recorded and performed with music legends such as Bruce Springsteen,
Tony Bennett, Dion, Al Kooper and countless others and in 2018, sax
player/flutist/composer Jerry Vivino steps out on an action-packed,
mostly instrumental album of solid jazz that was recorded
both in L.A. and N.Y. / N.J.
entitled Coast To Coast. Information already
known to fans of late night television, for the past two decades Jerry
Vivino has performed alongside his talented brother, Jimmy Vivino
in the Conan O'Brien TV show band, and he carries forth that same
expertise on his 2018 Blujazz album release Coast To Coast.
The ten track album features a mix of originals written by Jerry,
along with covers of the jazz standard "Here's That Rainy Day"
and a rousing Honeysuckle Rose, recorded here as a vocal.
The album-closing Miracles was written by Jerry and his
daughter Natalia Vivino. Speaking about his 2018 Blujazz CD,
Jerry tells mwe3.com "I do feel that Coast To Coast is special.
It defines who I am, where Ive been and who I have made music
with from coast to coast." Key to the album are the three
tracks featuring now 91 year old jazz guitar master Bucky Pizzarelli,
who first met Jerry when he was 10 years old thanks to Bucky's long
time friendship with Jerrys Dad, the late Jerry Vivino, Sr.
Mostly recorded in 2017, Coast To Coast also adds in two newly
unearthed tracks cut in October 2005 with the late great horn player
Lew Soloff. With ten tracks that redefine the meaning of cool
jazz in 2018, Coast To Coast features insightful liner notes
by Jerry along with cool, vintage looking album art. www.blujazz.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Did you set out to make a timeless kind of record, one you might think
could have happened in the 1950s or 60s? From the CD cover art
down the tracks, Coast To Coast has a real timeless effect.
Vivino: I did not plan on making a timeless kind of recording.
However, after all was said and done it did become just that. The
cover was created after the tracks were cut. So after listening back
to both the 7 originals and 3 covers it was unanimous by all parties
involved in the decision of a retro 1950s / 60s album
mwe3: Is the album kind of centered around a reunion recording
with Bucky Pizzarelli? Youve known him for ages, over half a
century. Sounds like a premeditated act!
Jerry Vivino: As far as a reunion with Bucky Pizzarelli goes,
I wouldnt call it that. Bucky grew up in Paterson, New Jersey
with my father, Jerry Vivino, Sr. I met Bucky through my pop when
I was 10 years old. My father would take me to band shell concerts
to hear Bucky. After hearing Bucky and his band mates perform I knew
right there and then that I wanted to be a musician. Some 15 to 20
years later I found myself sharing the stage with Bucky and many other
world class musicians of his generation. It was an education that
could not be taught in music school. I shared the stage with Bucky
on only a few occasions, but never recorded with him. That was something
I thought would never happen until... I was on the phone with Buckys
son bassist Martin when I asked how Bucky was doing. Martin replied
hes right here and he wants to say hello. Without wasting any
time Bucky asked me when we were going to play together again. I said
why dont we cut a few tracks together. He quickly said, 'tell
me where and when.' A few days later I found myself recording 3 tracks
with Bucky. He wanted to record "Body And Soul" and "Honeysuckle
Rose". The third track was an original composition that I appropriately
named "Paterson". Having recorded 3 tracks and loving what
we had, made my decision to continue the project a no brainer.
Youve been in L.A. with the Conan O'Brien show since 2009. How
long have you and your brother been performing in the band on the
Conan O'Brien OBrien TV show? Does the show run new shows all
year round and whats Conan O'Brien like as a boss? We know hes
musical, and hows your brother Jimmy these days? He must be
under pressure to put on a show every night. So whats that pressure
Jerry Vivino: My brother Jimmy and I have been on the Conan
O'Brien show for 25 years now and counting. The show runs all year.
Conan O'Brien is the greatest! He loves music, musicians and talent
of any kind. Even though he is my boss I think of him more as a friend.
