Photo, entitled Hope by Afghan photographer Neamat Haidari with permission.
Ariadne’s Notes: April 19, from 1-2 pm, we had two talented guests on the World Poetry Café Radio, now celebrating 20 years on the air on CFRO, 100.5 FM. Featured were the amazing drummer,Dan Pugach, from Brooklyn , USA and the incomparable poet and World Poetry Mentor, Chad Norman fro Nova Scotia, Canada. Hosts: Ariadne Sawyer, MA and Dr. Diego Bastianutti , special tech, Victor Swartzman plus volunteer Sharon Rowe .
We want to thank all our guests and radio show members who have helped to keep us on the air by becoming members of our show. A special announcement for our beloved peace in the wonderful collaboration between a peace poet in Kabul, Afghanistan, Mahmood Jan and a wonderful band in Ghana www.opokunananomband.weebly.com Please support them also as they help us bring the world together in Peace and Respect.They heard the peace poet’s poem on the air and are going to be creating a song from his poem and play it on their world tours. What a wonderful way to celebrate our 20 years on the air!
Our Talented Feature , courtesy of Braitwaite and Katz . We had a wonderful interview with Dan including advice for a young drummer and his great CD. To buy the CD go to his website : https://www.danpugach.com
“Dan Pugach Nonet Transforms Proverbial Styles With A Singular Approach and A Secret Weapon On His Unit Records’ Debut, Plus One
“I can’t gush enough about the joyful energy that Dan and his Nonet express in the most open of ways. Dan’s music is thoughtful, exciting and immensely engaging.” – Ingrid Jensen
“Dan’s writing is sharp, concise and so is everybody’s playing. Beautiful album.” – Antonio Sanchez
“His mastery of the music from the subtle inner workings of his horn orchestrations to his command over shaping larger musical statements puts Dan in a league of his own.” – Alan Ferber
Arriving in the US from his native Israel in 2006 to study at Berklee College of Music before earning his Masters at The City College of New York, drummer/composer Dan Pugach played cash-and-carry gigs, traditional ethnic dates, worked coffee shops-anything to keep his drumming and music pure. Eventually teaching himself arranging and orchestration, his complete reimagining of Horace Silver’s “Silver’s Serenade” led instructor (and renowned pianist/composer/educator) Mike Holober to exclaim, “Your arrangement departed from the original song; it wasn’t just an adaptation, but a rearrangement. Dude, you’re going to thrive as an arranger/composer.”
Roughly ten years later, Pugach’s Plus One is the fruit of years of hard work, practice, writing and rewriting, a joyous and thematically diverse recording that expresses Pugach’s vision of a “mini big band.”
“What I like the most about the sound and concept of Dan’s Nonet is that the playing and the writing is selfless,” says five-time Grammy Award winning composer and perennial Pat Metheny Group member, Antonio Sanchez. “It’s all about the music. The writing is on point, sharp, concise and so is everybody’s playing. Beautiful album.”
Gathering some of New York’s finest musicians in his Nonet, Pugach’s Plus One is an exciting ride encompassing a New Orleans second-line strut, expansive arrangements of familiar pop material, and dynamite original compositions performed in classic small ensemble tradition.
“I’m not trying to be too modernist; I want to have a few surprises,” Pugach says. “But they’re hidden. Each tune has a specific vibe I’m staying loyal to. I’m trying to keep everything focused.”
Pugach’s compositions and arrangements mirror his personality as a drummer. Each note flying off his drums, cymbals and percussion is concise, poised and delivered with purpose. A YouTube search yields Pugach’s drumming blowing the lid off various NYC clubs with different ensembles, his collective rhythms a streamlined approach animated (all too briefly) by fiery solos. Similarly, Plus One is music of a stylized, singular principle with moments of absolute burn.
“I believe playing less is more until it comes to my solo-then I explode,” Pugach explains. “And in my music, I don’t want to hear overblown drumming.”
Pugach is aided on Plus One by his plus-one in life, powerhouse singer Nicole Zuratis, whose recent release, Hive Mind, shows her at full force.
“Nicole is my secret weapon,” Dan confides. “Our relationship onstage is part of the conversation. She handles the mic duties; I might come up to speak and she’ll cut me off. The audience laughs. It’s our natural banter.”
