ITunes Shuffle Madness!!!

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Greetings from Alabama! I’m in the South for the weekend for a friends wedding.  It was a smooth trip down here and the weather is in the 70’s.  Such a nice break from the past few months crap weather in NYC.

Things are winding down for the evening, so I’ve decided to do some pre-bedtime listening, courtesy of my computer’s ITunes Shuffle.  I’m going to listen to whatever pops up, with no exceptions! Here’s the list of what came up…my library on my hard drive is kind of limited, because I store most of my music on an external drive, but (deep breath) here goes.

1.  Kneebody, “Wide Open,” from Kneebody – This is a really short track, and sounds more like a brief idea than a full fledged tune.  These dudes are really cool guys though and amazing musicians.  So far so good.  What’s next?

2. Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo, “Tres Coisas,” from Festa Dos Deuses – Another short track.  I like this album a lot, but this is not one of my favorite tracks…it’s just a spoken word thing in Portuguese…maybe it’s Hermeto speaking? Anyway…NEXT!

3.  Charlie Parker, “Si Si” – I hate Charlie Parker…just kidding.  This tune I’m less familiar with.  Thank you Almighty Shuffle for revealing the mysteries of bebop.

4. Arthur Rubinstein – Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, Var. 12 – OK Shuffle…what’s the deal with all of the short tracks? The longest one so far has been the Charlie Parker track which was under three minutes.  This one’s a beautiful variation from this work, and I highly recommend listening to this piece in its entirety.  Some of this work has the same impact of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor.

5. John Coltrane – “Mr. Day,” from Coltrane Plays the Blues – Finally something to sink my teeth (or ears) into! One of my favorite tunes from this album.  Very happy and bouncy. I need to revisit this album for sure.

6. Hermeto Pascoal – “Chapeu De Baeta”  also from Festa Dos Deuses – This is a totally trippy track.  Spoken word and crazy music.  It reminds me of one of those psychadelic music videos from the 60’s.

7.  Arthur Rubinstein: The Prelude from the Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, Var. 12 – I have to admit, I almost skipped this one because it’s only a 7 second track, and this piece already came up.  But it was nice to hear the main theme that this entire work is based on.  Shuffle, make the last three good ones.

8. Michael Brecker,  “The Impaler” from Two Blocks from the Edge – Thank you Shuffle.  This is a great track with amazing playing from everyone.  I’ve been checking out this album a lot lately, along with Tales from the Hudson.  Brecker is in absolute top form here. It goes without saying that his passing was such a loss to music!

9. Marta Argerich – Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit: Le Gibet – I bought this album a while back, which also has Argerich performing the Prokofiev Concerto No. 3 and the Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major, and admittedly I haven’t checked this album out that much – I have listened to the Ravel Concerto a fair amount, which is totally beautiful.  This particular movement of Gaspard is haunting and very excellent night music.  Once again, this is stuff I need to check out some more!

10.  Wayne Shorter, “The Big Push,” The Soothsayer – See, this is why I love the ITunes Shuffle.  I have hardly ever listened to this album, even though I love Wayne Shorter.  This is a nice way to end the evening’s listening.

I’ll have to do this again when I’m plugged into my full library…



My final comments about Phil Collins retirement

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A couple of weeks ago I posted an article that was all over the Internet about Phil Collins retiring from performing.  It’s no secret I’ve been a long time fan of his earlier work from Genesis to his mid-80’s solo stuff, and although I think it’s arguable that he’s musically repeated himself 1000 times since then (Phil, what happened man?) I was still quite surprised to hear him sounding like he was just, sort of,  giving up of the music biz.  So I did a little research and I discovered that he made a statement on his website regarding the recent buzz about him stepping down from the bandstand.  Here it is in its entirety:

Greetings to all, I’ve decided to write this in response to the articles that surfaced last weekend regarding my retirement. Why they were printed at all is a mystery, as I haven’t spoken to anybody in the press for a few months.

However, many of the articles printed over the last few months have ended up painting a picture of me that is more than a little distorted. Therefore, I would like to add my comments and try to explain again my reasons for calling it a day.

1/ I’m not stopping because of dodgy reviews or bad treatment in the press.

2/ I’m not stopping because I don’t feel loved, I know I still have a very large fanbase that loves what I do. Thank you.

3/ I’m not stopping because I don’t fit in, this was proved with “Going Back” reaching No 1 in the UK, and doing incredibly well worldwide.

4/ I’m not stopping so I can dive full time into my interest for the Alamo.

I am stopping so I can be a full time father to my two young sons on a daily basis.

Some of the things mentioned above have been said by me in various interviews, but said as asides with a smile on my face and in passing. They were not meant to be “headlines”, they were small parts of a conversation. This clearly doesn’t come over in print and I should know better.

However, the result is that I have ended up sounding like a tormented weirdo who thinks he was at the Alamo in another life, who feels very sorry for himself, and is retiring hurt because of the bad press over the years.