He jams with the band almost every day during rehearsal. Even though
he is an avid Red Sox fan I love him like a brother. My brother Jimmy
is doing an outstanding job as musical director and band leader. No
pressure cranking out shows for Jimmy and the Basic Cable Band. After
25 years we know what to do and what not to do.
mwe3: The Coast To Coast album is partly dedicated to
tracks you made with Lew Soloff a while back. How did you meet Lew
and what are some of your favorite Lew Soloff recordings? I was just
remembering his work on the historic Blood Sweat & Tears album
Vivino: My Coast To Coast CD/album features 16 different
musicians from L.A. and N.Y. I met Lew Soloff on a jingle date in
NYC circa 1985. In 1969 my father kind of introduced me to Lew. On
his drive home from work he heard Lews signature trumpet solo
from "Spinning Wheel". So my pop, being a trumpet player
at heart took a detour to Sam Goodys before coming home that
night. We listened to the album together. While listening and reading
the album credits my pop let it be known that the trumpet solo on
Spinning Wheel was played by Lew Soloff. Besides Lews
work with BS&T I also love Lews recordings on his own albums.
So many to choose from. His Air On A G String and Sketches
Of Spain are two of my favorites.
mwe3: I want to ask you about the track you made with Lew,
Category 5. Does that track date all the way back to October,
2005? Wow, that was a crucial month indeed. Sounds like it is hurricane
related. Are you into predicting paranormal phenomena because the
worst hurricane ever to hit Florida was a week away.
Jerry Vivino: On October 17th 2005, Lew recorded 2 tracks with
me. Category 5 and Lews Blues. I pulled
them from my archive recordings and had them remixed for Coast
To Coast by Todd Winmill. Lews ferocious trumpet solo on
Category 5 was the reason I named the tune just that.
The track builds and builds until Lew takes it to a climax of a 'Category
5' hurricane. It had nothing to do with the Florida hurricane that
same year and month. Before his death on March 8th 2015, Lew and I
played together in the horn section for The Fab Faux of which I continue
performing with to date.
Interesting your vocal on Honeysuckle Rose comes as a
surprise. Tell us something about your interest in Fats Wallers
music. Im amazed how influential this track still is. When did
you first hear it? Are you underrated as a singer?
Jerry Vivino: Honeysuckle Rose was one of the tunes
that Bucky wanted to track. It is one of his signature songs. I do
quite a bit of singing on my live gigs. People like my voice and the
tunes I sing are entertaining songs in the style of Louie Prima, Louie
Jordan, Van Morrison and Fats Waller. I spent 7 years on the road
with Keely Smith so the Prima vibe came from all the gigs I did with
Keely. So back to Honeysuckle Rose... Bucky asked me to
sing on that track. You ask if I am underrated as a singer? I think
I am. That is until people hear me sing.
mwe3: The track Miracles, co-written by your daughter
is excellent and has a kind of East Coast vibe to it. A real NYC way
to close the album right? You said in your notes, it was a vocal track
Jerry Vivino: Miracles was written by myself, pianist
Ken Levinsky and my 20 year old daughter Natalia Vivino. It was recorded
with a vocal by Natalia for a soon to be released album titled The
Vivino Sisters D.N.A. I have 3 talented daughters Donna, Natalia
and Antonia. D.N.A. Look for a October/November release. So I rearranged
Miracles for Coast To Coast as a jazz waltz. Glad
you like it!
mwe3: What can you tell us about the title track Coast
To Coast? How did you write the track with Andy Langham? You
wrote it in L.A. so do you think it has that West Coast cool sound?
I can almost picture Wes Montgomery playing on it even though there
are no guitars on it.
Jerry Vivino: The first track Coast To Coast was
indeed written by me and pianist Andy Langham. Andy and I get together
at times and we just start playing. We talk over the changes and construct
a melody. Then we tweak the changes and melody until we are happy
with what we have created. Or not? Thats how Coast To
Coast and Spud Time and Paterson came to be.
How would you compare Coast To Coast with your 2014 album Back
East? I saw you had Bob DeVos playing guitar on that album.
Jerry Vivino: I cant compare Coast To Coast with
Back East. Back East is a wonderful album that features
Brian Charette on hammond organ, Andy Sanesi, drums and Bob DeVos
on guitar. That album is an organ trio album with tenor sax and quite
a bit of flute. Coast To Coast features a roster of 16 world
class musicians from N.Y. and L.A.
I am happy with both albums. I do feel that Coast To Coast
is special. It defines who I am, where Ive been and who I have
made music with from coast to coast. Since I named the musicians on
Back East here are the cats on Coast To Coast. Drummers;
Bernie Dresel, Shawn Pelton and Karl Latham. Pianists; Andy Langham,
Ken Levinsky, Brian Charette and Mitch Forman. Bassists; John Leftwich,
Kevin Axt, Kermit Driscol, Martin Pizzarelli and John Arbo. Guitarists;
Bucky Pizzarelli and Mark Sganga. Trumpets; Ron Stout and Lew Soloff.