Pugach goes from strength to strength on Plus One, the album showcasing his beautifully intricate compositions, peerless arrangements and yes, his drumming, which is funky, on-point and surprisingly restrained for a musician of such skills and gifts. Dan’s arrangements for Nonet recall the classic sounds of Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Bob Mintzer, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra-expressed in a far smaller ensemble. Deft compositions, challenging arrangements, brilliant players and Dan’s silken rhythmic touch make Plus One a special outing.
The album including moving vocal versions of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” Chick Corea’s “Crystal Silence,” Quincy Jones’ “Love Dance” and Zuratis’ male-ego-impaling rouser, “Our Blues,” Plus One culminates in the two centerpieces: “Coming Here” and “Discourse This.” The former, a circuitous coming-of-age journey with great solos all around, including a dexterous showing by Pugach; the latter, a blustery, sparse Nonet dance that reveals the musicians’ glove-tight interplay and cohesion. Through it all, Pugach’s sizzling drumming drives his Nonet-hard.
The Nonet plays as a single organism throughout Plus One, with plenty of soloing power. The Dan Pugach Nonet, plus one, is comprised of Nicole Zuraitis, voice; Ingrid Jensen, David Smith, trumpets; Mike Fahie, trombone; Jen Hinkle, bass trombone; Andrew Gould, alto saxophone; Jeremy Powell, tenor saxophone, Andrew Gutauskas, baritone saxophone; Carmen Staaf, Jorn Swart, piano; Tamir Shmerling, bass; Bernardo Aguiar, pandeiro; and Pugach, drums.
From his experiences growing up near Tel Aviv to the influences of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band and Bob Mintzer Big Band, Pugach’s compositions and arranging on Plus One are a thrill, including the opening, second-line bruiser, “Brooklyn Blues,” to the closing, full-throated, “Discourse This.” An album of such high-level ensemble playing and standout vocal tracks is exceedingly rare. Plus One is pure and powerful-simply exceptional music.
“People love the warmth and interaction between myself and Nicole and the Nonet,” Dan says. “It’s natural. The audience feels the connection. And connection is what it’s all about.”
Dan Pugach is a Brooklyn-based, two-time ASCAP Jazz Composer Award-winning drummer/arranger. Dan has worked with Ingrid Jensen, Rosa Passos, Airto Moreira, Gregoire Maret, Billy Drews, Jeremy Pelt, Wayne Bergeron, Sloan and Lucy Wainwright, and Dave Stryker, among others. Originally from Israel, Dan served his mandatory three-year military duty as the drummer of the Air-Force Orchestra. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music and his Masters from the City College of New York, where he studied with Hal Crook, Joe Lovano, George Garzone, John Patitucci, Terri-Lyne Carrington and Ari Hoenig.”
*From 2017, still reading over 700 Peace Poems on the radio show!
Ariadne’s Notes: January 18, 1:30 pm, CFRO, 100.5 FM, PST. Also, a wonderful interview with Janet Russ from Arizona on her life and the impactful films that they are working on. Our World Poetry Café Team: Ariadne Sawyer, MA, producer and host, Dr. Diego Bastianutti, guest host and Sharon Rowe, special volunteer. Music by Opoku Mensah and a song by Luciano Pavarotti. English and Italian. Included was a fascinating e-peace poem by the well known poetess Huguette Bertrand, entitled GOLDEN PEACE and read by Victor Swartzman.
Janet Russ is working on getting production companies to make the following exciting films. If you are interested in being part of these great films, contact Osiris Munir at: firstname.lastname@example.org 15 minutes Media.
*** THE BLACK SWALLOW is Eugene Jacques Bullard, one of the greatest American flying aces of WWI, who never flew for the USA. All of his medals and military awards are from France. As a black youth in GA (circa 1900), his childhood dream was to live in France, because he’d been told no matter the color of your skin, All blood runs red. Running away from home at 7, he was a carnival worker, a stowaway on a ship to Europe, a prize fighter in London, and a song & dance man, A French WWI Flying Ace with more kills than the Red Baron (US ARMY rejected him because he was black), a nightclub owner, a spy for the Underground during WWII, returning to menial jobs in NY after the war. Years ago David Gerber tried to get this film made but the climate wasn’t right. I have all of the research and am seeking an Experienced producer/production company who can handle a film that spans 60 years and covers 3 continents.
