3D popup cards to reveal Billboard Music Award winners

dick clark productions and Lovepop announced in a news release that Lovepop will create original 3D popup cards to reveal the “2017 Billboard Music Awards” winners during the awards ceremony. Each card will be one-of-a-kind paper art, designed exclusively for the winning artist and unveiled by the award presenter. This special card reveal will replace the traditional envelope opening.

Lovepop, a maker of hand-crafted, intricately designed cards, is best known for its 3D paper sculptures. After appearing on “Shark Tank” in late 2015, Creators Wombi Rose and John Wise — along with the guidance of businessman and Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O’Leary — went on to launch a thriving business providing customers with artistic greetings that create an emotional and personal connection between two people.

In advance of the awards show, Lovepop, the Billboard Music Awards and Lovepop investor Kevin O’Leary invited ABC’s “Shark Tank” cameras back into the design studio to get an insider’s look at the process of drafting, sketching and prototyping the “2017 Billboard Music Award” winner cards. “Shark Tank” will show a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the “2017 Billboard Music Awards” cards on at 9 p.m. Eastern time / 6 p.m. Pacific time Friday, May 5 on ABC. The finished designs will be revealed for the first time to artists and fans during the “2017 Billboard Music Awards,” broadcast live at 8 p.m. Eastern time / 5 p.m. Pacific time May 21 on ABC.

For more information, visit www.billboardmusicawards.com or the Billboard hub at www.billboard.com/bbma.

 

New York City proclaims April 25 as “Ella Fitzgerald Day”

Ella Fitzgerald

On the 65th floor at the iconic Rainbow Room, with an expansive view of the city where Ella Fitzgerald got her first big break and performed her last public concert, the singer’s 100th birthday was celebrated. Verve Label Group, in partnership with the Mayor’s office, hosted a proclamation ceremony today to honor this beloved musical icon on her 100th birthday by naming it “Ella Fitzgerald Day,” in New York City. Grammy winner Tony Bennett joined to acknowledge his dear friend and colleague and closed the ceremony with a rendition of “Our Love Is Here to Stay.”  Vocal students from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, which Tony Bennett founded in his hometown of Astoria, Queens, opened the Rainbow Room event appropriately with “Blue Skies,” a favorite Ella recording.

Danny Bennett, CEO and president of Verve Label Group acknowledged Ella Fitzgerald’s unique relationship with New York City where she first received public acclaim by winning Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre in 1934 and performing her last public concert at Carnegie Hall in 1991. Danny Bennett said in a news release, “A year ago, I was asked to take over at the helm of Verve which was founded by Ella’s longtime manager Norman Granz, who created Verve Records in 1955 to provide a nurturing and supportive home for Ella’s recording career but also to foster jazz artists and this great American-born musical genre. I am truly humbled to now be the keeper of the flame and contributing to shine a well-deserved light on artists of the magnitude of Ella Fitzgerald.”

Verve/UMe just released several re-issues of Ella’s most beloved recordings including a four-CD set of 100 Songs For A Centennial, and a six-LP vinyl reissue of Ella Sings The George & Ira Gerswhin Songbook.  Later in the year, Verve will release a new album featuring Fitzgerald’s classic vocal recordings accompanied by new orchestral arrangements by the London Symphony Orchestra. Order 100 Songs For A Centennial here: https://UMe.lnk.to/100SongsCent and Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Books here: https://UMe.lnk.to/GershwinSB6LP.

Commissioner Julie Menin from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment presented the official proclamation to Richard Rosman and Fran Morris-Rosman of the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, and reading from the Proclamation, said, “New York has a long and proud tradition of attracting talented performing artists from around the world, and a standout among them is Ella Fitzgerald, a legendary jazz vocalist who captivated audiences with her distinctive style and incredible talents. Ella has gone down in history as one of the greatest entertainers of all time, and her story and career have continued to inspire singers and performers across our city and far beyond. Together with the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, and her legions of fans around the world, I am proud to join in celebrating Ella’s 100th birthday. Now therefore, I, Bill de Blasio, Mayor of the City of New York, do hereby proclaim Tuesday, April 25, 2017 in the city of New York as:  Ella Fitzgerald Day.”  Tony Bennett presented the Foundation with a framed print of his portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, the original of which is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

Ella Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1917, and was known as the “First Lady of Song.” She received 13 Grammy Awards, was a Kennedy Center Honoree and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of the Arts.

