business california industry Los Angeles media music Saban Capital Group United States

Saban Capital Group launches new venture with music executive David Renzer

David Renzer

Veteran music publishing executive David Renzer has joined forces with Saban Capital Group in Los Angeles (SCG) as president of Music Ventures. The company will be investing substantial equity in the acquisition and exploitation of music publishing rights, taking advantage of the consolidation in the industry by offering song writers, artists and important catalogues a forward thinking boutique emphasizing film and television and synchronization opportunities. Saban is already in advanced discussions on a number of potential music rights acquisitions.
Saban has over 40 years of activity in the acquisition and growth of music and media copyrights. Included in the activities of the new music publishing venture will be music publishing rights created as part of Saban Brands television production activities including children’s television programming (“Power Rangers” and others).
Renzer was formerly chairman/chief executive officer of Universal Music Publishing Group, where over the past 15 years, he was responsible for overseeing the company’s more than 50 offices around the globe and had involvement in over 100 music publishing acquisitions including; Polygram, Rondor, Zomba, and one of the industry’s largest acquisitions, BMG Music Publishing. Signings to Universal under Renzer’s leadership included such names as Paul Simon, 50 Cent, Danny Elfman, the catalogues of Jimi Hendrix, Bee Gees, Mariah Carey, Eminem, Justin Bieber, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), as well as deals with Warner Bros Pictures/Warner Bros Television, Dreamworks, HBO and many others.
Renzer began his career at Zomba Music Publishing, where he rose to senior vice president and general manager. During his decade-long career there, Renzer helped Zomba achieve ASCAP’s R&B Publisher of the Year and Pop Publisher of the Year awards. While at MCA, the company was ASCAP Country Music Publisher of the Year.
Renzer’s civic and industry commitments have included sitting on the Boards of ASCAP, NMPA, the International Music Publishers Association, and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. He has also served as the Chairman of the Music and Entertainment Division of the City of Hope, and founded Songs of Hope, raising over $1,750,000 for the City of Hope Hospital. Renzer received his bachelor of arts degree from New York University.
 “The formation of our Music Venture enables us to utilize our extensive experience in music and media rights as well as leverage our increasing activity in the creation of broadcast properties,” said Haim Saban, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Saban Capital Group in a news release. “As the music industry continues its consolidation, we feel it is an opportune time to commit significant investment capital to music rights and we have great confidence that David, with his vast experience, will help us create an exciting new music publishing company together.”
Adam Chesnoff, president and chief operating officer of Saban Capital, says  “Media and music rights have long been at the core of investment activity at Saban Capital Group. By partnering with an experienced and talented executive such as David, we believe we can take an entrepreneurial and opportunistic approach to building a great music publishing company together.”
David Renzer comments: “I’m thrilled to partner with Haim Saban, Adam Chesnoff and the team at SCG in the launch of what I hope will be an exciting, forward thinking, creatively driven home for songwriters, their copyrights and important catalogues. Haim Saban has been one of the most successful entrepreneurs in media with a long activity in and love for music and I could not ask for a better partner.”

Saban Capital Group (“SCG”) is a leading private investment firm based in Los Angeles specializing in the media, entertainment, and communication industries.
california Donald Vega jazz Los Angeles music new releases Nicaragua releases Resonance Records United States

Pianist/composer Donald Vega blends jazz, classical and Latin influences on “Spiritual Nature”

While pianist Donald Vega is beginning to draw attention in jazz circles as Mulgrew Miller’s successor in the Ron Carter Trio, he makes a bold statement as a composer and bandleader on Spiritual Nature. Joined by the regal rhythm tandem of bassist Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash, Vega explores the marriage of jazz, Latin and classical music on his auspicious Resonance Records debut. 

“It’s a dream come true,” says the 37-year-old pianist in a news release regarding the opportunity to record with McBride and Nash. “Spiritually, this is my dream trio.”

