Mark E. Gallo

Mark E. Gallo

There are those who refer to the Detroit area pianist Bob Seeley as the foremost player in the world, the greatest boogie woogie pianist alive today. There are those, too, who will mistakenly call him low key, in spite of the mighty rumblings that emanate from his supremely talented digits. He doesn’t have a record contract, though he’ll happily sell you any or all of his three self-produced CDs at the gig or by mail. He doesn’t take the show on the road a heck of a lot -- but when he does, he d …
29.01.2011

Blues Heroes

Published in Jazz Viewpoints
The Martin Scorsese-generated blues series, a weeklong extravaganza of blues films presented on PBS stations across the country, was one of the most anticipated events of the past few decades. Given the decline of sales across the board for all genres of music, the folks who make, record and release blues music were hoping for a shot in the arm, akin to the Ken Burns series on jazz and, to a lesser degree, the country/bluegrass film "O Brother". While every label with a stake in the music releas …
Publishing year-end lists serves to spark debate and (ideally) inspire closer inspection of the music that moves us throughout the year. If you’re like me, you probably shake and scratch your head every time you look at these lists, wondering what in the world the list maker could have been thinking. "They thought what was the best album of the year? What, are they kidding!?" There are lists that inspire, too. I often buy music on the basis of year-end lists, but only if at least some of …
29.01.2011

Fantasy Jazz

Published in Jazz Viewpoints
The relationship between record companies and musicians who aspire to be recording artists is a symbiotic one. The levels of success in those affiliations hinge on both the appeal of the artist as well as on the marketing savvy of the label and their pr departments. Giants like Sony/Columbia, BMG, Blue Note, Verve and Telarc are masters of strategy. They know how to entice talented players to their ranks and, more importantly, how to get the word out to print media and radio, and ultimately to t …
One of the more intriguing concepts of music that of an alternate, parallel language more ancient and more starkly emotional than the spoken word apples to those who play avant garde and free forms of music. The musician who plays "free" jazz, music free from, though not especially devoid of, conventional boundaries of harmony, melody and rhythmic form, is perhaps more tuned into the concept of alternate language than others. These are the players who think in terms of growing the music, stretch …
The DVD has become an enormously popular and cost efficient way to get music films into consumer homes over the past few years. Music Video Distributors, based out of Oaks, PA, has released an extraordinary collection of classic jazz on this format over the past few months. Most are pretty bare-boned no fat booklets. Most have nothing in the box but a disc, but this is definitely offset by a very affordable price. These are generally lumped under the Jazz Legends and Swing Era series. Among the …
Blue Note has been the standard by which most jazz labels have measured themselves since Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff founded the record label in 1939. Blue Note has chronicled some of the most important jazz musicians and movements of the past century, most notably those of the mid-50s to the late 1960s, though certainly they remain vital in the new millennium, as well, as evidenced by a roster that includes such stellar players as Stefon Harris, Medeski Martin and Wood and Norah Jones.

The …

I’ve been compiling "Best Of" lists for most of the 25-plus years that I’ve writing about jazz and blues. This year’s lists cover the wide spectrum of music that excites my ears, and I hope there is something here that might inspire some added listening for readers. You’ll note that Pyeng Threadgill, the most exciting new artist of the year, is listed in both the jazz and blues categories. The daughter of the great Henry Threadgill recorded a tribute to blues icon Robert Johnson, but really defi …
North America’s largest free jazz festival is one of the most heavily attended jazz festivals in the world. This year’s extravaganza is, typically, jam-packed with a Who’s-Who of internationally acclaimed jazz artists. Most notable are:

Friday, August 30:

Straight Ahead. The all-woman quintet led by bassist Marion Hayden is Detroit-based and internationally renowned. They recorded a trio of albums for Atlantic and served as a launching pad for violinist Regina Carter.

Mavis Staples.

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