Another original tune, Share Our Lives

I'm excited to share a sample of another original tune on my upcoming recording entitled “Share Our Lives”. It was initially written while Patti and I were sitting at the kitchen table warming up one morning. We alternated coming up with melody lines and lyrics until we had the start of a tune. I then sat down and built out the melody and lyrics a bit more, including writing another verse. It is really a sweet and simple song about trusting love and building a life together. On the last evening, Tuck joined us at the kitchen table and we built out the chord structure/arrangement. He and I rehearsed it a few times, slept on it, and recorded it the next morning before I headed back to Chicago. Hope you like it!

Let's Go, an original tune

In the lead up to the recording of this new release, I took several months and worked with Chris White and Tim Fitzgerald on writing and arranging tunes. I would come to them with bits and pieces of ideas and then we would spend time trying things out until we'd finally built out a tune. Throughout the process, we shared several of them with Tuck and Patti on Skype before we headed out to San Fran for the actual recording.
 
Tim and I wrote the tune “Let’s Go” as a fun song about a couple traveling around the world. We spent time developing it and building out the form including a cool ending of the bridge that Tim came up with.  When Patti heard it live, she suggested speeding it up a bit and she worked with us on revising some of the melody and lyrics. We also added a great ending with some new lyrics and cool harmonics. Chris White helped with arrangements, as it was originally written with only guitar. BTW all of this happened in Tuck and Patti’s living room. Once we had the tune put together, we went in and recorded immediately.

Nearing the end

It's been awhile since my last update about my time out here in San Fran with Tuck and Patti. It's been a very busy week. Tonight we finished all of the vocals on 10 tracks. We also put the final touches on an original that we will record tomorrow before I head back home. I have a lot of pictures, videos and stories to share with you soon--after I sleep for a bit! Stay tuned.

Back to work

I am excited to be back in San Fran to continue recording with Tuck and Patti. This weekend we are working on an original song Patti and I wrote together, as well as a special duo with me and Tuck! Stay tuned.

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A little break

I am taking a little break while Tuck and Patti continue to work on tracks. This is a view into the studio from the vocal booth where I have been spending a lot of my time. I start back up on Saturday with some more vocals. I can't wait until you hear these arrangements and how I am growing vocally. Stay tuned.

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The beat goes on

Recording continues out here in San Fran. Piano tracks are complete and we are now working on guitar with Tim Fitzgerald. Tunes include Teach Me Tonight with a big band feel, Do You Wanna Dance as a cool samba, and a raw acoustic sounding Downtown Train. I can't wait for you to hear them! Stay tuned for more updates from CA.

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Recording is in full swing in (not so) sunny California

What an experience so far! Long productive days and nights in the studio with Tuck and Patti. Patti generously offered one of her original songs to me to sing on the CD.  It's called Reverie. She thought it would sound great in my voice. Not an easy song to sing but a beautiful one. Here is a pick of the vocal booth. More to come.

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The wonder of Skype

Because we are heading out next week to the Bay Area we have an intense week of Skype rehearsals for the new CD this week with Tuck and Patti. Yesterday Chris White and I did a Skype session with them to play through a few songs. I really like the concepts they are giving us to think about when we are choosing and playing the tunes. I really love what we are doing with the Carpenter’s song, Superstar. Yes, a Carpenter's song. Trust me you need to pre-order this recording because it doesn't sound like anything I have done in the past. The tune as a cool slow jazz feel to it which is quite different then when I remember first hearing that song by the Carpenters, then by Bette Midler and later by Luther Vandross—all different feels. Now we will add ours to the list.
 
Tonight Tim Fitzgerald and I have our turn on Skype with Tuck and Patti. One song I am really excited about is our acoustic version of Downtown Train. I think it’s simple and raw, yet beautiful. One of my favorite versions of this tune was recorded by Everything But the Girl but I think our's might be my new favorite! Pre-order that one too!
 
We travel to San Francisco on Monday and start recording on Tuesday. Watch for updates about the project while we are there. Stay tuned!

Full circle moments

Another great influence of mine has been singer and pianist Michael Feinstein. I was first introduced to his music around the same time as Tuck and Patti although they are very different in their interpretations. Feinstein's interpretations of the American Songbook seemed to be nostalgic and current at the same time.  Each new cassette introduced me to some great new songs to learn. I remember I would would run over to Carl Fischer on Wabash Ave and buy the sheet music as soon as I could (yes there was a store that actually sold sheet music). It was amazing how many tunes he inspired me to learn as I was coming up!

A recent highlight in my career was a couple of years ago when I had the opportunity to sing at his club in NYC! I performed at Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency and then at Feinstein’s 54 Below.  It was even more special when I got a chance to meet him in person and tell him how much he had influenced me. Here are a few pictures of my shows at his clubs.
 