 The core trio is augmented by guitarist Anthony Wilson, violinist and label mate Christian Howes, tenor saxophonist Bob Sheppard, trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos and trombonist Bob McChesney on Vega’s sophomore outing (following 2008’s self-producedTomorrows, which also featured drummer Nash).
Classically-trained in his native Nicaragua, Vega emigrated to Los Angeles at age 14 and began learning the language of jazz from mentor Billy Higgins at The World Stage and later with bassist John Clayton at the University of Southern California. Bassist Al McKibbon, a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s band of the late 1940s, subsequently took the young pianist under his wing and schooled him on the bandstand on the finer points of bebop. Vega met drummer Nash while working in McKibbon’s trio in Los Angeles. For Spiritual Nature, Vega imagined pairing Nash with bassist McBride, whom he had met in 2007 while attending The Juilliard School in New York. 

“The idea of having this tasty drummer with this killing bass player was so interesting,” he says. “But for them to get together in one place, it’s very rare because they’re both so busy. And when we finally got together, the music just played itself, like magic.”
Throughout Spiritual Nature, Vega shifts the configuration from trio to quartet to quintet, providing plenty of scintillating moments along the way. He kicks it off with the aggressively swinging, hard boppish “Scorpion,” which showcases his voicings for trumpet and sax on the frontline and also features an outstanding drum solo from Nash.

 “I love writing harmonies,” says Vega, “but most important to me is the melody. I always want it to be singable.”

 Ron Carter’s “First Trip,” which originally appeared on Herbie Hancock’s 1968 Blue Note classic, Speak Like a Child, is rendered here as a jaunty swinger underscored by Nash’s brushwork, McBride’s walking bass lines and featuring Wilson on guitar. “My attitude here was, ‘OK, Herbie’s version was so incredible, nobody’s going to do it better than that. So let’s just have some fun with it.'”
The album concludes with a loose, highly interactive trio rendition of Benny Golson’s classic ballad “I Remember Clifford” that is underscored by Nash’s signature brushwork and McBride’s contrapuntal approach to the bass. “All the other tunes on the album were heavily arranged,” says Vega, “so we wanted just one tune where we don’t have to read, we don’t have any arrangement, we just play. Benny Golson’s writing is great and we all knew this tune, so the idea was, ‘Let’s just go in and play.’ And you can hear that kind of looseness on this track.”
Backed by such a formidable lineup, Vega makes a giant leap as a composer-arranger and bandleader in his own right on Spiritual Nature.

cruises Cruising with the Stars dance Dancing with the Stars Karina Smirnoff Los Angeles travel TV United States

Mitch’s Travel: DWTS champion Karina Smirnoff to headline ‘Cruising with the Stars’ in June

Karina Smirnoff

Karina Smirnoff, “Dancing with the Stars” celebrity dance pro and Season 13 champion, will join Cruising with the Stars, a new dance-focused fan cruise that launches June 3-10, 2012, from Los Angeles for a 7-day excursion to the Mexican Riviera, aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s ship The Splendor.  Ports of call are Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.
It’s truly a red carpet affair for this inaugural cruise from Cruising with the Stars, which headlines Smirnoff, who will be offering all levels of dance and fitness classes on board the ship and inviting both dancers and fans to join her for a full week of celebration following the upcoming DWTS Season 14 – including nightly CWTS cocktail and dance parties, personal Q&A and celeb photo sessions, excursions on shore, all culminating with a spectacular professional dance show.
On Cruising with the Stars, Smirnoff joins six of America’s champion professional dance instructors and performers such as Sharon Savoy and Mike Tuttle, Jamie Bayard and Bonnie Marie, and Enio Cordoba and Terryl Jones.

