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Special Feature
 YOGI and the YOGINIS
by Bruce Maier


Musician, composer and band leader Yogi McCaw


A couple weeks ago I was invited up to Seattle to meet with band leader and composer, Yogi McCaw. Though Yogi and I had met on the phone over a year ago and we placed a small piece into DGT back then, this would be the first time I could hear his band live and let me tell you, I was excited! So much so that nothing could stop me. Not even the double bee-sting on my right leg just before the hour and twenty-minute drive to the city. I was picking up my good friend and fellow songwriter James Gass to go along and, while standing next to the car the little creatures got me and tried to ruin my night. I was determined that nothing would stand in the way of this show which I had waited for so long to attend. So we proceeded on and arrived in the University district right on time at the now famous LUCID Jazz club, grabbed a seat and were then joined by Mr. McCaw and the band’s vocalist Samia. We chatted for a while about the band and the music while the rest of the group was getting the remainder of their gear into place for the show.
 Vocalist - the very talented Samia

Yogi McCaw has been at this for a very long time. His music is not easy to define although American Jazz-Fusion, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Caribbean and (India) Indian music is all part of his great recipe of sounds. To some of us who have allowed ourselves to indulge on such musical confections while growing and developing our own skills, some of this music may feel a little familiar, but to someone who has not been exposed to world music, the first time hearing Yogi and The Yoginis is a definite impression-maker, as my friend James would now attest to. Nothing scary about it like some Jazz can be so over-the-head, because Yogi’s music doesn’t ever leave you stranded or feeling around for the beat in the dark. The melodies can be complex but the rhythm keeps you on track. Then other times when the melody is simple, the rhythm now takes off to the edge of space but always safely brings you back home guided by Newton’s Law of gravity. And this is what I think is so great about the band and the music they play – you get to go on a soundscape journey but you don’t come away from it saying " what was that? " One thing I noticed a lot about the patrons in the club " Lucid " was that the music interested them, engaged them and made them smile. There was a roar of applause after every number the band played, people were ordering food and drinks and of course the management was very happy! Another cool thing about this band was that the people who came to the show were from their early twenties on into middle-aged professionals and students alike. All there for the music which knows no boundaries.

 
The one and only " Johnny Conga "

On the Drums - Sammy Alamillio

What was of particular interest to us as we watched the Yoginis perfrom was
how Sammy exercised such control of the dynamics. He seems to be at great
comfort practicing " The Law Of Least Effort " . Everything flows so nicely and
Sammy stays relaxed, working in perfect union with Johnny Conga. I never before
witnessed a drummer and a percussionist working so well together. Of course, with
Burt completing the rhythm team the rest of the band can do nothing but shine.


Burt....incredible Bassist !

 
Bob knocked us out with his Tenor, Alto and Soprano sax work and great guitar playing!


Yogi recently finished his newest CD and traveled to India to record with some of that country’s finest musicians in addition to his own band mates in Seattle. The album titled " Terra Shivaiya is a beautiful work of art with many flavors to please but my personal favorite is simply called " Songbird " and that is probably due to the fact that I love vocals in my Jazz and that melody is crazy good! Few musical artists could ever take my mind away from my allergic reactions to bee-stings quite like Yogi McCaw and his band were able to do. My friend James will probably never be the same either, for good music like this has a way of opening your heart and mind, allowing one to expand our thoughts and creativity. There are certainly no limits to where Yogi and the Yoginis will be taking their fans and listeners over the next few decades.

THE NEW CD


For more information on this artist and his band, please visit the website provided here and also keep watching for updates on this story.

To Contact Yogi directly:
WEBSITE

yogismusic@gmail.com

Final thoughts on Yogi and the Yoginis -

As I reflect on what I have seen and heard with these artists who form the Yoginis , I know that in my forty-plus years in
the industry I have never witnessed an unsigned Indie act of this caliber. Spyro Gyra, Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke have wowed
my senses live in concert a number of times, with each show becoming a journey , an experience rather than just being entertained. I know the difference between very good, gifted and rare as a black pearl .
Musicians who can take us to that outside edge like the great Coltrane, Miles Davis and Jimi Hindrix - these are the ones I never forget for they have the ability to create and draw from the ether. Yogi and the Yoginis have this extraordinary quality about them that says to me I have met and witnessed the works of  kindred spirits who are now taking the music to places where few musicians will ever travel.


Bruce J Maier
damngoodtunes.com




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DAVID " THE SAX MAN " BROWN
Story By Bruce Maier

 

 

 

Click photo to read



Rich Wetzel & THE GROOVIN HIGHER ORCHESTRA

by Bruce Maier

If I told you the chaotic details of the day Rich Wetzel phoned to complete this interview, you wouldn’t believe it, suffice to say that the “stuff “ had hit the fan that day but I was so happy to be talking to this man for a little while our talk totally changed my state. You see, Rich not only has the duty of being the star big band leader in his
“ Groovin’ Higher Orchestra “ but he is also a representative for Conn-Selmer instruments, which sees him on planes and in meetings every day that he isn’t rehearsing, recording or performing with the band. In fact
Rich was unpacking from an East Coast trip just long enough to head for Alaska for a few days. Wears me out just thinking about the joys of going through airport security!

