every different custom mouthpiece he had. He would change facings, open them up, worked on the bore, but I just couldn’t get the sound I was looking for.

Is that when you went to the Dukoff?

Yes. I knew my horn was great and was thrilled with it, but just couldn’t get the sound I heard in my head. He pulled out a mouthpiece saying, “Here’s one I’m keeping for myself. It’s not for sale. I want you to try it, and maybe we can find one like it for you.” He gave me the Dukoff. For years I was totally anti-Dukoff because I would always hear cats playing them, getting a corny, harsh rock sound on them. I just hated them. I said I would never play on a Dukoff, especially a metal one. He pulled out this M5 with a hole-punch right in the middle of the inside that he had opened to a .064 opening. He said to try it out. I agreed to try it but I knew I wasn’t going to like it. I put it on and it was love at first sound. I said, “I know you said it’s not for sale, but how much?” He said it’s not for sale. Somehow I wore him down and he graciously said, “It was meant for you, and you can have it.” He charged me, but I didn’t care, I had to have it! I also ended up with a couple of other custom mouthpieces from him, and I still have my Super Session, and while they’re all in my case I don’t touch them. I stay with my metal M5 he had worked on. The intonation is superb on it, and I must humbly state that I have a little something to do with that myself, but I am thrilled with it. It helped me get that sound I was trying to achieve and was constantly working on. One thing I’m very happy to say is that whether it’s a fellow musician or a fan, people that come to see me perform all have very positive things to say about my sound, and that’s one of the best compliments I can get as a soprano saxophonist. They all love my tone. I’m not bragging; it’s just what I’ve been told.

You do have a beautiful sound, but what made you leave the Yanagasawa and move to the vintage Mark VI?

I’ve always been a Selmer guy and loved the sound I got from their horns. I just felt I had gotten all I could have from the Yanagasawa and had been on it for a long time. It was time to part company. I called my college professor Ed Joffe for some horn advice. I’ve actually studied with a lot of different saxophone teachers through the years – incidentally, I’m currently working with the great Bob Mover. The man is a genius: he worked with Chet Baker, Zoot Sims, and knew all the guys. With him I’ve been working on harmonic stuff and theory. However, the two guys I mainly studied with when I was coming up were Dave Demsey, who is the head of jazz studies at William Paterson, and Ed Joffe at NJCU. Both Dave and Ed are great technicians on the horn, as well as great session players and all-around musicians. They both came from the Juilliard sax program and worked with the legendary Joe Allard. A lot of great saxophonists talk about Joe. He was the premiere woodwind player with the Philadelphia Orchestra for many years before he ran the saxophone program at Juilliard. I got a lot of great tips, the Joe Allard trickle-down, if you will, from Dave and Ed.

Anyhow, I called Ed for advice on a horn, and said I was thinking of looking at different horns. Yamaha was giving me trial periods with different sopranos of theirs, and I was trying some of the new Yanagasawa horns. But every time I tried a different horn I found I wasn’t even getting close to what I had with the S901. Something was missing. Ed is a very to-the-point guy. He said, “Bacher, don’t screw around. You know what you need. You get one horn and you’ll have it for the rest of your life. Get a Mark VI.” I had always avoided those horns because the side keyboard was so different than the S901, which was built like the altos and tenors I’ve played, with the low B and B-flat keys. I thought this would be a problem. He said, “You’ll get used to it.” He also told me, “You have to get a Mark VI over 200,000 because they will have the best intonation.” Now, even though some guys disagree and like to play with the earlier numbered horns, I tried a few out, and have to say I agree with Ed. The horns over at least 175,000 had a better, more solid feel as well as being easier all-around intonation-wise.

After trying several places and different horns, I finally found a guy in Florida who had one particular Mark VI soprano. I don’t know why, but I’m a sucker for engraving on a bell. It’s hard to find a soprano with the engraving on it. It reminded me of my alto and tenor having engraving, and being a sentimental guy, I liked it. Anyhow, I played the soprano and liked the horn and the whole story behind it. It was a real “players’ horn”. It had been consigned by a guy named Dave Hubbard, who was a tenor and soprano player. He had gone to the Selmer factory in Paris, and picked it out himself in the 1970s. He had it, loved it, and played it until he consigned it with this guy in Florida. I’m only the second guy to own it since it was born in France! My repair man gave it a much-needed overhaul, and I’ve been in love with this horn ever since; it’s a real marriage.

Ligatures were things nobody thought of too much in years past, but today their development has really progressed. Why do you use Silverstein ligatures?

Once I got the new soprano and had that Dukoff mouthpiece, I knew I had to find the finishing touch with the perfect ligature. Some of those wood ones I had from Roberto’s weren’t working because they didn’t fit the Dukoff.  The Dukoff’s physical footprint is not very wide. I  gave the Francois Louis ligatures a try, as I had also worked with them on and off for many years. Incidentally, I found the silver ones gave me the warmest sound, not the gold ones, which I found were too soft for the soprano; it never ceased to amaze me that every different metal I tried gave me a significantly different tone. I eventually ended up working with a player I know, I think it might have been Ted Klum, because I went to him looking for a new mouthpiece for my tenor, and it was Ted who told me about the new Silverstein ligatures. I thought they looked kind of odd, and I had tried things like them in the past but usually stayed away from that type of ligature. But what did I have to lose? Due to the small size of the Dukoff, I could not find a standard lig that fit, so I made an appointment and went to the company, which is close to me in Hackensack, New Jersey, literally a 20-minute drive for me. They made a custom cut each of their ligatures for me. Now I’m one of their endorsers, it’s not monetary but they have my picture up on their site. I tried several different metal and string/chord configurations they made up for me, but ended up with their classic silver ligature with the black cord. What I really love and find unique about their ligatures are the sound bars which can be moved. The further back you move them, the more open the sound. They are really versatile ligatures, and there are not too many ligatures that can instantly change the tone or sound like the Silverstein. It’s a brilliant design. They did a great job with it, and have since designed some other products I like and use.

For example, they have a UV light you can put in your case. After a gig there are a lot of germs still hanging around the sax. There are all kinds of bacteria blown from your mouth into the horn, and while you can swab it all you want, there will always be some stubborn germs left over. You turn on the light, put it in your case for an hour, it turns off on its own, and it kills about 99% of all of those bacteria and germs. It keeps you healthy.

We’ve talked about intonation, and the soprano is a really touchy instrument when it comes to this. You, however, don’t have any problems handling the intonation issues that come with the instrument. How did you develop your intonational abilities when you were young?

Lots of trial and error. And, of course, lots of funny faces from audience members giving me looks I didn’t want to see. I played a lot. Working with vibrato and trying to get a good tone helped this, because you are constantly adjusting your embouchure as you go up and down the instrument. When you play long enough it almost becomes second nature, how to adjust. You come to know where things lay on the horn. A lot of it also has to do with the mouthpiece. The closer you make the tip at the top, the easier it is to stay in tune on the horn from top to bottom. I encourage people to go talk to someone like Joe Giardullo of Soprano Planet, because he’s an expert at getting your mouthpiece to sound just right. He will help you with any intonation issues. Some people might disagree with this, but saxophonists shouldn’t have to work that hard on intonation. You should be able to hear it, you should know when you’re in tune, and shouldn’t have to be working your chops off just to stay in tune. With an instrument like the saxophone you have enough issues to worry about – intonation is something that should be made simpler. This can simply be achieved when you work with an expert who knows mouthpieces. Equipment-wise, amazing things are being done these days. Instruments are getting much better and everything is improving through technology.