Pianist Bill Carrothers joins trio Red Planet for masterful collaboration

Red Planet with Bill Carrothers, available in stores on April 14, features 10 tracks, dancing between the trio’s typically electrified romps and folk-tinged ballads, while Carrothers’ impressionistic piano weaves through the nooks and crannies of the music, spinning an elegant web of lyricism and texture. In some ways, it acts as a homecoming of sorts for Carrothers, a Twin Cities native who has long since left for New York before moving to the upper peninsula of Michigan and a busy touring schedule in Europe.

Album release shows are scheduled for the Dunsmore Room in Minneapolis on April 18 and 19, with a European tour planned for the fall of 2017. 

 

 

‘Live from Jazz at the Bistro’ showcases Sean Jones’ creative arc

This album will be released on May 26 by Mack Avenue Records.

The young jazz veteran trumpeter Sean Jones believes passionately in championing the creative arc of artists who are committed to their life journey. “I think the progression of the art form [jazz] comes with people being allowed to be themselves in their rawest form with no compromise,” he said in a recent news release. “My body of work is going to show a progression of who Sean Jones is in the most honest form.”

While he spoke these words a few years ago, they serve as a vivid manifesto for his new Mack Avenue Records album, Live from Jazz at the Bistro, his eighth for the label and arguably the most dynamic, playful and loose-limbed excursion of his career. Indeed, the 38-year-old Jones brings to the sessions a stalwart poise, the fire of ecstasy and a whimsy in motion.

“In a nutshell, I’ve been wanting to do a live album for a while,” he says. “I wanted to capture the band’s energy live and record what it’s like to go to one of my gigs. Granted, recording in a studio creates a polished sound where the music is all tied up. But this album, it’s real raw.”

Recorded at the St. Louis club Jazz at the Bistro, the seven-song album, produced by Al Pryor, features Jones presenting two versions of his band, as quartet and quintet, as they “hover on the bandstand between sobriety and intoxication,” he says. The longstanding quartet, comprising pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Obed Calvaire has been together for 11 years.

“Having a band this long is really rare in jazz these days,” Jones says. “It’s really hard to do, but we have managed to keep playing together. When we play, it’s become like a conversation, like second nature.” The exception here is bringing in drummer Mark Whitfield Jr. on four tunes as a replacement for Calvaire, due to a scheduling conflict. On the four quintet tracks, Jones showcases another old friend and collaborator, alto and soprano saxophonist Brian Hogans.

Live from Jazz at the Bistro represents one more triumph in a career that has been impressive in its expanse of accomplishments. A gospel-bred drummer who switched to trumpet when he was ten after hearing Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and Amandla, Jones found his jazz epiphany basking in John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, which summed up the youngster’s desire to explore the spirituality of the music. He received his master’s at Rutgers University, and then quickly began his ascent into the upper echelons of the jazz world.

He served for six years as the first-chair trumpeter for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, toured Europe with Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, and Wayne Shorter with a Miles Davis project, and is now in his fifth year as a member of the SFJAZZ Collective. Heavily involved in education, Jones has taught at Duquesne University, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and is now chair of the brass department at Berklee College of Music.

Guitarist Kevin Eubanks merges musical landscape of East and West coasts

Since his 18-year tenure as guitarist and music director of TV’s “The Tonight Show” band ended in 2010, Philadelphia-born guitarist, composer Kevin Eubanks has been on a creative roll. On East West Time Line, Eubanks explores the chemistry he maintains with musicians on both coasts. And once again, his distinctive fingerstyle approach to the instrument is in the service of tunes that run the stylist gamut from urgent swingers to introspective ballads to Latin-tinged numbers and some get-down Philly funk. The Mack Avenue Records project is set for release on April 7.
Joining Eubanks on this stellar outing are longtime collaborator and former Berklee College of Music schoolmate, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, who fuels the West Coast outfit alongside seasoned session bassist Rene Camacho, percussionist Mino Cinelu and saxophonist Bill Pierce. Smith’s East Coast counterpart on this bi-coastal session is the irrepressibly swinging Jeff “Tain” Watts, a force of nature on the kit who combines with bassist Dave Holland, Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans and New York trumpeter Nicholas Payton for a potent lineup. Together these great musicians bring out the best in Eubanks’ six-string prowess and ignite his searching instincts throughout the sessions in Los Angeles and New York.
“Of course, we all came up through New York,” says the Philly guitarist who broke in with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers during the early ’80s in a recent news release. “But we also got the benefits of seeing the East Coast down and dirty and Hollywood down and dirty, too. We combined both vibes on this recording-the kind of Latin vibe of Los Angeles and the straight-up swinging vibe of New York.”
Overall, Eubanks seems exceedingly pleased with the copacetic nature of his first bi-coastal recording. “I think because I’m so familiar with all the musicians and we played together over the years in different settings, on different tours, that it helped the music quite a bit. There’s something that goes with friendship, knowing everybody’s journey to a large extent, that really enhances the communication between the players on a session. It’s that thing where everybody’s pulling for each other to do well and trying to make each other sound better, and you keep your ego out of it. We all have egos, we’re human beings and everything, but through the love of the music and wanting the best, good things happen. It’s really such a wonderful kind of democracy that you don’t see in other things. I think jazz music is the most perfect example of democracy in action.”

