On Tuesday, April 17th, Blackwing Featured Musician Christian Tamburr will perform a very special set at the Blackwing Experience in New York City. Today, Studio 602 is excited to present a guest post from Christian detailing the stories behind the set he will perform and the thought that went into choosing each song.
Christian Tamburr’s Blackwing Experience Set
As a Blackwing Featured Musician, I’m excited to present a dynamic range of musical material for the upcoming Blackwing Experience event in New York City. Creativity on the bandstand is facilitated by those with whom you surround yourself, as well as the texture of the music you perform. Over the years, I’ve found that the fun I’m having on stage translates to the enjoyment of the people watching my performance.
“Jazz” is hard to define, as it’s taken on so many genres and styles from around the world. I believe one of the key elements that define jazz is its ability to allow the musicians to approach each performance with a fresh new idea or concept. We feed on the improvisatory opportunities, making each time we play through a song different than the last. It’s what makes this music so exciting.
With all of this in mind, I wanted to pick music that represents who we are as individual jazz artists, as well as music inspired by or written by composers and arrangers who used Blackwing pencils. The following songs will represent “The Set” of music to be performed on April 17th for the Blackwing Experience Musical Performance.
1. “It’s Alright With Me” – This is a beautiful uptempo Cole Porter composition written for his 1953 Musical Can-Can and also used in a second Cole Porter musical High Society. This was one of the first tunes I learned when I started playing jazz in High School. This arrangement is by Dominick Farinacci and is reminiscent of the way I first heard and played the song… fast! The song has always had a fantastic energy with a beautiful lyric sung by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Tom Waits, to Harry Connick Jr. This opener will certainly get everyone’s attention and show off some of the incredibly talented musicians on stage.
2. “Sailing Serenity” – Growing up on the inter-coastal waterways of Florida always allowed for a great amount of visual stimulation with regards to writing music. I’ve always been inspired by events or photos when I’m composing a new song and this selection was first visualized when sailing down the Indian River on board a close friends sailboat. I returned later that evening and found myself playing this melody, which I thought expressed my feeling of being on the water. “Sailing Serenity” was featured in the Blackwing Sessions video in conjunction with the release of my latest album “Places”. As someone who still sits at the piano with paper and a pencil, I wanted to share a bit of that process and how it has come to its now finished product.
3. “Libertango” – This is a composition by Tango composer Astor Piazzola. The title of the song is a combination of two words “Libertad” (Spanish for liberty) and “Tango”. It symbolized a point in Piazzolla’s career where his style of writing went from classic tango to more modern ‘new tango’. Its been recorded by over 500 artists around the world and in Astor’s original 1974 album the song features Marimba. The undercurrent of the harmony accompanying the melody provides for an incredibly percussive mix between the vibraphone, piano, and drums. The legato melody hangs romantically above it all emphasized by the trumpet in an arrangement by Dominick Farinacci. This song perfectly provides an engaging aural backdrop for the introduction of Shantell and her graphic artistic presentation.
4. “Willow Weep For Me” – Nelson Riddle was a long time arranger for some of the most infamous jazz vocalists of our time. His beautiful arrangements and orchestra backed such stars as Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. Both Ella and Frank featured arrangements of “Willow Weep For Me” by Mr. Riddle. His long association with the Blackwing pencil has made for an important figure to include and honor during our concert. This arrangement pays homage to some of the great singers who have recorded this song and beautiful arrangements by Nelson Riddle. Featured on vocals to sing this beautiful song with us will be New York vocalist Charenee Wade.
5. “Somewhere” – Steven Sondheim’s incredible career has earned him an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards, multiple Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and the Laurence Olvier Award. Sondheim has spoken greatly with reference to his creative process and the importance of the Blackwing pencil for that process. One of my first introductions to his work was through the lyrics of the beautiful music on West Side Story. Lyrics that tell an incredible story coupled to Leonard Bernstein’s amazing music. In modern day performance this song still comes up as a “most requested” tune and I was thrilled to create this new arrangement for the sextet featuring Charenee Wade on vocals.
6. “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” – “There are only two types of music. Good and Bad, that is.” – Duke Ellington. Duke certainly said it right, and everyone in my band tends to agree. “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” was originally an instrumental called “Concerto for Cootie” designed to feature his star trumpet player Cootie Williams. Bob Russel later added the great lyrics and the rest is history. As a closing number I wanted to pick something that the band could really let loose on and swing hard on. Duke symbolizes one of the great names in jazz and it’s our honor to feature a song from his songbook. This tune has always been full of opportunities and feels so nice at that swingin’ medium tempo. The band will feature vocalist Charenee Wade, myself on vibraphone, and trumpet player Dominick Farinacci to make this great song come alive.