It is amazing what they’re doing with instruments these days.

Yes, but it’s not without its problems of course. You have to be very picky. I encourage every player to be very selective. What works for me may not work for the next guy or gal. He or she may think a certain setup used by me or someone else is going to do the same thing for them, but they might get a totally different sound on the same exact setup. It’s such an individual thing. It’s important to try several setups on different instruments, not just on one or two instruments. Try 10, 11, 15, that many because there is that much of a variance when you’re playing a professional horn.

You’re quoted as saying you model yourself on “the older cats who try to connect to an audience in a fun way.” In fact your CD focuses on music of artists from the past. In this case it’s music of three famous Louis, Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and Louis Jordan. Why did you choose those three artists as a point of emphasis for your first CD?

In all honesty whenever I do my music I like to entertain with it. I’m kind of an old soul and I can’t avoid that, it’s me and who I am authentically. I really love this music. It used to be the popular music of its day, and people often seem to forget jazz used to be the popular music in this country. There were so many wonderful musicians and so many great people who were playing back then, but they also had this other thing I think a lot of players, musicians and singers, don’t have today, which was the ability to captivate an audience with their performance other than on the technical side of things. Musically they had something else and that was an entertainment quality that put an audience at ease and a smile on their faces. Their whole demeanor and approach as performers read as if to say, “I’m having a great time up here, and having so much fun.” It was infectious. Well, this music IS fun. Originally, when I worked with Rosanna Vitro, my producer on this project, I said to her, “I’ve got to do an album and I want to call it ‘Standard Time’ because I want to do some of my favorite tunes.” She said, “Why in the heck would you do that? That’s just what we don’t need, another album with someone playing or singing standards. “What’s the hook?” What people look for in an album is some kind of concept, whether it be a concept or some kind of a nod or tribute to an artist who influenced you. However, you should not do the music in the same way they did. You have to find your own personal take on their music. Roseanna said, “I think, because you’re a singer and instrumentalist, you should do a Louis Jordan tribute, because you do comedy and everything he did was always so funny. Almost all of the music he did was about being humorous and he was constantly adding comic elements to what he did as a composer, lyricist and performer.” That sounded great, but I then told her I was also a fan of Louis Prima, who was known for the same things. Then I mentioned Louis Armstrong – you can’t ignore what he brought to jazz as a serious musician and innovator, but he was also a great entertainer and true ambassador of jazz. So instead of doing one Louis, we did three.

That started the impossible task of narrowing the music of three amazing catalogs into 12 selections. What I tried to do as we picked the tunes was to look at the span of their careers and what popular numbers they were associated with, and mix that with some more obscure numbers that people may not have heard since they first came out. For example, I wanted to do the Prima tune, I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song). That was a Sherman brothers composition done for the Disney animated film, The Jungle Book. Everybody knows that tune and loves it. How could we not do it? Of all the songs on my recording it’s the one that gets the most attention from radio people and fans who have bought the album. They write to me saying, “I love the whole album, but that monkey song is my favorite.” There was even a jazz radio station interview I was doing and when speaking with the DJ she made a “confession” that her favorite song on the record was The Jungle Book song. She didn’t want too many people to know she was getting joy out of this Disney cartoon number. That, to me, shows the song did what it was intended to do, and that was proof you can let the academic “guard” of this music we call jazz down a little bit. I wanted listeners to get lost in the fun of the music.

With all respect to the field of jazz education, and having spent time at the JEN (Jazz Educators’ Network) conference the past two years as well as performing last year in Louisville, you can get a vibe that tends to be a little stuffy. I feel jazz now, in this country, has become more about the teaching of jazz than what it originally was, which was a performance-based music. Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t think there is anything wrong with the stress on education, but I think we have to be careful as a jazz community to not go too much in that direction without remembering what this music is about. We can all sit in a practice room for six hours a day and get off on the fact we’re killing it like Coltrane, but at the end of the day, we don’t do this music for ourselves. We have a talent, a gift, and a mission to share this music with other people. It’s a gift, whether you cultivated it or were born with it, and it’s something you most likely want to share. It’s music, a social art form, and an experience people want to go out and have. If someone doesn’t have the ability to connect with others, or doesn’t take the opportunity to find that in themselves, then I think they are doing the music and themselves a disservice. If we don’t do this, we won’t be able to continue putting butts in seats in order to keep this music alive.

I think you’re absolutely right about this. First and foremost jazz is a performance based art. The song St. James Infirmary on your CD, while not a 12-bar blues, is truly drenched in blues sensitivity. Your solo on this song pays full homage to a deep blues-feeling. What advice do you have for other saxophonists to help them develop their blues-feeling playing because this feeling and conveying this feeling is not something one can get just from the notes?

It goes back to what I said earlier in understanding the song. What is the emotion behind a tune? I do a lot of work within the American popular songbook and there are a lot of people who are tired of these tunes and just want to write their own. There are a lot of songs being written without lyrics, just instrumentals, but there is still an emotion and a vibe behind even these songs. The composer, whether they be someone writing for their own group and themselves or someone who is strictly a jazz composer, still has a story behind that song; what that melody means to them. It’s so important to me to be as true an artist as I can be in the fullest sense of the concept, and not just a technician. One must delve into the piece, any piece, in order to play it with as much feeling as possible. I hear a lot of younger players who can play fantastically with regard to technique, but what are they really saying? If they’re only thinking about the following, “Here I’ll do the harmonic minor scale, and here I’ll approach my solo with the secondary dominant in mind, followed by a diminished arpeggio, just before going to a  whole tone scale,” well great; that’s a technical roadmap. But what does that say artistically about the piece and about the person who has the horn in their mouth in trying to convey a message or story? I feel very strongly about story, and I think my training as an actor has helped me along the way with story interpretation. When I listen to the great musicians who we all love and try to emulate, I get a sense of their personal voice. They construct something in the moment. The great thing about jazz is we get to improvise and compose spontaneously, but what is it that you’re composing? Where are the silences? Are they as important as the notes you’re playing? Is the musician taking the time to say something melodically, or lyrically, that helps bring back what the piece you’re playing is about?

I’ve had a number of the musical artists I’ve interviewed over the years tell me one of the most important college classes they took was acting, with Steven Jordheim being one of many examples.

I certainly recommend taking an acting class to everybody, especially in college. One thing I do when I’m working with a group of music students in a clinic is to include a theatre game or two right at the start.  This not only helps break the ice, but also gets people comfortable in their bodies and gives them a personal awareness of the space they’re working in. When I worked in acting classes you would often come across those who were very outgoing, willing to be in front of people. They had a joy about showing off their wares in front of others. A lot of musicians will use their instrument to do that, but their instrument can be a barrier so they don’t have to be the person who talks, speaks or connects to the audience. It’s as if they hide behind their instrument. I encourage every musician, instrumentalist, and vocalist to take some acting and improv classes because there is a real connection with improvisational acting, and even comedy, to music. Whenever I work with people in both acting and music we find and understand that connection. You’ll often hear a comedian after a great night when he/she kills, comparing the experience to being a jazz musician, riffing with the best of them on the bandstand. There is a great connection between the two art forms. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my mind has gone to the comedy side of things as well as the jazz side of things. There is a great sense of freedom in both. I have a real love and need for that freedom of expression. For those who are looking to see how they can improve as an all-around musician, as an all-around artist and performer, because we are performers, you need to find that truth in yourself. You need to explore different outlets that will allow you to find your way to connect with an audience.