It’s mind boggling to think that I have come full circle and had the opportunity to meet both of my greatest influences--Michael Feinstein and Tuck and Patti. I can't believe that the recording project that I am doing with Tuck Patti starts in one week! Things are moving fast and I love every minute of it!

Continued work on CD project

It looks like next week I will be doing another Skype session with Tuck and Patti in preparation for the recording session for my new CD project. It is a very interesting process working with both of them in San Francisco and the rest of us here in Chicago. The plan is for me to first work with guitarist Tim Fitzgerald and then with pianist Chris White ahead of getting on the Skype call. 

It is interesting how the arrangements have started to evolve and the plan is for us to really dig into the arrangements and work things out next week since the recording is only 3 weeks away!

The one song I am working on with Tim is “Do You Wanna Dance”. I think we came up with a really cool groove that has taken on a new sound compared to the original version. Chris and I are working on a smooth funk-sounding version of “Pure Imagination”. 

As we go through this process leading up to the recording I getting more and more excited about this project and can’t believe we’ll be heading out there to start recording in just a few weeks. It's all very exciting. 

BTW if you are interested in being one of the first ones to  take a listen to the new recording I have a special opportunity on my gofundme.com page. For a donation of $25-$49 I will send you the first single (when it comes available) from my recording. Every little bit helps since doing something like this is quite expensive but I really believe it is helping me expand my musical ability to another level. Here's the link so you can get the info: https://www.gofundme.com/samfazio (I am already half way to my goal!)

As always thank you for the support and I will keep you updated as we move along!

 Skype session in action!

Skype session in action!

The sound of a real big band

I remember my dad always played big band music when I was in the car with him and it used to drive me crazy as a kid!  Back then all I wanted to listen to was top 40 music not these old tunes. Of course he would never change the station and would even hum or whistle along with the songs--that drive me nuts! However now looking back I have to admit that thanks to my dad, I first heard songs by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee to name a few. Even though I didn't really want to listen to the songs, I remember the incredible energy behind the big horn arrangements, which is really where my love of horns first began.
 
There is nothing like singing with a big band. I have had the opportunity to sing with several local Chicago bands including Big Band Boom, Shout Section and even a couple bands that I put together and it truly energizes me and takes my musicianship to a new level. When I am singing and those horn hits come in during an arrangement the energy they create is out of this world! Then add in the solo sections where the horn players can really blow and it really creates a brand new dimension to a tune. Actually now that I wrote this it reminds me how much I really love to play with big bands and I can thank my dad for that! Glad he didn't change the radio station after all.

 Performing with Shout Section Big Band

Performing with Shout Section Big Band

Happy Birthday Nina Simone

This week we would have celebrated the 85th birthday of the late great Nina Simone. I didn't become familiar with her music until a few years ago but ever since then I have been obsessed with her artistry. I love many of her well-known recordings like "Feeling Good", but also some of her interesting takes on classic tunes that at first listen, will take you by surprise. For example she does a Latin version of "My Way" that is really different than the original but unbelievably cool! She also does a version of the tune "Stars" that’s simple and intense at the same time and showcases her creativity and genius.
 
As I mentioned in a previous post my project with the duo Tuck and Patti is moving forward and should be released in the summer. They are helping me work on some interesting and re-imagined versions of classic tunes that might surprise you similarly the way Nina Simone's versions surprised me! One of the songs was actually made famous by Nina Simone, "My Baby Just Cares for Me". I chose that song because it really resonated with me the minute I heard it. It has been really interesting playing around with some arrangements for it so STAY TUNED!
 
Happy birthday Ms. Simone and thanks for being a new inspiration for me.

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The Impossible Dream—or maybe not

I find it fascinating to think back to when I was just getting started in music and the audition process I had to go through in high school. It's kind of funny now but I remember the first song I learned for an audition in high school was "The Impossible Dream". I liked it at the time but I really wanted to sing the song my friend Nick got from our teacher, which was "What Kind of Fool Am I". I think both songs where on a Greatest Hits album that my parents had, Somehow the music on that recording really resonated with me, especially "What Kind of Fool Am I" which was sung by Robert Goulet.  Later that year I performed another song from that album "People". Now that I am singing and practicing so many different styles of music I look back and I am really amazed how that album helped to influence my love of music that continues to this day!

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Learning to sing

I remember when I first started taking voice lessons, it was when I was in High School and I was preparing for a few school productions. I felt like I needed to start getting more serious with my music even back then but when I got to senior year I realized that it was what I wanted to try and do for a profession. I decided to enroll in a summer music program at Northwestern University. It helped me gain some fundamental skills and also gave me the confidence and courage to audition for the School of Music at DePaul University. I can still remember that audition to this day, I was excited and terrified at the same time! Well, I made it into the Music School with a focus on classical vocal performance and although it was challenging, the program provided me with a solid foundation in vocal training and allowed me to be able to sing correctly, no matter what the genre. Take a look at my senior recital program below.
 
