What do two members of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra do between Christmas seasons? They fuse jazz, blues, rock and electronic music into a blend that is distinctive. Pianist Jane Mangini and guitarist Al Pitrelli, who studied with legendary jazz guitarist John Scofield and has performed with such artists as Celine Dion, Taylor Dayne and Alice Cooper, come together to make up the group O2L. Together as both musicians and a married couple, Mangini and Pitrelli have come up with a sound that has the flavor of such artists as Saint Germain, Enigma and Deep Forest.
Both Mangini and Pitrelli says audiences enjoy getting to experience new aspects of music. Pitrelli says, "When we both cut our teeth as musicians back in the day, you do something different, that's what always got people's attention. When the Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin came out, bands that we admired, a lot of what Miles Davis did, it was all different. You kind of don't want to be pigeonholed or painted into a corner. We're pretty educated musicians and we have pretty vast influences growing up. We'd like to pursue all of those and translate it into our own music."
Al Pitrelli knows how important it is to be versatile in music. He says, "Diversity as a musician is not only something we do as artists, but wanting to make a career and being able to work. I believe that you can't just do one thing. If you have a real extensive palate, it gives you the opportunity to at least work in different things until you find out exactly what it is that you want to do. Mannheim Steamroller is just a brilliant success story and, if I'm not mistaken, the guy who runs that whole camp Chip Davis never signed a deal with a major label. He's basically his own record company and if you do the math, it's extraordinary."
Besides the O2L project, both Jane Mangini and Al Pitrelli work in other areas of music as well. Pitrelli says, "Jane is in jingle composer. Her office is in New York City, but we moved up into the mountains of Pennsylvania and, God bless the Internet, we can now work from home. Again, fortune smiling on us at all times. We're very, very lucky to be able to be together and work together all the time. We're also part of what's known as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which keeps us out working during the holidays."
O2L's sophomore release is called Doyle's Brunch and it was a labor of love for the two. Mangini says the title comes from "a place that I used to work at, actually when I just moved to Boston. I used to work there while I was in a band called The Rick Berlin Band. It was a rowdy joint when I worked there and I just kind of tried to bring that back with what I did with that. On the title track, I took little vocal samples and wrote the music around those. We had our friend drummer John O'Reilly come in and play like a drunken Irish guy."
There seems to be different kind of sound experiences on O2L's Doyle's Brunch. Jane Mangini, who was also the major composer for the project, says, "I think there are a lot of moods in there. Each song is a different sound track, some kind of life experience or whatever I'm feeling that day." The song, Mountain City Playhouse, has the feeling of the cantina band in the movie Star Wars being placed in a western saloon. City Chicken has a New Orleans feel with some Steely Dan thrown in for good measure while Missing Kate has a hip hop flavor mixed in with classical texture.
The break out song of O2L's Doyle's Brunch is a remake of The Doors classic Riders on the Storm. Al Pitrelli says, "About 12, 13 years ago when I first met Mark Wexler, we were doing a record for a guy that he managed and we were goofing around and getting sounds because we were playing pretty good jazz. I remembered hearing 'Riders on the Storm' on the radio later that evening and I said 'you know, that would be a pretty neat instrumental because a lot of people our age would certainly recognize it. I thought it would be a way at least to when you have a new artist and new music like that, sometimes people kind of shy away from it. If it's something recognizable that could kind of get their attention, then they'll start listening to the body of the rest of the record. That was the basic idea. I sat on that cover for about a dozen years and I brought it up to Janie last summer. She thought it was a pretty good idea and she did a brilliant arrangement of it. It got us some notoriety and got people paying attention to us. Very lucky we are."
Luck was a very big part of O2L's success with Riders on the Storm. Pitrelli says, "CD 101.9 in New York City just out of the blue they played it. We got around 20 or 23 radio stations in the country that have added it. Trumpeter Chris Botti has been very instrumental because he seems to like what we're doing. It was just one of those things. I thought that anybody from the ages of 35 to 60 who grew up listening to it, if they heard 'the Storm' and the very signature Rhodes piano thing in the front of it, they'll kind of go 'oh, that's pretty neat' and turn it up and it seems that's what it's doing. Wexler's way of describing it like take your time, we'll get there. It's like watching paint dry. It's going to take awhile for everybody to get it. We're in no rush. We'll be out there for awhile."
Certainly, Jane Mangini and Al Pitrelli have the combination for success, both in music and in life. O2L has been on the road this spring opening up for the Matt Bianco with Basia tour. It give them the chance to show musically what they have on their mind and to express it in a way that's different from many things I have heard recently. O2L is fresh and inviting. Invite them into your home today.