Your ballad conception is really soulful, and shown to its best effect on Dream a Little Dream of Me. When you’re going to take a saxophone solo on a ballad, what are you thinking about? What is your mind process?

If I can be candid, it’s almost like I’m making love. It’s a euphoric feeling I like to get into when playing ballads. It’s so much about lyricism, especially with ballad playing, at least it is for me. I try to not only think of the lyric but I also want to make some beautiful melodic lines. I like to take my time with ballads, and bend and scoop notes when appropriate. Manipulate the sound of my instrument. I try to approach my ballad playing like Johnny Hodges did. There are wonderful examples out there of wonderful ballad playing. Listening has really helped me a lot, and I always encourage young players to listen to others. As far as singers go, I like to think back on Ella Fitzgerald. Her tone as a singer was superb. I’m sure everyone listens to her, but if they really listen, they’ll realize she was a true master in every sense of the word. Sinatra could also sing the heck out of a ballad because he really felt it. You never questioned his believability or his ability to tell the story when singing a ballad. I encourage instrumentalists to listen to the great singers. Billie Holiday as well had a sense of despair and heartache when she would sing torch songs. These singers are some of the greats.

You obviously have a great connection with your audiences. As you’re putting together a live concert, how do you decide what songs will go in what order?

That depends. I reach out to others whose opinions I value, call them, and ask their thoughts. When I put together the live concert for my “Swing That Music!” album, I worked with Marilyn Maye. She is a tremendous singer who is usually more associated with the cabaret world. What I would argue is that Marilyn is a crossover artist. She is 89 and has great stamina, more than many 29-year-olds I know. She is a force of nature and still performing all over the place. She’s in high demand all over the world. When you walk into one of her shows you realize there is something magical about her. She’s a throwback, one of the last people left from the era Carmen McRae, Ella, and Sarah Vaughn came from; she was friends with all of those people too. They all respected her just as she respected them. She even knew Sinatra. The lady  was on Carson 76 times!

I went to her and she helped me by actually directing the show. We talked about the order of songs in terms of what makes the most sense story-wise, but we also talked about how to come up on stage and approach the audience. We also considered what tunes worked depending on feel, tempo, etc…I just learned so much from working with her in terms of audience connection. Even though I’ve been working in front of audiences for a long time, when you work with a master like Marilyn, you get a sense of how giving she is to her audiences. She loves to help the artist find their own personal way to connect. What happens a lot with teachers is that they try to convey their own personal style and mold the student into that style. But with someone who is a great master, teacher and performer, they will not try to make you into them; you will be who you are. They will help you find your own connection to the audience through yourself. Audiences are smart, they’ll be able to read if you are forcing something. But live performances can be inconsistent sometimes. That is part of their mystique. Hey, I’ve had shows that go great one night and terrible the next; we all do. Sometimes the reason things may not be the best is because we did something that wasn’t us. Audiences, even if they don’t know or understand musically what you’re doing, they know if they like or don’t like what you do. A lot of that has to do with how you approach it and approach the truth of yourself as an artist. One of Marilyn’s fortes is helping people to find their own strength, and then cultivating that. She’s not telling you, “I want you to be like me.” She helps you find yourself and to be more like you, then bring it out. That’s how I try approach live shows.
Also, because of my background as a comic, I actually like to have a little bit of the fear of not knowing what I’ll be saying. I will rely on my comic improv instincts because I know something will come up I didn’t expect. I’ve done enough of these shows in my life to know I can leave myself a little room to improvise. I know I’ll say something that will be fun and in the moment, at least 90% of the time. People love that. Audiences eat it up if something comes up that is out of the ordinary for you, but you don’t get frazzled by it and in fact use it in a comic sense to make them laugh. It will bring them on your side. One of the natural highs is to make an audience laugh, have fun, and get them on your side. I imagine that’s what being high on drugs must be like. I’m really old-school – I don’t do drugs, but those moments are my heroin.

In your clinics one of the things you discuss is traits a good leader should have. Could you mention one or two of those, because this is an area which we in the academic world don’t teach our students. We do hope they will use the good parts of what they see us do and not use the bad parts of what we do, but what are some of the concepts you cover.

First, don’t be a schmuck. Simply, don’t be a schmuck at any point. Second, be firm to your vision and stay firm to your agenda as a leader. You have to be open to other people and have an open ear, but also don’t let your own vision go by the wayside while trying to please everyone else. Those two things are personal things and don’t have much to do with the music, but you have to be conscious of how you approach and work with other people. There will be some people you love who are tremendous talents but who you can’t work with because of personality reasons or whatever the case may be. You need to know how to read personality types and be able to gauge the ones you like working with. There are some people I’ve worked with or know by reputation who I appreciate and respect, but still, I can’t see myself working with them for different personal reasons. That’s a good instinct to have. A good leader cultivates their instincts. If you make a wrong decision it can be a real drag.

What advice do you have for a high school saxophonist who is thinking of making music a career?

Start to think about what sets you apart. What makes you an individual? Find a niche you really like that you think you can excel at. But because you’re young, don’t be afraid to explore different aspects of music. Work towards who you see yourself as being 10 or 15 years down the line. Do you see yourself playing clubs, working on cruise ships, working as a session player, or do you see yourself as a great reader and doubler doing Broadway gigs? A high school music teacher? Find what you want and then work towards that. I’m sure that along the road you’re going to have a lot of bumps and unexpected twists and turns that may put you in a whole different direction, but if you start with some sort of direction you will find yourself on a track, but always remember that living in the moment will leave yourself open to endless professional possibilities. And that’s a good thing!

Equipment

Soprano – Selmer Mark VI (200,000’s serial number, ca. 1970s), with a Dukoff metal M5 mouthpiece opened to .064 by Joe Giardullo of Soprano Planet, a Silverstein ligature, Marca 3 reeds, and an AMT soprano wireless microphone system

Tenor – Selmer Mark VI (70,000’s serial number, ca. 1950s), with a Ted Klum mouthpiece, a Silverstein ligature, and Vandoren V16 3½ reeds

Selected Discography

Swing That Music! (Whaling City Sound, 2016)

Danny Bacher: A Swinger From Way Back, Here Today – THE ART MUSIC LOUNGE

MAY 1, 2016
THE ART MUSIC LOUNGE

DANNY BACHER: SWING THAT MUSIC! / I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song) (Robert Sherman-Richard Sherman); That Old Black Magic (Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer); Early in the Mornin’ (Jon Hendricks); If It’s Love You Want, Baby, That’s Me (Louis Jordan); Dream a Little Dream of Me (Fabian Andre-Wilbur Schwandt-Gus Kahn); Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby? (Louis Jordan-Billy Austin); A Sunday Kind of Love (Louis Prima-Barbara Belle-Anita Leonard-Stan Rhodes); Just a Gigolo(Leonello Casucci-Julius Brammer) & I Ain’t Got Nobody(Spencer Williams-Roger Graham); St. James Infirmary Blues (Joe Primrose); La Vie en Rose (Louis Louiguy-Edith Piaf) & A Kiss to Build a Dream On (Bert Kalmar-Harry Ruby-Oscar Hammerstein II); Swing That Music (Louis Armstrong-Horace Gerlach) / Danny Bacher, vocal/soprano sax; Warren Vaché, cornet; Pete McGuiness, trombone; Dave Demsey, Houston Person, tenor sax; Jason Teborek, piano; Howard Alden, guitar; Ray Drummond, bass; Bill Goodwin, drums; Cyrille Aimée, vocal (on That Old Black Magic, La Vie en Rose) / Whaling City Sound WCS080

This is the kind of jazz record I sometimes (but not always) pass on for review, not because I am averse to swing era jazz—on the contrary, I love it to death—but because I normally only love the originals. Modern-day recreators, though well-intentioned, normally don’t swing as hard or sound as if they’re into the music.