While studying classical music at DePaul, I realized how much I missed singing the songs I really loved—pop and jazz standards. A friend of mine suggested that I take lessons from her voice teacher who specialized in many different kinds of music and as they say “that’s where it all began”. I started taking lessons “on the side” from Janice Pantazelos in 1986. She not only taught me the fundamentals of singing, but she also taught be how to be a performer and entertainer. She motivated me and helped me become more confident on stage and in front of a band, how to grow and understand my voice as an instrument and how to care for and fine-tune it.  Over the years she was always there for all of the ups and downs. Thirty-two years later I still see her from time to time to keep things lined up and continue to grow. 

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Update on New CD

I had a great Skype session last week with Tuck and Patti to discuss my upcoming recording project with them. We were able to schedule some time in between their busy touring and recording schedule to connect on a few things and also to revisited the initial concept for the project. We reminded ourselves of our intention to really create something that takes me to a new level artistically. We talked over current song selections, as well as a few possible new additions. Plus we discussed the possibility of working with some local Bay Area studio musicians on a few of the tunes to add a different flair to the sound of the recording. It's all very exciting.
 
I also had great rehearsals with Chicago-based musicians, Tim Fitzgerald and Chris White, both whom are playing on the new release.  The three of us played around with different tempos and arrangements for some jazz standards and pop tunes coming up with new concepts for the repertoire. I feel that Tuck and Patti are really pushing us to think outside the box and come up with some great takes on well known tunes. I am excited about where we are going with the tunes. I am also looking forward to working on them with Tuck and Patti later this month when we present the ideas to them on Skype. There are a few originals in addition to the cover's but more on that next week! Stay tuned.

Here's a picture of Tim and Tuck talking through some changes.

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I got the music in me

Music has always be a constant in my life and I can’t remember when it hasn't been. As a child I would listen to my parent’s albums in the basement and sing along with the hit parade. Later, my siblings and I would perform shows for my parents, mostly Motown artists like the Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips and the Jackson Five. You should have seen some of our dance moves! Ha!

In the 1970’s I bought a record player and some 45's, in the 80's bought a boom box and cassettes.  I remember looking forward to my weekly trips to the record store to check out the new releases. It was always exciting to dig through the bins and whether it was a classic tune or a new pop song, you could count on the fact that I’d be singing along to it. I guess it was pretty clear early on that music was going to be in important component of who I am and what I do. This old caricature says it all!

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Tuck and Patti (and me!)

Tuck and Patti, the critically acclaimed vocal/guitar jazz duo, has always been a big influence on my musical career. I first learned about them through a newspaper ad for their first CD when I was at Rose Records, the longtime Chicago music store on Wabash Ave. Their unique takes on jazz standards and pop tunes really inspired me and I listened to them for hours each day. The more recordings they made the more I became fascinated with them. 

After listening to them and seeing them perform for many years imagine how thrilled and honored I was to have the opportunity to open up for them last year at SPACE in Evanston. Following the performance, we connected, talked music and discussed the possibility of working together on a new project.

Well I am happy to announce that the project officially becomes a reality in mid-March when I travel to San Francisco to work with Tuck and Patti on my next CD. We have already started working on the overall vision and specific tunes but have a lot more work to do over Skype this next month. I plan on documenting the project here in my blog so that you can follow along with the process.

It is such an honor to be working with such legendary artists and also such wonderful people. In addition to producing the recording Patti has offered to sing backup on a few tunes and Tuck may play guitar on a track or two. The CD will showcase stripped down and unique versions of some of my favorite standards and pop classics. 

As you know independent CD's are quite expensive to make so I am asking for some help to make this dream a reality. Every little bit helps so I setup a Go Fund Me page to help me offset some of the costs. I really appreciate all of your support and to show my gratitude I am offering some different benefit levels for your contribution. Thank you as always for your encouragement and I look forward to sharing the journey of this exciting new project!


https://www.gofundme.com/samfazio

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Valentine's Day Brunch at The Drake

As many of you know for years I performed at the world-famous Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago. I first started performing at the Drake in the Coq d’Or, a club located in the hotel which opened in 1933 following the repeal of Prohibition. The club has been a favorite late night spot for celebrities visiting the city as well as local Chicagoan's looking for live music and cocktails. 

Eventually I started performing both in the Coq D’Or on a weekly basis and then sometimes for special occasions in the Palm Court with my larger ensemble. It ended up being a seven-year residency that helped me grow as an artist and meet some wonderful people. I am excited to announce that on February 11th I will be back at the Drake in the Gold Coast Room performing with my quartet for their special Valentine’s Day brunch. 

The classic and ornate design of this room and the views of Lake Michigan along with some great music is the perfect spot to celebrate Valentine’s Day Weekend! 

I look forward to seeing you there!

Here are the details: 

Sunday, February 11

10:30am-2pm

The Drake Hotel

Gold Coast Ballroom

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/be-swept-away-sweet-heart-brunch-tickets-42259515348?aff=erelpanelorg

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