Over the years I have worked with Billy Ruth on various live gigs in Philadelphia. Most often it has been with baritone saxophonist Joe Sudler’s Big Band. One of the most memorable gigs with Billy was about 7 years ago at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. Billy and a band from Philadelphia were sent up to Foxwoods for a Sopranos Party. This high-roller party was hosted by the casino and the theme was the HBO hit The Sopranos. There were two huge screens to the left and right of the stage showing clips of the first two seasons. Among those in the crowd were the actors who played Tony Soprano, Paulie Walnuts, Dr. Melfie and the rest. We, in the band, had the honor of having our pics taken with the cast. At the time it didn’t seem that special, as I had never seen the show. In hindsight I can tell you that the picture of the band among James Gandolfini and the rest is proudly displayed in my teaching studio. More recently, I was asked to play tenor and baritone on Billy Ruth’s Cd featuring his smooth Sinatra-influenced sound. I had the pleasure of working in the studio with Ron Kerber, Denis Wasko and Paul Arbogast in the horn section. The tracks I heard in the booth following the session were swingin’! I look forward to hearing the final product and possibly offering a review here on ss.com.

Over the past 15 years or so I have been an adjunct member of the saxophone section in the Ed Vezinho/Jim Ward Big Band. Mike Pedicin (reviewed here at ss.com) and John Guida have been long-time tenor men in this ensemble and I would sub on the band when needed. The band has featured my good friend and trumpeter Rick Kerber as well as many local legends in the music business. Although I’ve played many live performances with the band, I’ve never had the pleasure of recording with the band – until now. The Cd With Friends Like These features the regular band along with Friends Ron Kerber, Larry McKenna, George Rabbi, Dr. Bob Rawlins and even yours truly. I am honored to be added among Ed and Jim’s Friends. I look forward to the release of this Cd and review as well.

Sometimes the passion those have for music is overshadowed by other practical endeavors. Mitch Rosenberg is an example of one of these passionate musicians. Mitch is a successful cardiologist in Southern New Jersey. Last year he celebrated his 50th birthday among friends and family at his beautiful home outside Philadelphia. I was a member of a jazz quartet hired to play some background music for his party. The gig in itself was not unusual with the exception that we were asked to play some of the host’s original music. We played some nice jazz outdoors on a beautiful early Spring day and that seemed the end of the story. It was not. Months, almost a year later I heard that Mitch was now producing his own jazz Cd featuring these same compositions. The process of overdubbing and editing this project continues to this day. I look forward to Mitch’s release and hearing our contribution to his compositions.

Looking ahead, Sal Lozano, Ernie Watts and Eric Darius will all be featured interviews in Saxophone Journal. A short “teaser” will be posted here when available. Interested readers will have to wait for the magazine articles to be published for the whole story.

Well, that’s it for now. Until next time I will be working on my sound, time and ability to teach to others. Lastly, let me not forget this: I am blessed with a healthy family that loves me. What more can I ask for?

SS 3/11/08