Well, let me introduce you to Danny Bacher.

Look at the cover of this album. Now, be honest, aren’t you thinking, “A Harry Connick, Jr. clone”? I was. But he’s not. On the contrary, Connick sounds like a poor man’s Danny Bacher. Bacher sings like a cross between Bobby Darin at his hippest and Jon Hendricks…and that just takes in his vocal abilities, which include a light, skimming beat, very hip phrasing and an ability to scat with the best of them. On top of this, he also plays a very good soprano sax. And he plays it, folks…not just blowing airy “soft jazz” like Kenny G.

Essentially, this disc is a continuation of the wonderful concerts Bacher gave last year (2015) in which he paid tribute to the “three Louis’…Armstrong, Prima and Jordan.” But he doesn’t just ape their original records, although his tempos on That Old Black Magic and Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody are virtually identical to those of the old Louis Prima versions. He completely reworks them, putting his own joyous and personal stamp on the music. He keeps them jazz classics and doesn’t let them degenerate into third-rate cocktail lounge performances. Added to all his musical abilities is a wonderful tongue-in-cheek sense of humor…listen to the way he sings those suggestive lines in If It’s Love You Want Baby, That’s Me, or the way he jumps into Louis Prima’s Jungle Book showstopper, I Wanna Be Like You. But for me, personally, the best test of this man’s talent is the balld A Sunday Kind of Love. For those who forget, it was introduced in 1947 by Fran Warren, an over-singing ballad belter with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra. Although I liked the song and loved the Thornhill band, I couldn’t stomach Warren’s delivery of the lyrics (sorry, I’m not susceptible to “torch singers,” I always want to torch them myself). Bacher takes it nice and slow, he gives the words their full value, but thank goodness, he phrases like a jazz singer, which he is. He makes the song work.

Aiding and abetting Bacher in his musical journey is an absolutely splendid and highly professional band, including cornetist Warren Vaché in a rare outing where he is called upon to play in a progressive swing style and not like one of King Oliver’s or Jelly Roll Morton’s brass players. His solos are crackling and inventive: evidently, he responded well to this environment (though he sounds more like Ruby Braff than Louis Armstrong on Swing That Music). The sax players are also excellent, including a guest visit by Houston Person. I was also knocked out by the singing of Cyrille Aimée in duet with Bacher on That Old Black Magic and the medley/duet ofLa Vie en Rose and A Kiss to Build a Dream On; she is one of those extremely rare female jazz singers who use a light, slightly nasal delivery yet sounds hip, not breathy and submissive. I want to hear more of her…a lot more.

To recap, this isn’t a jazz album that breaks any new ground or pushes the envelope. Make no mistake about that. But it is a jazz album that revisits the past and pays it honor rather than just ripping off old songs and pretending that the delivery sounds fresh. It is fresh because Bacher has such boundless energy and enthusiasm for this music, and obviously loves it. His website bio indicates that he is also a comedian and a playwright. Oh, please, Danny, don’t let those skills push your jazz to the side! Hang on to what you have and develop it, don’t let it atrophy. The world is a better place for skills like yours. It’s also a better place because of this CD.

— © 2016 Lynn René Bayley

 

Jazziz Magazine

Tributes to the Louies – Armstrong, Prima and Jordan – are nothing new. For years, artists with a penchant for finger-popping have doffed a cap to one or more of them, and with good reason: They’re among the most significant music makers of the 20th century. Vocalist and soprano saxophonist Danny Bacher is the latest to tie together the Louis legacies on his invigorating new CD Swing That Music! (Whaling City Sound).

 Bacher receives sterling support from a topnotch little big band featuring all-stars such as guitarist Howard Alden, cornetist Warren Vache, trombonist Pete McGuinness and bassist Ray Drummond. Song selections play like a dream jukebox, featuring a slate of tunes that connect jazz and blues to jump-swing and rock ‘n’ roll. Bacher’s tenor vocals provide a sturdy vehicle for the music, and he pulls plenty of fire from his sax, undoubtedly inspired by the musicians he honors – ace solosits all – as well as those on the session. Bacher shares the mic with the charming Cyrille Aimee for a medly that pairs “La Vie en Rose” with “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.” both romantic staples of the Armstrong repertoire. AImee sings the former in her native French (a la Edith Piaf) as a prelude to Bacher’s supple croon on the latter. Pianist Jason Teborek, bassist Drummond and drummer Bill Goodwin are spot-on, and Vache honors Pops’ horn without imitating him.

Click on the image below for a closer look at the text

CabaretScenes CD Review

Reviewed by Alix Cohen for Cabaret Scenes

The title, Swing That Music!, is a little like saying: tomorrow the sun will rise. Swing is a given; it’s under this performer’s skin like bones. Arrangements celebrate and respect. Call/respond numbers are performed with brio. Solo vocals have an attitude that can be imitated, but sound authentic coming from this young man.

Bacher’s CD is bookended by two HAPPY selections. “I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)” (Robert B. Sherman/Richard M. Sherman) is serious fun. High‐spirited, infectious rhythm drives bebop and melodically doodling scat. “Swing That Music” (Louis Armstrong/Horace Gerlach) lets several musicians step up as if in friendly competition, playing “Truth or Dare.” Bacher’s vocal starts a cappella, then swings out, groove‐minded and giddy.

The urbane “If It’s Love You Want, Baby, That’s Me” (Sid Robin) includes a wry, spoken segment by Bacher: “…come over to my place, there’ll be close encounters…dollface….” (That last word actually seems natural.) Performance evokes Astaire‐style tap. Very cool guitar enhances.

Southern inflection emerges with “Early in the Mornin’” (Louis Jordan) and “St. James Infirmary Blues” (traditional). Bacher is relaxed and fluent enough to get away with the pronunciation of words like “no mo” (no more) and “mo‐oh‐oh‐nin” (morning). During the first song, some homey grit appears. A horn swings its hips. The brass pack responds with resonant wolf whistles. “Infirmary” is an iconic, wah‐wah N’Orleans march. One horn emits a dusky wail. Another comments heavy‐lidded, in slang. Vocals stretch like taffy. It’s fraught, unfussy and dignified.

The CD features two duets with vocalist Cyrille Aimée. An up‐tempo “That Old Black Magic” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) finds Aimée breathily rounding consonants, trailing her ‘s’, channeling Eartha Kitt. Bacher holds notes in his mouth as if wine tasting, then spits them out fast. Vive, as they say, la difference. (Long live the difference.)

A tandem “La Vie en rose”(Edith Piaf/Marguerite Monnot/Louis Guglielmi) / “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” (Bert Kalmar/Harry Ruby/Oscar Hammerstein II) is sheer panache. Aimée sings in warm, gauzy French, or hums. Bacher‐as‐balladeer suavely ambles in, eyebrows up, hands in his pockets. Piano is eeeaaasssy. A dreamy horn one might follow anywhere floats by remembering. The two songs sync like newlyweds.