“Cruising with the Stars will set a new standard in dance cruise excursions.  Add the rare opportunity to join one of America’s hottest dance celebrities – DWTS’s Karina Smirnoff – for a full week of unmatched dance instruction and exhilarating performances, and it’s a formula for success,” said event organizer and hosts Sharon Savoy and Mike Tuttle in a news release.     
Smirnoff is especially looking forward to the time off to meet fans personally and work with dancers. In addition to the unprecedented nearly 60 hours of dance instruction offered on board ship, there will be a limited opportunity to take private lessons with Smirnoff, as well as the other master level instructors.
Cruising with the Stars is open to the general public, but cruisers should make reservations right away since the block of cabins are expected to book quickly.  Both dancer and non-dancer rates are available. To participate in the CWTS program and activities, all cabin reservations must be made through official travel agent Travel Themes And Dreams of Hallandale, Fla., at toll-free (800) 706-0049, at (786) 393-5854 for those outside of the USA, or online at
Angel City Jazz Festival arts jazz Los Angeles music United States

2010 Angel City Jazz Festival will convene Oct. 2-9, 2010, in Los Angeles

The 2010 Angel City Jazz Festival – Los Angeles’ only non-commercial jazz and new-music festival – will be held on Oct. 2-9, 2010, organizers announced in a news release.
The weeklong festival will be held at six venues in the city, combining music, film, art, dance, poetry and food with two world premieres. Featured artists at the 2010 Angel Music Festival include The John Abercrombie Quartet, Nels Cline’s DIRTY BABY, The Ravi Coltrane / Ralph Alessi Quintet, Henry Grimes and Friends, Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet with Vijay Iyer, Myra Melford’s Trio, The Sons of Champignon (Tim Berne, Jim Black and Nels Cline) and many others.
The festival is produced by Angel City Arts in association with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CalArtsL.A. Filmforum, Cryptogramophone Records and the Jazz Bakery.  For more information (including schedule of events), visit or call Rocco Somazzi at (323) 573-2110.
contemporary jazz Eldar jazz keyboard Los Angeles music releases U.S.

Jazz pianist Eldar to release “Virtue” on August 25

Jazz keyboard virtuoso Eldar will be releasing his latest CD, “Virtue,” August 25 on Sony Masterworks.
“Virtue” is the follow-up to Eldar’s 2008 Grammy-nominated album, “re-imagination.” Partnered by bassist Armando Gola and Ludwig Afonso, “Virtue” features original compositions by Eldar. Eldar also welcomes guest appearances by trumpeter Nicholas Payton and saxophonists Joshua Redman and Felipe Lamoglia.
Born in Kyrgyzstan and raised in Kansas City, Eldar started playing jazz festivals before the age of ten (in what was then the Soviet Union). In 1998, he and his family emigrated to the United States and resettled in Kansas City. He became the youngest guest ever to appear on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz. Later, he pursued advanced study at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, and eventually began enjoying a career that has seen him in performances throughout the United States, Europe, Indonesia, Japan and South America.

california jazz kevin rankin Los Angeles Mack Avenue Records music songwriter

Renowned Singer-Songwriter-Musician Kenny Rankin has died

Kenny Rankin, the renowned singer, songwriter and musician, died from complications of lung cancer at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles on June 7. He was 69.

Rankin’s music career spanned 50 years beginning with a handful of singles for Decca Records in the late 1950s. A few years late,r he signed with Columbia Records and found himself playing guitar on Bob Dylan’s landmark 1965 album “Bringing It All Back Home.” Soon after, The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson became such a fan that Rankin was invited to appear on the show more than 20 times. Carson also contributed liner notes to Rankin’s 1967 debut LP “Mind Dusters,” which included his much covered pop standard “Peaceful.”

Growing up in the multicultural hotbed of New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, he absorbed a broad array of musical influences, from Afro-Cuban to Top 40 to Jazz to Brazilian.
Rankin was recently signed to the Sly Dog imprint of Mack Avenue Records, and was scheduled to record a few weeks ago with the famed producer Phil Ramone when the label learned of his illness, which led to the cancellation of those sessions.

Rankin is survived by his son, two daughters and granddaughter. Funeral arrangements are pending, and a memorial service in Los Angeles is being planned.