I was just a few weeks ago that Rich Wetzel and the GHO were playing in Tacoma’s very own, “ JAZZ BONES “ and my buddy, David Shriver was playing bass with them that night so I and percussionist Michael Lacey rubbed elbows with guests at a full house CD release party. Wow! What a jam! This band was definitely groovin’ higher than anything I had seen in a long time! You can’t sit still when a seventeen piece orchestra is laying it down, playing the classic 1940’s classics to “ The Theme From Rocky.” And by the way, everybody recognizes that song but few have heard it played live the way it was meant to be heard. I have now!







RICH WETZEL





 

Sam Ash Quikship Corp.


David Shriver is not an icon. He is a man who has done things in the music business that few of us will ever attain, yet he gives us a measure of what may become if we work hard, play well and network in the business in the right circles.

To tell everything that I know about David Shriver, just the stories I have had the pleasure to learn- would take more pages and space than even I, as the publisher of this magazine am alloted. I will however tease you with a few bits and pieces in this on going article in hopes that it may serve an inspiration or possibly fill you up with your need for music trivia and history.

Anyone who was in
the music business in the 1950's knew about Eddy Cochran, the handsome and wildly innovative guitar player who inspired everyone from George Harrison to Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats. But is was David Shriver who, after replacing the original bassist provided the Fender electric bass backing for many of Eddy's mega hits. Eddy Cochran was killed in a stupid accident in England in a taxi cab. His records at the time were out selling Elvis Presley's throughout Europe. His death created a shock wave in the entire entertainment world parallel to the death of James Dean. David, whose main livelihood depended on working in the Eddy Cochran show had to go on. There was so much music in his heart and coming through his fingers that David decided to go on with his life.

David was living in the Malibu area in the late 1950's through the early 1960's working with many of the great stars of the day, performing in clubs, concert and recording studios. Life was getting better and work was plentiful for a man who could read and arrange charts. The word spread about his accomplishments and proficiencies until one day, David Shriver becomes the musical director and bassist for one of the hottest stars of that decade, Trini Lopez. Trini had a large following and record sales were through the roof! And then it came to pass in the days of old, when young David Shriver would begin to travel the world, playing the same venues as the Beatles and living in the same hotels, often just hanging out together and being regular guys. Once when this writer was putting together a USO tour, I asked David for some promo pictures for our portfolio. He invited me out to his western Washington farm and into a back room where there lie a steamer trunk that looked as though retrieved from the Titanic. Inside were 8 x 10 glossy photos of the Beatles, signed by each and one most amazing photo I shall never forget. It was of David Shiver and Ringo Starr in front of the Empire Hotel in Paris. There they sat together on a bench. You see, an excited and young Sir Paul McCartney had just bought the first Poloroid Instant camera and wanted to shoot his first roll of film so hey..."how about you blokes" he may have uttered. I asked David why he and Ringo were in the picture together and he said "because we were fishing buddies!". I said
" Dave, I believe I need to sit down!".

NEXT WEEK....On the road with the Fab Four and Trini Lopez, Life after Eddy Cochran.

Bruce J Maier



My parents grew up in the Big Band era and would often reminisce about what it was like to be there and experience it up close. And of course music found it’s way throughout our home and later, raising my own children and giving them the opportunity to play in the school bands. But seriously, as I told Rich, his band is truly the epitome of what a real Big Band is all about. What every high school band director hears in his head. The way the band is supposed to sound. This night , as mentioned was their CD release party but they are not new to distribution of their works by any means. I discovered that The GHO has CD’s which are selling very strong in England, Japan and Spain. Besides the airplay and CD sales going well they are as Rich puts it, “ right on the brink ” of playing the most prestigious festivals around the world. This I believe is going to be a case of you’d better get out and watch them play while you can still get a seat! You will find samples of their music on CD Baby and also on My Space. There will be links that follow the story so you can get over there, here some “ damn good tunes “ and maybe purchase some great music for your collection. I asked Rich to tell me how it is that seventeen people on stage can communicate and play in synch as efficiently as GHO does. “ My guys are all excellent readers and there are certain road maps if you will, and hand signals that make it perfectly clear between us. It’s a great team by design. “ And when I asked about the ego factor, which sometimes can destroy such a team Rich said that all of his favorite players have always been humble. It’s this lack of personal self-indulgence which I particularly noticed. Rich Wetzel is now only the band conductor but he is a world-class trumpet artist himself. True fact is that Arturo Sandoval, the premiere trumpet master originally from Cuba, includes Mr. Wetzel on his “ who’s who list “ of most influential trumpet players in the world! Suggesting only that Rich takes a little more time in the key spotlight, this writer feels he is the finest horn man I personally have ever heard live and I just want to hear more. Not to be taking away anything from the talent of the orchestra and holy smoke, there’s plenty! In part two coming out soon, we’ll introduce you to all the amazing players but for the time being I’ll say that one of my favorites is saxophonist, John Beech who plays with conviction and passion that will make your hair stand straight up when he goes from the gravel grit to the ultrasonic high notes in a single phrase! They’re all incredible and you will meet them all in the issues to come. There is so much I wanted to ask Rich Wetzel. So many pearls of wisdom I wanted to glean from his mind I know he possesses. The single most important thing with me and how I view the influence of music, is upon children and young adults, so I asked Rich what would he say to young people about a career path in music: “ First, follow your heart’s dreams and be passionate about it. And, if you follow your heart rather than trying to follow a formula, in the end you will enjoy far more success. Be a student of your craft, put on a show and most important- have fun along the way!” Remember, it's all about the music! http://www.myspace.com/groovinhigher http://www.groovinhigher.com


















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