“Life is a Cabaret.” Halloween 2011

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What better place to spend Halloween than New York City? and what better place to celebrate than onstage at LPR (le poisson rouge), an icon of NYC nightlife and urban culture. Benjamin Ickies and his Ambitious Orchestra brought “Life is a Cabaret” to life with a dance troupe (Brooklyn’s “Lady Circus”), contortionist, sword-swallower and a large, celebratory audience (who looked fabulous in their costumes, btw). There was something for everyone. The music both revered and mocked the cult-classic “Cabaret.” Honestly, I had never seen the movie until Halloween eve and since then I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for Liza Minnelli- that woman’s got an insane energy about her.
Lisa D. and myself sang “Money” and, as per usual, we had a blast (see video at bottom of blog).

Lady Circus danced their you-know-whats off, choreagraphed by the talented Kathryne Van Assche. These ladies are phenomenal. They perform aerial art, ballet, modern dance, cabaret… skilled body movement. They can be found hanging from the ceiling, dancing at the “House of Yes” in Brooklyn, right off the L train at Grand St. I had the pleasure of rehearsing with them prior to the show. These ladies work hard and dance beautifully.

The evening was part of Oh! You Pretty Things, created and promoted by the legendary Michael T, Shien Lee, Twig the Wonderkid and Benjamin Ickies. Quite the host family. Featured performers included: The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Lady Rizo, Isengart, Koko Aviance, Lee Chappell & Matteo, Kae Burke, Pepper Somerset, Lisa D. & Jacquelyn Adams.

NickyDigital.com captured these moments…hundreds of pictures are available at NickyDigital.com.


The next four pictures are courtesy of Coach Mike Pics.




NickyDigital.com again…

Hundreds of pictures available at NickyDigital.com and CoachMikePics.com. If you need a photographer in NYC, here are two… if you can catch them.

WATCH VIDEO. Hit RELOAD if all you see is a giant black space.

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What the hell is a Cimbasso?

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What the hell is a Cimbasso? Ask yourself, confirm that you have no idea and then try to imagine all of the possibilities. Picture a tyrannosaurus rex singing with the lyrical adeptness of Luciano Pavarotti or a powerful yellow bulldozer covered in rose petals, maybe Quasimoto dining at Italy’s finest establishment with his drop-dead gorgeous date for the evening … exactly! getting closer … now relax into the idea of low, soothing tones and the gentle caresses of Italian love songs being performed on the greatest instrument never heard- the Cimbasso.

Andrew Bove recently released Cimbasso D’Amore, the world’s first solo Cimbasso CD. Ever. WHAT?!  Yes! Ingeniously packaged, this ground-breaking collection of Italian songs offers every listener the opportunity to fall in love with cimbasso (honestly, it’s difficult not to be charmed by this ancient predecessor of bass trombone and tuba). Primarily used in the days of Verdi and Puccini, the cimbasso was traditionally delegated to supporting roles in opera orchestras and, more recently, the “felt but not heard” rumblings in the background of movie soundtracks. Not anymore! Carsten Fleck, who photographed Bove with his cimbasso last year, revealed “the instrument has also been featured on Korn’s Unplugged concert with MTV.” What?! I later discovered that Korn employed two cimbassos on that gig- Andrew Bove and Morris Kainuma.

The serene sound that Mr. Bove persuades out of this beastly instrument is absolutely astonishing. The opening track, Caruso, grabbed my attention and quayed my doubts as the music immediately painted images of love, river-walks, cafes, Italy and emotion. This stunningly beautiful song was composed by Lucio Dalla in 1986 and has been made famous by numerous world-renowned operatic tenors such as Luciano Pavarotti, followed by Andrea Bocelli (who sold 16 million copies of this song on his first international album. Listen HERE). Josh Groban also sang it, but we won’t talk about that…

So, is there music written for solo cimbasso? Nope…but given is time of birth, opera aria transcriptions and bel canto-type songs fit the beast perfectly. Cimbasso D’Amore hosts selections from Puccini’s “Turandot” and “La Boheme,” Monteverdi’s “L’incoronazione di Poppea,” and songs that showcase the many sounds of love. Programming familiar music encourages the listener (despite the odd instrumentation) and these specific melodies have been vessels of expression for countless performers. What would a collection Italian songs be without Nessun Dorma? NOTHING! Thankfully, Bove was one step ahead. One of the most popular tenor arias of all-time, Nessun Dorma has proven itself as a cornerstone for many of “the greats” (Pavarotti, among others but his interpretation remains a favorite. Watch HERE). I found myself listening to the CD and waiting for the high notes, thinking, “Will Andy get up there?! Can the Cimbasso do it?!” YES! The strength of the cimbasso orchestrated with violin, cello, string bass and piano lends itself to both beauty and power.

