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Mark Shilansky: Blog


I just want to say before I begin that Tony Bennett is important.  He's important to me, and to so many other people in the world.  He's a "pop" singer who stylizes a melody and varies it whenever he sings it, so as far as I'm concerned: jazz.  He had a late-career renaissance (several actually) that should be the envy of any artist, from MTV Unplugged until now.   I didn't get to meet him, but I have heard anecdotes that he is basically a great guy, often makes time to talk to fans, to other musicians.  My friend Travis Sullivan bumped into him on the street in NY a few years ago and wound up going with Tony (thanks to a comp ticket Tony provided) to see a JALC concert featuring Joe Temperley.   In interviews and documentaries and books he is a giver of sage advice and a beacon of positivity.So, even though Tony can be a bit over-the-top, I think of him as a true jazz artist, a great lyric deliverer.  His records with Bill Evans are [...]
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I'm late to the party on this artist.  I'm not going to claim to be a maven or an early adopter, though I heard her with my pal Travis Sullivan's Bjorkestra​.  Becca Stevens.  I loved the last record with "Weightless" on it, and the great covers of Joni and Seal and Morrissey.  She plays the crap out of whatever stringed instrument she is holding, sings perfectly in tune and emotively and rhythmically precisely while doing it.  Her band is remarkable; the accordion and cajon are nice consistent touches that define the band's sound.  I am a little biased because Jordan Perlson​ is the drummer and he is one of my favorites to play with and he admits to knowing me and playing on my projects (rather than the typical cat I hire who says "I went to Boston for a weekend and it was hazy but apparently I recorded with Mark Shilansky on about 3 different records he was producing in a variety of idioms and he wouldn't stop with the Simpsons quotes").  Anyway, [...]
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Jo Lawry - "Taking Pictures"

Posted on June 1, 2015 with 0 comments
I'm thinking of starting a "blog series" or "bunch of Shilansky opinions" series or whatever these are, with the name "Drivin' and Listenin'" or something like that, because I seem to do most of my focused listening to music in the car in recent years. The other night (driving back from my gig in NYC… so….) I listened to Jo Lawry's excellent "Taking Pictures" record, and the standout tracks for me are "Impossible" (which features an especially fine guest vocal performance from one Gordon Sumner. It's amazing but he might be singing better now than he ever has in his life. I heard him with Paul Simon a year ago and he was rare form that night, and on this Jo Lawry tune he really delivers, every part of his range, lots of subtlety mixed with some rockin' out.) and "Ready Aim Fire" (not that I want this review to be all about Mr. Stingman, but on this tune Jo seems to be saying to her boss "Remember when you used to do music like this?", because it sounds like a long-lost [...]
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Setlist! Volume 1. May 23, 2015

Posted on May 24, 2015 with 0 comments
Amazing Vocalist Jeremy Ragsdale and I used to joke about setlsts.  We would talk about the setlist for our current gig (as a Ragsdale solo set, say, with Esperanza Spalding on bass) or a Syncopation gig, as though it were a Grateful Dead or Phish setlist.  Try it sometime… it's fun.  (Instead of "they went from China Cat Sunflower into Not Fade Away, man… it was so heavy" it becomes, "They went from 'Stella by Starlight' right into 'Desafinado', man, and Shilansky didn't even open his Irealbook!")
Anyway, I'm going to start posting set lists from gigs A) SO I CAN REMEMBER THE OCCASION AND WHAT WE PLAYED, and B) So you can see what you're missing.
Here's the Fugue Mill Set from Saturday, May 23, at Amazing Things Arts Center, Framingham, Ma.  We are at the Press Room in Portsmouth, NH this evening (will post setlist later) but tonight we will be without special guests David Thorne Scott and April Hall, who sang with us last night.  I fashioned a story [...]
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Favorite Concerts!

Posted on April 19, 2015 with 1 comment
Here's a Sunday Evening bit of food for thought:
I was reminiscing about my favorite concerts I've ever attended. I'm sure I'm forgetting many of them, but I though I'd provide this little list.  Maybe by doing so I'll remember more.  If I forgot to add that time I went to your burning show (if you are a fellow musician), please correct me, although Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, I'm sorry, I just don't care for your band.  
What are some of YOUR favorite concerts you've attended?
 -Guess Who/Steppenwolf, 1982 (not the best concert I ever went to, but, I think, my first)
 -Mutual Admiration Society (Nickel Creek plus Glenn Phillips, John Paul Jones, and Pete Thomas) at the Paradise, mid 2000's

-Prince in Boston, Musicology tour
-Wayne Shorter/Sean Jones/Herbie/Marcus Miller/ Sean Rickman Umbria Jazz Fest, 2011?
-James Taylor at Great Woods or West Hartford, CT (early 2000's)
-Alison Krauss and Union Station at Meadowbrook, [...]
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