***IN SELF DEFENSE – In 1956 the song “Long Tall Sally” was a hit for Pat Boone; NO, you say, Little Richard! Welcome to the music industry’s dirty little secret of Crossover Music. WHITE musicians performed for white audiences; BLACK artists ditto for black audiences. That’s the way it was until DJ Alan Freed starting having ALL teenagers at his dance parties and being arrested for doing it. In our script, our teen idol Frankie Avalon clone risks his career to integrate the world of Rock & Roll. I have the script, budget & research materials. Excellent chance to return to Philadelphia where it all began, re-record some of the songs for a hit soundtrack and retrace a piece of music history. Would like to team up with producer/production company with a knack for the 50’s and the means to make it happen. Want someone like the “La La Land” or “Pitch Perfect” team to help me recreate this period of music history.
*** JUST TWO OF A KIND – Its’ an Old Fashion John Wayne style buddy western. Bob Shelton was the founder of Old Tucson Studios and produced some of the most beloved Western films in his 40 years of operation, McClintock, Outlaw & Josie Wales, Young Guns I & II, and many more. On his 95th birthday he made us promised to get this film done. As he said, “If the Duke, Mitchum and Martin were alive, we’d be filming it”. As a legacy to the Old Time Cowboy movies, we (Carolyn Shelton, wife; Candi Shelton, daughter; Wendy Wolverton, producer and myself, producer), formed JTOAK,LLC, teamed up with Caravan West studio and are determined to make this film. What I need to get it into completion is additional funding of $1.3 million dollars.
Janet says: “In the current Industry climate there is a drive to get women up the ladder in Hollywood. I look forward to some of these folks reaching out to us to get these films made. THANK YOU”.
Earlier Biography Of Janet Russ:
Shebegan her financial career at the age of 14 by doing tax returns. She added the Entertainment aspect when, at the University of Az, she developed, wrote and co-hosted a Consumer Help TV show for Educational Television. Summer vacations were spent doing melodrams where she worked all aspect of theater and film from – writing, tech, wardrobe, PR and choreography. Janet also composed and performed musical scores, and produced Children’s Theater.
A chance meeting during a L.A. traffic jam, led to a show biz assignment. She joined Gymjazz Corporation as a financial troubleshooter for their video series. Never one to be idle she created an Entertainment tax class and taught it to various groups in Southern California.
Janet is active in numerous industry related organization, one being The Corporation for the Disabled in Telecommunication, where she served as a co-producer on the Emmy winning documentary “Breaking Ground” and produced the film festival “Superfest”.
She executive produced the western “Decoy” for an AZ film group. Janet developed the film arm of Perimeter Bicycling Association, and was executive producer of their documentary, “El Tour de Tucson”. These efforts garnered her two Telly awards for production excellence. She is the CFO of the Los Angeles Childrens Theatre and in this capacity has worked on several film projects for Gerald Gordon Enterprises.
After developing and instituting accounting procedures for numerous companies and individuals, Janet began her management company, HR, LTD. She continues to run the gamut of work from in-house money management, on location assignments, to troubleshooting tax & financial problems for productions.
Ariadne’s Notes: January 18, 1:10 pm, CFRO, 100.5 FM, PST. Wonderful show, amazing music by Opoku Mensah. Also, a wonderful interview with Janet Russ on the impactful films that they are working on. Our World Poetry Café Team: Ariadne Sawyer, MA, producer and host, Dr. Diego Bastianutti, guest host and Sharon Rowe, special volunteer. Music by Opoku Mensah and a song by Luciano Pavarotti. English and Italian. Included was a fascinating e-peace poem by the well known poetess Huguette Bertrand, entitled GOLDEN PEACE and read by Victor Swartzman.
Guest host Diego Bastianutti took us through his experiences as a child refugee during the second world war. The silo that they were housed in had housed the Jewish people on the way to the death camps, the Italians who had been murdered and driven from their country (Diego and family) and now houses African migrants. “Diego said it was like a scene from Dante’s Hell.” Amazing how patterns keep repeating themselves over and over again.
World Poetry thanks Opoku Mensah for permission to share his lovely peace song:
Opoku Mensah is an award-winning band leader, keyboard player, composer and arranger with many years of experience in the music industry. The widely-travelled musician has also made Ghana proud on the international front by winning a number of awards in Dubai, Benin and Togo.
The multi-talented artiste is passionate about jazz, Latin and Afro-fusion music and has earned admiration for his intense injection of Ghanaian and African rhythms and melodies in his compositions.
Opoku Mensah and his band have an album, Spirit of Africa to their credit.
They are very visible on the Ghanaian live music scene and music lovers have enjoyed them at various venues in the nation’s capital including the Piano Bar, +233 Jazz Bar and Grill and Republic Bar.
If you wish to contact him, you can reach him on FB and Linked In.