“Dream a Little Dream of Me” (Fabian Andre/Wilber Schwandt/Gus Kahn) again showcases Bacher‐as‐balladeer. This one swings smoothly like a hammock. Piano melody strolls around the old porch. Languid horns stretch and curl up. Vibrato appears at the end of phrases. The number recedes with an evocative whistle. Aplomb. (Hoagy Carmichael would’ve loved this one.)

Jon Hendricks’ “I Want You to Be My Baby” riding caffeinated piano and pinball horn, to me, lacked personal stamp. The same might be said for “Just a Gigolo” (Irving Caesar/Leonello Casucci/Jules Brammer) and “I Ain’t Got Nobody” (Roger Hraham/Spencer Williams) which
sounds too chipper by half.

This is a fine CD, both for those who are already fans of the period (hold that banner high) and those who want to dip into it, eschewing total immersion. Musicianship is superior. (As is production.) A good listen.

JazzFlits Review

JAZZ ON RECORD – TRANSLATED FROM DUTCH REVIEW
The swing and rhythm & blues, which developed alongside bebop in the 1940s, are still being used as a source of inspiration. British pop singer Joe Jackson already revived the festive jump & jive in a distant past. Over here, in the Netherlands, we have (had) several bands which did the same. The name Jump’n Jive from Zwolle comes to mind. And the Amsterdam Bob Color, although they moved onto rock ’n roll. At the time, that was also the direction this music took: swing – jump ’n jive/rhythm & blues – rock ’n roll. But all this aside.
 
Danny Bacher is a young American singer, who knows his business. You can hear a touch of Michael Bublé in him, but with plenty of drive and lots of swinging. Bacher has a lot of fun performing, and it shows. He draws from the work of Louis Jordan for  the jump and rhythm & blues. He gets ballads from Louis Armstrong, and polite rock ’n roll from Louis Prima, including the medley ‘Just a gigolo/I ain’t got nobody’. Upon first hearing, Bacher uses the possibilities which are given to him a bit politely, but equally lashes out considerably. He’s not only a singer, but also the soprano saxophonist. Bacher moves through the repertoire with ease, aided here and there by the French-American singer Cyrille Aimée. Of course she takes care of ‘La vie en rose’, sung in French. I suspect a lot of dancing goes on during his concerts. This music demands it.
 
Hessel Fluitman, translated from Dutch by Nico Cartenstadt

“Swing That Music!” CD Review

Danny Bacher burst onto the American scene like a meteor, however, a meteor quickly burns in the dense layers of the atmosphere. But as for Danny Bacher and his career , on the contrary, is steadily going up, which is confirmed by the warm reviews in the pages of leading American publications. For example, The New York Times. It can be heard in Danny Bacher’s debut album, Swing That Music! issued by Whaling City Sound, that there is something he possesses that deeply affects the souls of Americans, causing them to love and take a nostalgic pleasure with what he is doing.

At first I did not quite understand the announcement, in which the album, “Swing That Music!” which was presented as a compilation of “new classics”. At first I thought that it was about a symbiosis of classical music and jazz, modern arrangements of European musical classics. However, after listening to the album, I agreed that in fact these are classics, but with a new feel presenting the American music of Louis Armstrong, Prima and Jordan – Danny Bacher revives these tunes for the contemporary listener. His program – is a tribute to the above-mentioned three Louis. And if you remember the career of each, the main thing that unites them – all three were great entertainers. It’s hard to pick an adequate Russian translation of this term. Danny Bacher is a musician, singer, comedian, actor, showman – all in one package! A native of New Jersey, he, unlike many contemporaries, was fascinated since childhood in such music through a record collection of his grandparents. Danny studied music starting in childhood, and soprano saxophone became his main instrument. When in college, where there was a very strong jazz program, He was able to study both his music, and theatre. Already a professional comedian and writer out of college, Bacher, in conversation with his former teacher Roseanna Vitro came to the idea of this project that we are presenting today.

The Program, “Swing That Music!” is made up of compositions from the repertoire of three Louis. The earliest thing here – the traditional interpretation of the St James Infirmary Blues, Armstrong recorded for the first time in 1928, where Bacher is reasonable without trying to imitate the vocal style of Satchmo, it’s as if giving a new luster to this old diamond. The latest composition – “I Wanna Be Like You” from Disney’s 1967 animated film “The Jungle Book”, was sang by Louis Prima. The new version of the tune features a scat duet with Bacher and trombonist/singer/arranger Pete McGuinness. A great scat at that!

All the other tracks of the album are located in the interval between these two dates. And each of them, Bacher interprets in a modern way, not excluding even the fragments in the Rap,“If It’s Love You Want Baby, That’s Me” from the repertoire of Jordan. However, the basis of his music – still swing, and perhaps not coincidentally, the name of the album, an Armstrong hit in the 1930s, “Swing That Music!” has a great team of musicians, which are all names in the jazz world. Cornetist Warren Vache, one of the best masters of traditional jazz, and also tenor saxophone Titan, Houston Person! There are two songs in which Danny sings a duet with Cyrille Aimee, the French singer, who lives in Brooklyn. She gives a special charm to the famous, “Old Black Magic” (from the repertoire of Prima) and also on the medley, “La Vie En Rose / A Kiss to Build a Dream On.”

Yes, of course the Americans may call this music “new classics”, but for jazz lovers from our continent, this is more than Neo Swing. (This term was in fashion about fifteen years ago, but has since gone out of fashion and is all but forgotten.) However, If you like this cheerful, call to dance, music inspired by genuine jazz swing, Danny Bacher’s, “Swing That Music!” is for you!!!

Translated from Russian by Julia Tokareva

 

Review: ‘Swing That Music,’ – THE NEW YORK TIMES

Effortless Fun in a Tribute to Jazz Forerunners

-The New York Times

The secret of serious fun is not to take it too seriously, especially if it involves playing jazz. That attitude is something that the easygoing singer and saxophonist Danny Bacher, who appeared with a small swing band at the Metropolitan Room on Tuesday evening, knows in his bones. It is about making hot music but staying cool, about cutting up while maintaining effortless self-control, about having a blast with friends. And at his performance of “Swing That Music,” a homage to the era of jumpin’ jive with a dollop of Dixieland, Mr. Bacher conflated the music of three Louises — Armstrong, Jordan and Prima — in a concert revealing him to be a prodigiously talented musical preservationist.

Mr. Bacher may not yet have as defined a musical personality as his forerunners, but his performance was much more than a nostalgic pastiche. Gathered around him was a first-rate lineup of seasoned traditional jazzmen led by the pianist Allen Farnham, and featuring Warren Vache on cornet, Jay Rodriguez on tenor sax and Noah Bless on trombone.

Except for the playful interpolation of a few contemporary references into lyrics, Mr. Bacher took few liberties with the material, mostly from the ’40s and ’50s. Of the three Louises, Prima was the one he channeled most effectively in “That Old Black Magic” (the guest vocalist, Vanessa Racci, sang the Keely Smith role) and in a recreation of “Just a Gigolo” and “I Ain’t Got Nobody.”

Mr. Bacher’s voice is smoother than Prima’s rasp, but in his bebop solos he revealed enough of his inner wild man to suggest a maniac behind the cool. “I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song),” from “The Jungle Book,” in particular, made me grin. It was a reminder that behind its academic trappings, a prime element of jazz has always been a game of monkey see, monkey do.