I had to chuckle as O Sole Mio concluded the CD. In my defense, I laugh every time I hear this tune. It reminds me of that movie from the early 90s with the frog, by the pond…but anyways, the track is done to perfection and is a delightful closer. After navigating a journey through sentimental love songs, Bove leaves the listener in good spirits- craving pasta and red wine. Wayne J. du Maine (flugelhorn) butters the bread right up as the musicians perform effortlessly. It is impossible to ignore the level of musicianship and formal musical training attained by the performers involved in the making of this CD (see below).

Listen to the CD and just try not to get lovey-dovey (or hungry), I dare you. Not sure how you will satisfy that hunger but if you need more copies of Cimbasso D’Amore, go to CDBaby or andrewbove.com. Get your cimbasso groove on but if you like it – don’t blame me, blame Bove.

Produced at Bove Audio by: Andrew Bove, Mike Boschen and Sycil Mathai.
Musical arrangements by: Michael Atkinson, Andrew Bove, Christopher Kenniff, Ljova, Brian Mahany and Jason Wingate. Additional music preparation by: Bryan Doughty.
Guest performers include: Elissa Cassini (violin), Ljova (viola), Susannah Chapman (cello), Anthony Scelba (double bass), Alexander Fiterstein (clarinet), Wayne J. du Maine (flugelhorn), Mike Boschen (trombone), Denson Paul Pollard (bass trombone), Christopher Kenniff (guitar) and Allison Brewster Franzetti (piano).
CD Photos by: Purple Critter

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The Greatest Artist Who Ever Lived

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Portrait Ludwig van Beethoven when composing t...

Beethoven

You are “the greatest artist who ever lived.” Afterall, who isn’t trying to be the greatest artist who ever lived? … and what is an “artist,” anyways? Emerging in today’s all-access internet society means understanding that you can achieve success by promoting yourself, investing in the future and staying ahead of the game. However, trying to get a living-room produced garage band track to measure up to Beethoven‘s 5th symphony is a daunting task (although Beethoven probably created the 5th symphony from his living room, too) and coming up with a high-quality product while trying to cover your bills and rent can be tricky… but why not give it a go? Why not try to be the greatest? After all, you are the “greatest artist who ever lived“… who ever lived your life, that is.

Every piece of bad music that can be written has been written (even before electronic capabilities) and individuals are becoming famous through television, internet and social media for simply being themselves – we have saturated ourselves to the point of being impressed with the unimpressive as skill has turned into self. So why “chase” Beethoven? What makes him a hero, anyways? Some people adore his music, while other music-lovers hear it and immediately dismiss it. Most people have never consciously heard it (listen HERE to one of his greatest hits or watch an electric guitarist encourage Beethoven to roll over in his grave HERE).

Moving forward through various projects and collaborations, more and more I ask myself, “Why do I continue this journey? Why collaborate? Why forge forward alone? Why forego promising endeavors to chase less certain ideas?” I guess it depends on what you are going for, how intensely you believe in where you are going and what is pushing you forward. Most decisions are already mapped out (well, I guess that idea centers around a philosophical discussion concerning fate and pre-ordained destiny). For myself, when I am truly listening to life and following my path, the decisions are usually plain answers just staring me in the face, waiting for an obvious verdict.

I would encourage you to find your “song” without an end goal in mind. Enjoy the process because at the end of the day, week, month, year, life- the process is what makes it your own. Everyone possesses a unique expression- cooking, golfing, swimming, crunching numbers, riding horses, yoga … most of us would explode without it. For some, it’s a thought created by someone else but interpreted a specific way. For others, it means creating something completely unitelligible to the majority of the human race. For my heroes, like Beethoven- it’s a lifestyle.

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