None of this is true.

Thanks for all your messages on the Forum regarding this stuff, it means a lot that you care.
But there’s no need for the straitjacket !

So there it is, from the man himself.  It’s astounding how the media warps things to create a story.

And finally if you are amongst the Phil Collins haters out there, (of which there are many) that think that Sussudio su-su-sucks and the drum fill on In the Air Tonight is the only viable contribution to popular music he’s ever made, here’s a few things to check out that may turn your head around:

1. Genesis, Nursery Cryme, “More Fool Me,” as far as I know the first recorded song with Phil as lead vocalist.  He has this lovely high falsetto on this very simple, short, touching song. 

2. The other Genesis albums 1972-1975: Amazing rock drumming and background vocals, period!

3.  Genesis albums 1976-86: My favorites Trick of the Tail, (his first as lead vocalist) Wind & Wuthering, Seconds OutThree Sides Live, and Duke.  All of these albums demonstrate serious musicianship and songwriting abilities on Collins’ part.

4. Brand X, Moroccan Roll and Brand X Product: This band was Phil’s foray into the world of jazz/rock fusion drumming, and he even sings on some of their tracks – and it’s awesome.  I once heard an interview with Eddie van Halen and he said he had been checking this music out too, and if it’s good enough for Eddie it’s good enough for me!

5. ” The Making of Face Value” documentary: This was one of those VH1 “Behind the Music”  specials that came out a few years back that documents Phil’s recording of his debut solo album Face Value, which he was writing and recording while simultaneously in the studio recording Duke with Genesis.  It’s a great portrait of an artist on the cusp of global stardom.

Anyway, adieu Mister Collins.  Thanks for all the music!

The Travis Sullivan Quartet “New Directions” CD Release Date Announced!

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I’m pleased to announce my Posi-Tone Records debut CD “New Directions” with The Travis Sullivan Quartet will be released on May 10, 2011.  This album, recorded last June, is my first small group recording in over 10 years. It has a collection of my original jazz works, as well as the standard “Spring is Here,” and my arrangement of the Tears for Fears tune “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” It also features a great lineup of musicians: Mike Eckroth on piano, Marco Panascia on bass, and Brian Fishler on drums.  More details to come as the release date approaches! You can also visit the official Travis Sullivan website for more information about this recording and related CD release events and performances.

This weekend: The Calvosa Sullivan Project returns!!!

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Kat Calvosa, vocals

I’m pleased to announce that the pop/jazz collaboration “The Calvosa Sullivan Project” will be performing after a hiatus of over an entire year.  Yes…I know you missed us! I co-lead this project with fellow Manhattan School of Music alumnus – vocalist Kat Calvosa, and our collaboration over the past two years has resulted in a set of gorgeous original pop/jazz tunes. Here’s one of them!


For this performance we’ve also enlisted our extraordinary musician friends Perry Smith on guitar, Sam Minaie on bass, and Brian Fishler on drums.  This performance is also a rare opportunity to hear me perform on piano! So hope you can make it!!!


Liberace, piano

Currently seeking new piano, saxophone, and composition students!

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This is a quick shout out to all of my NYC friends and colleagues.  I’m currently in the process of building a roster of piano, saxophone, and composition students, and am accepting students of all ages and levels of ability.  If you or anyone you know is looking to study with an excellent and accomplished teacher, or a music studio that is looking for instructors, please refer them to yours truly! I can be contacted via email at or via my website:

Also, I’m starting to work with a new website platform for managing my teaching business, that might be of interest to those of you that are currently teaching.  It’s called Betterfly,com, and although it is still in its beta stages, its looking to be an excellent free service for providing an online profile for your music teaching studio…sort of like LinkedIn for music teachers.   You can view my profile by going to:

By the way, coming soon: Principles of Ensemble Leadership Part 3: Budgeting & Finance

The Identity Crisis Hip-Hop Blowout @ The Shrine this week!

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The Identity Crisis will be performing in Harlem this Friday, February 25 at 10pm. We’re very excited to have two special guests, the rappers Vision and Akir Plan, joining us for an evening of grooving hip-hop infused jazz. We’ll also be premiering a new song by everyone’s favorite Russian rapper and beatboxer – Krussia!
The Shrine in Harlem is a super funky bar/restaurant and a great place to hear live music, and admission to the show is free. Hope to see you there.

Friday, February 25, 10pm
The Identity Crisis featuring:
Travis Sullivan-Alto Sax
Sean Nowell-Tenor Sax
Jostein Gulbrandsen-Guitar
David Cook-Keys
Chris Tarry-Bass
Joe Abbatantuono-Drums

Special guests:
Akir Plan-Rapper

The Shrine in Harlem
2271 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.
New York, NY


Today is Phil Collins Day and how come I wasn’t invited?

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Here’s more about this incredibly special event.


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