Inside The 2nd Night of the 26th New York Cabaret Convention

Jeff Harnar & Andrea Marcovicci hosted the second day of the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s New York Cabaret Convention. The Donald Smith Award was presented to Jeff by managing director Rick Meadows and Debbi Bush Whiting presented Celia Berk with The Margaret Whiting Award. Performing in the evenings concert were: Karen Akers, Danny Bacher, Julie Budd, Carole J. Bufford, Eric Comstock, Natalie Douglas, barbara Fasano, Jeff Harnar, Nicolas King, Karen Kohler, Andrea Mardovicci, Marissa Mulder, Todd Murray, Josephine Sanges, Jennifer Sheehan and Iris Williams.

The Mabel Mercer Foundation’s 26th Annual Cabaret Convention Comes Home to Town Hall

On the second night of this year’s 26th Annual Cabaret Convention, Jeff Harnar and Andrea Marcovicci (photo left) hosted A Sentimental Journey: World War II Songs, inspired by Marcovicci’s memorable Oak Room at The Algonquin show, I’ll Be Seeing You–Love Songs of World War II. (The CD is highly recommended.) As always with this pair’s Convention contribution, the show was a treat in part because of its singular glamour. Much of our audience was exceptionally familiar with and nostalgic about these songs. A few had to be politely quieted for singing along, more than a few took each other’s hands. It seems I’ve heard that song before . . . the co-hosts begin, warming the room.

Highlights:

The scintillating Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano offered four numbers of varying stripes from the wry “Latin From Manhattan” (Harry Warren/Al Dubin) to a luxuriously romantic “But Beautiful” (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke), framed by a whisper of brushes, a hint of shimmering cymbal. Despite the rationale that this was “everything our boys were fighting for,” I found an updated selection from Oklahoma out of place. (Eric Comstock-piano, Sherrie Maricle-drums, Jered Egan-bass)

This year’s Margaret Whiting Award was given to Celia Berk (photo left), whose meteoric rise is reflective not only of her talent but of her hard work. (Young performers take note.) While Frank Loesser‘s “They’re Either Too young or Too Old” lacked flirty lightness, Jule Styne/ Sammy Cahn‘s “I’ll Walk Alone” was touching, reflective; right on. (Alex Rybeck-piano)

An evocative “J’Attendrai”–“I Will Wait”–(Dino Olivieri/Louis Poterat) was beautifully rendered in French by Karen Akers, who seems to climb inside a song and embody the scenario it creates. Stirring. (Don Rebec-piano) Jeff Harnar received The Donald Smith Award (generously underwritten by Adela and Larry Elow) from a visibly moved Rick Meadows. The Foundation’s Managing Director recalled Harnar’s unconditional devotion to Smith, especially during the latter’s illness. Many of us can testify to Harnar’s selflessness and to the enduring friendship of Smith and his protégé. This recognition was secondary to acknowledging the development of Harnar’s talent of course, but made it all the more apt. Smith is surely proud.

“I’m Old Fashioned” (Jerome Kern/Johnny Mercer) and “Long Ago and Far Away” (Jerome Kern/Ira Gershwin) were “made famous by Rita Hayworth.” Seeing Jennifer Sheehan perform them with satiny legato and open-faced grace one could easily imagine the artist as every soldier’s dream of the girl next door. Consider doing a Hayworth show, Jennifer. (James Followell-piano.)

Closing Act One, Karen Kohler‘s (photo right) signature “Lili Marlene” (Hans Leip/Norbert Schultze), sung in English and German, has never sounded so completely a moving anti-war cri de coeur–passionate appeal, complaint, or protest. (Sean Harkness-guitar)

Andrea Marcovicci rendered an extremely moving version of “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)” (Eric Maschwitz/ Jack Strachey), conjuring every recollection with bittersweet poignancy, tearing herself away from each vision with regret. (Alex Rybeck-piano.) Jeff Harnar‘s “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” (English version Sammy Cahn/Saul Chaplin) was sheer, infectious glee. Great arrangement. (Alex Rybeck-piano, vocal, Jered Egan-bass, vocal)

The successful evening ended with a sing-along of “Sentimental Journey” (Les Brown & Ben Homer/ Bud Green) (Jon Weber-piano.)

Other performances:

Danny Bacher (Convention debut) delivered an easy, swing version of Johnny Mercer‘s 1944 “G.I. Jive” (Jason Teborek-piano); Todd Murray (photo) sang a swoony number from his delicious show Croon, accompanied by Nick Marchione‘s unfortunately harsh trumpet (Alex Rybeck-piano); Sophisticate Iris Williams offered a stagy version of “The Last Time I Saw Paris” (Art Weiss-piano); Carole J. Bufford brought the house down with pithy selections from her splendid show Heart of Gold: A Portrait of the Oldest Profession–Hollywood Bowl, here she comes!

Making her Convention debut, Josephine Sanges‘ lovely vocals had, alas, no feeling (John M.Cook- piano); Julie Budd (Convention debut) performed two expansive, vibrato-driven selections (Herb Bernstein-piano), and dueted a bright, bouncy swing number with Natalie Douglas (Jered Egan-very cool bass); Douglas’s “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (Kim Gannon/Walter Kent) was tenderly low key (Jon Weber-piano); Vera Lynn‘s “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” though well vocalized by Nicholas King, arrived all technique (Mike Renzi-piano); Marissa Mulder‘s “I’ll Be Seeing You” was utterly lovely, every lyric savored. (Jon Weber-piano, Jered Egan-bass)

The Friars Club Presents Danny Bacher’s SWING THAT MUSIC

The Milton Berle Room heard the sounds of past Friars, Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan, and Louis Prima last night as Danny Bacher brought his show Swing That Music to the club. BroadwayWorld was there for the fun. The club has been home to many of the music world’s past legends and Danny Bacher‘s music added to that storied tradition. Joining Danny for the evenings music and comedy were comedian Marla Schultz and jazz vocalist Alexis Cole along with Danny’s 7 piece band.

 

Cast Your Ballots For Danny

For 2015 New York Cabaret Awards in 14 Categories; Voting Ends 12/31

On Thanksgiving Day, BroadwayWorld announced the nominees in 14 categories for the 2015 BWW New York Cabaret Awards. BroadwayWorld’s cabaret editors and reviewers congratulate all the deserving nominees and everyone who performs in the great art of cabaret in New York. But today, as you munch on the leftovers from last night’s dinner, it’s time to actually vote for that one performer who you think is the absolute best in each category. Just click on the voting link below. Voting ends on December 31 and after a review of the ballots, winners will be announced officially early the week of January 4, 2016. (Note: There will not be a BWW Awards Show this year.)

Please cast your vote by visiting this link: /cabaret/vote2015region.cfm

Voting Guidelines: You cast a vote by visiting the link above or below and submitting your email address. We strongly urge voters not to abuse this process by voting with multiple email addresses. If BroadwayWorld detects irregularities in the voting based on finding similar email addresses, those votes will be eliminated. We again urge all nominees to solicit votes from people who actually saw your shows and to suggest they vote in as many categories as possible.

Cast your vote by simply checking one nominee in each of the award categories. If you have no choice or favorite in any particular category, simply choose ‘No Nominee.’ After submitting your vote, you will receive an electronic confirmation via e-mail. If you submit your e-mail address incorrectly, your vote will be disqualified. All personal information will be kept completely private.