‘VICTORIA’ comes to MASTERPIECE this month on PBS

Scripted by bestselling novelist Daisy Goodwin (The Fortune Hunter), Victoria airs in seven magnificent parts, fit for a queen, on MASTERPIECE, Jan. 15 on PBS.

Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) stars as the young Queen Victoria at the outset of her epic reign, which set the stage for an entire era that would be named in her honor. The stellar cast also includes Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle) as Lord Melbourne, the British prime minister who was Victoria’s father figure and intimate friend, and Tom Hughes (Dancing on the Edge) as the handsome, brilliant and awkward Prince Albert, who stole Victoria’s heart after a rocky start.

In Victoria, writer Daisy Goodwin imaginatively depicts what it was like for an ill-educated, emotionally deprived teenager to wake up one morning and find that she is the most powerful woman in the world. Victoria charts how the new ruler rose to the challenge and weathered a series of crises — some of her own making — without ever losing her youthful charm and innate sense of justice, which made her popular with her subjects.

Victoria is a coproduction of Mammoth Screen and MASTERPIECE. It is created, written and executive produced by Goodwin. The director is Tom Vaughn (He Knew He Was Right). The directors are Sandra Goldbacher and Olly Blackburn. The producer is Paul Frift (Restless). The executive producers are Dan McCulloch and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen and Rebecca Eaton for MASTERPIECE, presented by WGBH Boston. It is distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

Musical prodigy Emily Bear set to release ‘Into the Blue’

Photo Credit: Nick Suttle

Pianist/composer Emily Bear, 15, has achieved the kinds of accolades and triumphs that take many artists a lifetime to accomplish. She’s performed at the most prestigious venues across the country and around the world, received numerous awards and honors, composed for film and television, made six appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, garnered 30 million views on YouTube, played at the White House, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, been mentored by the legendary Quincy Jones – and that’s only a partial list.

Now, with the release of Into the Blue, Bear brings us new original jazz compositions performed with her trio. The album comprises five of her original compositions plus a warm, graceful take on “My Favorite Things” that hints at the immortal John Coltrane version before veering off into dazzling variations. Exuding Bear’s own exuberant passion for music, Into the Blue is both accessible and appealing for listeners of any age.

Bear follows the chart topping success of her first album, Diversity–produced by her long time mentor, Quincy Jones–with this inspiring collection of new melodies. Her agility on the piano is matched by her skill in creating stylistic compositions – catchy, intelligent, and sophisticated.

Bear has composed and arranged for orchestra, written for film and commercials.  And while she continues to expand her musical palette, jazz holds a special place in her heart. “What I love so much about jazz is that you have a lot more freedom than in classical music,” Bear says. “Jazz has a groove that doesn’t show up in any other kind of music and I enjoy using all my musical influences to create a unique sound, familiar yet new.”

Mitch’s Books: Author chronicles poignant tale of U.S. Army hero

In Shadow Commander: The Epic Story of Donald D. Blackburn (Casemate Publishers), author Mike Guardia presents his readers with a memorable story of an underdog whose career was a testament to dogged determination and the will to stay alive.

On the evening of April 9, 1942, the fires on Bataan burned with a primitive fury, illuminating white flags of surrender against the dark sky. Outnumbered and outgunned, remnants of the American-Philippine army surrendered to the forces of the Rising Sun. Yet U.S. Army Capt. Donald D. Blackburn refused to lay down his arms. With future Special Forces legend Russell Volckmann, Blackburn escaped to the jungles of North Luzon, raising a private army of 22,000 men against the Japanese. His organization of native tribes into guerrilla fighters would lead to the destruction of the enemy’s naval base at Aparri.