Tenor sax, soprano sax , alto flute and vocals; yours truly.
mwe3: What are your favorite venues and clubs to play in both
NYC and L.A.? Is the vibe different for musicians playing in each
place and does L.A. have the same energy for you as NYC? Have you
done any recent shows in Florida and other states?
Vivino: My favorite venues to play in NYC are Birdland (NYC) Maureens
Cellar (Nyack, N.Y. ), Shanghai Jazz (Madison, N.J.) and the Dearhead
Inn (Delaware Water Gap, PA.) In Los Angeles; The Baked Potato, Vibrato,
Vitellos Upstairs and The Light house.
New York is known for its energy and Los Angeles for its laid back
cool vibe. All I can say is that I enjoy the musicians on both coasts
with equal respect. I am blessed with the opportunity to make music
and share stages with only world-class musicians. I have not done
any shows in Florida.
mwe3: You have a very musical family. In addition to your career,
tell us about your Dad who was also a musician and your daughter and
the album of hers that you produced.
Jerry Vivino: My Dad played the trumpet and my mom the piano.
My Dad was not a full time musician. He certainly could have taken
that route. He made his living building homes. His passion was music.
Growing up our house was filled with music and art.
My daughter Donna has had a wonderful career. At the age of 8 she
was the original Young Cosette in Broadway's Les Mis. She has
not stopped working! Movies, T.V. Broadway shows
Fame Becomes Me and Elphaba in Wicked to name a few...
Donna was recently nominated (2017) for an Ovation award for best
actress in a musical for her role as Mary Flynn in Merrily We Roll
other daughters Natalia (21) and Antonia (19) are following in their
sisters footsteps. At 19 years of age, Natalia was nominated
(2015) for an Ovation Award for best actress in a musical best actress
in a musical for her part as Yonna in Children of Eden. At
16 years, she was the winner of the Jimmy Award for best high school
actress in the State of California. She is actively performing and
writing music, as well. My youngest daughter, Antonia age 19 is a
triple threat. Right out of high school she toured with a national
Broadway Christmas show, Rudolph. She is currently working
in Los Angeles as a voice over artist and performing at Disney Land.
Donnas solo album Beautiful Dreamer is available on Amazon
and thru Sh-K-Boom Ghostlight records. One of my proudest productions
to date. But you aint heard nothing yet! Coming soon, The Vivino
mwe3: I was also remembering that Uncle Floyd is your older
brother. Hows Floyd doing these days? I think John Lennon used
to watch the Uncle Floyd Show.
Jerry Vivino: My brother Floyd, everybodys favorite Uncle
is doing great! He writes a column for The Italian Tribune. Has a
drive time radio show on WFDU-FM and continues to work his stand up
act nationwide. He does appear now and then as Uncle Floyd entertaining,
singing and playing old time chestnuts on the piano. John Lennon,
David Bowie, Paul Simon, Soupy Sales and The Ramones were fans of
his T.V. show The Uncle Floyd Show.
What saxophones and flutes are your favorites to play? Did you study
harmony and other in depth musical studies?
Vivino: I play Selmer and Yamaha saxophones. Muramatsu, Yamaha,
Haynes and Artley flutes. Buffet and Selmer clarinets. I play Vandoren
mouthpieces and Vandoren reeds. I studied music at Manhattan School
of Music 1972-74
mwe3: Are you happy with the way the internet has taken over
the music industry, including everything from selling music on Amazon
and ebay all the way to the downloading phenomenon on you tube, spotify
and soundcloud / bandcamp. Some people are saying its bad for
recorded music yet others are saying they are reaching a lot more
people. Seems like the changes are still being worked out.
Jerry Vivino: I cant say I am happy or unhappy with the
internet taking over the CD/record sales etc. I would like to think
that the listener would like to hold product in their hands, read
liner notes, find out who that drummer is and listen to music with
friends or family. Streaming is the future. Everything is held in
ones hand today. People listen thru ear buds that plug into
their phone. Pandora, Spotify everything is free. Yes, you could be
reaching a lot more people. Time will tell
Being summer time now, are you taking some time off and have you slated
any other time for writing, recording, producing and performing? Is
the Conan O'Brien show running through the Summer 2018 months too?
Any other plans for 2018 and even 19?
Jerry Vivino: Conan O'Brien will run thru 2018. Im not
sure if we will be picked up in 2019. If not I will have more time
for writing and performing with my jazz quartet/quintet.