Urban Stages Winter Rhythms

Show Celebrating Famous Duets Is Widely Varied and Entertaining

Described as “An Afternoon of Famous Duets,” Saturday’s Urban Stages Winter Rhythms presentation (Day Four of the 11-day, 20-show festival) was unexpectedly sweeping in its approach, covering duos that sang pop, folk, jazz, Great American Songbook, and musical theater tunes. With veteran cabaret singer Sue Matsuki serving as producer and host, and Musical Director Gregory Toroian on piano (there were also three guest accompanists), the show encompassed both the predictable (Steve Allen’s “This Could Be the Start of Something Big” as popularized by Steve Lawrence/Eydie Gorme, here buoyantly performed by Matsuki and Ed Clark) and the surprising (“The Prayer”–David Foster/Carole Bayer Sager/Alberto Testa/Tony Renis–recorded by Andrea Bocelli & Celine Dion for the animated film Quest for Camelot, and here beautifully rendered by soprano Sarah Rice and tenor Robert Mattern in English and Italian). The show was a genuine pleasure.

Sarah Rice, whom I recall seeing as angelic-voiced “Johanna” in the original production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, offered (in addition to “The Prayer”) a duet of “Scarborough Fair” universalized by Simon and Garfunkel, with wonderfully hushed vocal by David Vernon (photo right). These two made the song as haunting as it’s ever been, melody wafting into the stilled theater with eloquent restraint.

Rob Langeder and wife Stacie Perlman Langeder sang an energetic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Ashford & Simpson); Dana Lorge and Warren Schein performed a comic “Quando, Quando, Quando” (Tony Renis/Alberto Testa), during which a frisky moustache changed location; Joan Crowe and Greg Paul (also on guitar) ably sang Phil Collins/Marilyn Martin’s “Separate Lives”; Robert Mattern and real-life partner John Patrick Schutz dueted an evocative “Lily’s Hazel Eyes” (Lucy Simon/Marsha Norman) from The Secret Garden; with Matthew Martin Ward on piano, Carole Demas overacted on Frank Loesser’s “The Ugly Duckling” from Hans Christian Anderson–too bad, she seems to have a nice instrument; Mardie Millit and Daryl Glenn (with Karen Dryer on piano) delivered a rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Priest” that was cute where it might have been wry.

Susan Winter was joined by Tom Gamblin (in full drag regalia, left) for a recreation of the Judy Garland/Barbra Streisand duet, “Get Happy” (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) and “Happy Days Are here Again” (Milton Ager/Jack Yellen). Both singers have excellent voices. The fine, familiar arrangement was well served with infectious spirit and innate balance that I would encourage them to employ in a full show of any theme.

Mark Aaron James and Ina May Wool (with guitar) performed Stevie Nicks’ “Leather and Lace”-Wool replete with a Nicks-like wig and spot-on inflection; Scott Albertson and Flip Peters (also on guitar) offered “Peaceful Easy Feelin'” (Jack Tempchin) with affectionate folk flavor; Gregory Toroian and wife Renee sang the non-traditional version of “Mockingbird,” emulating James Taylor and Carly Simon; Matsuki and Toroian duoed on “A Fine Romance” (Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields), during which she was aptly low key, he intent on his own jazz.

A tandem “La Vie en Rose” (Louis Guglielmi-English lyrics by Mack David/Frank Eyton-inspired duet by Tony Bennett & kd Lang) and “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” (Bert Kalmae/Harry Ruby/Oscar Hammerstein, duet by Bing Crosby & Louis Armstrong) was performed by Danny Bacher and Charenee Wade (photo right), a special guest for Bacher’s most recent Metropolitan Room show, Swing That Music. It’s a match made in heaven. From Wade’s satiny, caressing voice (reminiscent of Billie Holiday) to Bacher’s gloriously easy swing replete with soprano sax turn, the two were absolutely elegant.

2015 MetroStar winner Minda Larsen and 2nd runner-up Josephine Sanges (with John Cook on piano) closed the show with Stephen Schwartz’s pop song “There Can Be Miracles” from the Disney film Prince of Egypt. On the recognizable Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston duet, Sanges’ voice emerged warm, aptly restrained, and round-edged, while Larsen’s evidenced superb control, seamless octave changes, and obvious acting ability. Vocal arrangement was just right. The ladies offered the timely sentiment with enthusiasm and skill.

Displaying Vintage Performing Savoir Faire

DANNY BACHER Swings The Louis’–Armstrong, Prima, Jordan–at the Metropolitan Room

-Broadway World

Danny Bacher has the performance ease of an artist who’s spent twice his years on the circuit. His preternatural feel for swing delivers scrupulous control, hip, unfussy phrasing, nuanced inflection, and the kind of fluent, savory scat “wordless vocables” I haven’t heard from a man in some time, certainly not one so young. His soprano saxophone and singing are so like one another in attitude and energy, Bacher epitomizes the musician whose instrument acts as solid manifestation of voice.

His new CD release celebration show at the Metropolitan Room, Swing That Music (last performance of a four-show run today at 4 pm) is a jazz tribute to the three Louis’ (photo below, left to right): Louis Armstrong–Satchmo (1901-1971), Louis Prima–The King of Swing before Benny Goodman came along (1910-1978), and Louis Jordan–King of the Jukebox (1908-1975.) Musical numbers get along like the old friends they are, brushing shoulders, poking one another in the ribs, slapping backs. The show is well paced with next to no patter.

If you want a guy with class who’s way above the mass/Well, I’m not the right person obviously/But if you want to get that glow from a cat that’s in the know/If it’s love you want, baby, that’s me . . . (Louis Jordan.) With a raised eyebrow and a shrug, Bacher makes the insouciant lyric conversational, leaning out to women at the front tables. Some of it is talking in tune, some effortlessly sung.

An up-tempo “I Want You To Be My Baby” (Jon Hendricks) with tongue-twisting verse requires audience participation. I (I)/I want (I want)/I want you (I want you)/I want you to (I want you to) . . . you get the idea. Bonhomie reigns. The crowd understands before being invited. Pete McGuinness (trombone) briefly takes expert flight. “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” (Louis Jordan), which reached #1 on 1944 US folk/country charts, is infectiously rhythmic. Bacher’s tinted-southern accent sounds just right. His mid tenor voice is smooth- never blaring, never flagging. Gestures are blessedly minimal.

Taut, jacked up phrases with long vocal tails deliver the iconic “St. James Infirmary” (Traditional) about the wages of sin. The incomparable Warren Vache (cornet) comes in with heavy lidded, hip swingin’, Sazerac-soaked passages of sheer insinuation. Danny weaves musical macramé on his horn. Other brass punctuates. The song’s last phrase–And if anyone should happen to ask you/I’ve got those gamblers’ blues . . . rolls around the vocalist’s mouth like tobacco readying spit.

Friday night’s Guest Vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli begins their first duet with a swaying, brush and bass version of Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose” (in French.) Pronunciation is pristine. Facial expression reflects her vibrant, declaratory voice. Danny picks up existing accompaniment with an airbrushed “A Kiss To Build a Dream On” (Harry Ruby /Oscar Hammerstein II/ Bert Kalmar). Even consonants are soft. Single syllable words ripple with multiple notes. Vache’s contribution oozes romance. “That Old Black Magic” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer)–also a duet, is a whirlwind. Jason Teborek sounds like he has four hands on the piano. Tim Horner’s drums are robust, rapid fire, and multi-layered. Vocalists are visibly having fun, playing well off one another. Then the singers come together. Lovely.