But Blackburn’s remarkable accomplishments didn’t end with the victory in the Pacific. He played a key role in initiating Army Special Forces operations in Southeast Asia, became commander of the 77th Special Forces Group and later took command of the highly classified Studies and Observations Group (SOG), charged with performing secret missions. Blackburn also revitalized the Special Operations campaign in South Vietnam, conducting full-scale operations against the NVA and Viet Cong in Laos and Cambodia. Following his return to the U.S., Blackburn was the architect of the infamous Son Tay Prison Raid, the largest prisoner-of-war rescue mission — and, indeed, the largest Army Special Forces operation — of the Vietnam War.

During a period when U.S. troops in Southeast Asia faced guerrilla armies on every side, America had a superb covert commander of its own. This book follows Blackburn through both his youthful days of desperate combat and his time as a commander, imparting his lessons to the new ranks of Army Special Forces.

An internationally-recognized author and military historian, Mike Guardia is also a veteran of the United States Army. He served six years on active duty as an Armor Officer. He is the author of the widely-acclaimed Hal Moore: A Soldier Once … and Always, the first-ever biography chronicling the life of Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore, whose leadership was popularized in the film We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson.  As a lecturer, Mike Guardia has given presentations at the U.S. Special Operations Command and the George Bush Presidential Library.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degreee in American History from the University of Houston and currently resides in Texas.

For more information, please visit:  https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Commander-Donald-Blackburn-Guerrilla-Special-ebook/dp/B0169GGSFY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Mitch’s Commercial Break: Mary Kay’s Mint Bliss Energizing Lotion for Feet & Legs

Check out Mary Kay’s refreshing mint lotion that helps tired feet and legs feel revived! http://expi.co/01Fxv6

Mitch’s Travel: Kickoff new year with wellness/fitness getway to Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic’s all-inclusive resorts and world-class, white-sand beaches beckon travelers from all over the globe for rest and relaxation. But with the new year calling – and new fitness resolutions for 2017 – travelers should consider jetting to Dominican Republic for a fitness or wellness getaway. From outdoor activities and wellness retreats to luxurious hotel gyms, there are exercise options for every type of fitness getaway this winter.

“Dominican Republic’s wide range of travel options and activities may surprise travelers. Our country is so versatile, not only are we the premier destination for beach vacations, but we have the natural playground and high-quality service perfect for a fitness trip,” said Magaly Toribio, marketing advisor for the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism in a news release. “There are so many exciting attractions to explore, you will stay active no matter where your trip takes you.”

Home to both the highest and lowest points above sea level in the Caribbean, the boundless array of outdoor activities will keep a traveler’s muscles moving. For travelers looking for something less rigorous, yoga classes can be found in tucked-away bungalows. With so much to keep moving on a wellness getaway in Dominican Republic, R&R can be saved for home.

For example, Dominican Republic’s lush greenery and impressive mountain views can’t be found in any gym, so skip the treadmill and opt for a nature walk or hike. The country’s most rigorous hike, Pico Duarte, located in the central part of the county, is the highest peak in the Caribbean. Reaching an elevation of 10,125 feet, travelers can embark on a two-, three- or four-day trek to the top that is sure to challenge people of all fitness levels. The hike offers views of varying landscapes from tropical trees to cloud forests.

A rising travel trend, wellness retreats offer travelers a chance to forget about the busyness back home and focus on exercising their mind, body and soul. Yoga retreats can be found throughout the country, but are especially popular in the lush ecotourism hotspot of Samaná. The area’s breathtaking landscape, complete with waterfalls, mountains and mangroves, provides the perfect balance of nature and tranquility for a yoga retreat. Travelers can also opt for a yoga class on the beach to unwind. Sometimes, taking a deep breath is just what the doctor ordered.

Classes and retreats welcome yogis of all levels and practices, including acro, ashtanga, ahtah, asan and more. Some wellness retreats even provide health professionals for a complete wellness experience. There are also several meditation centers that offer more wellness retreats to help with pain issues and/or stress management.

So whether a traveler is searching for meditation, spirituality or strength training on your wellness getaway, Dominican Republic has it all.  Visit Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism’s official website at: www.GoDominicanRepublic.com.