Swoony highlights include Gus Kahn’s “Dream a Little Dream” and “Sunday Kind of Love” (Louis Prima.) Danny sings “Dream” like he means it. While polished, there’s nothing artificial in his style. Message is not taken for granted. His saxophone doodles around the melody with piano as a soft shoe sidekick. Sunday emerges on gentle percussion and Dean Johnson’s mellow bass. Teborek adds breezy flourishes. It’s a white dinner jacket, country club dance number. Jay Rodriguez’s fingers dance across his shadowy tenor sax as if sheer energy, propelled by nothing so clumsy as a hand.

“I Wanna Be Like You,” written by Richard and Robert Sherman for Disney’s The Jungle Book (“My tribute to Louis Prima as an orangutan,” says Bacher) doesn’t weigh in despite great scat conversation between Danny and McGuiness. And I’ve never liked the hard charging interpretation “Just a Gigolo” (Irving Caesar) with “I Ain’t Got Nobody” (Julius Brammer/R. Graham/ S. Williams), whose ebullience is in direct contradiction to lyrics.

Bacher’s director, the outstanding Marilyn Maye, joins him on stage for his encore– “Honeysuckle Rose” (Fats Waller/Andy Razoff.) It’s flat out terrific. Both artists riff; jump in, move away, scat, sing, respect, and enjoy one another. Bennie Goodman once called jazz “free speech in music.” Here it is in its best, symbiotic form.

The band is mind-bendingly fine.

Danny Bacher is the real deal; a musician to watch.

As for Bacher’s CD of Swing That Music (excerpts from the show), it is beautifully produced, showcasing infectious arrangements and virtuoso musicianship. (See video about the making of the CD below.)

What’s On Your Playlist?

Newcomer, singer/saxophonist Danny Bacher grew up in Wayne, New Jersey, home to one of the !nest Jazz Departments in the country at William Patterson University. As a high school student, Bacher received much of his informal training there playing with student ensembles, attending workshops, and meeting jazz icons such as Norman Simmons, Rufus Reid, Ray Brown, and watching the likes of Sonny Rollins, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Joe Williams perform. He later graduated from New Jersey City University’s Music and Theater program with a concentration in Jazz Performance.

Bacher continues to pass on his enthusiasm for jazz to his students now, while getting ready to launch his debut album in 2015, Swing That Music. The disc features an impressive array of contemporary jazz luminaries including Ray Drummond, Warren Vache, Howard Alden, Bill Goodwin, Houston Person, Pete McGuinness, Jason Teborek, and rising vocal star, Cyrille Aimée. Danny’s friend and former sax teacher, Dr. David Demsey of WPU, also lends his talents to the project. Rounding out this dream team is executive producer Suzi Reynolds and Grammy-nominated producer Roseanna Vitro.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL PDF ARTICLE HERE

MUSICAL MONDAYS at Le Cirque Cafe

Music has been added to the cafe menu at Le Cirque on Mondays. The world famous restaurant has an exciting line up of cabaret and Jazz artists appearing in their cafe every Monday starting at 7:30 PM. This week, Danny Bacher was featured and you can check out photos from the event below!

There is no cover charge and Bill’s Famous cocktails, and a wide selection of beers and wine are offered in addition to Light fare from the Bar menu or a prix fixe French Affair. Le Cirque is located at One Beacon Court 151 E. 58th Street.
Photo Credit: Stephen Sorokoff

Finally I can Hear the Waiter and My Love

There are not too many places we “adults” can frequent that offer the old world ambience of glamour, gourmet cuisine, and sophisticated music.   The world famous Le Cirque now offers it in it’s Cafe Le Cirque on Mondays.   The Maccioni family have a love of music as well as food and they now serve up both in the romantic setting of the Cafe.  There are not many things that I can predict but I’m sure you will love the food, love the music and, most likely, love the people you are with when you are in the Cafe.   The music is exciting but at the same time conducive to romantic and friendly conversation.

This week it was the soft swinging sounds of the Dan Bacher quartet.  Just the right songbook and sound for the room.  On June 17th it’s going to be the very beautiful, elegant, and talented La Tanya Hall creating the music.   I finally heard the “Specials” and also heard the special people at my table!

Le Cirque is located at 151 E. 58th Street

Hoboken Digest

Edward’s Steakhouse isn’t just Great Steaks – Live Music and Nightly Specials Complete This Unrivaled Steakhouse.

Leave the hustle and bustle of Jersey City behind for an elegant night at Edward’s Steakhouse. The festive music and upscale dining set the ambiance for any special occassion.

Weekly menu specias are sure to surprise and delight you. Some recent specials have included The Angry Lobster, Alaskan Halibut, and Florida Grouper. Edward’s Steakhouse offers innovative steak specials as well as an ever changing oyster selection. Thir weekly specials are posted on their website at www.edwardssteakhouse.com and you can follow them on twitter and facebook.

To complete the dining experience, Edward’s Steakhouse features saxophone and vocals by Danny Bacher on Wednesdays and Thurday evenings. His pleasant and soothing sounds create the perfect backdrop for an evening with friends or family.

Jersey City Magazine

Danny Bacher holds forth at Edward’s Steakhouse, wowing the crowd with his soprano sax and jazz vocals. He says he’s worked hard to get a “great sound” out of his soprano sax, which sets him apart from the more popular alto and tenor saxes.

Though Bacher is only 33, he loves the American Songbook, which includes standards by Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin. He works in the mode of Bucky and John Pizzarelli, John Feinstein, Ella Fitzgerald, and Muchael Buble.

“Edward’s has a super club kind of feel, and there are sophisticated vibes,” both of which fit well with his style of music. “Edward’s has a 1940’s feel with abanquettes,” he says. “I play in front of a big red curtain, and there are pictures of great musicians like Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basic, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin.”

Bacher says that on any given night, he’ll play to 20 somethings and 60 somethings. “The music I do is very much appreciated by all ages,” he says, “It’s timeless.”

“What’s so intriguiing about music of that caliber are the wonderful lyrics and positive message,” he says. He gets requets for “Misty”, “Girl from Ipanema,” but he bulks at Sinatra’s “My Way.”

“I’m a young guy,” he says “and that should be sung by someone in the twilight of his years.”

Bacher, who is from Wayne, NJ, has been making a living as a musician since college. When he was growing up in the 1980s he couldn’t get into Def Leopard and heavy metal like Black Sabbath. He was listening to Cab Calloway.

“The jazz idiom, that’s what interests me.” he says.

“Edward’s is unique.” he says. “It has great atmosphere, great food, and great music if I do say so myself. I fell lucky and proud to be able to express myself on a nightly basis as an artist.”

Contact

For Info, Booking and More

​MANAGEMENT / PRODUCTION
Suzi Reynolds & Associates, LLC
Suzi Reynolds​
​Tel:  201.947.0961
Email: suzi@suzireynolds.com

Mariany Segura – Senior Associate
Tel: 201.947.0218
Email: ani@suzireynolds.com

BOOKING
Steve Frumkin/JWP agency
Tel: 941-924-8452
Email: Steve@JWPagency.com

PUBLICITYScott Thompson PR
Tel: 203.400.1818
Email: scott@scottthompsonpr.com

To inquire for booking, on-air opportunities, special appearances, or interviews please fill out the form below and we will get back to you shortly.

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Contact Danny: danny@dannybachermusic.com

DANNY BACHER

Contact Danny Bacher
Tel: 973-204-6374
Email: danny@dannybachermusic.com

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